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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 121

(Question No. 1156)


Senator Alston asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications and the Arts, upon notice, on 2 March 1994:

  With reference to the fact that when the National Transmission Agency (NTA) was established on 1 July 1992, the Government resolved to review its operations after 18 months:

  (1) Has this review begun; if not, why not.

  (2) Has the Government made, or will it make, the terms of reference of the review publicly available; if so, how; if not, why not.

  (3) Who is, or will be, performing the review and how is the review to be structured.

  (4) When will this review report to the Government.

  (5) Will the review's report to Government be made publicly available; if not, why not.

  (6) What provision has been made for: (a) the Australian Broadcasting Corporation; (b) the Special Broadcasting Service; and (c) commercial operators, who share NTA infrastructure to provide input to the review.

  (7) Will submissions be solicited; if so, how; if not, why not.

  (8) Have any other mechanisms for input been put in place; if not, why not.


Senator McMullan —The Minister for Communications and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) The Prime Minister is currently considering expanded terms of reference for the review. Preparations are being made for the Department of Communications and the Arts to seek expressions of interest in a consultancy to undertake the review.

  (2) The terms of reference, once finalised, will be made available to respondents to the advertisements seeking expressions of interest in the consultancy, and to anyone else who contacts the Department seeking a copy.

  (3) The review will be conducted by an independent consultant. The consultant will be selected through a two stage public tender process. The first stage will call for expressions of interest from which a short list of suitable consultants will be developed. The second stage will involve inviting tenders from the short list of consultants and selection of the preferred tenderer.

  The structure and manner in which the review will be undertaken will be a matter for the consultant within the limits of the terms of reference.

  (4) The review is expected to be completed by 30 September 1994.

  (5) Yes. It is expected that the consultant's report will be released after the Government has considered its findings and decided on appropriate arrangements.

  (6) (a) (b) (c) It is expected that the final terms of reference will specify that the review be conducted in consultation with the ABC, the SBS, commercial operators and other interested parties.

  It is anticipated that all parties will have ample opportunity to provide input.

  (7) and (8)

  It is also expected that the terms of reference will specify that the review be conducted in consultation with interested parties. Those consultants seeking to undertake the task will be expected to outline how they propose to meet this requirement and this information will be one of the criteria used to select the consultant.

  There is no impediment to interested parties making submissions to the Government on the review. Any such submission will be taken into account in coming to decisions on the outcome of the review.