Commonwealth Numbered Regulations - Explanatory Statements

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Issued by the Authority of the Minister for Transport and Communications

Broadcasting Act 1942

Political Broadcasts (Commonwealth Elections) Regulations

Section 134 of the Broadcasting Act 1942 (the Act) provides that the Governor-General may make regulations for the purposes of the Act.

Part IIID of the Act provides for the prohibition, during election periods. of the broadcasting of political advertising. Division 3 of Part IIID provides that free election broadcasting time be allocated to political parties and candidates contesting elections.

Under sections 95H, 95L and 95M of the Act, regulations may be made prescribing a system for the administration of free time, including the allocation of time to political parties and candidates.

Section 95J of the Act states that Part IIID will not apply in relation to an election to a Commonwealth or State Parliament or a Territory Legislative Assembly until regulations are made for the purpose of section 95H in relation to that election.

The Regulations will prescribe the system for the administration and allocation of free time political broadcasts in Commonwealth elections.

Details of the proposed regulations are as follows.

Regulation 1 cites the name of the Regulations.

Regulation 2 provides interpretation of terms in the Regulations.

Regulation 3 defines the meaning of a reference to previous elections, providing for the situation where a by-election has intervened between the present and last election for a vacancy to the Parliament. In such cases the by-election will be taken to be the previous election for the purposes of Regulations 11 and 12.

Regulation 4 defines the prescribed period in relation to an election as commencing upon the close of nominations for the election or at the beginning of the third last Saturday before the election day, whichever is the later, and ending at midnight on the Wednesday immediately prior to the election day.

Regulation 5 prescribes the minimum number of candidates that must contest an election on behalf of a political party for the party to satisfy the requirements of a represented party in paragraph 95H(1)(b) of the Act. That number is 20 for an election other than a half-Senate election and 6 in the case of a half-Senate election.

Regulation 6 defines the manner in which the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (the Tribunal) must allocate free time to represented parties.

Regulation 7 prescribes the manner in which a represented party's voting share is to be determined. It provides for the transfer of votes to and from a party's total share where Members of Parliament elected at the last election join or leave the party in question. Subregulation (5) provides for the allocation of votes received by parties which contest a Senate election under a joint ticket.

Regulation 8 prescribes the method of. calculating the total available free time in respect of an election. This is achieved by adding the total free time available in each State and Territory which is in turn calculated by multiplying the number of eligible broadcasters in the State and Territory by the number of broadcast days multiplied in turn by the total number of minutes that must be broadcast each day by each broadcaster.

Regulation 9 prescribes the manner in which applications for a grant of free time under subsection 95K (2) of the Act are to be made.

Regulation 10 prescribes the manner in which free time is to be allocated to independent Senators contesting the current election under Section 95L of the Act.

Regulation 11 prescribes the method of allocation of free time to political parties other than represented parties, and to independent candidates and groups of candidates under section 95M of the Act.

Regulation 12 sets out the way in which the voting share of applicants for the free time under section 95M of the Act is

calculated. Subregulation (5) provides for a system of allocating votes received by parties which contest a Senate, election under a joint ticket.

Regulation 13 prescribes the method of calculating the voting share of independent Senators who are elected at previous periodic elections and are candidates in the current election. Such Senators are taken for the purposes of subregulation 11(3) to have contested the previous election.

Regulation 14 specifies that the Tribunal must send a notice of its decision to grant or refuse to grant free time to the applicant.

Regulation 15 prescribes the manner in which units of free time are to be created and distributed for the purpose of subsection 95P(1) of the Act. The manner in which parts of units left over after the allocation of free time to political parties, candidates and groups are to be added together and allocated is also prescribed as required by subsection 95P(2) of the Act.

Regulation 16 prescribes the manner in which the Tribunal must allocate units of free time to broadcasters.

Regulation 17 sets out how broadcasters must use the free time units.

Regulation 18 prescribes when a broadcaster Is not required to make a unit of free time available.

Regulation 19 provides that if a broadcaster is restricted by the Tribunal in relation to the amount of time available for advertising, then their entitlement will be increased by the amount of free time they are required to broadcast.

The Regulations commence on Gazettal.

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