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Tuesday, 20 September 1994
Page: 982

Senator CHAMARETTE —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move a motion for the establishment of a select committee on ABC management and operations. The motion is, of necessity, a detailed one, a copy of which I now hand to the Clerk of the Senate and circulate in the chamber.

  The notice of motion read as follows—

  (1)That, in light of:

    (a)the failure of Australian Television International to penetrate its target markets in Asia, with a resultant waste of scarce funds otherwise earmarked for maintenance of quality national broadcasting;

    (b)controversial proposals to abolish regional Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) TV News, advocated with great vigour by ABC Management, and rejected by the ABC Board;

    (c)recent evidence that ABC program sponsorship rules may have been significantly and deliberately breached in a number of ABC co-productions that have gone to air;

    (d)the continuing high level of resignations and departures from the ABC of senior, experienced broadcasting managers and program makers;

    (e)the controversy surrounding appointments to the Board of the ABC, including concerns that individual merit and potential contribution to the policy direction, public standing and the political independence of the ABC are no longer the sole criteria for such appointments; and

    (f)continuing public concern about the nature and extent of the ABC's involvement in commercial activities;

  a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on ABC Management and Operations, be appointed to inquire into and report, on or before 1 March 1995, on the following matters with respect to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

      (i)whether the matters referred to in paragraphs 1(a) to (f) are symptoms of a deep-seated problem within the board, management and organisation of the ABC, and, if so,

      (ii)whether this problem arises from dysfunction or conflict between:

  (A)the current operational goals and direction of the ABC, and the corporation's legislative charter and the board's duties, and

  (B)the composition of the board, or part of it, and the management, or part of it, in implementing the charter or discharging the duties to achieve and reflect appropriate policy direction, public standing and political independence.

  (2)That the committee consist of seven senators, as follows:

    (a)two nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate;

    (b)three nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate;

    (c)one nominated by the Leader of the Australian Democrats; and

    (d)one nominated by the Greens (WA) or Senator Harradine.

  (3)That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that all members have not been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.


    (a)the chair of the committee be elected by the members of the committee from the members nominated by the Leader of the Opposition;

    (b)in the absence of agreement on the selection of a chair, duly notified to the President, the allocation of the chair be determined by the Senate;

    (c)the deputy chair of the committee be appointed by the chair from the members of the committee immediately after the election of the chair;

    (d)the deputy chair act as chair when there is no chair or the chair is not present at a meeting; and

    (e)in the event of the votes on any question before the committee being equally divided, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote.

  (5)That the quorum of the committee be four members.

  (6)That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place and to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives.

  (7)That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to consider, and that the quorum of a subcommittee be a majority of the Senators appointed to the subcommittee.

  (8)That, without limiting its power to pass procedural or other resolutions that are not inconsistent with this paragraph or these terms of reference, the committee observe the following procedures, namely, that:

  Submissions and calling of witnesses

    (a)as a general principle, evidence be invited in the first instance in the form of written submissions and following examination of submissions, the committee decide which witnesses are to be called for examination;

    (b)subject to any contrary order in relation to a particular submission, the submission to the committee by a person of a statement relating to the inquiry be deemed to be the giving of evidence before the committee by that person in accordance with that statement;


    (c)evidence be heard in public session except in instances where the committee or a subcommittee resolves to hear evidence in camera;

  Statements to the media

    (d)the chair be authorised to make statements to the media on behalf of the committee concerning its activities;

  Broadcasts and re-broadcasts of public proceedings

    (e)the recording, broadcasting and re-broadcasting of public proceedings is authorised in accordance with the rules contained in the order of the Senate of 23 August 1990, as varied by the Senate from time to time, concerning the broadcasting of committee proceedings;

  Release of evidence and documents

    (f)the secretary is authorised to supply for correction, copies of proof reports of both public and in camera proceedings to the witnesses whose evidence appears in those reports;

    (g)subject to any contrary order in relation to a particular submission, each document submitted to the committee be published; and

  Adverse Evidence

    (h)subject to any contrary order, evidence which adversely reflects on a person be forwarded to that person inviting their response.


    (a)the terms of reference of the inquiry be appropriately advertised in the media; and

    (b)written submissions be sought and examined by the committee and oral evidence be heard, including oral evidence from the authors of the most important submissions.

  (10)That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee, with the approval of the President.

  (11)That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such documents and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.

  (12)That the committee may report from time to time its proceedings and evidence taken or any interim conclusions or recommendations arising from its inquiry, and may make regular reports on the progress of its proceedings.