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Tuesday, 21 May 1985
Page: 2251

Senator HARRADINE(5.26) —It appears that this is the appropriate time to refer to the decision of the Board of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to extend entitlements, including relocation expenses and privileges appropriate to spouses and families of staff, to homosexual partners of ABC staff. In the hearings of Estimates Committee A on 4 September 1984, the Managing Director of the ABC indicated that the Board's decision was based on anti-discrimination legislation, that is to say, on an assumption of legal responsibility, and on the fact that the practice had been adopted by corporations. We assume that that meant outside corporations. The statements made by the Managing Director at that time both on that matter and on a number of other matters were referred to in the report of Estimates Committee A which considered that the responses were less than adequate. It stated:

Additional information sought at the September hearing, while this time received promptly, was again considered by the Committee to be less than adequate.

At the hearing itself the Committee considered as less than satisfactory a number of the answers given by Mr Whitehead . . .

At the recent Estimates Committee's hearings on 15 April 1985 it transpired that the assumption of legal responsibility was in fact a myth; it was admitted to have been a myth and, therefore, the Committee was misled on 4 September 1984.

The other basis for the Board's decision, as given to us previously, was that corporations had similar guidelines. It appears from the letters that have been subsequently received by Estimates Committee C that that also is a myth and has no basis whatsoever. A decision was taken by the Board of a public corporation on a matter of very major public importance. It was stated that the decision was based on an assumption of legal responsibility which was found to be non-existent. A statement was provided by the Board that this was a regular practice in other corporations which was found not to be the case. I feel that it is important that the chamber is apprised of this matter. In my view it then raises for question-obviously it cannot be dealt with in the Committee stage-the need for a review of that decision by the Board, given that the basis for that decision was and has now been found to be non-existent.