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Wednesday, 24 February 1971

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) (Minister for Housing}5.1) - As the Minister in charge of this Bill, if I can manage to be heard, I will reply.

Senator Hannan - I did ask for a withdrawal.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - The incident is closed. I now call Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin.

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN - I have listened to the speeches made yesterday and today in this debate. Many of the points raised by honourable senators may be more effectively dealt with at the Committee stage, and I will do so. I do not want honourable senators to think, if they are listening to me, that I have not noted the points they have made. I will attend to them at the Committee stage. One or two points that have been raised can be replied to now. Senator McClelland referred to a transaction affecting CTC7, Canberra, and John Fairfax Ltd. That transaction occurred 21 months before the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) announced on 12th December 1969 details of the new legislation, and it is therefore not really relevant. I think Senator McClelland believed that the transaction took place closer to the PostmasterGeneral's announcement.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - According to a letter I have from the Minister it occurred only 5 months before.

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN - There may be some discrepancy. I have read the information I have been given and I shall have it checked immediately. I am not trying to give the Senate incorrect information. I am giving only the information thai 1 have been handed.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is a letter dated 12th May 1969.

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN - I will take up the matter and see whether an error has occurred. That is the information I have been given. Senator Kennelly referred to 12th December as being the date under discussion. I remind him that an amendment has been moved and I shall deal with his point when we are debating the proposed amendment. Senator Hannan gave us a very interesting discourse concerning the work of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. He made a very interesting point, which I have noted and will certainly take up with the Postmaster-General. I refer to his point about qualified privilege for commercial broadcasters in respect of obligatory political broadcasts. The point was well taken by the honourable senator and I shall bring his remarks to the attention of the Postmaster-General.

Senator Wriedtmade some very complimentary remarks about the Australian Brodacasting Commission's radio programmes 'AM' and 'PM\ I am sure that the Commission is very much alive to the need to maintain and develop radio programmes as well as television programmes. Senator Webster referred to the Australian content of television programmes. Toe Australian Broadcasting Control Board issued advice of new and increased requirements to be effective from September 1971. These requirements provide for 45 per cent of programmes between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to be Australian, that proportion rising to 50 per cent in June 1972. The new requirements also provide for 6 hours of drama a month on each station between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. Senator Webster asked questions at some length regarding sections of the legislation. If the honourable senator agrees I think these questions would be better answered at the Committee stage. I thank honourable senators for speaking on the variety of subjects they dealt with in the field of broadcasting and television. At the Committee stage I shall be pleased to answer what questions I can. I thank the Senate for its support in the second reading of the Bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee

Clauses 1 to 4 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 5.

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