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Broadcasting amendment bill-to senate committee



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MEDIA RELEASE WARWICK SMITH M.P. Shadow Minister for Communications

14 October 1991

Broadcasting Amendment Bill - To Senate Committee

Shadow Ministry this morning formally accepted a recommendation from Shadow Minister, Warwick Smith, that the Broadcasting Amendment Bill now before the Senate be formally reviewed by a Senate Committee. When the Senate Selection Committee meets later today the Coalition will so move.

Mr Smith said the Bill has been rushed to influence the Fairfax bids. While elements address known short comings in the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (ABT) and cross-ownership provisions, there is a high degree of scepticism that the Government's intentions are but an elaborate facade.

Evidence to The Print Media Inquiry raises doubts about whether the amendments cannot be simply circumvented and that the impression of greater compliance with the law is just that - an impression.

The extent of the Government's confusion and wide community concern about its handling of this matter and now Senator Button's own expressed concern means that the Government must support the reference to the Committee.

The Legislation has in prospect seen (according to advice to me by the ABT ) approaches by bidders to the ABT to provide some details of the make up of the bids for Fairfax. We must, however, ensure that the law as proposed is to be effective and realistic and not a cobbled-together response to do nothing more than give an impression of action. We reject 'deals' in this, as in every other area of policy. We want the process to be transparent now and in the future.

Mr Smith said he hoped the Committee would deal with the matter expeditiously. He said the Senate Committee would give an opportunity to carefully scrutinise exactly what Mr Beazley is up to.

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