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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2277


Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry and Commerce and Minister Assisting the Minister for Communications)(8.04) —I refer to a matter raised during the consideration of the estimates for the Department of Communications when Senator Sir John Carrick asked a number of questions relating to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Answers to those questions have been delivered to the honourable senator's office and I seek leave to have those answers incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

Question: What are the entertainment and travelling expenses of the Chairman and Board of the ABC in 1983-84? Are these expenses substantially larger than the previous Chairman and Board of ABC?

Answer: The following table shows entertainment and travelling expenses for the Chairman and Board of the ABC to date for 1983-84 with comparable figures for the Commissioners in 1982-83

1 July 1982- 1 July 1983- Board/Commission

30 June 1983 31 May 1984

$ $ Entertainment expenses 9,431 8,459 Travelling expenses 74,904 74,062

Question: Have notices of abolition of positions gone out to senior officers recently?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Did these apply to the Legal Section?

Answer: Yes. Four professional legal positions were abolished and the affected staff were notified.

Question: Is there any intention to restructure the Legal Section and if so how ?

Answer: Yes. The Board of the ABC has created senior Legal positions in both Radio and Television Divisions and a further Legal position in the Directorate of Engineering and Property. The structure below the senior legal positions in each media will be determined by an Establishment and Systems review which is expected to make recommendations to the Board at its August meeting.

Question: Could you confirm that existing legislation does not provide for a staff member on the Board and that in fact no staff representative is on the Board.

Would you provide advice on

whether a staff representative sits on the ABC Board meetings?

is there any advisory committee mechanism whereby staff views are conveyed to the Board.

The existing legislation does not provide for a staff member on the ABC Board. However the Government made a commitment to the Senate during passage of the ABC Bill in the 1983 Autumn sittings to consider legislative provisions for a staff elected Director. The Department of Communications is currently preparing proposals for amendments of the ABC Act to provide for a staff elected Director. These proposals are expected to be considered by the Government shortly.

In late 1983 the Government arranged for an election to be conducted amongst ABC staff by the Australian Electoral Office for a person to be recommended for appointment as a Director. Mr Tom Molomby was elected and was subsequently appointed by the Governor-General as a Director of the Board of the Corporation for a period of two years from 15 December 1983.

To the extent that Mr Molomby, a staff member, was elected by the staff and subsequently appointed to the Board, he is the staff representative on the Board .

Mr Molomby, being a non-executive Director appointed pursuant to Section 12 of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983 attends the Board meetings as a Director. No other staff representative sits in on Board meetings.

There is no single advisory committee mechanism whereby staff views are conveyed to the Board. However, three members of the Board of management are elected by the staff. Further, major decisions affecting staff are made after consultation with the relevant industrial organisations in the ABC.

Department of Health

Proposed expenditure, $30,955,000.