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Thursday, 16 May 1985
Page: 2039

Senator PRIMMER(10.50) —I move:

That the following matter be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations: Whether the claim by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that certain information should not be made available to Senate Estimates Committee C, on the ground of commercial confidentiality, is justified.

At the Estimates Committee C hearing on 15 March this year the Australian Broadcasting Corporation declined to provide information about the salaries paid to staff on the program The National on the ground of commercial confidentiality. Estimates committees cannot receive information on a confidential basis. For this reason Estimates Committee C was unable to receive the material confidentially and to make a decision as to whether the claim for commercial confidentiality was justified. To overcome this problem the Committee decided to move the motion for reference of the matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Government Operations to enable the matter to be determined. This morning when I arrived at my office there was a note on my desk asking me to call the ABC. I did so and I was assured by the officer to whom I spoke that the ABC had no problems about providing the information requested, provided that confidentiality could be assured.