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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 1712

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - I point out to the Minister for the Media that the Minister for Fisheries in Tasmania has warned that the mercury content of the Derwent River is above the danger level and has asked that no fish should be consumed that have been taken from this river. In view of the increasing amount of unbiodegradable insecticides, weedicides and other offensive effluents that are finding their way into the rivers and the seas throughout and around the nation would the Minister, in conjunction with the Minister for the Environment and Conservation introduce a system of periodic warnings through the Australian Broadcasting Commission of pollution levels as a service to the public similar to weather reports?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I saw the report to which the honourable senator has referred. Of course, I would not be as familiar with the situation as Senator O'Byrne who comes from that State. In regard to the suggestion in the latter part of his question, I must point out to the honourable senator that it is the policy of this Government to guarantee the political and programming independence of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I think that the suggestion of the honourable senator has tremendous merit. Certainly I will take up the question with the Chairman of the Australian

Broadcasting Commission, Professor Downing, to see what can be done about the matter. I will also refer the matter to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to see whether the commercial television and broadcasting stations also are prepared to co-operate.

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