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Friday, 29 November 1985
Page: 2621


Senator WALSH (Minister for Finance)(4.03) —Senator Vigor asked for an assurance that the Government does not have the Australian Broadcasting Corporation lined up for funding cuts next year. It is true that the Government does not have the ABC lined up, but I add the caveat that the ABC, along with every other claimant on government funding, will have to take its place in the queue. I will give no guarantees.

I refer to the amendments that are proposed to the Broadcasting and Television Legislation Amendment Bill 1985. The amendment to clause 18 adds a 60-day provision. It provides that if the Minister for Health has not responded to the form of an application to advertise medicine within 60 days, the advertisement may proceed. The Government will oppose this amendment, but not very strongly because we see it as being superfluous. I am advised that approval for such advertising is usually given within 10 days, so a 60-day limit is well outside that. It appears from the debate in the House of Representatives that Mr Porter, who spoke for the Opposition, was somewhat confused about this. The confusion was between the advertising of medicines on wireless and television and the requiements under the Customs Act for the Department of Health to approve the promotional pamphlets which are issued. It is pretty clear that some of the spivs, sleazebags and snake oil merchants that hang around the Liberal Party have been lobbying Opposition members on this matter. Opposition members know they do not need this amendment but they feel they have to throw some sort of bone to the spivs and sleazebags. We will oppose that amendment but we will not really push our opposition. Before I leave that subject, I have a telex here, dated today. It is addressed to Mr Wilson of the Department of Health and it says:

In response to this morning's telex I confirm that to the best of our knowledge there have been no significant delays or problems associated with the Department's administration of section 100 (6) of the Broadcasting and Television Act.

As for section 116 (2) which the Opposition proposes to amend, the Government will oppose this amendment. It is the Government's intention to amend that section on the prohibition of political broadcasts within five years and, indeed, to remove that prohibition. That particular amendment has nothing to do with the substance or the subject matter of this Bill and it is the Government's view that this provision should not be tied on to this Bill because we will act on it next year.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Referral to Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committee