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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr HOLT (Fawkner) .- The proposal of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) is worthy of consideration. Persons who are eligible to become officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission are limited to naturalborn or naturalized British subjects. That provision is probably in line with the general provisions relating to appointments to the Commonwealth Public Service. Perhaps the Minister in charge of the bill (Mr. Beasley) will enlighten the committee upon that point. In any event, it is an unnecessary limitation of the right of the commission to secure the best talent that may be available to it. I cite, perhaps, a hypothetical case, but one quite within the bounds of possibility in view of existing conditions. At present in Australia are many thousands of American troops. It is quite possible, and we hope that it will eventuate, that some of them will remain here after the war and become good citizens of the Commonwealth. Our naturalization laws provide that a person shall not become a naturalized Australian until he has resided in the country for at least five years. Among those who choose to remain here, whether they be American* or other aliens, there may be men whose services would be of great value to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Some discretionary power should be provided to enable the commission to engage them. I am prepared to support a proposal to enable the Minister to authorize the engagement of persons who cannot otherwise comply with the requirements of this sub-clause.

Mr Beasley - Is the honorable member mindful of the importance of broadcasting, and the necessity for being certain of the bona fides of those who are allowed to enter this sphere?

Mr HOLT - The Minister rightly stresses the importance of broadcasting as a national instrument of policy and propaganda. For that reason, I should be satisfied if the Minister supervised the engagement of persons of the class to which we are now referring. It is quite usual to place a residuum of power or discretion in the hands of a Minister. For example, the Minister for the Interior exercises wide discretion in dealing with some matters. In my opinion, this sub-clause will tie unnecessarily the hands of the commission if it ever wishes to engage a useful officer who cannot comply with the proposed conditions. I shall support a proposal that, subject to the approval of the Minister, the commission may, in an appropriate case, employ an alien who does not comply with the requirements of this sub-clause, but of whose bona fides the commission is completely satisfied.

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