Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 1974


Mr ALBANESE (GrayndlerLeader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (17:52): by leave—I move:

That:

(1) a Joint Select Committee on Broadcasting Legislation be appointed to inquire into and report on potential areas for further reform of Australia’s broadcasting legislation, with particular reference to:

(a) the abolition of the 75 per cent rule, particularly in relation to regional and local news;

(b) whether the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) should be required to examine program supply agreements for news and current affairs when determining whether a person is in control of a commercial television broadcasting service; and

(c) on-air reporting of ACMA findings regarding Broadcasting regulation breaches;

(2) the committee consist of ten members, two Members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by the Government Whip or Whips, two Members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by the Opposition Whip or Whips, and one non-aligned Member, two Senators to be nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, two Senators to be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and one Senator to be nominated by the Australian Greens Whip;

(3) every nomination of a member of the committee be notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives;

(4) the members of the committee hold office as a joint select committee until presentation of the committee’s report or the House of Representatives is dissolved or expires by effluxion of time, whichever is the earlier;

(5) the committee elect:

(a) as its chair a Government member; and

(b) a deputy chair who shall act as chair of the committee at any time when the chair is not present at a meeting of the committee, and at any time when the chair and deputy chair are not present at a meeting of the committee the members present shall elect another member to act as chair of that meeting;

(6) in the event of an equality of voting, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote;

(7) three members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee provided that in a deliberative meeting the quorum shall include one Government member of either House and one non-Government member of either House;

(8) the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members and to refer to any subcommittee any matter which the committee is empowered to examine;

(9) the committee appoint the chair of each subcommittee who shall have a casting vote only, and at any time when the chair of a subcommittee is not present at a meeting of the subcommittee the members of the subcommittee present shall elect another member of that subcommittee to act as chair at that meeting;

(10) the quorum of a subcommittee be two members of that subcommittee, provided that in a deliberative meeting the quorum shall comprise one Government member of either House and one non-Government member of either House;

(11) the committee or any subcommittee have power to call for witnesses to attend and for documents to be produced;

(12) the committee or any subcommittee may conduct proceedings at any place it sees fit;

(13) the committee or subcommittee have the power to adjourn from time to time and to sit during any adjournment of the House of Representatives and the Senate;

(14) the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the Presiding Officers;

(15) the committee be empowered to print from day to day such documents and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public;

(16) the committee may report from time to time but that it make a final report no later than 17 June 2013;

(17) the provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders; and

(18) a message be sent to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting that it concur and take action accordingly.

I will speak briefly to this motion, which seeks to establish a parliamentary committee to inquire into three potential further media reforms beyond the legislation that will be introduced to the House tomorrow: firstly, the abolition of the 75 per cent reach rule, particularly in relation to regional and local news; secondly, on-air reporting of the Australian Communications and Media Authority findings regarding broadcasting regulation breaches; and, thirdly, whether the ACMA should consider program supply agreements for news and current affairs as part of determining whether a person is in control of a commercial television broadcasting service.

The intention to abolish the 75 per cent reach rule was announced in the package of broadcasting regulation reforms announced by the government in November last year. Over recent weeks, concerns have been raised that the abolition of this rule may jeopardise the delivery of regional news services or local content in general. Regional broadcasters in aggregated markets are currently obliged to meet minimum levels of content of local significance. When announcing our proposal to abolish the 75 per cent rule, we made it clear that this will be subject to adherence by any future owners of regional broadcasters with existing local content obligations in regional areas and written undertakings in respect of those obligations. We will provide to the committee draft clauses which bring effect to that policy intention of maintaining local content obligations into the future. If the committee were able to come up with a quick resolution or agree to a consensus on the 75 per cent rule, the government would include this amendment in the general package of media reform legislation.

The other issues of on-air statements and the extent to which supply agreements on news programs may constitute a form of control over media voices have been raised in public debate leading up to these reforms. The government is interested in understanding the implications of changes in these areas for possible future legislative action, hence the establishment of a joint select committee.

I thank the shadow minister for his cooperation in ensuring that this committee can be established. Then it will be possible to appoint members to the committee. Obviously, the statement I have made about the 75 per cent reach rule, if a consensus can be reached, being able to be brought forward into the legislation is one reason for expediting the establishment of this committee. I commend the resolution to the House.