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«COMMERCIAL RADIO INQUIRY Report of the Australian Broadcasting Authority Hearing into Radio 2UE Sydney Pty Limited February 2000 Sydney ISBN 0 642 ...»

-- [ Page 49 ] --

Further, the Panel notes that the press release issued by the Australian Trucking Association was issued on 20 July 1999, after the Media Watch program on 12 July 1999. While the Panel notes Mr Edmonds’ evidence that the Australian Trucking Association never sought to keep secret the existence of their commercial arrangement with Mr Laws,933 the Panel is of the view that there has not been sufficient disclosure to ensure that listeners would not be misled in the context of this broadcast.

The Panel therefore does not accept the submissions of 2UE and Mr Laws in this regard.

The Panel finds that, in the presentation of a current affairs program, Mr Laws presented material in a misleading manner by withholding a relevant available fact, namely the existence of a commercial relationship between himself and the Australian Trucking Association.

The Panel finds 2UE to be in breach of clause 2.2(d) of the Codes.

PUBLIC MEETINGS

Material Provided to Mr Laws A live read script dated 5 August 1998 and entitled ‘Public Meetings’ was prepared for

broadcast on 2UE. The text read:

Safer roads, cheaper groceries, improved exports, and more jobs: these are just some of the things we can have if we get our roads back in shape and keep Today’s Truckies on the move!

More money needs to be spent on our roads … Money that we’re already paying in fuel and road taxes … The Government’s not spending it on our roads and that’s slowing this great country down!

Transcript, Mr Edmonds, p. 173.

The trucking industry is already paying their way - in fact they’re doing more than that … Today’s Truckies are being taxed 2 1/2 times more than other industries! That’s why they’re leading the charge with the Tar & Taxes Tour! My mates at the Road Transport Forum are giving you the chance to have your say at public meetings right across Australia!

These public meetings will be held during August, starting this Saturday in Shepparton, and on Sunday in Ballarat and Mt Gambier … In fact, The Road Transport Forum will be in Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, Toowoomba and Bundaberg in the next week or so. To get the exact dates and locations, you should call the Road Transport Forum on 02 6247 5832.

More Tar, less Taxes. We need it alright! Call 02 6247 5832.934 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws

The following was broadcast 6 August 1998:

Safer roads, cheaper groceries, improved exports, more jobs, these are just some of the things we can have if we get our roads back in shape and keep Today’s Truckies on the move. We need to do it. More money needs to be spent on our roads, money that we’re already paying in fuel and road taxes, incidentally. The Government’s not spending it on our roads and that’s slowing the country down and it shouldn’t slow the country down but it is.

The trucking industry is already paying their way, that shouldn’t be forgotten. In fact, they’re doing more than that, you think about it. Today’s Truckies are being taxed two-and-a-half times more than other industries. Is that fair? What’s that doing for the cost of the bit of paper I’m holding, or the pen that I have in my right hand. Today’s Truckies are being taxed two and a half times more than other industries that’s why they’re leading the charge with the tar and tax tour. Now, my mates at the Road Transport Forum are giving you a chance to have your say at public meetings right across Australia.

These public meetings - because this is the way the Government’s going to find out, this is the way you’ve got to tell the incumbent Government, you’ve got to - I tell you what that National Party will listen to you because they are desperate. And the Liberal Party will listen to you because they too, in country areas, are desperate.

Now, these public meetings are going to be held during August, starting this Saturday in Shepparton, Sunday in Ballarat and Mount Gambier. In fact, the Road Transport Forum will be in Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Bundaberg, over the next week or so.

And I’ll give you a telephone number that you should dial. This is the Tar and Taxes Tour that is being conducted by the Road Transport Forum, and what they are doing is very, very good and you must support them for your sake. Do you want to continue to pay two-and-a-half times more tax than other industries? Of course you don’t, so make your presence felt.

