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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 570 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

vital source of independent news, current affairs, information programs and local drama. They also provide state and local perspectives on news and current affairs which are not shown on nationally-networked programs and they also do, as stated today, provide an important service during times of crisis and need.

Just as a postscript, I wish to restate that the Democrats support the independence of the ABC and SBS boards. The Australian Democrats have introduced legislation in the Senate to establish a joint parliamentary committee to oversee ABC board appointments. That would mean that Don McDonald, Michael Kroeger and Peter Reith would still be able to apply to be on the board, but I just wonder whether they would get there on merit alone.

I am certain that this motion will succeed, hopefully with unanimous support, indicating just how important the SBS and ABC are to all Australians and the ACT community.

MRS DUNNE (5.14): I wish to speak briefly in support of the motion. The Liberal opposition supports the notion of having independent and adequately funded public broadcasters. We have always been committed to the ABC and we have always to remember that the SBS was, in fact, an initiative of the Fraser government and that the principal architect of the SBS as it currently exists and has always existed is the present member for Kooyong, Petro Georgiou. So these are Liberal initiatives which we are happy to support, but I would like Ms Dundas to tell me as a mother where I can go in Australia and not hear Triple J, so that I can have break from time to time.

MS TUCKER (5.15): Mr Hargreaves has explained why the ABC and SBS require a significant boost in funding in order to be competitive in the digital broadcasting environment and to provide a multichannel service. The Greens support strong, independent public broadcasting, and the ABC has an enviable reputation as an independent broadcaster. We also support diversity in broadcasting, and SBS is a world-leading player in bringing cultural diversity to television broadcasting.

Broadcasting, of course, is an area of Commonwealth jurisdiction and the Assembly cannot expect to have a great deal of influence over Commonwealth funding decisions and policies in this area, but we certainly have a right and responsibility to make our views known on this issue and to represent our constituents in this matter.

The Greens are fond of the notion of thinking globally and acting locally, and this is a good case in point where global and national considerations are very much linked with local ones. At a time when we, as Australians, can be seen to be more and more subservient to United States interests economically, politically and militarily, the last thing we want is to allow ourselves to be any more culturally subservient to the US than we currently are. More importantly, despite our present subservience to some aspects of US interests, an active and independent cultural identity in this part of the globe can only assist us in maintaining healthy international connections.

At a local level, the Canberra community values very highly the independent broadcasting provided by the ABC, both in local news and current affairs and in the treatment of national and international issues In addition to news and current affairs, the community also values the local content in drama and other programming provided by the ABC.

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