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Tuesday, 2 June 1942


Mr BAKER (Maranoa) .- -I support, the bill and congratulate the Government upon having introduced it. I also congratulate the joint committee upon whose comprehensive and exhaustive report the measure is largely founded. Broadcasting has made remarkable progress, as we must realize when we remember that the first public broadcasting demonstration was given at the Melbourne Exhibition building during 1920. In 1924 there were 3,400 licensed receiving sets in Australia-, to-day the number is about 1,324,000. That means that in SO per cent, of the homes in the Commonwealth radio receiving sets are to be found. Broadcasting in Australia gives employment to 15,000 people, and represents an expenditure of £20,000,000. That is a wonderful development within the space of less than a score of years. When we cast our minds into the future we are astounded at the possibilities; we see in imagination not only television on a much more universal scale than at present, but also telepathy - the transference of thought - by means of radio. At the moment that may appear to be fantastic, but it is something that cannot be ruled out as an impossibility. At first, broadcasting was thought to be a toy; it is now a healthy recreation for the tired body and. jaded mind. It has become a medium for the transmission of news and views. In times of national stress, like the present, radio broadcasting is used to maintain the morale of the people. In the Axis countries it is used for propaganda purposes ; the voice of the controlled radio is the only voice that the people are allowed to hear. For weal or woe. broadcasting has come among us; like gunpowder, which can be a blessing or a curse, much depends on how it is used. Broadcasting is a valuable social amenity, especially to people living in remote and isolated places. To many whose lives are spent in the far-flung distances of this laud, radio brings many of the amenities of life. Most important of all is the possibility of using the radio to educate the nation, and it is on this phase that I desire now to speak. I regard broadcasting as a most valuable adjunct to education. It is not a substitute for the teacher or the instructor. The human mind can best be stimulated and inspired by the influence of a greater mind - one carefully attuned to the mind of the pupil or student. Let us consider broadcasting as an adjunct to education. Among English speaking peoples, there is practically no definite standard of speech, although the recognized standard is usually that of the public school man, and, of course, the Oxford Dictionary. In France, before the war, the Academy decided the correct form of speech. I regard the radio as a means of establishing a satisfactory standard of speech. It should be used more for that purpose. Honorable members know that the impression and the expression are complementary. Mental impression and oral expression are the reverse and the obverse of the same shield. 'We should be careful of what is put over the air. At times we hear a lot of rubbish and words which no educated person would use. In this connection, great care should be taken in choosing the persons who are to do the broadcasting. They should have a sound cultural, background ; their speech should be beyond reproach; the vowels should be pure and the consonants distinct; the intonation, the phrasing, the tempo, the rhythm, the sincerity, the construction, and the grammar should be beyond reproach. If we want to know a person we have only to induce him to open his mouth. Just as the age of a horse or a sheep is ascertained by an inspection of the mouth; just as we prove whether or not a snake is poisonous by looking into its mouth or by putting our finger there; just as we visualize the size of animals which lived thousands of years ago by examining their jaws, so we judge people by what they broadcast over the radio. We should be most careful that we maintain a high standard of broadcasting in the interests of our young people. We must use the radio as a great purifying medium for our people. It is not sufficient to give to them just what they would like. The word " broadcasting " brings back to my mind incidents of over half a century ago, when I used to watch my father broadcasting wheat. First he made careful preparation; he selected the best grain available. Then he sifted it to get rid of the impurities. After that, he steeped it in blue-stone - to-day we would say " copper sulphate " - and then he broadcast it. He was careful to distribute the seed evenly over the ground. Sometimes he was rewarded with a good crop. The purpose of steeping the seed in blue-stone was to prevent smut. Similarly in wireless, I hold that every precaution should be taken beforehand to see that no smut is broadcast. Like printing, broadcasting has wrought a peaceful revolution. Printing led to the Renaissance in Europe; it brought education to the people. Someone has stated, that in printing, ideas are imprisoned behind the bars of the printed page. Oral speech may be regarded as the most natural way in which to convey thought from one to another. Speech is more natural than printing. From the very dawn of consciousness, oral speech moves us. Speech is used to convey not only our deepest and finest thoughts, but also the lowest ideas that come to our mind, as well as all the variations in between - the overtones and the undertones. Honorable members will agree that oral speech has been greatly neglected in our schools, the reason being that educational standards are tested usually by means of written examinations. I am pleased to see in the bill that appointments to the staff of the commission are in future to follow competitive examinations similar to those held for entrance to the Commonwealth Public Service ; but more than that is needed. There should be also a personal interview.

Music also is broadcast. I hold that only music of the highest standard should be broadcast. There are some who say that the people cannot understand good music, but I hold that such music has .the power to make itself understood by even the weakest and dullest mind. Its rhythm is speech that every one. can understand because it is based on the heart beat. All this talk about not understanding good speech or music, that it is above the heads of the people, should be ignored. I would rather that music or speech be above our heads than under our feet. It has been said that " The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world ". What rubbish ! In many instances the hand that rocks the cradle muddles and addles the brain of the child. It is because that has happened in so many instances that the world is experiencing its present troubles. The hand that rocks the cradle does not rule the world; the hand that turns the radio dial does so. Just as in Midsummer Night's Dream the fairies came when a wand was waved, so in every home in which there is a radio receiving set a turn of the dial should bring to us the cream of the world's thought. I wonder what our grandfathers and mothers would think if they could come amongst us again and experience this wonderful thing ?


Mr Sheehan - We should be thankful that we can turn it off when we want to.


Mr BAKER - There are in Australia 29 National broadcasting stations, and 98 commercial stations ; yet less than onehalf of one per cent, of the music which is transmitted by them is of Australian origin. Although I know that music doei not belong to any country, but is a universal language, I feel that Australian an and music should be encouraged by our broadcasting stations.







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