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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2102

Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (09:33): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Public Interest Media Advocate Bill 2013 will create a new statutory office, known as the Public Interest Media Advocate.

The advocate will perform functions under the new Part 5A of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to be inserted by the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (News Media Diversity) Bill and under the News Media (Self-regulation) Bill.

The advocate will be the decision maker in relation to the public interest test that applies to transactions involving nationally significant news media entities.

It will also assess the adequacy of self-regulatory schemes for significant providers of print and online news, and current affairs, to promote compliance with industry standards and to handle complaints.

The advocate will be appointed by the minister following appropriate consultation.

In announcing the proposal the minister advised that it is his intention to extend the consultation to the opposition.

To protect the independence and impartiality of the role, the advocate will not be subject to direction by the minister or the government in relation to the performance of its functions or the exercise of its powers.

Specifying that the advocate is not subject to direction assists to safeguard the independence and impartiality of its role and enable it to operate at arm's length from the government of the day.

The bill also provides for the terms and conditions of appointment of the advocate and imposes annual reporting obligations on the position.

I commend this bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.