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Tuesday, 29 May 1984
Page: 2010


Senator CHANEY —Does the Minister representing the Minister for Communications agree with the view expressed by the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Mr Myer, that 'the plain fact is that reporting from or about some parts of the world needs special care to observe the laws of the land which differ from country to country'? Does he believe that the Chairman acted correctly in his handling of the Four Corners interview with the leader of the Free Papua Movement? In view of the widespread concern and protests from ABC staff about the Chairman's actions, does Mr Myer retain the support of the Government? Has the Minister or the Prime Minister considered complaining to the Chairman about his decision or about his actions, as was done on an earlier occasion with Mr Myer's predecessor?


Senator BUTTON —The question of the Port Moresby office of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is a matter for the ABC and the Government of Papua New Guinea. The Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has the full confidence of this Government. No member of the Government will be complaining to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about the actions which have been taken.


Senator CHANEY —I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Does the Minister representing the Minister for Communications agree with the view expressed by the Chairman which I gave in my question, namely, 'the plain fact is that reporting from or about'-I stress 'or about'-'some parts of the world needs special care to observe the laws of the land which differ from country to country'? Does the Minister believe that that is a proper statement of the duties which the ABC has to the Australian people?


Senator BUTTON —The duties which the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has to the Australian people are defined in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act . It is for the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation--


Senator Chaney —That is a nice change.


Senator BUTTON —Senator Chaney said that it is a nice change. We gave it those conditions. It never had them before. It is more independent than it has ever been. The second part of the question related to whether I have a view about that. I have a view but I do not think it is the least bit relevant to the discussion. Mr Myer's view was clarified in a subsequent statement to the one Senator Chaney mentioned.


Senator Chaney —I was quoting from the subsequent statement.


Senator BUTTON —No, Senator Chaney was not. My view of what Mr Myer meant on a particular occasion is not relevant. That is for him to say. It is for him to interpret the legislation which the Government has given to the ABC.