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Tuesday, 3 May 1932


Mr FORDE (Capricornia) .- The committee is indebted to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) for his defence of the provisions of the original bill in this connexion. We may assume that this bill was not hurriedly-introduced. No doubt the PostmasterGeneral submitted the draft of the bill to Cabinet. As an ex-Cabinet Minister I know that it is the usual custom for the Minister in charge of a bill to place it before Cabinet clause by clause, and obtain approval of its provisions. We may take it that the provisions of this bill, received the endorsement of the thirteen members of the Cabinet, before being submitted to caucus or to Parliament. No doubt those who have vested interests in wireless broadcasting have brought pressure to bear upon the Postmaster-General and his colleagues in Cabinet to make the alterations that are now proposed. But what surprises us is that the Government should have yielded so quickly to this pressure. The members of the Government, like private members, doubtless received communications from the big newspaper combines-


Mr Stacey - And ignored them!


Mr FORDE - The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) can hardly expect us to believe that; because the amendments proposed by the Government are almost identical with those which the newspaper combines requested. For instance, paragraph a of this amendment reads -

(a)   any announcement of its own future programmes.

The letter from the Brisbane Newspaper Company Limited, of Queen and Edward streets, Brisbane, dated the 31st March, copies of which were no doubt sent to all honorable members, requested that the clause should be amended to read -

(a)   any announcement of its own future programmes.

Paragraph b in the Minister's amendment reads -

(b)   a programme supplied by any organization, firm, or person engaged in artistic, literary, musical, or theatrical production, or in educational pursuits, or . . .

The letter from which I have already quoted, suggests the following amendment : -

(b   ) A programme supplied' by any organization, firm, or person engaged in artistic, literary, musical, or theatrical production, or in any educational pursuits; or . . .

Paragraph c of the Minister's amendment reads -

(c)   A programme supplied by any organization, firm, or person provided that the programme is not, in the opinion of the commission, being used as an advertisement.

The letter from which I am quoting suggests these words -

(c)   A programme supplied by any organization, firm, or person provided that the programme is not, in the opinion of the commission, being used as an advertisement.

That letter, which is signed by Charles H. Briggs, suggests almost word for word the amendments which the Government is now proposing. No doubt other members of the newspaper organizations of Australia have sent similar letters to the Government. In face of this, it surely cannot be argued that the Government has not listened to the requests of those with vested interests in wireless or other like enterprises.

I give the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) credit for objecting to this change of front on the part of the Government. If the provisions of the bill were right originally, what has happened to make them wrong? The bill was introduced only a few weeks ago, and given the blessing of the Cabinet. We have heard a good deal about the British Broadcasting Corporation lately. In the draft licence and agreement between the British Postmaster-General and the British Broadcasting Corporation there is a provision which reads -

Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as precluding the corporation from - (a.) Broadcasting matter provided gratuitously by any person with or without an acknowledgment of such provision by means of the broadcasting service.


Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - That is a provision which this Government has thrown overboard.


Mr FORDE - That is so, but if it is good enough for Great Britain why is it not good enough for us? One day we are told to tune in to Great Britain, and the next day we are told to tune out again. On this point I should like to hear again the views of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Gibson), who was Postmaster-General in the Bruce-Page Government for seven years. No one would doubt him to be a capable exponent of any case he thinks in the interest of Australia. Speaking of sponsored programmes, he said -

I take it that sponsored programmes are those provided by business firms at their own cost, the firms being permitted only to state that they are responsible for the programmes.

Unless steps are taken to control the activities of B class stations, it would be possible for one of them to secure . for, say, £3,000 the exclusive right to broadcast a test cricket match between English and Australian elevens, and the A class stations could not then broadcast a word about it except as a news item.







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