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Government: must act on ABT powers



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ί WEDIA RELEASE MEDIA RELEASE MEDIA RELEASE MEDIA RELEASE MEDIA RELEASE MEDIA RELEASE MEDIA COMMONWEALTH

MICAH

M I J Y LEADER OF THE O PPO SITIO N IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR COM M UNICATIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MAY 5 1989

Government: must act on ABT powers

An unwillingness to act by the Hawke Government is forcing

the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal to make decisions which

may not enable the Tribunal to fully reflect the seriousness

of the offence.

Senator Austin Lewis, the Shadow Minister for Communications,

said today that, "despite the Prime Minister's promises when

opening the 1987 election campaign that he would

substantially reform the Broadcasting Act, nothing effective

has been done to give the Tribunal a range of options in its

decisions.

"Those decisions may be either calamitous or innocuous. There

is nothing in between."

He said an example of what the Tribunal is forced to do can

be seen from a recent decision to renew the licence of

television station BKN7, Broken Hill.

"The Tribunal was of the view that the service was not

adequate or comprehensive but chose not to revoke the licence

because that would have deprived viewers of the commercial

television service. ,

"The lack of commitment by the Hawke Government does not

auger well for the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal when

faced with making major decisions that affect the operations

of commercial broadcasters, such as the current Bond

inquiry."

Phone (062) 77 3135 Fax (06 2 ) 77 3169

This week the Senate debated The Broadcasting Ownership and

Control Bill (No 2) 1988, which was described by Senator

Lewis as "a whimpish piece of Legislation that deals with

nothing."

"This Bill," he said, is the fruits of the Government's

proposed substantial reforms of the Broadcasting Act."

"The Bond inquiry is a matter of major importance to Mr Bond.

But it is also of vital importance to those employed by the

Bond Network and the Tribunal has limited options available

to i t .

"The Government has allowed the Tribunal to get further and

further along the road of this inquiry without offering any

assistance. The Government has done absolutely nothing about

correcting the horrendous situation the Tribunal is facing."

He said, "it is time the Government did something to give the

Australian Broadcasting Tribunal wider discretionary powers

so that the seriousness of breaches by broadcasters can be

dealt with in a fair and equitable manner."

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MEDIA CONTACT: John Robertson (062) 48 6981