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Thursday, 26 May 1983
Page: 1070

Mr DUFFY (Minister for Communications)(8.38) —I would like to reply to a couple of matters which have been raised by the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd). I have no doubt that the Opposition has some problem in understanding the consultative process because it is something totally unknown to it. The newfound concern that it has for a committee to oversee appointments such as those to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Board is indeed commendable, but a classic Johnny-come-lately exhibition by the Opposition. The other point that ought to be made, because it was referred to by the honourable member for Murray, is that the question of the consultative process, which I am pleased to learn the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) has decided to allow the Opposition to be part of, was in no way related to the amendments in the Senate.

An unfounded aspersion was cast upon the Australian Democrats on that point. When their amendments were put forward at no stage was the question of the consultative process raised by them. The honourable member for Murray talked about a deal on these amendments being accepted by the Government in return for the Australian Democrats obtaining, as he put it, some form of recognition by being involved in that consultative process. That is an allegation which is totally without foundation. If I may say so, it is also a very unfair view to have taken of the Australian Democrats in this situation because it was not a matter that they raised at any stage. Having referred to those couple of matters , I again congratulate the Opposition on engaging in the consultative process and on its new found delight in making some sort of attempt to reach consensus. It is something that has come a bit late, but better late than never.

Mr Spender —Like you.

Mr DUFFY —I will not bother replying to that. As I indicated earlier the amendments that have come forward not only are acceptable to us but also were acceptable, fortunately, to all parties in the Senate. It is with some pleasure tonight that at least we see the ABC established on a basis which will enable the recommendations of the Dix Committee of Review of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to be implemented and the ABC to get its independence, and that all the other matters in relation to the ABC that we on this side of the chamber feel very strongly about can commence.