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Thursday, 5 December 1985
Page: 3034

Senator PUPLICK(3.39) —I move:

That the Senate take note of the paper.

We had a debate last Friday about section 116 of the Broadcasting and Television Act in which I moved, on behalf of the Opposition, that section 116 (2) of that Act be repealed. With the support of the Australian Democrats and in the teeth of the opposition of the Government, that amendment was carried and is now forwarded to the House of Representatives for its concurrence. It is therefore with a great deal of interest and satisfaction that I see that the Human Rights Commission, in report No. 16 on Freedom of Expression and section 116 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942, recommends the amendment of section 116 (2).

Senator Chipp —It just shows how brilliant you are.

Senator PUPLICK —It does indeed. It shows a meeting of minds on the matter. It recommends that section 116 (2) be modified so that if there is to be any exclusion of the dramatisation of political material on television it should be confined to the so-called `election period', which is defined within the relevant section of the Broadcasting and Television Act. The report goes on, interestingly enough, to make recommendations about section 116 (3) and to suggest that that section of the Act be amended so that all registered political parties as defined in section 4 (1) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 with validly nominated candidates standing for election should have the benefit of the reasonable opportunities rule; that is, some access to time on television provided free during part of the electoral processes.

I do not want to detain the Senate any longer, other than to say that I hope the Government, in determining its attitude to the Senate's amendment to section 116 (2), will be guided by the suggestions made by the Human Rights Commission and will therefore find it within its collective heart to support the amendment which was made by the Senate, supported by the Liberal and National parties and by the Australian Democrats, and which has now received the endorsement of the Human Rights Commission, most of the recommendations of which usually find favour with the Government, and rightly so.

Question resolved in the affirmative.