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Wednesday, 3 July 1946

Mr ROSEVEAR (Dalley) .- The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) cited the evidence which I gave before the Broadcasting Com:mittee. I do not retract that evidence. I said that there are. two Houses of theParliam'ent, and consideration should- be given to broadcasting proceedings in both Houses. I suggested that in' order to facilitate this course being followed, more legislation should be initiated in the Senate, thus giving that chamber legisla- tion to deal with before it became stalebecause it had been debated in this chamber: I also said that means might be found to alternate the introduction of legislation between the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Mr Francis - And that full debates in each House should be broadcast.

Mr ROSEVEAR - Yes;. and I take it that the honorable member agrees that proceedings in each. House should be'-, broadcast alternately? If that is his view, he should be careful not to vote for the amendment, because it proposes that the. whole of the proceedings) not the proceedings on any one day; in the Senate and the House of Representatives should be broadcast. The only way to broadcast the whole of the proceedings in each, chamber is to commence broadcasting from the moment the session opens to the closing minute of the session. Therefore, the amendment which proposes that the whole of the proceedings in the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be broadcast means that the whole of the proceedings in both Houseswould have to be broadcast simultaneously, that is, from the moment each House met until it adjourned. The. committee did not. make that recommendation. Some comment has been passed, about the expenditure to date upon the arrangements for- broadcasting the proceedings of the Parliament ;; but; I invitehonorable' members to heed the observations of: the committee about the- technical. difficulties which the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) has apparently overlooked.

Mr Calwell - I read them to the Leader, of the Australian Country party.

Mr ROSEVEAR - I shall read them again in order to make sure that the right honorable gentleman understands them. The committee stated -

Were it not for the high expenditure involved, the ideal arrangement would be the provision of a network "of 22 national medium wave stations capable of serving nearly all the populated portion of Australia. Equipment alone, however, would entail expenditure in the neighbourhood of £500,000.

I have heard comment to the effect that the expenditure of £10,000 upon the present arrangements is exorbitant, and represents a waste of public money. But according to the committee's report, the proposal of the Leader of the Australian Country party would entail the provision of a network of 22 national mediumwave stations at a cost of £500,000.

Mr Guy - For what purpose?

Mr ROSEVEAR - To broadcast the whole of the proceedings of the Parliament.

Mr Guy - No, to cover the whole of Australia.

Mr Fadden - The honorable member for Dalley is going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Mr ROSEVEAR - Members of the Opposition will not confuse me with their loud shouts

* Mr. Guy. - The honorable member should read the report.

Mr ROSEVEAR - Probably some members of the committee did not read the report before they signed it. The cost of a network of 22 national medium-wave stations would be approximately £500,000. However, there are .other difficulties, as the report, shows -

But apart from the cost, there are insuperable difficulties owing to the shortage of radio channels, ...

The Leader of the Australian Country party would not support this proposal -

.   . unless the licences of some commercial, stations were not renewed at the expiration of their annual period of tenure . . -.

If we propose to broadcast simultaneously the whole of the proceedings of both chambers, as suggested by the Leader of the Australian Country party, the cost will be approximately £500,000, and a number of commercial broadcasting stations will be compelled to cease operations.

Mr Guy - That is misleading.

Mr ROSEVEAR - It is not. The information appears in black and white for every one to see. The report continues -

The only remaining proposition under present conditions is the use of the main national stations in the capital cities and the national regional stations in the country districts, supplemented by short-wave service to remote areas. This would mean the substitution of parliamentary broadcasts in place of entertainment, commentaries on current affairs, and other items normally broadcast from these stations during the period involved.

Therefore, the committee recommended -

We suggest that provision be made for overall control to be vested in the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives as regards broadcasts from their respective chambers; that during the experimental periods the whole of the proceedings in the chamber concerned should be broadcast from the main national stations . and from the regional stations, as well as from the shortwave stations, except during the short periods when "straight" news sessions (that is, excluding commentaries or observers' stories) are normally on the air.

Obviously, the committee recommended exactly what the bill now provides. I should like to see whether those members of the committee who signed the report will now support the amendment which is entirely opposed not only to the reasoning in the document but also to the recommendations. If we adopt the amendment of the Leader of the Australian Country party we shall be. obliged to broadcast the whole of the proceedings of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. I could understand the reasoning of the right honorable gentleman if he contended that the broadcasting of a debate, once commenced, should be continued until its conclusion, but the amendment provides, as I stated, for the broadcast of the whole of the proceedings of both chambers. That proposal is opposed entirely to the recommendations of the committee. If we adopt the proposed amendment the whole of the system of broadcasting the proceedings of the Parliament as now proposed will be abandoned, and the suggestion of the Leader of the Australian Country party will be substituted for it. That will involve an expenditure of £500,000 and will cause an unspecified number of commercial broadcasting stations to cease to function.

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