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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3190 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

programs broadcast between 6.00 pm and 8.30 pm are allowed a maximum of 13 minutes per hour of advertisements and promotions.

Even if all of the 260 hours of C programming were broadcast before 6.00 pm, there would still be nearly 44 hours of advertising per year that a child would be exposed to just from watching less than an hour of TV a day. If we assume that each advertisement was 30 seconds long, there would be around 5,200 advertisements per year that a child would see. If a station decides, as it is allowed to do, to show half of its C programming after 6.00 pm, there would be nearly 50 hours of advertisements per year, equalling a possible 6,000 advertisements per year.

The restrictions on content in commercials refer to the requirement that the material not be demeaning, distressing or frightening, or depict unsafe uses of products or unsafe situations. There are also restrictions on advertising alcohol and sections that regulate pressure in advertisements and clear presentations about the product or service.

Whilst a child's diet is primarily a parent's responsibility, as a parent, I would appreciate it if the messages that my child is exposed to when she watches TV do not consistently promote unhealthy eating choices. Parents all want to do the right thing by their children, but it makes it easier if when we do the right thing we are not struggling against a tide of slick corporate advertising directly aimed at our children.

We acknowledge that childhood obesity is an increasing problem, with a number of health ramifications into the future, and we have accepted that a holistic approach is required to deal with it. I think that a sensible approach should also be to examine the messages that children receive and look at whether the protection we offer children's innocent sensibilities should not be extended further in relation to the advertising of food. Now is the time to undertake such a review. We have an increasing awareness of the health problems faced by our children, but we have not yet reached the point where advertisers are responsible for a large proportion of our children's programming.

In Europe, for instance, where there is increasing pressure to follow in the steps of Sweden and Norway and not allow any television advertising directed at children under 12 years of age, there is a fear that such a move would reduce the quality of children's programming as children's programming is substantially funded by revenue from the advertising sector. I would hate to see a similar situation in Australia where we were so reliant on the revenue of advertisers to provide funding for children's programming that advertisers were able to dictate our policy on children's television advertising standards.

As members of the community, we do have a responsibility to our children to deliver both positive health messages and outcomes and an environment conducive to these messages having an effect. TV does play a large part in the lives of many children, both as a source of entertainment and information and as a potentially negative influence on their health. I think that it is appropriate to add the voice of the Assembly to the voice of the New South Wales Childhood Obesity Summit in calling for a thorough review of the advertising standards for children, with a view to promoting healthy lifestyle messages.

I amended the motion placed on the notice paper after discussions with Ms Tucker, as the chair of the Standing Committee on Health. I believe that the standards need to be reviewed, but I am happy with the adequacy of the standards being inquired into by the

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