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Communications: lies, lies & damned lies

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Shadow Minister for Communications Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives



Labor's descriptions of its achievements in communications are farcical and its assessment of Coalition Policies positively misleading, Warwick Smith, Shadow Minister for Communications, said today.

Lie 1: Radio

The Coalition's support of radio during debate on the Broadcasting Services Bill was demonstrated by our amendments which were finally taken on board by the Government and we supported the two-to-a-market rule.

Also, an independent assessment of the impact of GST on the broadcasting industry by KPMG Peat Marwick shows that removal of the wholesale sales tax - many items which attract 20% or 30% WST - and its substitution by a GST will have a beneficial effect on the industry.

Lie 2: ABC and SBS Sponsorship

It was the Government that gave SBS the rights to sponsorship in October last year - not the Coalition.

It is the Government that is now forcing advertising on the ABC's proposed Asian Television venture - not the Coalition.

Advertising for the ABC has never been an option for the Coalition. That was stated clearly in our 1988 policy and has been repeated by me on several occasions. I have no problems with the type of corporate underwriting of cultural programs previously seen on the ABC such as 'Esso's Night at the

Opera'. Whether the ABC wishes in the future to pursue such sponsorship is, of course, entirely up to them. COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY


Lie 3: Phone charges

The Treasury quotation of dearer telephone calls is simplistic. Dearer than what?

AOTC itself, is unable to produce any estimate of the impact of the GST on phone charges in an environment where STD and international charges are on the decline; where it can only estimate a WST in the order of $370 million. We know AOTC pays around $180 million in Pay Roll Tax. How much is paid

by their vast vehicle fleet in fuel tax which will be removed by a Coalition Government?

Lie 4: Orchestras

We are reviewing our 1988 Policy on the divestment to the States of the Orchestras. I have indicated that I believe this policy is now inappropriate. I would want a fairly broad overview so that we come up with a policy that is sensible for the future of the Orchestras, given that we support them very strongly and recognise the centrality of their role in Australia's cultural life.

'Its your choice' does not outline the fiasco communications has become under this Government. Just look at three recent examples, the Print Media Inquiry, Pay TV and, as of today, no members on the Australian Broadcasting Authority board which is to start next week.

'Too little - too late' has been the hallmark of Labor's Communications Policy.

Contact: Warwick Smith 003 44 8517