Second Reading SpeechSenator Heffernan (New South Wales - Parliamentary Secretary to Cabinet)
The Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill 2000 seeks to establish a new broadcasting licence regime for international broadcasting services transmitted from Australia.
The bill will establish a new licensing category for international broadcasting services transmitted from Australia. The scheme is being introduced because there is currently no regime governing the content of international broadcasts from Australia. In certain circumstances, such broadcasts could be contrary to the national interest. The bill provides a means for the Minister for Foreign Affairs to determine whether a broadcast service is likely to be contrary to the national interest. In determining this, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will have regard in particular to the likely effect of the service on Australia's international relations.
Under the new licensing scheme, all international shortwave radio services transmitted from Australia, and all international satellite radio and television broadcasting services originating in and transmitted from Australia, will be required to obtain an international broadcasting licence from the ABA. The ABA will refer applications for licences to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, together with a report about whether the proposed service complies with the international broadcasting guidelines to be developed by the ABA. The Minister for Foreign Affairs is then required to make an assessment of whether the proposed service would be contrary to the national interest. The Minister for Foreign Affairs will also be empowered to direct the ABA to issue formal warnings to international broadcasting licensees, or suspend or cancel an international broadcasting licence if, in the opinion of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the service is contrary to Australia's national interest.
Significant growth in international broadcasting is expected and Australia is likely to be a base for some services broadcasting to the region. This new regulatory regime will provide a licensing framework for international broadcasting services transmitted from Australia whilst safeguarding Australia's national interest.
The Government has considered the recommendations made by the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee in its report on the bill. The bill now provides for the international broadcasting guidelines to be a disallowable instrument. The bill also provides that if a person makes a request to the Minister for Foreign Affairs for a statement of reasons in relation to a decision by the Minister to direct the ABA not to allocate a licence, or to suspend or cancel a licence, the Minister must either provide a statement to that person or prepare a statement about the decision and cause a copy to be laid before each House of the Parliament. Provision has also been made for nominated broadcaster declarations, to allow providers of transmission services to hold international broadcasting licences on behalf of the content providers of international broadcasting services.