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Monday, 27 June 1994
Page: 1993

Senator TIERNEY —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications and the Arts. I refer the minister to the takeover of radio station NEW FM by the ALP's 2HD in Newcastle, which has left the debt-ridden New South Wales branch of the ALP controlling the dominant, high-rating half of radio in Newcastle and Hunter after spending $2.3 million on the deal. My question is about the role of former Senator Graham Richardson in this takeover. The minister will recall that our former colleague had a censure motion moved against him for his failure to declare a pecuniary interest as a director of radio 2HD in April 1992. I now ask: what role did Graham Richardson play in making sure that NEW FM shareholders, especially the Triple M-Village Roadshow Group, were very conscious of who wanted to buy their shares in NEW FM?

Senator COLLINS —I have absolutely no idea, and I have no information in the brief from the Minister for Communications and the Arts to advise me on that point. I will refer to the minister the question that Senator Tierney has just put to me. I must say, in conclusion, that the so-called new team of the opposition sounds awfully like the old team to me.

Senator TIERNEY —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. While the minister is asking the Minister for Communications and the Arts for this brief, perhaps he could ask him to answer some more specific questions about this matter. Why did the Triple M-Village Roadshow Group categorically state on Tuesday, 14 June that it was not selling and then sell on Thursday, 16 June when the price did not differ? I repeat: the price did not differ in that 24-hour period. What leverage did former Senator Graham Richardson apply in the meantime which led to the public description in the Newcastle Morning Herald on 18 June that the ALP-controlled 2HD takeover `wasn't a normal transaction'? Could the minister ask the minister in what way it was not a normal transaction?

Senator COLLINS —As I have just said, I will refer the question to the Minister for Communications and the Arts.