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Wednesday, 7 March 2001
Page: 25329

Mr STEPHEN SMITH (7:02 PM) —Mr Deputy Speaker, I must confess I was distracted by the splendour of your attire, and almost missed this stage of the bill. With the indulgence of the House I will outline the procedure that has been agreed between the Minister for the Arts and the Centenary of Federation and me for the smooth handling of these amendments.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl)—It is my understanding that you are going to first move amendment No. 1, then Nos 2 and 3, then Nos 4 to 7, and then No. 8.

Mr STEPHEN SMITH —That is right. I will outline for the convenience of the House the agreed procedure. I will move amendment No. 1, which deals with unrestricted multichannelling for ABC and SBS. When that is dealt with, I will seek leave to deal with amendments (2) and (3) together, which are the datacasting amendments. I will then seek leave to deal with amendments (4) to (7) together, which are the provisions which seek to extend the operations of the ABC Act and charter to online and datacasting provisions. I will then move amendment (8), which concerns the datacasting licence fee amendments. I will then move the second set of amendments circulating in my name which cover, on the basis of the defeat of amendment No. 1—that the ABC and SBS be provided with unrestricted multichannelling—the production by SBS of international news, which we are proposing SBS be able to do for domestic and international news. There is a difference there from the government's amendments. I understand that the government will oppose all of our amendments.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The Chief Opposition Whip, the member for Werriwa and the member for Paterson should either put on their jackets or leave the chamber.

Mr Leo McLeay —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. If you are wearing a skirt, why should we have to wear jackets?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —There is no point of order. Leave the chamber or put your jackets on.

Mr STEPHEN SMITH —My understanding is that the government will oppose all the amendments moved by me, and then move its own amendment in respect of SBS producing international news, which, as I said in the second reading debate, rectifies a combination of the government's malice towards the ABC and the Democrats' incompetence. Given the hour of the evening, it has also been agreed that, despite the firmness of the opposition's position on these matters and the difference in the policy position between the government and the opposition—to steal a phrase that the former member for Ryan was so good at using—the policy positions are well known—

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The member for Perth has the indulgence of the House to explain, but I think it is about time he got to seeking leave. I think you need to seek leave to move your first amendment.

Mr STEPHEN SMITH —I do not know that I need leave to move amendment No. 1, but the point I was about to make is that, to convenience the House, we are not proposing to divide, although that does not lessen the firmness of our position in these areas. I move opposition amendment No. 1:

(1) Schedule 1, after item 1C, page 3 (after line 19), insert:

1D Paragraph 5A(1)(d) of Schedule 4

Repeal the paragraph

1E Subclauses 5A(2) and (3) of Schedule 4

Repeal the subclauses.

This has the effect of providing for the ABC and SBS, the national public broadcasters, unrestricted multichannelling. This is a policy position which the government refused to adopt in the passage of the original digital TV legislation in June 2000. Despite the Senate agreeing to amendments to that effect, the government remains implacably opposed to unrestricted multichannelling for the ABC and SBS. As I said in the second reading debate, if you want the ABC and SBS to get unrestricted multichannelling you obviously need to change the government, and that is what people should do if they support that policy position.

Amendment negatived.