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Radio Australia: sale of Cox Peninsula transmitters.

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Radio Australia: Sale Of Cox Peninsula Transmitters Laurie Brereton - Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs

Media Statement - 4 June 2000

The Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurie Brereton, today condemned the reported sale of the former Radio Australia Cox Peninsula transmitters to the British broadcaster Christian Voice International. Christian Voice is controlled by Christian Vision, a United Kingdom registered religious charity.

"This is another bad foreign policy decision by a government with little commitment to positive engagement with Australia's neighbours", Mr Brereton said.

"Driven by short-term cost cutting, the Howard Government's slashing of Radio Australia and now the sale of the Cox Peninsula transmitters runs completely against our national interest."

"Expatriate Australians and our friends in Asia have been denied a reliable and easily accessible source of Australian news and information. Crises in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Timor and now Fiji have all underlined the value of a strong Radio Australia service. But the Howard Government remains pig-headed in its determination to wreck Radio Australia and sell the Cox Peninsula transmitters."

"Sale of the Cox Peninsula facility is against the recommendations of reports by the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee on Radio Australia in May 1997 and by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade on Australia's relations with ASEAN in April 1998."

"The bipartisan report of the Joint Standing Committee noted that Radio Australia 'was much appreciated by millions of ordinary people in the region' and 'listened to and relied upon by the elites of the region and by expatriate Australians'. The report described the Howard Government's cuts to Radio Australia's budget as 'particularly savage' and further noted:

'for all witnesses to the inquiry, the most counterproductive and incomprehensible action in Australia's regional public relations was the effective closure of Radio Australia to much of the region. … Most of South East Asia receives either a poor or no signal from [Radio Australia's transmitter at] Shepparton. We have in reality lost our voice in Asia.'"


The Joint Standing Committee urged the Howard Government to 'restore the Cox

Peninsular transmitters to full operation for the use of Radio Australia'."

"The fact that Coalition members of the Joint Standing Committee recognised the foolishness of their own Government's actions underlines just how short-sighted the Howard Government's treatment of Radio Australia has been. Two years on, the Howard Government is determined to complete its folly with the sale of Cox Peninsular. They are doing so in advance of Parliament's consideration of the Government's own legislation for the licensing and regulation of international broadcasting from Australia."

"The Howard Government has not responded to any of the recommendations of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee's report on the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill (No 4 1999). This legislation has not yet been debated, let alone passed, by the Parliament. By agreeing to the sale of the Cox Peninsula transmitters to a British religious broadcaster, the Government is preempting its own regulatory framework."

"The handling of this issue by Foreign Minister Downer and Communications Minister Alston is a clear betrayal of Australia's national interest.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.