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Tuesday, 10 August 2004
Page: 25981


Senator NETTLE (1:24 PM) —I am glad that we are here to continue asking questions because earlier the minister said that they did not have the power to impose financial penalties and now, looking through the trade agreement, it is quite clear, and I thank the minister for—


Senator Hill —Under quarantine.


Senator NETTLE —The questions I have been asking were more general. Whilst you were talking to your advisers I was talking about audiovisual content, and the example I was giving was in relation to New Zealand. The financial penalties that were to be imposed on the New Zealand government as it tried to increase its local content levels were so great that the New Zealand government decided not to do it. Here we have, in annex 21-A of the agreement, a formula by which decisions for financial penalties can be made. So in relation to local content the situation is as the minister explained. He said that there is no capacity to increase local content levels in Australia and we now see that there are monetary penalties.

If we had an Australian government that wanted to increase the local content on television, radio, pay TV or some other form of new media in order to support the film or television industry in Australia—and that was found to be a barrier to trade, because it is quite clearly stipulated in the free trade agreement that you cannot increase local content levels—the minister has now pointed out the process by which financial penalties could be imposed. I thank the minister for pointing out the financial penalties—at annex 21-A of the agreement—that can be imposed upon Australia if a dispute cannot be resolved by the three trade lawyers on the disputes panel.