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Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Page: 36


Senator COONAN (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) (11:49 AM) —The purpose, as I understand it, of Senator Cherry’s amendments is to amend the bill to change the function of monitoring codes of practice to monitoring and enforcing codes of practice. With the greatest of respect, I can only assume that Senator Cherry may not have thought through what the current arrangements are and how the schemes for developing and enforcing codes of practice operate. The amendments are unnecessary as enforcement is already a function under clause 10(1)(c) of the ACMA Bill. It would also be inappropriate to include references to enforcing broadcasting codes of practice in clause 10(1)(k) of the bill. The reasons are that codes of practice established under the BSA are voluntary arrangements.

Like the ABA, the ACMA will have an important role in monitoring compliance with those codes and strong powers to impose mandatory licence conditions or industry standards—that is the next step—if it considers that the voluntary codes and compliance with those codes are not meeting community standards. It is a well-established scheme that well and truly reflects current community standards. It is a well-honed regime that industry understands well, that consumers understand well and that does provide a schema for enforcement in the way that I have outlined. To change the way voluntary codes of practice are dealt with would be going further than what was intended and certainly would not meet the current needs of the scheme.