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Democrats detail amendments to A.B.C. bill

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No. 82/115 CANBERRA 17 September 1982


Australian Democrat Spokesperson on Communications,

Senator John Siddons, today released more details of

amendments the Democrats will move to the Australian

Broadcasting Corporation Bill.

"Yesterday I announced the Democrats would move amendments

to three important parts of the Bill - to implement the

Dix Committee recommendations relevant to the manner in

which complaints are handled, to give A.B.C. employees

who are denied promotions the right to information which

led to someone else being promoted, and to change the

Bill so Parliament and not the Executive appoints Directors.

"In response to requests for more information about our

intentions regarding the third area mentioned, we will

seek to amend sections 12 and 21 of the Bill to provide

for the appointment of eight non-executive Directors

as follows:

Three Directors to be appointed by the Senate, which

appointments subject to approval by the House of

Representatives. Three Directors to be appointed by the

House of Representatives, which appointments subject

to approval by the Senate. One Director to be appointed

by the Governor-General. One Director to be nominated

by the A.B.C.1s staff.

The Governor-General to have the power to appoint acting

Directors to fill any vacancies which might arise, but to

hold office on the Governor-General1s appointment for

not more than six months.

2 .

"The actual procedures by which the Houses would make their

appointments would not be specified in the Bill, but would

be left to the Houses to determine. It is envisaged however

that each House would appoint a committee to consider

nominations and to make recommendation for appointments.

The Government would be able to suggest nominations to

these committees and the committees could call for

suggestions from the general community.

MThere are precedents for appointments by the Houses of

Parliament to Statutory Authorities, for example each House

appoints members to the Council of the Australian National

University and the National Library of Australia.

Senator Siddons also announced the Democrats were

examining amendments to introduce a B.B.C. style complaints

mechanism in addition to the Community Affairs Officer

recommended in the Dix Report.

"We feel there is a role for a small committee outside the

A.B.C. to hear complaints by persons directly affected by

programs, on the model of that which now exists in Britain.

But the present proposal in the Bill is outrageous and

draconian and will be voted against by the Democrats,"

Senator Siddons said.


Senator John Siddons (03) 622 521

Nigel Brand (03) 622 521

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