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Tuesday, 21 May 1985
Page: 2246

Senator PETER RAE(4.55) — After some publicity which was given by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Four Corners program to the hearing of Estimates Committee C proceedings and some of the matters that arose in relation to the National, I received a great deal of correspondence. I do not intend to refer to all of the correspondence that I received. I indicate simply to all the people who wrote in with a variety of suggestions on what ought to happen to the ABC that I shall summarise those suggestions and send them to the ABC. There is one exception that I wish to pursue, not solely because of the person it comes from, although the person it comes from holds a special position in relation to the Parliament. That person raised an important matter which was pursued at the Estimates Committee C proceedings and which should be pursued a little further. That person sent me a letter which stated:

Isn't something going to be done about Wendy McCarthy being permitted to draw a salary from the Australian Bicentennial Authority while at the same time being paid a stipend as Deputy Chairman of the Corporation? I find it astonishing that no one appearing before your Committee could say what she receives by way of stipend from the Corporation.

What on earth were those fifteen officers doing in Canberra if they didn't know more than they claimed? Why didn't Mr Whitehead appear before the Committee personally if his Staff are so bereft of information?

That letter came from the Hon. Clyde Cameron, AO. It is a fairly lengthy letter, and it relates to a cross-section of matters which arose from his reading of the Hansard of the Committee's proceedings. The question he has raised is a question which a number of other people have raised. Is it reasonable that someone who, judging from an answer to a question asked by Senator Peter Baume, appears to be receiving a Remuneration Tribunal allowance of $13,564 per annum as Deputy Chairman of the ABC-I have a document here which shows that amount is paid to Wendy McCarthy as Deputy Chairman-should also receive payment as a full time member of the Australian Bicentennial Authority? Does the Bicentennial Authority expect its officers to devote their full time and attention to the duties to which they were appointed? Since she was appointed to the Bicentennial Authority, has she devoted any time during normal office hours to ABC business? If she has devoted any time to ABC business has she been given special leave by the Bicentennial Authority? If so, has her salary been adjusted downwards accordingly? Many of these sorts of questions have been raised in correspondence sent to me. I have summarised them by reading the questions raised in the letter from the Hon. Clyde Cameron.