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Tuesday, 20 May 1980
Page: 2888

Dr JENKINS (SCULLIN, VICTORIA) - Being an optimist, I address my question to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications. I refer the Minister to the penultimate paragraph of the High Court's decision in the case of Hardiman and others against the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, where the judges of the Court expressed their disapproval of the Tribunal's somewhat unusual action- to use the words of the judges- in appearing to put substantive arguments in relation to the matters before it. Is it a fact that the advice from the Attorney-General's Department to the Tribunal initially was that the Tribunal should not appear in this case to put substantive arguments. In reliance on this advice, was it the Tribunal's initial inclination not to appear to put substantive arguments? Was the decision to reverse the Tribunal's initial stance taken after consultation between the Attorney-General and /or the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and Tribunal members? Did the Attorney-General and /or the Minister argue in favour of the Tribunal appearing to put substantive arguments? If so, what were the reasons for the Minister and /or the Attorney-General commending this unusual course of action to the Tribunal? Did the Attorney-General and /or the Minister direct the Tribunal to appear to put substantive arguments?

Mr STALEY -The Tribunal is not subject to direction by Ministers in these sorts of matters. The Tribunal made its own decision- it was not a decision which was based on particular advice- to appear before the High Court in its own way. I can assure honourable members that the Broadcasting Tribunal is very familiar with all that the High Court said in its judgment and will, of course, incorporate in its procedures and approaches all that flows out of the High Court decision.

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