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Thursday, 21 August 1980
Page: 583

Mr MacKENZIE (CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Can the Minister for Post and Telecommunications inform the House what arrangements have been made to implement the Government's undertakings to provide a multicultural broadcasting service? Has the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts threatened this service in any way? Can the Minister also clarify the position of public broadcasters as a result of this report and the intentions of the Government to implement the service? Does he recognise that the implications of the report could be profound for some public broadcasting services, particularly station 2MCE FM at Bathurst in my electorate, which cannot broadcast to the city of Orange without a special translator licence?

Mr STALEY (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - The Senate Committee's report on this matter was helpful inasmuch as it made it clear that there was widespread support for the concept of multicultural television, and indeed the concept of multicultural television was supported by the Senate Committee. It has been supported by all major ethnic organisations throughout Australia, which also support the basic thrust of the Independent and Multicultural Broadcasting Corporation legislation. The Government's commitment to begin multicultural television, or the next exciting and experimental phase of multicultural television, on 24 October stands. The service will begin on that date in Melbourne and Sydney on Channel O and in ultra high frequency. It will, of course, proceed under the existing powers of the Special Broadcasting Service legislation, which makes this possible. The IMBC legislation also provides for improvements to the Special Broadcasting Service which are clearly supported by the Public Broadcasters Association of Australia.

The Senate Committee has raised questions for further study, and the Government will immediately put those to study. It is worth noting that in fact the Senate Committee does not say that it is its considered and final view that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should take over the next phase of multicultural television in Australia but says that it wishes the matter to be studied. As I have said, the Government will consider that. I make it quite clear that the other matters raised by the honourable member for Calare, in respect of which he has done so much good work over such a long time, are quite separate from that part of the legislation. Indeed, there are many other matters which, because they are quite separate, I believe will be able to proceed and will gain the support of the Senate. I think they will do a great deal to assist public broadcasters, and indeed all other broadcasters.

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