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Monday, 26 May 2003
Page: 15014


Mr Danby asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 26 March 2003:

(1) Is the Minister aware of the move of the majority of the ABC Television studios in Melbourne from Ripponlea to Southbank.

(2) Is the Minister aware of residents' concerns about the future of the land at Ripponlea, and that the unclear status has led to fear, insecurity and great speculation.

(3) What is the history of the ownership and use of the land.

(4) In respect of the decision on the future of the land at Ripponlea: (a) who is responsible for making the decision, (b) when will it be made, (c) what will be the process for making this decision, (d) what factors will be taken into account, and (e) will the public have an opportunity to comment during the process.

(5) Can the Minister assure residents that the land will: (a) not become housing estates, and (b) will be returned to the public.

(6) Is the Minister aware that the closest public park in the area is over a kilometre away, out of walking distance of most of the elderly and younger residents.

(7) Is the Minister aware that a small piece of former Crown land in the area on the corner of Dorgan Street and Kooyong Road was recently returned to the public as a Memorial Park; if so, is the Minister able to say whether that decision is a useful precedent in respect of the land at Ripponlea.


Mr McGauran (Minister for Science) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The ABC has advised the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts that it intends to continue to use its site at 8 Gordon Street, Elsternwick, as a major television production facility for drama, comedy, arts and features for at least the next 4 to 5 years. The ABC moved its News and Current Affairs television studios from Gordon Street to Southbank in September 2001. The ABC does have plans to relocate all television production to Southbank in the future. Any final decision to move would be made by the ABC Board and the project would need a formal hearing and approval from the Joint Standing Committee on Public Works.

(2) The Minister has received no correspondence on this matter.

(3) The ABC has occupied the Gordon Street site since 1956 following the compulsory acquisition of part of the Rippon Lea estate by the Commonwealth. In 1991, ownership of the site was transferred from the Commonwealth to the ABC, in a delayed acknowledgment of the ABC's transition from “Commission” to Corporation. This was done on the same basis as other properties that were transferred in 1983, that is, with the only condition being that the ABC pay costs associated with the transfer.

(4) The ABC has advised that:

(a) The ABC is responsible for making the decision, within the appropriate Commonwealth, State and local government regulatory requirements. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 guarantees the editorial and operational independence of the Corporation from the Government.

(b) The ABC does not currently have a firm timetable for this decision. See answer to part (1).

(c) The ABC Board would make a final decision on any relocation time frame. See answer to part (1). As any proposed move would require major new capital works at Southbank, the ABC would also require a formal Joint Standing Committee on Public Works hearing and approval before proceeding.

(d) The ABC Board's statutory duties include a duty to ensure the functions of the Corporation are performed efficiently. The main factors to be taken into account by the ABC in its decision making will be the efficiencies of collocating the ABC operations on one site and the overall cost benefit to the Corporation.

(e) The public would have the consultation opportunities arising from the relevant regulatory requirements associated with any proposed change of land use. As part of consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Public Works, any new works proposed at Southbank would be also publicly advertised by the Joint Standing Committee and submissions would be sought.

(5) As indicated in part (4)(a), the ABC is responsible for decisions on the future of land at Ripponlea, within the appropriate Commonwealth, State and local government regulatory requirements. The ABC advises that no decision has been made on the timing or future use of the land.

(6) The Minister has received no correspondence on this matter.

(7) No.