I’ll give you a telephone number: 02 6247 5832. 02 6247 5832. More tar, less tax. That’s the way it should be. 02 6247 5832.935 Mr Laws’ Submission to the Hearing

Mr Laws made the following submissions in relation to this broadcast:

2UE.0020.3798 ABA_Docs.0001.0021 Mr Laws submits there was nothing misleading about the manner in which the material was presented.936 Further that his listeners must have known of the association between him and the RTF when he conducted the interviews and made his comments. For example, Mr Laws referred repeatedly to ‘the truckies we call ‘Today’s Truckies’,’ to the Road Transport Forum and to ‘Today’s Truckies’ and in his interview with Carl Scully. No listener to that interview could think that Mr Laws was a ‘disinterested’ commentator upon these issues, and would put such value on his comments as the listener thought fit, knowing of Mr Laws’ affinity with trucking interests.937 2UE’s Submission to the Hearing In addition to the general submissions made by 2UE, 2UE also made the following





submission in relation to this broadcast:

The broadcast is a paid advertisement. Code 2 does not apply to advertising.938 The Panel’s Findings The Panel notes 2UE’s submission that this broadcast is a paid advertisement. However, the Panel does not accept 2UE’s submission that code 2 does not apply to advertising. Code 2 is intended to apply to news and current affairs programs. In this regard, the Panel notes clause 3.1(b), which provides that advertising programs must comply with all other relevant codes of practice. The Panel also notes in this regard its concern that advertising not be presented as news programs or other programs, as this would be a breach of Code 3.

The Panel finds that this broadcast is a current affairs program. It purports to concern matters focussing on political and economic issues of relevance to the community.

The Panel finds the available fact of Mr Laws’ commercial arrangement with the Australian Trucking Association was withheld during the broadcast. The existence of Mr Laws’ commercial arrangement with the Australian Trucking Association was not disclosed in the broadcast.

The Panel finds the available fact was relevant because:

♦ Mr Laws supported and advocated the Australian Trucking Association’s position regarding taxation and the trucking industry. For instance, Mr Laws says ‘This is the Tar and Taxes Tour that is being conducted by the Road Transport Forum, and what they are doing is very, very good and you must support them for your sake’;939 and ♦ the broadcast was favourable to Australian Trucking Association. Mr Laws says ‘Today’s Truckies are being taxed two-and-a-half times more than other industries. Is that fair?’940 The Panel notes 2UE and Mr Laws’ submissions that Mr Laws had been publicly associated with the Australian Trucking Association (through public appearances, blockade See also Exhibit 49, paragraph 224.

Submission made by Mr John Laws – Australian Trucking Association (Formerly Known As The Road Transport Forum), paragraph 11.

Submission made by 2UE - John Laws Broadcasts - Breach of Clause 2.2(d) of Code of Practice 2, D3 ABA_Docs.0001.0021 ABA_Docs.0001.0021 interventions, musical compilations, product placement and a press release) over some years, and that this must condition listeners’ expectations regarding his disinterestedness or otherwise.

The Panel is concerned here with the presentation of current affairs programs. To the extent that these broadcasts purport to represent the views or opinions of Mr Laws on matters of current affairs, listeners should be entitled to assume, in the absence of appropriate disclosure, that he is not receiving financial compensation to express those views. Listeners are entitled to assume that the public appearances or blockade interventions of Mr Laws are undertaken due to personal conviction, rather than financial obligations, to the Australian Trucking Association. Mr Laws’ public appearances and blockade interventions for the Australian Trucking Association are not, in the Panel’s view sufficient disclosure of a commercial relationship between him and the Australian Trucking Association.

Similarly, Mr Laws’ involvement in musical compilations and product placement, do not, in the Panel’s view, provide sufficient information to enable listeners to discern that Mr Laws had a commercial agreement with the Australian Trucking Association.

Further, the Panel notes that the press release issued by the Australian Trucking Association was issued on 20 July 1999, after the Media Watch program on 12 July 1999. While the Panel notes Mr Edmonds’ evidence that the Australian Trucking Association never sought to keep secret the existence of their commercial arrangement with Mr Laws,941 the Panel is of the view that there has not been sufficient disclosure to ensure that listeners would not be misled in the context of this broadcast.

