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Monday, 26 March 2001
Page: 25679


Dr Lawrence asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 6 February 2001:

(1) Has there been a request from anyone for terms of the lease to Christian Voice of the Cox Peninsula Transmitter; if so, (a) when was it made and (b) what was its disposition.

(2) Has the Government instigated, or is it aware of, an inquiry into the nature of Christian Voice; if so, what is known about the organisation.

(3) Were there other organisations who wished to use the transmitter; if so (a) who were they and (b) what processes denied them use of the transmitter.

(4) Has there been a social impact study on the possible effects of broadcasts by this Christian group to Indonesia during a period of conflict between Christians and Muslims.

(5) Has the Indonesian Government or other governments in the range of the transmitter been invited to comment on the Christian Voice presence.


Mr McGauran (Minister for the Arts and the Centenary of Federation) —The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) The Property Group within the Department of Finance and Administration that conducted the Cox tender process has advised that it provided the terms of the property licence to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade both prior to and after its execution. No other party has sought such details from the Department of Finance and Administration.

(2) The Department of Finance and Administration has not instigated any inquiry into Christian Voice Australia, nor is it aware of any such inquiry. However, Christian Voice has provided the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts with the following summary of its broadcasting activities.

Christian Voice (Australia) Ltd is a charity and wholly owned subsidiary of Christian Vision, a charity founded by Mr Bob Edmiston in the United Kingdom in December 1988. Christian Vision's headquarters are located in West Bromwich, near Birmingham, in England.

Christian Vision broadcasts programmes in major languages incorporating music, entertainment, news, health, education and general interest alongside Christian teaching and training. It owns broadcasting facilities in the following countries:

United Kingdom

Christian Voice International (CVI) studios, based in West Bromwich, provide 24-hour per day English programming, via satellite, to Africa. This service can be heard in Central and Southern Africa through a combination of shortwave and FM stations.

Africa

In 1994 Christian Vision established shortwave and FM radio stations near Lusaka in Zambia. 'Radio Christian Voice' broadcasts in English on 106.2FM to Lusaka and on 105.8FM to the Copperbelt. The short-wave station broadcasts 'Christian Voice International' to Central and Southern Africa.

As mentioned above, Christian Voice International's English radio service is also rebroadcast in some other African cities.

The Americas

Christian Vision USA has studios located in Miami Lakes producing 24-hour per day Spanish and Portuguese radio programming that is available via satellite to the whole of Latin America and the Caribbean via radio station affiliates in some 30 Latin American cities. The service is also broadcast across Central and Southern America from Christian Vision's own shortwave station, “Voz Cristiana”, near Santiago, Chile and world-wide via internet radio.

Australia

Christian Voice (Australia) intends to broadcast to South East Asia, China and India in English, Mandarin and Hindi from the shortwave transmitters it purchased from the Commonwealth at Cox Peninsula, near Darwin. In addition, Christian Voice has purchased 2 acres of land at Maroochydore in Queensland where it plans to build studio facilities for the production of all of its services to be aired from Cox Peninsula.

(3) The Department of Finance and Administration has advised that the sale of the movable plant and equipment at Cox Peninsula and the granting of a property licence over the site was conducted via a two stage international tender process. The two other parties who participated in the process were Merlin Communications International Ltd and the International Broadcasting Bureau. Christian Voice was the successful tenderer for both the property licence and the moveable plant and equipment at the site.

(4) No.

As part of the tender process for the shortwave broadcasting facility on Cox Peninsula, the Government determined that the granting of a property licence to Christian Voice was not contrary to the national interest.

Christian Voice's services are licensed under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has the power, under that Act, to direct a licence be cancelled if the Minister is of the opinion that the service provided under the licence is contrary to Australia's national interest.

(5) No.