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ABT-broadcast act amendments

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MEDIA RELEASE f w T Shadow Minister for Communications

5 September 1991


'Prior provisional clearance" was requested and suggested by the ABT on 18 June as a mechanism to stop the architects of avoidance schemes from enjoying the benefits of acquisitions for years before the Tribunal can catch up with them.

The question is: do the changes to the Tribunal's powers, proposed by the Minister today, address this mischief?

Today’s proposal is for a prior notice in writing of the acquisition or within seven days of becoming aware of the interest. This is not the same as "prior provisional clearance".

This is not what the preferred position of the Minister was on 7 August when he proposed a "trip-wire" which "would be a list of situations which could lead to possible breaches of ownership and control laws through the use of people or companies as associates.”

Further, with a notification system what happens if no notification is given? The obligation is on the initiator who must demonstrate due candour. What if this is not met?

Finally, the Minister outlines that this proposed change is to have application to the Ten and Seven Networks and the Fairfax group but there is no indication of when these proposed changes take effect. Will all the transactions be completed by the time this legislation is passed?

The definition of "associate" is broadened. This is a step in the right direction and brings some consistency of approach with such definitions in other statutes.

The Opposition will study the proposal carefully. We have supported cross media ownership principles and believe they must be effective. We seek greater diversity and less concentration of media ownership, that is, a much more competitive communications and media industry in Australia.


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