The Panel therefore does not accept the submissions of 2UE and Mr Laws in this regard.

The Panel finds that, in the presentation of a current affairs program, Mr Laws presented material in a misleading manner by withholding a relevant available fact, namely the existence of a commercial relationship between himself and the Australian Trucking Association.

The Panel finds 2UE to be in breach of clause 2.2(d) of the Codes.

TAR AND TAXES TOUR

Material Provided to Mr Laws A live read script dated 10 August 1998 and entitled ‘Tar and Taxes Tour’ was prepared for broadcast on 2UE. The script indicated that it was to be broadcast on 11 August 1998. The

text read:

With the Federal Government’s long awaited tax package about to be unveiled, it’ll be interesting to see just who gets a fair go … One group that certainly deserves a fair go is Today’s Truckies! They’ve been getting a raw deal for far too long! We need these guys … Today’s Truckies are hauling all the products we use every day - and they’re hauling them on roads that need work … lots of work.

Did you realise that over half the price of diesel is tax? True. Around 40 cents per litre is tax, yet only about 3 cents goes back into our roads!

Transcript, Mr Edmonds, p. 173.

My mates at the Road Transport Forum are on the road right now calling for More Tar and Less Tax. They’re holding public meetings right across Australia. Tonight they’re in Darwin and then they’re coming down here to Queensland. Tomorrow they’ll be in Cairns and Townsville, in Brisbane on Thursday, Toowoomba on Friday, Bundaberg Saturday and on Sunday there’ll be a public meeting in Rockhampton. These are important meetings for Truckies, for farmers for all of us … Ring the Toad Transport Forum for more details 02 6247 5832. 02 6247 5832.942 Material Broadcast by Mr Laws

On 12 August 1999 Mr Laws broadcast the following:

With the Federal Government’s long awaited tax package about to be unveiled, it’s going to be very interesting to see just who does get a fair go. One group that deserve a fair go – well, there’s a few groups that do, but one in particular – today’s truckies. Now, they’ve been getting a very raw deal. I don’t know if you are aware of it. They’ve been getting a raw deal for a very long time.

I mean, we need the truckies. They’re hauling all the products that we use every day. All the stuff that you’ll pay a GST upon is going to be dragged there by a truckie. And they’re hauling them all over roads that need a lot of work being done on them, lots of work being done on them.

Do you realise that over half the price of diesel is tax? Did you know that? For the truckies, did you ever consider that? Yeah! About 40 cents per litre is tax. More than half the price of the diesel fuel is tax, and yet only about three cents of that 40 cents goes back into the roads. Is that reasonable? I don’t think it is.

My mates at the Road Transport Forum don’t think it is either, and they’re now calling for ‘More tar and less tax’. They’re holding public meetings right across Australia. They’re in Cairns at 10.30 today, and Townsville tonight. Thursday they’ll be in Brizzie; Toowoomba on Friday; Bundaberg, Saturday; and on Sunday there’s going to be a public meeting at Rockhampton.

But if you’d like to make inquiries about this – and all you fellows driving trucks out there, you should be aware of this, because it’s very, very important to you. ‘More tar, less tax’. Forty cents per litre, more than half of what you pay per litre for your diesel goes in tax, and yet only about three cents goes back onto the roads again. So it’s very important that you know about this, especially tax time. And it’s very important that you are informed so you can discuss it.

I’ll give you a telephone number that you can dial: 026 247 5832, 026 247 5832. Just ring that number and make inquiries because you should be supporting it. I mean, after all, fellows, it is your business, and it is pretty important, not just to you but to all of us.943 Mr Laws’ Submission to the Hearing

Mr Laws made the following submissions in relation to this broadcast:

Mr Laws submits there was nothing misleading about the manner in which the material was presented.944 Further that his listeners must have known of the association between him and 2UE.0020.3796 ATA.0003.0441 See also Exhibit 49, paragraph 224.



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