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Thursday, 28 April 1932

The CHAIRMAN - Such an amendment would not be in order. The honorable member must specifically state the amount that he intends shall be paid.

Mr THOMPSON - I move-

That the words " five hundred ", sub-clause 2, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words "four hundred and ninetynine ".

That will give honorable members an opportunity to express their opinions as to the salary they consider should be paid. I believe that this is the most vital clause of the bill, and that upon the status of the commission depends its value. I do not intend to traverse the ground that I covered in my second-reading speech, but I reiterate that it is my opinion that £500 per annum is a totally inadequate salary to be paid to the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. If we persist in giving that official such a paltry sum, we shall create a position similar to that which exists in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank Board. I am aware that many honorable members do not agree with me on this issue, but I believe that members of the Commonwealth Bank Board should have full-time jobs, and that their remuneration, and particularly that of the chairman, should be greater. I do not wish to say anything disrespectful about Sir Robert Gibson, but I am strongly of the opinion that he should receive a much higher salary than the £800 or so that is now paid to him, also that he should give the whole of his time to his task, which is a most responsible one. I desire that the very best men available shall be chosen as members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. If only £500 is paid to the chairman, it is probable that the gentleman selected will give 90 per cent, of his time to his business, and the remaining 10 per cent, to the affairs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. . In that event, the £500 paid to him would be practically wasted.

Mr Cameron - What does the honorable member suggest?

Mr THOMPSON - That the chairman should be paid £1,000, that the vicechairman should receive £500, and that £400 per annum should be paid to the other members of the commission.

As I pointed out in my second-reading speech, broadcasting in Australia is an undeveloped industry. In this country, only 5 per cent, of the population is represented by licence-holders. In Great Britain, the proportion is 10 per cent., while in the United States of America, where no licence-fee is charged, 40,000,000 persons listen in, representing about 30 pei- cent, of the population. It is therefore obvious that this Commonwealth Parliament is opening up a new industry that has tremendous possibilities. At present, the revenue derived from this source is about £403,000 per annum. If the commission knows its job and sets about it properly, it is not too optimistic to expect that the revenue from broadcasting will reach £1,000,000 per annum in twelve or eighteen months. In view of the magnitude of the proposal, a salary of £1,000 or £1,500 is insignificant. By being parsimonious now, we may save £1,000 or £1,500 a year, and throw away hundreds of thousands of pounds. I impress upon honorable members that Australia is the most backward of the civilized countries in respect of broadcasting.

Mr Holloway - Nonsense !

Mr THOMPSON - When he says " Nonsense ", the honorable member is merely displaying his ignorance on the subject. It should be the endeavour of the broadcasting commission to double the present revenue. That cannot be done if its members are part-time officials, for then they will spend only a couple of hours a week on the work of the commission, and hand over control to the general manager. I do not wish to waste time in debating a proposition that is so obvious, but urge the Government to do the job properly while it is about it.

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