Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Journalists and the broadcasting services bill



Download PDFDownload PDF

a j l ,A U 8 T H A L IA <

MEDIA RELEASE

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

6 July 1992

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

WARWICK SMITH M.P.

Journalists and the Broadcasting Services Bill

Journalists have every reason to be concerned about the powers Government has given the new Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), Warwick Smith, Shadow Minister for Communications, said today.

It was for this reason the Coalition proposed amendments to clauses 200 and 201 of the Broadcasting Services Bill.

Clause 200 of the Bill which protects the panel conducting a hearing says:

"A person must not: (a) obstruct a member of a panel conducting a hearing; or (b) disrupt a hearing: or (c) do any other act or thing that would, if the hearing were a proceeding in the

High Court, constitute a contempt in the face of that court." The penally is imprisonment for one year.

The Coalition sought, by the addition of subclause (ba), that a person must not: "require a journalist to answer a question or to produce a document where the answer to the question or the production bf the document would disclose the -.ยท. identity of a confidential source of information."

An additional subclause was also proposed in Clause 201 which sets out non-compliance with the requirement to give evidence (which also attracts a penalty of one year's imprisonment): "It is a reasonable excuse for a journalist to refuse to answer a question or

to produce a document if the answer to the question or the production of the document would disclose the identity of a confidential source of information."

These amendments would have provided journalists with the protections they now enjoy.

It is regrettable that neither the Democrats nor the Government saw fit to support us.

The Prime Minister's assurances that Minister Collins "is considering measures to protect the legitimate interests of journalists in protecting their sources" is unconvincing in light of his other statement that print journalists could now be subject to the control of the ABA. Mr Keating is also talking about making the ABC subject to the private investigatory

powers of the ABA.

What is the Government up to? Could there be an election coming on?

ccntacr------ Vlvlmmu Shield 003 31 4022------------------------------------------ :-----------------