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Tuesday, 3 May 1932

Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) . - We have been told by ministerial supporters that the commissioners- must be men of ability, culture, integrity and independence, and that they must be allowed liberty of action. But tills amendment is a contradiction of that policy, for it definitely trenches on the freedom of the commissioners. I have always thought that a grant of unlimited power to any body acting for the Government would be dangerous; a reasonable subservience to Parliament through the Government of the day is desirable. But the restriction proposed by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) would beunwise. The commission is to control an important national service in the interests of the people, and in order to get the best results and extend broadcasting to the most distant settlements it should have authority to engage in enterprises which it believes will be helpful and profitable to the service. In the Defence factories, expert craftsmen and engineers are in charge of expensive and up-to-date plants. The production of munitions and other Defence requirements is not sufficient to keep the establishments in full operation, but rather than disperse some of the employees and allow the machinery to rust in idleness, the factories are permitted to engage in certain forms of production for profit; for instance, they manufacture shearing machine parts, and lip-stick cases. Thus the factories are in constant operation and ready for any emergency. To be consistent, those honorable members who believe that the broadcasting commission should not engage in any business enterprise must move for the amendment of clause IS, which allows the commission to print magazines, books, programmes, &c. Surely the unanimous desire of honorable members .s that this great national service shall be efficient. To keep the equipment up to date, and extend the benefits of broadcasting as far afield as practicable, the commission will need plenty of revenue; therefore, it should have reasonable liberty of. action, liberty even to invade to some extent what may be regarded as the realm of private enterprise. lt is necessary for the commission to have funds to enable it, not to make a profit, but to develop this service.

Mr Stewart - If this undertaking makes a profit it will be the only government enterprise that has ever done so.

Mr HOLLOWAY - Why are the honorable member and other supporters of the Government advocating this measure if they think that the undertaking is foredoomed to failure?

Mr Stewart - We are removing the possibility of failure. .

Mr HOLLOWAY - The honorable member presupposes that this enterprise will fail. No national service in Australia has ever failed.

Mr Gregory - What about the railways and the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers?

Mr HOLLOWAY - The railways were never intended to be profitable, and that is why private enterprise did not want them. The purpose of railways is to develop the country. Private enterprise wants only those undertakings which can be made successful. I believe that' this national broadcasting service will be one of the finest institutions in Australia, but I am afraid that the possibility of its considerable extension may be curtailed by the smallness of the amount of revenue received by the commission. It is therefore only right and proper that some of the profitable side-lines of this business, of which private enterprise is so anxious to obtain a monopoly, should be left in the hands of the commission.

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