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Tuesday, 11 September 1973
Page: 745

Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr WHITLAM - Mr Speaker, it was on 20 March 1972 that the then Minister for Trade and Industry forwarded to the Tariff Board a reference which requested it to inquire into and recommend on the assistance needed for the production in Australia of motion picture films and television programs. At that time the Board already held a reference dated 28 September 1971 from the same Minister on the film processing industry, and on 1 June 1972 the then Minister for Customs and Excise forwarded to the Board a reference relating to value for duty of certain film of an advertising character. Public hearings relating to these 3 references were held concurrently. However, in view of the present Government's desire to take early action on the production of films and television programs, the Tariff Board has restricted this report to the first mentioned reference. It has, however, kept in mind the matters raised relating to the second and third references and these will be the subject of future reports. The Government has now given preliminary consideration to the report. It is not at this stage committed to the adoption of its recommendations and will be continuing with its examination of it, including the constitutional issues which it raises. The release of the report will enable members of Parliament and others to examine it and, as appropriate, to make known their views. This is a primary purpose of the release,

I should add, Mr Speaker, that it is not the practice to release Tariff Board reports except at the time of the announcement of the Government's decision concerning them. It will be clear to honourable members why this is so. An exception is possible in this case in view of the special nature of the references and of the report. It should not be assumed therefore that this is a precedent for action on Tariff Board reports in future. The Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland), whose Department was established since the references to the Tariff Board were made by the previous Government, has been invited by the Cabinet to make detailed recommendations to it for the future development of the Australian film and television industries, taking into account the report of the Tariff Board. The Minister has been asked to bring his recommendations to cabinet in the near future.

Motion (by Mr Lionel Bowen) proposed:

That the house take note of the paper.

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