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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 976

Senator LAJOVIC(3.29) —The report by the Committee of Review on the Special Broadcasting Service contains a tremendous number of recommendations. Unfortunately my time is limited and therefore I will deal only with those which I feel are important and which are to be commended, opposed or completely changed. The first is recommendation 7.10, which concerns a new organisation, to be called the Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation, replacing the present Special Broadcasting Service. This recommendation states that the program should:

. . . entertain, inform and educate the Australian community including its ethnic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities.

I feel that those priorities are upside down. As far as I know, the migrant communities wish to have a service which, firstly, will inform them, secondly, will educate them and, thirdly, will entertain them. Entertainment is a function of different stations but a multicultural station should mainly inform and educate the new arrivals to this country. Migrants have difficulty in understanding or reading the different regulations in our society. Therefore, I feel it is the function of this organisation to inform and educate them. The second part of paragraph 7.10 states that the program has to:

. . . contribute to the development of a multicultural society by promoting a common sense of Australian identity . . .

I do not know how an avant-garde movie from France could do that. I wonder how many people from southern Italy watch avant-garde movies from Italy. How do they promote and establish a common sense of Australian identity or mutual understanding? Those are some of the things which I feel the present Special Broadcasting Service fulfils but for a different type of audience, not the one at which it should be aimed. I turn now to the chapter of the report dealing with programming for ethnic radio. Paragraph 8.67 states:

. . . a new set of guidelines for broadcasters be prepared in consultation with broadcasters, station management and appropriate community bodies. Such guidelines should be published and made known to the public through language programs.

I fully support that recommendation. It is absolutely necessary. This recommendation should be adopted by the new Corporation. Up until now we have seen that so often there are programs that are of no interest to the large community or any community. The broadcasters and the people who are in continuous contact with the community have no say as to what will be programmed, screened or discussed. Paragraph 8.90 of the report states:

. . . a uniform system of handling community announcements should be developed and made known to community organisations . . .

This is another recommendation which I feel is long overdue because the community announcements on radio today are politically biased in their selection. The new Corporation should make sure that community announcements have a uniform system and that community organisations have a say. In paragraph 8.115 the Committee states:

We endorse the proposal . . . and recommend that language co-ordinators and broadcasters and ethnic public broadcasters be consulted about the selection of such material.

The Committee is talking about overseas programs for this station. I make the same point which I made before: At the moment the ethnic communities have no say. The people who are selecting these programs are not of ethnic origin; they are public servants who have an excellent taste in selecting programs of avant-garde movies but not programs for the audience they should serve. I turn now to paragraph 11.69.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.

Question resolved in the affirmative.