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Government broadcasting policy in tatters - public

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ENATOR ALSTOM TEL No. 03 8907375 11,09,89 11:17 P.02 51

Richard Alston

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The Federal Government'» Broadcasting Policy le a total Shambles after the savage rejection of · departmental diaotieaion paper by a parliamentary Committee ■» misleading, contradictory and genaratly substandard", .

The Minister for Transport and Communications, Mr Willie, Should immediately direct the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (ABT) to withdraw its misguided "Australian look" content proposals, reject the House of Representatives, Transport Communications and infrastructure Committee'» Trusteeship proposal and i&tebligh a public inquiry into broadcasting and the

foi« of the a b t . Despite the rapid pece of change, no inquiry has been held since 1976, leading inevlteeiy to the present policy vacuum.

In June 1987 the rrime Minister gave a firm pre-election commitment to urgently reform the Broadcasting Act which ho called "this nlghtmarieh legislation* end only last week the Secretary of the Department of Transport end Communications (DOTAC) Mr Graham Evans, described the Act as "unwieldy and# frankly, unworkable",

Mr Willis has recently given e number of explicit commitments to introduce legislative reform during the current yerliamentary eeesion. These commitments have been both cavalier and irresponsible - driven elmoat entirely by the Government'e perceived need to respond to the manifest inadequacies of the "fit and proper person" requirement as highlighted by the Federal Court in the Bond case. The Minister » reckless commitment» have been given despite the almost total lack of, planning and preparation within hi· own department of which he knew or ought to have known.

The recent appointment of Mr Mike Hutchinson, a highly regarded Deputy-secretary of DOTAC, to undertake a comprehensive review of broadcasting is a welcome (hove but it is also a clear sign that the Government is in no position to proceed this session with any Worthwhile legislation.

industry and community reaction to the proposed truatseshtp scheme has been almost universally negative and the imminent .Federal Court decision on whether Bond Media i· a fit and proper person is likely to show up further inadequacies in the legislation.

Yet despite the increasingly urgent need to overhaul the outdated Broadcasting Aot, Rio van W i m p haa slept aulatlv on the sidelines (no doubt dreaming about the pilots dispute) and hoping that the issue will go away until after the election.

After mere then two years of inaction, it 1· clear that only a public inquiry can help to get Australian broadcasting book on the track end hopefully dismantle the maze of regulations which encumber the industry at every turn,

for further information contaQT;

senator Richard Alston on 629 2521

ji Septem ber 1969 8

11 SEP ’89 11:31

03 8 9 0 73 75 P A G E .00Ξ