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Friday, 29 April 1932

Mr RIORDAN (Kennedy) .- There is no indication in this provision, which deals with the powers and functions of the commission, that there will be any improvement in the programmes broadcast. Many country people are anxious that the broadcasting service shall be used more extensively for educational purposes, perhaps by using the system in country schools. Some of the musical programmes now broadcast are of little or no educational value. Families living in the country have not the same opportunities for receiving musical instruction as those in the metropolitan area. The teachers themselves, in country districts, are not able to keep abreast of current musical developments. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are paid to theRoyal Academy of Music in examination fees - a fact which indicates the interest taken in musical training in this country. The Government should do its part to assist in this direction by seeing that dwellers in country districts are able to receive lectures and instruction on musical subjects by wireless. Even the ordinary programmes given over the wireless would be made much more interesting and instructive if they were accompanied by suitable explanations. For instance, to the uninitiated, the song, "You tak' the HighRoad and I'll tak' the Low," probably means very little, because they do notknow thehistory of the song. It is much the same as if I were to go to a performance at a French theatre. It would mean nothing to me, because I would be unacquainted with the language ; but, if the script of the play were put before me in English, I should be able to follow it with enjoyment. Pianoforte music appeals to me very much; but, because I have not had the advantage of a musical education, a selection from Chopin would mean little or nothing to me unless it were properly explained. Only recently the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) told me something of the story behind the song " When other lips and other hearts." What would that song, without any explanation, convey to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) ? Probably about as much as it would convey to me. I was told that the man who composed the music of that song was never able to publish it, because he was a beggar. On one occasion, he went to the house of a certain bank manager to beg for clothes. While the bank manager was out of the room getting the clothes, the beggar sat down at the piano and played the music which he had composed. Hia benefactor, hearing the music, was greatly impressed by it, and promised to finance its publication. The beggar went out into the street, and Avas killed in an accident. That story would be of great interest to the child mind, and, in regard to music, the child mind may be of any age from five to 55.

Let us consider the position of a boundary rider living on the borders of the Northern Territory. He may have a family of eight or ten, and be desirous of giving them something in the nature of a musical education. He purchases a wireless set, pays his licence-fee, and has a right to expect instruction as well as amusement from the programmes he is able to pick up. His children are as much entitled to the benefits of a musical educa tion as are those living in the cities. Provision should be made on the broadcasting programmes for lectures and instruction on musical and other educational subjects for the benefit of country dwellers. A direction to this effect might, of course, be regarded as interfering with the authority of the commission, which will probably be composed of city men chosen for political purposes. In my opinion, there should be on that commission a representative of the country districts, one who knows the requirements of those living in the country, and who will see that they get some return for their money. The Government might even go so far as to make wireless sets available to country residents, for which they Will merely have to pay rent. This would be at least some compensation to them for their isolation. A close acquaintance of mine is an old blind pensioner Who has a little crystal set for which he pays a licence-fee of 24s. a year. He was a pioneer of the mining industry. "What service doe3 he get now in the mornings? Nothing but headlines from the newspapers - no lectures. En my opinion the blind should be given free licences to listen in. I repeat that the story behind the song or musical selection should be given. Country residents should have the opportunity to learn something more than the prices of their potatoes or their wool, important though that information undoubtedly is to them.

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