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Tuesday, 17 September 1974
Page: 1115

Senator GUILFOYLE (VICTORIA) - I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. Is an inquiry being held into the future administration of Radio Australia? If so, what are the terms of reference? Is it possible that Radio Australia could cease to be administered by the Australian Broadcasting Commission? What alternative structure is being contemplated? Is there a proposition that Radio Australia may become part of the Department of the Media or of the Department of Foreign Affairs? Will the Minister give an assurance that nothing will be done to impinge on the integrity and independence of this highly respected overseas broadcasting service? Is the Minister aware that journalists employed by Radio Australia fear that the independence and impartiality of the overseas news service could be jeopardised by administrative changes?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) -Some time ago- I think about 12 months ago- the Prime Minister in his then capacity as Minister for Foreign Affairs and I, along with my colleague the present Minister for Foreign Affairs who was then Special Minister of State, had discussions about the future of Radio Australia. As a result of those discussions I was requested to hold talks with officers of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Public Service Board, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Australian Information Service and of my own Department to obtain a more effective projection of Radio Australia, not with the idea of suppressing it in any way but with the idea of boosting it. At that time suggestions had been made that Radio Australia should be given complete independence and autonomy and not be subject to the control of the Australian Broadcasting Commission under whose jurisdiction it had been for some time. The long and short of the discussions is that they eventuated into a committee consisting of officers of the Australian

Broadcasting Commission, the Public Service Board and my Department conducting a survey into the overall effectiveness of Radio Australia. That committee was recently established. It is conducting its inquiry and I am told that the inquiry will take some time. I can assure the honourable senator that so far as I am aware no intention has been stated by anyone at this stage that Radio Australia should be removed from the area of control of the ABC into the area of control of my Department. But there is generally an inquiry into the overall effectiveness of the organisation and it is being looked at.

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