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Monday, 4 September 2006
Page: 1

Senator ADAMS (12:32 PM) —As my speech on the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2005 [2006] was interrupted last sitting, I would like to remind people that I am speaking about the draft amendment that proposes that the Minister for Health and Ageing determine the benefit of an advertisement to the health of children. This means that the Minister for Health and Ageing would take on an excessively high administrative burden. As well, there would be a shifting of responsibility from the industry to the bureaucrats advising the Minister for Health and Ageing. Appropriately, ACMA, not the relevant minister, is responsible for the regulation of commercial broadcasting services. It would be inappropriate for the health minister to have such a direct role in the day-to-day regulation of advertising.

The government is fully aware of this issue and is taking steps to tackle it. Whilst this has nothing to do with the bill before us, I will outline some of the government’s initiatives—for the benefit of the Greens, who are obviously unaware of them. The Prime Minister announced the $116 million Building a Healthy, Active Australia package in June 2004. The four-year package consists of a range of measures to tackle the problem of declining physical activity and unhealthy eating habits of Australian children. One example is the government funded ‘two fruit and five vegetables’ advertising campaign, designed to provide families with reliable, practical and consumer friendly information on the importance of healthy eating and physical activity to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Another example is the recently launched $6 million national campaign to encourage children to exercise for at least an hour a day. This advertising campaign is designed to provide families with reliable, practical and consumer friendly information on the importance of physical activity to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

In July this year, the Minister for Health and Ageing, the Hon. Tony Abbott, announced the creation of a new ministerial task force to tackle rising obesity rates. The task force will coordinate the anti-obesity campaign involving government, industry and the community. In addition, a series of surveys will be conducted, beginning with children, to determine what Australians are eating and their level of physical activity. The Australian government also has a range of policies, programs and publications which aim to improve the dietary habits and physical activity levels of all Australians.

The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2005 [2006] is a simple bill, aimed at providing people in rural and regional areas of Western Australia with television services similar to those currently enjoyed by viewers in Perth. The bill allows for the implementation of the agreed model for the introduction of commercial digital television services in remote Western Australia—all areas outside Perth. The new television service will be a combined effort from GWN and WIN, and I congratulate them on their efforts in bringing this idea to reality.

We can forget about the proposed amendments by Labor and the Greens as, while they are matters that will be carefully considered by the government, they have no bearing on this particular piece of legislation. Like everyone in the community, I am looking forward to not only the extra programming but also the clear picture and better sound that digital television will provide. I am sure that other Western Australian senators will agree with me that this bill certainly will help us and everyone in the rural community of Western Australia. I support the bill.