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Discord at radio Australia

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j a u MEDIA RELEASE t v WARWICK SMITH M.P. Shadow Minister for Communications

12 November 1991

Discord at Radio Australia

What is happening at Radio Australia? The disquiet within the current and former ranks of employees of Radio Australia is widespread. There appears little confidence in management. Why?

It is clear that Mr Richard Broinowski, personally chosen by David Hill to head Radio Australia, no longer enjoys the confidence of the Board of the ABC nor of Mr Hill. His imminent departure has been long rumoured.

. Who wants to get rid of him? Why? How long can he last?

Radio Australia's facilities at Broadcast House and East Burwood in Melbourne are in the process of being sold prior to its relocation to Southbank. The Southbank project, however, has been stymied by the downturn in the property market.

. Will Radio Australia eventually make it to Southbank intact or is it to be scaled down?

Radio Australia is an important provider of information about Australia which, in a tangential way, benefits our trading relationships. The apparent slow death imposed by the ABC on Radio Australia threatens Australia's capacity to promote itself around the world. Radio Australia does have an important role to play, especially in the Pacific and Asian regions. We need to better define its role.

Recent changes in programming have been questioned. The curtailment of news services and the variation to our traditional service areas have caused great disquiet within the organisation. This is not to say that change should not occur in what is a rapidly changing world.

. Is there a need to establish additional broadcasting facilities to further the signal? Is this desirable? What are the costs involved?

The funding base of Radio Australia has been curtailed.

. Is this reasonable and is it in the long term interests of Australia's role in the world?

Senate Estimates Committee members have questioned recent changes in editorial control, responsibility and discipline within the organisation. Senator Collins admits that only 14 of the 58 broadcasters employed in Radio Australia are, in fact, citizens of Australia.


. Why is there no longer a chief editor in control? Who are the people

determining what will be broadcast?

Questions should be asked, too, about whether Radio Australia ought to continue within the realms of the ABC.

. Does it receive its fair share of budget and emphasis within the ABC? The ABC's main role is, after all, in domestic broadcasting.

. Is it a matter of personality clashes?

. Is it a case of lack of interest or bad management or both?

. Does it present a broad view of Australia to an external audience or is it ideology driven?

It appears that neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister, Mr Beazley, are seriously interested in Radio Australia or its future. The only time they have shown any interest was during the Gulf War. All we know is that Radio Australia incurred the wrath of the Prime Minister at that time. We must step back and look at the task we want Radio Australia to do.

. Do we wish to continue to support Radio Australia?

. Does it need a clearer charter?

. Is its work valuable enough to increase that support?

. Should it continue to work within the ABC or be placed in the SBS or should it be a stand alone unit with its own Board?

Discord at Radio Australia grows yet the Government remains silent.

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