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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3137


Senator WALSH (Minister for Finance)(11.01) —The Government will not accept the amendment either, for the same sorts of reasons as those Senator Chipp has given. Senator Chipp referred to this matter, but I think it is important that I should repeat it: The proposed control over standards, if you like, in the Bill is a good deal less sweeping than that in the existing Act. The existing Act mentions that `anything that causes offence to the public'--


Senator Chipp —Any section of the public.


Senator WALSH —Yes, to any section of the public, can result in the offender being put off the air. That will only apply under the new Bill to breaches of the Act or of program standards. The other matter raised by Senator Chipp was about the assurance he had been promised by the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy). I have a note here from the Minister's office which I trust will cover Senator Chipp's request. It says that normally the licensee has control over the selection of programs to be broadcast. However, in relation to a live broadcast, a particular person has authority to decide which sound and/or pictures go to air. The part of section 119 which deals with the selection of programs is aimed at this sort of situation. The intention is that if a particular person abuses this authority so as to breach standards or the Act, his future participation in the selection of programs where the licensee has no control might be limited. However, this does not affect the preparation of programs where the licensee or the licensee's employees can approve or disapprove of them. The power proposed in section 119 is not a new one. The power to take that sort of action in relation to offensive programs has existed since 1942. Indeed, for these reasons the power is a good deal less sweeping than it was between 1942 and the present.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Puplick's amendment) be left out.