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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 2 Hansard (5 March) . . Page.. 572 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

of whether it is objectively reflecting and representing the views and the needs of the ethnic communities.

I think that there are some questions around that. Nevertheless, we will always try to support the provision of extra resources for SBS. Grudgingly, I will have to support Mr Hargreaves' motion, but might I point out that I did have occasion to write to the chairman of the board of SBS about 18 months ago to complain about SBS bias in a particular case which involved me being in prison overseas and how, through two Dateline programs and a couple of news programs through late 1999 and 2000, it had quite voraciously reflected the Serbian government's-I repeat, the government's-point of view about my particular drama and what they thought I was.

Mr Hargreaves: It is as bad as the rugby, Steve.

MR PRATT: Something like that, yes. In the same breath, SBS deeply criticised CARE Australia, a fine Australian/international non-government organisation. I would like to record here today that that has been the only concern I have had with SBS. Otherwise, I do wish it well in its battle to gain more resources.

MS MacDONALD (5.23): I rise today in support of the motion by Mr Hargreaves calling for the Assembly to express to the federal government its support for the triennial funding submissions of the ABC and SBS. I strongly support the funding submissions. The ABC and SBS provide unique services to the Australian community, services which are very much supported and appreciated by a great many Canberrans. I would say that that was definitely shown at the rally which I attended in support of the ABC in 2001. There were literally thousands of people rallying in support of funding for the ACT.

SBS contributes to the diversity of Australian culture by enabling Australians to experience high-quality programs sourced from overseas as well as by providing local programming in a variety of community languages. SBS adds an international dimension to broadcasting that is not available through other networks. The ABC and SBS are essential sources of information and cultural content for people of diverse backgrounds, particularly those who are housebound due to illness, disability or carer responsibilities.

Canberrans want and deserve a media which is diverse and of high quality and which responds to their desire for a mirror of their community. Not only do we want to know what is going on in Canberra and gain information about our own community, but also we want a forum in which to voice our opinions. That, however, is not the exclusive domain of public broadcasting services.

The government recently provided two submissions relating to the Australian Broadcasting Authority's report on the adequacy of information programs on regional commercial television services. The submissions called for the introduction of tougher conditions for regional television licences. We want television stations to meet their obligations to the community in return for the right to have a commercial television licence. That means that we want the people who provide television and who are not public broadcasters to connect with their local communities, which we do not believe they are currently doing.

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