Senate debates

Tuesday, 27 March 2018


Communications Legislation Amendment (Online Content Services and Other Measures) Bill 2017; In Committee

1:41 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Innovation) Share this | Hansard source

Last night was the first time that Labor learnt of this amendment, which proposes a change to administrative law on a matter that is not related to the restriction of gambling promotions during live sport but, rather, is motivated by concerns about potential changes to the content quotas for Australian and children's content. Labor have had very limited opportunity to obtain advice on this amendment, which does not relate to the substantive issue before the Senate under this bill. Obviously we understand and share the concerns about Australian and children's content that this amendment is directed towards. However, we're cautious about making amendments to administrative law on the fly.

Labor note advice of the ACMA provided on notice to a question at Senate estimates last October that program standards made under section 122 of the BSA are not disallowable instruments in the usual sense, having been exempted from the general provision for disallowance under the Legislation (Exemptions and Other Matters) Regulation 2015. That regulation has been made in recognition of section 128 of the BSA, which vests parliament with the specific power to amend a standard determined or a code registered under part 9 of the BSA. We understand that section 128 sets a higher bar than disallowance by one house. But, based on the information to hand, we understand the following. Standards made under section 122 of the Broadcasting Services Act have been exempt from disallowance since 2003. The exemption from disallowance of these standards is not a recent invention. Prior to the Legislation (Exemptions and Other Matters) Regulation 2015, these exemptions were included as a table in the primary legislation. While this amendment would allow standards made under section 122 to be disallowed and may provide the Senate, for example, with an avenue to disallow program standards, it is not believed to be in the public interest. It may create uncertainty, as conceivably a standard that was disallowed could then be remade using the power in section 128 of the Broadcasting Services Act.

Labor calls on the minister to release the report of the content review so that the public can discuss and consider the evidence on the question of how best to support Australian and children's content. The report was supplied to the minister and it should be released. It was informed by the department, by the ACMA and by Screen Australia.


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