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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) . - Senator Wright referred to the decision of the High Court. Let us deal with the realities of the position. The Minister now proposes to meet the position by the use of regulatory power, and I point out that regulations are subject to disallowance by the Parliament. I was very interested in what Senator Wright said, but I would have thought that such a procedure would commend itself to him much more than would the procedures that were adopted . before. Senator Wright will recognise that I cannot enter into a discussion with him onwhat happened in relation to this business in the past. However, it is felt now that a more effective way to handle the situation is by use of the regulatory power. It does not at present appear that any licensee company is experiencing difficulty in obtaining programmes on reasonable terms, so that matter does not arise at the moment. We have all agreed that this is a complex piece of legislation and we know it is difficult to write into an Act of Parliament precise words to cover any situation which may arise in the future. The purpose of the proposal is to ensure that there will be no cornering or monopolising - if I may use the word - of programmes and in order to ensure that the Minister will, if necessary, issue regulations, which will be subject to disallowance by the Parliament.

Senator McClellandreferred to the Senate Select Committee. I have had experience of sitting on Senate select committees and I know the very valuable work they do. We know that any government must look at the findings of such committees and weigh them in the light of its policy. The PostmasterGeneral has said that he will consider the problem of Australian content in programmes and other associated problems and that the matter will be the subject of careful scrutiny. That is about as far as I can take the point raised by Senator McClelland at the moment. In fairness to the PostmasterGeneral, let me say that he has brought forward a very comprehensive piece of legislation, designed to meet the circumstances of commercial television in Australia. I have every confidence in his ability to deal with the problem of how to ensure a greater Australian content in programmes in future. I cannot say anything other than that.

Senator Wright - Mr. Chairman, will you put to the Committee so much of the Bill as precedes Clause 8?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.There being no objection, that will be done.

Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 (Monopolising of Television Programmes).

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