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Wednesday, 7 November 1973
Page: 1567

Senator DAVIDSON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My question is addressed to you, Mr President. It relates to a television presentation scheduled for this evening and which, according to my information, is to include an actuality broadcast from the Aboriginal group in front of Parliament House. Without commenting on the subject of the telecast, I ask you for some information on the propriety of such a course. Is the permission of the President required? If so, has it been obtained? What is the situation regarding television interviews with groups within or adjacent to Parliament House? What is the role of Parliament in a situation like this?

The PRESIDENT - Matters relating to the precincts of Parliament House have been a vexed question with me since I have been placed in my position by the vote of honourable senators. The situation relating to the actual physical precincts of Parliament House is a legal one which seems to defy rational analysis at the present moment, as I have explained to honourable senators in the past. By custom in recent years the area across from the double roadway in front of Parliament House is acknowledged by the Presiding Officers to be an area which is under the administration of the Minister for Services and Property and, as I am reminded by the learned Clerk, of the Minister for the Capital Territory. The second matter that arises from this question- I take this opportunity to make this perfectly clear to honourable senators- is that there has been in existence since 1937 an Ordinance of the ACT forbidding groups of more than 20 protesters to assemble inside an area 100 yards from the physical walls of Parliament House. I shall be grateful if Ministers of State will observe that Ordinance which has never been repealed. As far as the Australian Broadcasting Commission is concerned, that is a matter for the Minister for the Capital Territory and the Minister for Services and Property.

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