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Tuesday, 7 December 1976
Page: 3392

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - The honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) made reference to what he described as hysteria on this side of the Committee. He said that Government supporters had a feeling that the Australian Labor Party had made the ABC its front. Of course, we are dealing with the Broadcasting Tribunal so proposed by this clause. The. honourable member for Robertson ran off the rails for a moment. I should like to correct his comments. He referred to Government members regarding the ABC as an ALP front. For the sake of the honourable member for Robertson I should like to relate to the House the words uttered at a conference by Mr Marius Webb on 28 November 1975 when he referred to the ABC commissioners. His comments have caused some concern on this side of the Committee in recent times. He said:

The Commissioners are now all Labor appointees of Connie Benn, Richard Harding, Hackett, Lashwood, Smith and Harris and Jacobsen are all pretty much on side-

He adds:

You cultivate Harding a bit? Yes he is good. He walks around the corridors handing out 'Shame Fraser, Shame' buttons but other than that . . . and so it goes on. If the honourable member for Robertson sat down one day and read this transcript of the address given by Marius Webb a year ago, he would learn-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Giles)Order! I am not sure but I think the honourable member is talking about the Commission and not the Tribunal. This clause does not deal with the Commission. Will the honourable member tie his remarks to the Tribunal?

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Mr Deputy Chairman,you allowed the honourable member for Robertson to talk about the Commission. I was only correcting what he said because later his remarks will be forgotten and lost. I was saying that the Commission was a cesspool of people with Labor leanings. I will not go so far as to say that its members were 'commos' and 'radicals'. I want to speak to the clause we are supposed to be dealing with and which relates to the Tribunal. I would like the Minister for Post and Telecommunications (Mr Eric Robinson) to explain to the Committee how he can guarantee that the Tribunal will be responsive to community needs. I note that proposed new section 16(1) (b) contains the words 'to determine the conditions subject to which advertisements may be broadcast or televised by licensees'. In recent weeks there has been growing concern in this country about the quality and effect of advertisements shown during what might be described as children's hours, that part of the day set aside for viewing by children. Children are frequently used in the advertisements and the advertisements are frequently directed towards children. We know that television advertising is very expensive and no advertiser is likely to outlay huge sums of money to produce an advertisement unless he is convinced that it is going to bring about a profitable return. It would therefore seem that advertisements directed towards children pay handsome dividends. One honourable member remarks that it is pretty cheap acting and that is so but there again the expenditure of large sums of money does not always guarantee the best result, as we saw with the previous Labor Government.

Returning to the point regarding children being used as actors and being the focal point of advertisements, I believe there is a growing awareness in the community of what is happening in this area. The yapping and the barking have started in Sydney and Melbourne. I come from Queensland and I was speaking of this matter there. Queensland is always ahead of most of the other States and I believe this awakening came from Queensland in the first place. As this awareness grows relating to the damage that can be done in this area I wonder how we can be sure that the Tribunal will be responsive to public needs. I want the Minister specifically to assure me and other honourable members in the chamber who I know are vitally interested in this matter how it is proposed that there will be a response.

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