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Wednesday, 1 December 1976
Page: 3026

Mr CONNOLLY (BRADFIELD, NEW SOUTH WALES) -My question, which is supplementary to the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to speculation that his Department will assume control of the operations of Radio Australia? Will the Minister inform the House whether the speculation has any substance?

Mr PEACOCK (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) -My attention has been drawn to that speculation. As the honourable member stated that his question was supplementary to that asked by the Leader of the Opposition, I shall refer to a matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition. I simply say with the support of the Prime Minister and, I am sure, with the support of the Minister for Post and Telecommunications that if any officials want to put a recommendation to us that Radio Australia be abolished, then that recommendation will fall on deaf ears. Radio Australia will remain strong and independent.

That leads me to the question raised by the honourable member. I said previously in an interview on radio with the Australian Broadcasting Commission that I considered the reputation of Radio Australia to be excellent, and much of that reputation was derived from its very independence. I consider it extremely desirable for Australia to have a clear and strong overseas voice, capable of bringing reliable, unbiased information to neighbouring areas of particular significance to this country. Radio Australia has an excellent reputation in that regard, especially in Asia and the Pacific. The service by Radio Australia is a most important part of Australia's equipment in the representation of Australia internationally and also for people to be able to assess for themselves in an unbiased way the viewpoints broadcast by the network through Radio Australia. The Government does not accept the view that Radio Australia should be under the control of my Department. As I said before, Radio Australia will remain strong. It will remain independent and will not come under the control of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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