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Tuesday, 2 June 1942

Mr RIORDAN (KENNEDY, QUEENSLAND) - Under this bill, the proportion is to be increased to 2£ per cent.

Mr BAKER - That is all to the good. I am pleased that free listeners' licences are to be made available to pensioners. This Parliament is not unmindful of the less fortunate persons in the community, as legislation providing for invalid, oldage, and widows' pensions bears testimony. This provision of free licences to the blind is further evidence of our thought for others. I am pleased to note that there is to be prohibition of the broadcasts of political talks later than two days prior to the date of an election. The Minister has circulated a proposed new clause 96a, sub-clause 2 of which reads -

The commission or the licensee of a broadcasting station shall not, at any time prior to the close of the poll on the day on which any election for the Parliament of the Commonwealth or a State or for any House of any such Parliament or for any vacancy in any such House is held, or at any time on either of the two days immediately preceding that day, broadcast, in whole or in part, any speech or matter -

(a)   commenting on, or ' soliciting votes for, any candidate at the election;

(6)   commenting on, or advocating support of, any political party to which any candidate at the election belongs ; lc) commenting upon, stating or indicating any of the issues being submitted to the electors at the election or any part of the policy of any candidate at the election or of the political party to which he belongs; or

(d)   referring to any meeting held in connexion with the election.

Many of my comments in regard to this bill have been made in a commendatory spirit; but the measure has one very serious defect. It is a great pity that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has not the power to gather its news from independent sources. It should be nationalized. I hate to think, and do not like to hear, that its news is broadcast by courtesy of certain specified newspapers; because, as we know, the press is merely the mouthpiece of vested interests, and the source of the news of our national broadcasting service should be above reproach; it should be pure. There will still have to be a certain degree of dependence upon newspapers; thus the broadcasts will be a pale echo of what those journals provide. With the exception of this defect, which I hope will be amended later, I am in agreement with every provision in the bill. I have very much pleasure in supporting the second reading.

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