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Friday, 29 April 1932

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) .- The bill originally drafted by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) contained a clause similar to that now before the committee, and for that reason members of the Opposition might be expected to support the clause now; but the present Government has drastically altered the proposals of its predecessor in regard to the control of broadcasting. My government proposed a salary for the chairman of the commission, which contemplated a full-time appointment; necessarily that appointment would have been made by the Government. If that principle had been retained there would be no need for the amendment proposed by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page). But as the commission is to be composed of parttime men whose attention will range over many fields of activity, there will not be one full-time officer appointed by the Government in charge of broadcasting unless the amendment is agreed to. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) seemed to be astonished that anybody should suggest that Parliament should exercise control over the commission. When he has had a little more experience he will not give expression to such reactionary sentiments. The general manager is to be the only full-time officer directing broadcasting throughout the Commonwealth, and yet we are told that this Parliament should not, through the Government, have a voice in his appointment. If that is to be our policy we had better abolish. Parliaments, and hand over government to a bureaucracy. The danger pf political control can be exaggerated. There is justification for the amendment which, however, would not be necessary if the chairman were to be a full-time officer as the previous Government intended. The departure from that principle has gravely weakened the control of broadcasting. I have no desire for finicky interference by any minister or government with the control of broadcasting, nor do I desire a member to be embarrassed 'by the importunities of persons who believe that their talents should be voiced over the air. But in the final resort this Parliament must have control. Broadcasting is one of the most important services of the community

The commission now proposed will consist of men giving only the fag end of their time to this important work. The only permanent directing officer will he the general manager. Honorable members have spoken of the lack of harmony that might result if the general manager were appointed by the Government ; but in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank the Governor was so appointed. The Commonwealth Bank Board is charged with the management and control of that institution, but broadcasting does not fall within the same category as banking; it is not of the same serious importance. Would any member of this committee favour the appointment of the Governor of the Commonwealth Bank by the Board of Directors, who themselves are part-time officers? The Governor of the Commonwealth Bank is the only controlling officer of that institution who is employed on full time, and, therefore, he is appointed by the Government. If the chairman of the Broadcasting Commission were made a full-time officer and were appointed by the Government, I would not support the amendment.

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