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Friday, 29 April 1932

Mr Fenton - I appeal to the honorable member to observe the rules of fair play by refraining from delaying the passage of the measure.

Mr Fenton - I am not prepared to withdraw my amendment.

Mr.RIORDAN (Kennedy) [2.48].- If the Minister's amendment is carried, all control over expenditure will pass from this Parliament. We do not know what salaries are to be paid. The

Premier of every State, and the Prime Minister and the Assistant Treasurer of the Commonwealth are exerting every effort to cut down expenditure; yet, without having any say as to what appointments shall be made, or what salaries shall be paid, we are asked to agree to a proposal under which control over expenditure will be taken away from this Parliament. The Government will be the custodian of the revenue collected from broadcasting, and should not delegate to a commission its powers in regard to expenditure. In the past we have had highly-paid officers controlling commissions, and the results have been detrimental to the best interests of Australia. I am the holder of a listener's licence, and look for the redress of any wrong to the body to whomI pay the fee of 24s. a year. Is it intended that the commission shall be responsible for the collection of wireless revenue? If the Minister allows control to pass out of his hands, the commission will be able to spend the revenue it receives without any regard for the protests of those who contribute to the upkeep of wireless services. From an educational point of view, the bill is not worth' the paper on which it is printed. The arrangement of the programmes will rest with the general manager and the board. How could they be removed from office unless this Parliament were able to exercise some control over them? The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) claimedthat Government members should show their consistency by supporting a proposal to take control out of the hands of the Minister. It is now sought to cover up their inconsistency by substituting the Governor-General for the Minister; and that, it is pointed out, is a distinction without a difference. The principle involved is identical with that to which the Government so strongly objected at an earlier stage, and its acceptance now means that the time occupied in the consideration of the bill this morning was wasted. The Ministerhas not given the committee any information as to what the effect of his proposal will be. If the position is not altered, why is it necessary to make the change? In the interest of the taxpayer, some limitation should be placed on the salaries that are to be paid. The bill should be dropped, and control of broadcasting allowed to remain where it is at the present time until our financial position improves. This will impose an additional burden on the taxpayers of the Commonwealth, who will not have any say in the expenditure, although the Government will be responsible for any losses incurred by the commission.

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