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Where does the Bolkus/Powell deal leave the ABC?



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MEDIA RELEASE

SENATOR WARWICK PARER LIBERAL SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND SHADOW MINISTER FOR ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND THE A.C.T.

WHERE DOES THE BOLKUS/POWELL DEAL LEAVE THE ABC?

The announcement by the Minister for Administrative Services of the latest government attempt to restrict freedom of expression leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

First, why did Senator Powell give a completely different interpretation of the agreement than that contained in the Minister's announcement (eg, about splitting the bill)? Are there other (secret) clauses that have not been revealed

by the Government?

Secondly, the Minister is silent about the government's earlier plan to prohibit the ABC from offering "free broadcast time" to parties and candidates during election campaigns. Does he still attempt to claim that the provision of ABC free time exposes political parties to the "threat of corruption

and undue influence"?

Thirdly, what has changed since Senator Bolkua and many senior Labor figures described an election-only ban on political advertising as "unworkable"?

For example, former Minister Stewart West said these proposals were "unworkable" and "would not achieve the objectives sought ... for example, they would have allowed mini-campaigns outside election periods". Communications Minister Kim Beazley

Said on May 9 that "if the ban were restricted to election periods, parties and others who buy political advertising would run campaigns outside the ban period".

Minister Bolkua as recently as eight weeks ago claimed that under a partial ban "the problems associated with the need to raise huge sums necessary to fund campaigns would remain ..."

In some ways, while the limited ban is just as objectionable in terms of political freedom, it is even more offensive in terms of advantaging incumbent governments. Governments in office wi 13 be able to use 33 out of 36 months for lavish

self-promotion campaigns funded by the taxpayer - but for the duration of the campaign opposition parties will be banned from advertising on the airwaves. Further, because the Prime Minister controls the election timetable, the ALP will be able

to gear up for strategic "mini-campaigns" just before the (election) blackout period.

9/8/91 CONTACT SENATOR WARWICK PARER (07) 864.8413 or 343.3172

COMMONWEALTH

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