Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 389..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
can debate whether SBS should be included in that, but certainly those larger commercial stations should have that obligation attached to their licences.
As I have said, the opposition fully supports the motion moved by Ms Gallagher, and hopes that this will add to a fairly large amount of community concern expressed to the Australian Broadcasting Authority's inquiry about the loss of those services, and the actions that followed from that.
I have moved an amendment to the motion in order to dispel the impression that it is only the ACT government that has taken any tangible steps to date-or at least has foreshadowed any tangible steps to date-to push this issue very hard in a way that will see change actually occur.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to see the federal Minister for Communications. I wrote to him as soon as the Channel 10 announcement was made last year, and I asked to speak to him about the problem with the local broadcasting market. That meeting took place a couple of weeks ago, and I made the point to him very strongly-the same point that I have made here today-that there ought to be local obligations on broadcasters broadcasting in significant marketplaces.
I am pleased to report to the Assembly that he had some sympathy for that point of view, wished to see, of course, the findings of the Broadcasting Authority's inquiry, but felt sympathetically disposed towards that viewpoint. I feel that, if there is a finding of that kind from the ABA inquiry, there is a very good chance that action will follow at the federal level, with respect to broadcasting, which will see this kind of mechanism placed into the legislation. I think we would all agree that this would be a very positive step.
My motion adds reference to my meeting with the federal minister, to ensure completeness. I note that, the day after my meeting, the news carried a report that the ACT government had sought an extension to allow it to make a submission. I am not sure if I am being excessively uncharitable if I suggest that, because I had the public meeting with the minister, or advertised the fact that I had a meeting with the minister, the very next day the government sought an extension of time to make a submission to the inquiry. Did one follow from the other?
In any case, the motion should not just reflect the fact that a proposal has been made, in that a proposal for a submission has been put on the table by the ACT government-we have not seen the submission yet, but we understand that it is coming-but that actual actions should follow, in the form referred to in my amendment. I ask members to support the amendment, as well as the motion.
I formally move:
Add to the end of paragraph (2):
"and notes that the Leader of the Opposition has made representations to the Federal Minister for Communications in support of the inclusion in broadcasting licences of an obligation to broadcast local news services".