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Thursday, 12 October 1972
Page: 1500

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - Is it a fact that last Monday week the Minister for Works telephoned officials of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Tasmania and demanded to appear on the current affairs programme "This Day Tonight'? Is it a fact that, after an initial refusal from one official, the Minister's demands were met and that he did appear on the programme that night in a segment related to the Jetair issue? Is it a fact also that the Minister contacted officers of the ABC, including the General Manager of the ABC. Mr Talbot Duckmanton, to complain about that segment not being used in the mainland States?

Senator WRIGHT - I appeared on 'This Day Tonight' in Canberra on last Thursday week by invitation, in the presence of a representative of the Australian Labor Party. The subject was Jetair. I stipulated that that appearance would be on the basis that any criticism of the transaction that was to come on the programme should be made known to me. I thought that it wholly was. When it came, I criticised it. The following night, 'This Day Tonight' in Canberra saw fit to expose a session on the same subject without any notice and without any answer or opportunity for criticism. I saw it at my home on Monday night. I waited until Tuesday morning and communicated with the producer of 'This Day Tonight' in Hobart.

As Senator O'Byrne refers to officials, it should be known that this man was a Labor candidate in the Tasmanian State election last year and, following that campaign, was reinstated as the producer of this current affairs programme in Tasmania. This reinstatement led to the resignation of 4 other officers who thought that the integrity of the programme was being impugned by the appointment as producer of a publicly avowed political representative. I make no animadversion against the producer. I did not understand him to refuse my request to give an answer to the programme which had been produced ex parte. My request was referred then to the manager in the presence of the producer who said that of course I would be readily given that opportunity. That was supplemented by a request that the same opportunity should be given outside Tasmania to refute that matter. That was the subject of the communication with the General Manager of the ABC. That is where the story can rest for the moment; but it is not resting there.

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