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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3122

Senator BOSWELL —Has the Minister representing the Minister for Communications seen a Press release in the Sydney Daily Tele- graph of Saturday, 15 October which is headed: 'ABC Chief calls for school sex training'? Mrs Wendy McCarthy, the Deputy Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said: 'Schools should introduce masturbation training programs for teenagers'. She also said: ' It would help them to become better sexually adjusted'.

Senator Chipp —Are you against that?

Senator BOSWELL —Yes, I am. She also said: 'It was time that masturbation was treated sensibly and taught by special teachers in schools'. Can the Minister inform the Senate if this is the official policy of the ABC? Does the Government endorse Mrs McCarthy's views? If the Government does not endorse the views of Mrs McCarthy will the Minister reprimand her for making these statements, as he did with her predecessor Professor Leonie Kramer? If the Government does not support these views and finds them offensive will the Minister give the Senate a categorical commitment that Mrs McCarthy's name will not be put forward as the commissioner for sex discrimination?

Senator BUTTON —Mr President, I am fascinated by the honourable senator's interest and concern about this topic. I must say that while he was asking the question I was wondering what his own view was, but as it comes in the form of a question of course it is my responsibility to say what the Government's position is in relation to this matter. First of all let me say it is not the Government' s position to interfere in the program content of the ABC. It is not our function--

Senator Walters —When did you change your view on that one?

Senator BUTTON —I changed my view on that one after I was chastised by Senator Walters. It was only after Senator Walters said a few words in the Senate about it that I changed my view.

Senator Peter Baume —You really left yourself open.

Senator BUTTON —Are you talking about the last incident or today?

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Minister to answer Senator Boswell's question.

Senator BUTTON —For the enlightenment of Senator Boswell, Miss McCarthy has denied that she said any such thing and said that the allegation to which the honourable senator referred is nonsense. That is my understanding of the matter. But, irrespective of whether she said that, it is not the Government's business to interfere in ABC program making. That is the position adopted by the Government.