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Media Inquiry farce.

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Senator Stephen Conroy Deputy Opposition Leader in the Senate Shadow Minister for Communications and Information Technology

MEDIA INQUIRY FARCE 28 September 2006

Government Senators have used their numbers to turn the Communications Committee inquiry into the Media Law Bills into an absolute farce.

It is clear that the Government does not want its legislation subjected to proper scrutiny by the Senate Committee.

Witnesses today are being told to limit their opening statements to just five minutes.

Opposition Senators have been restricted to just 10 minutes to ask questions of each witness.

The Committee will be forced to cram more than 30 witnesses into just two days of hearings.

This scandalous process comes after the Government has spent more than a year negotiating its media plan with the moguls.

Many groups will not even get a chance to give evidence on the most important changes to media law in 25 years.

As with the Telstra sale inquiry last year, we are seeing yet another arrogant abuse of Senate power by the Howard Government. It is determined to make a mockery of Senate accountability.

These latest abuses of power further undermine a Senate inquiry which is already fundamentally flawed.

The Government has allowed the Committee just three weeks to conduct its inquiry and give members of the public an opportunity to have their views heard.

In a complete abuse of the Senate Committee process, the Minister nominated the reporting date before the Committee had even met.

The community had just over a week to examine the legislation and make a submission to the Committee

This inquiry is taking place despite the fact that the Bill dealing with the allocation of the two digital channels still has not been publicly released. This is a key element of the Government's media plan. It is ridiculous that the Committee is being asked to conduct a rushed inquiry when the Government hasn't even finished drafting the legislation.

The public are entitled to wonder what the Government is trying to hide. The Government is clearly determined to ram this legislation through the Parliament and is arrogantly prepared to sacrifice proper Senate scrutiny to achieve this objective.

Further information: Stephen Conroy on (02) 6277 3295 or 0418 383 965 or

Mark Tapley 0418 420 065

Thursday, 28 September 2006