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Tuesday, 9 December 1986
Page: 3652


Senator VIGOR(11.07) —I rise briefly to pay tribute to Miss Catherine Weigall, who is the longest serving member of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal. She is due to retire on 19 December. In an article in today's Australian Financial Review she makes certain remarks about the ownership rules brought in by the Government. She has expressed some reservations on the way the new media ownership guidelines have been formulated. Apparently, she said-I quote from the article:

. . . the problem with a Government department and minister making decisions so relevant to the community was the lack of public input.

``The media is such a basic thing in everyone's lives that such decisions ought to be open.

``There oughtn't to be the possibility of pressures behind closed doors and public confidence would be greater if there was an avenue of appeal.

``No-one knows on what information the decision-makers are acting and that is not the best or most democratic way to make such important decisions.''

I believe that we should take some note of what is said by somebody who has served the Tribunal since 17 April 1980, who is to retire on 19 December and who has some experience in this area. I wish to thank Miss Weigall for the work she has done for Australian broadcasting and to bring to the notice of the Senate and the Government the remarks she has made concerning the process of open government and the process that is necessary in making open decisions about media ownership. I thank Miss Weigall for her service to the community on the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal.