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Thursday, 17 October 1974
Page: 1808

Senator GUILFOYLE (VICTORIA) -I direct a question to the Minister for the Media. I refer to the Minister's reply to a question yesterday regarding the proposed amendments in the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1974. The Minister stated that the Government insists that the Bill is designed to confirm what has already been believed to be the existing powers of the Board and is being introduced only because these powers have been challenged by the licence holders. Does the Minister agree that the proposed amendments to section 16(3) substantially amplify the regulatory powers of the Board by means of the use of directions in lieu of orders and regulations? As this clearly dispenses with the need for any regulations or orders and takes away the protection of parliamentary scrutiny over control which would apply to production, programming, news and advertising functions, will the Minister have the amendments redrafted, to be consistent with his statement of yesterday?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - I do not agree with the contention put forward by the honourable senator. If she looks at the Broadcasting and Television Act she will see that one of the functions of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is to lay down rules, regulations or standards in accordance with its determinations from time to time, and that in so doing it shall consult with licensees of commercial television stations. Clearly it was the intention of the Parliament that this matter should rest in the responsibility of the Control Board and not in my responsibility. If the honourable senator turns to the speech made by the then Postmaster-General when he introduced amendments to the Broadcasting and Television Act in 1956 at the time when television was introduced in Australia, she will see that he said:

The Royal Commission on Television considered that selfregulation would not be sufficient to secure that commercial television programs would be of suitable standard to satisfy the public . . . With those considerations in mind, the Government proposes, . . . that a licensee should be required to provide programs which comply with standards determined by the Board, and to vary his programs, if so directed by the Board, so that they shall conform with those standards.

What we are now seeking to do is to clarify the powers which Parliament originally intended to give to the Board.

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