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Thursday, 28 April 1932

Mr NAIRN (Perth) .- The analogy of the control of the Commonwealth Bank is useful in the framing of this measure; but the differences between that institution and the proposed Broadcasting Commission are so great that, in my opinion, it would be utterly unwise to adopt it in its entirety as a model. The office of chairman of directors of the bank is very much more onerous and of far greater importance to the country than that of the chairmanship of the Broadcasting Commission can possibly be. Being a purely commercial institution, it is practicable to specify that the directors of that- institution shall possess certain commercial qualifications. But broadcasting covers a very much wider field, and one that has yet to be explored, whereas banking has already been explored and proved for many years. -Any list of persons qualified by previous occupation for appointment to the Broadcasting Commission would have to be either so small that probably it would exclude many desirable persons, or so wide as to render the process impracticable.

The first principle that the committee has to determine is, what is to be the character of the principal officer of this commission? There must be one man to whom we shall look to provide the motive power for the general development of broadcasting; and the question is, whether that man should be the chairman of the commission or a subsequently appointed general manager. The Cabinet has decided that the commission shall be advisory in character, and I take it that its constitution will be followed by the appointment of a general manager possessing, high technical qualifications. Prom what I have heard, I am not prepared to say that the decision of the Government is a wrong one; therefore, I shall support it. But whatever method is decided upon should be adopted completely* The amendment is a sort of compromise between two ideas that have been put forward. If the commission is to be purely advisory in character, it seems to me that the remuneration proposed is quite adequate. In the present state of our finances, we should receive no credit from the country if we were to pay higher rates. Under the amendment the salaries would be practically doubled, but yet would not provide for adequate remuneration in the case of the technical officer to whom we must look to carry out the details of the scheme. Either one method or the other must be decided upon. I prefer that which the Government proposes, of appointing an advisory commission in the first place, and, subsequently, a general manager to carry out the details. Whether that officer should be appointed by the Minister or by the commission itself, is not of very great moment. There are considerations in favour of the appointment being made by the commission. In the first place, those who make the appointment should have the time to prosecute very considerable inquiries. In view of the many other matters engaging the attention of Ministers at the present time, I cannot agree that they are in a particularly strong position, to form the most accurate judgment as to the best man to be appointed. I should think that the members of the commission, whose one publicservice will be the control of broadcasting,, should occupy a better position to form an accurate judgment.

But there is another good reason why the matter should be left in the hands of the commission. We have heard a good deal concerning what is described as political influence. An appointment that was made by the commission would bc entirely free from that objection. On the whole, I consider that the Government has advanced the best proposals, and I shall therefore give it my support in regard to clauses 7 and S.

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