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Friday, 29 April 1932

Mr RIORDAN (Kennedy) .- The amendment moved by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) conclusively proves his inconsistency. Throughout, the endeavour has been to free the Australian Broadcasting Commission from political control. The bill was temporarily withdrawn last March because it savoured too much of political control. Re-adjustments were made, and the Minister was deprived of many of the powers that previously were allotted to him. Now the right honorable member for Cowper desires that, after an efficient body of men has been selected and paid high salaries to act as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, they are not to be deemed competent to select a general manager; the Minister or parliamentary machine must do that for them. Yet I must congratulate the right honorable member for Cowper on seeing the light. Gradually he is coming round to our point of view, and shortly he will make the statement that he believes in the nationalization of this and other great public services. Although of a conservative disposition, he has a secret hankering for nationalization, but he lacks the courage of his convictions. This party does stand for nationalization, and it does not attempt to humbug and mislead the people on the issue. The amendment involves the principle of political interference. The right honorable member for Cowper cannot have it both ways. He must either stand for national control or noninterference, and give the commission full power to select its staff. No man with an independent spirit would act as chairman of the commission if he were dictated to by a political party. I contend that we should not interfere with the activities of the board.

The country is calling out for economy, and this Government was appointed to put such a policy into effect. Now, after appointing five commissioners at substantial salaries to conduct broadcasting, it proposes to appoint a general manager and six senior officers at salaries which are not disclosed. My experience of government departments is that when an officer is placed in charge of a new department he has a staff of twelve or more around him within three months.

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