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Wednesday, 29 April 1942

Mr McEWEN (INDI, VICTORIA) - The Australian Broadcasting Commission has made the anouncement, which has been proved to be without foundation, that the Government of the day would, if necessary, approve of the use of the Australian Militia Forces for service abroad. As this Government instrumentality has stated that authority for its announcement rests in official sources, will the Prime Minister cause inquiries to be made in order to learn the source, and advise honorable members of it? Will the right honorable gentleman also cause inquiries to be made into the circumstances which enabled so important a government instrumentality to make an announcement which, whilst purporting to be official, was, in fact, untruthful, without a denial by the Government during a period of three weeks subsequent to its having been made?

Mr CURTIN - I am asked to inquire into the correctness of statements made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The Australian Broadcasting Commission carries on its functions in accordance with the law which has operated in this country for some years. It has control of such news services as it broadcasts. The Government has nothing to do with the appointment of persons to the Australian Broadcasting Commission staff, other than the Commissioners themselves. What news gatherers it has, or how reliable or accurate they may be, is a matter entirely for the commission itself. No authorized statement has been made by the Government, and therefore no such statement could be made over the air, or by any other medium, regarding what shall be done with the Australian Militia Force0.

Mr McEwen - Are we to understand that it will be possible for the Australian Broadcasting . Commission on future occasions to make what are announced as statements founded upon official information, and for those statements to go without denial even if incorrect?

Mr CURTIN - I did not know that the statement had 'been made. Nobody told me. No one had brought it to my notice until the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) raised the matte." in Parliament to-day. Abill is being introduced in the Senate in respect of broadcasting, and a report on the subject has been prepared by a parliamentary committee.

Mr McEwen - That is not the point.

Mr CURTIN - The point is thatI am asked to inquire why a certain statement was made.

Mr McEwen - And who made it.

Mr Rosevear - Who is the official spokesman ?

Mr CURTIN - I do not know who the spokesman is.

Mr Harrison - No doubt the Australian Broadcasting Commission could supply that information.

Mr CURTIN - I do not know whether the statement was made in other than the Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcast.

Mr McEwen - It was published in the press, but I am directing my inquiry to the announcement madeby the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Mr CURTIN - I shall endeavour to ascertain from what source the Australian Broadcasting Commission got its information.

Mr McEWEN (INDI, VICTORIA) - And inform the House ?

Mr CURTIN - Yes.

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