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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1944

Senator STEELE HALL (South AustraliaLeader of the Liberal Movement) - Since the fairly long argument which took place last night there has been a reasonable amount of agreement in the various viewpoints expressed on this particular clause so that there can be an effective and yet fair quota system set in motion for the exhibition of Australian short films. Despite some disparagement of my amendment last night, I feel sure that the regulation-making power is a very big safeguard for the members of this House in relation to what the Minister does, because the last part of the regulation-making power, which is now accepted so far as clause 10 has gone, says in fact that power shall not be exercised otherwise than in accordance with any regulation made. That is a very big safeguard.

Looking at the other side of the Opposition's amendment which proposes to exclude subparagraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) of clause 5 ( 1) (b), I think we can all understand what the Opposition is trying to do. However, I think it is being unreasonable in proposing to exclude subparagraph (iii) because that sub-paragraph is a very wide definition in the sense that it refers to films that are designed to illustrate or interpret aspects of Australia or of the life and activities of the Australian people. I can only say that some of these films are made quite uneconomically at times. We may only get such a body as a film commission to make them. I think various productions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission do a very great amount to expand Australian productions which could not be shown on an economic basis. I would like to think that a fairly good spirit of co-operation all round could be extended to save clause 10 by the Opposition not proceeding with the exclusion of subparagraph (iii). I think, that is a very reasonable proposition.

I remind the Opposition again of the importance of the Minister's regulation-making power. I ask the Opposition not to under-estimate the safeguard which has now been included in clause 10. If the Parliament does not like what the Minister must set out in regulation, Parliament can say he cannot have it. That is paramount to what we are talking about. We are not now talking about the Minister being able to direct or approve, regardless of what the Parliament wants. What we are saying is that the Minister may approve these various factors and the quotas and the proportions. He will have to set out either the individual films to be made or certainly the type of films proposed, and Parliament will have the opportunity to disallow.

I know that the Minister has fought strongly for sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii). At this late stage after hours of debate it. is time to be factual. My assessment is that the Opposition is going to knock out clause 10 if it does not have its amendment passed. If later in the debate the Opposition adopted the principle of trying to save clause 10, which is a most important part of the Bill for the encouragement of the Australian film industrythe Opposition cannot expect to get all its own way- I suggest that it drop its insistence in relation to sub-paragraph (iii) and allow in that general description in regard to the oversight of the Parliament through the regulation. I hope that the Minister might be able to respond in some form by not going ahead with his opposition to the Opposition 's proposals in relation to sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii). If the Opposition did as I suggest, from my experience in the making of legislation, that would be a fair compromise all round and it retains the essentials for the industry with the safeguard of Parliament.

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