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Thursday, 21 February 1980
Page: 195

Mr LIONEL BOWEN -I direct my question to the Prime Minister. I draw his attention to the premature death of the outstanding Australian journalist, Mr Tony Joyce, due to wounds inflicted while undertaking a hazardous assignment in Zambia for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I also want to place on record the fact that the Prime Minister and his good lady visited Mr Joyce in London prior to his death. Is the right honourable gentleman aware that the

ABC does not insure its overseas staff against injury or death while covering hazardous assignments, including military action, because of a Public Service Board policy which also fails to recognise the special risks taken by foreign affairs and trade personnel overseas? Is he aware that as a result the widow and six-year-old son of Mr Joyce will be paid little more in compensation than he would have earned in a year? Will the honourable gentleman consider, as a matter of urgency, directing the Public Service Board to permit the ABC to make a substantial ex gratia payment to Mrs Joyce which would take into account the fact that Mr Joyce, in normal circumstances, would have had a working life of some 30 years and, further, that he died performing a service of national importance? Will the Prime Minister also take action to ensure that other ABC journalists like Mr Joyce and other government employees, particularly in foreign affairs and trade posts overseas, operating at considerable personal risk can be adequately insured?

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (WANNON, VICTORIA) (Prime Minister) - I will certainly have the matters that the honourable gentleman raised examined and I will report further to him in relation to them. I think the honourable gentleman's question has served as a very timely reminder that in a number of areas of activity people, in pursuit of their professions, can be placed in great danger. Indeed, if they are to do their jobs as they would expect they probably have to visit areas of very real danger and concern. Southern Africa has been one of these. It was tragic and unfortunate that in the proper reporting of instances that occurred Tony Joyce was badly wounded and later died. Since I am saying something about this particular matter I know that the House would want me to add that all members of this House, and I am sure all people in the wider Australian community, would like our general sympathy and concern expressed to Mrs Joyce. Mr Speaker, it may be a little unusual but perhaps you would have no objection to passing on our expression of sympathy.

Mr SPEAKER -I will do so. I will report to Mrs Joyce the expression of sympathy by the Prime Minister in which all members of the chamber joined.

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