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Friday, 27 November 1959


Mr CHANEY (Perth) .- No honorable member would doubt the sincerity of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) in his desire for peace. Nor do I believe that any honorable member can accuse any other honorable member, whereever he may sit, of being an advocate for war, particularly honorable members such as the honorable member for Reid, who suffered probably the worst conditions of warfare the world has seen since civilization began. But there are other things to be considered and, however much we may long for peace, I do not believe the time has arrived when we should accept peace at any price. People in all the free nations of the world should be prepared, if necessary, to sacrifice not only their own lives but also other lives if we believe that freedom itself is challenged. Whatever moves may be made at the summit or at any other level to achieve peace upon this earth, let us remember that the' appropriate phrase is not " peace on earth, goodwill to all men " but " peace on earth to men of goodwill ". What we need in the world to-day is more men of goodwill, not on our side of politics or on the side of the free world of politics, but on the side of those people who have threatened the peace of the world since the cessation of hostilities in 1945.

I want to refer to some of the eulogistic remarks passed by you, Mr. Speaker, in respect of those who have wished you well and those who have wished the staff of this Parliament well. It struck me that however much you may have praised the Clerk of the House, it is necessary to go one step further to show our appreciation of what the Clerk of the House does in the conduct of this Parliament's business. I think some honorable members show an absolute lack of respect not only for officers of the Parliament but also for the functions of parliamentary government when the Clerk, who at times has to make announcements from his place on the floor of the House, is confronted with conversation from all sides so much so that it is often impossible to hear what he is saying in this House and even impossible to hear him on the air. If we are not careful we will destroy the very thing that we are here to protect - the system of parliamentary government in a democracy. Unless our conduct improves I believe the people will turn away from the system of parliamentary government as we know it. I wonder whether the broadcasting of Parliament is of any real value. It has been said that broadcasting of proceedings serves as a check against misreporting by newspapers, because people are able to listen to parliamentary debates and hear exactly what is said. But I challenge anybody, even the keen student of politics, to listen, for instance, to a second-reading debate with speeches occupying 30 minutes each without having his patience severely taxed. There should be no fear that the press will misreport proceedings, because Parliament is not answerable to the press. The press is answerable to Parliament. The press exists in the galleries by privilege, Sir, and if at any time this House considers that the press has abused that privilege, you have the right to withdraw it.

I think Parliament would be a far better place if the highlights of Parliament were broadcast. Many people who do not listen to Parliamentary debates to-day would be more impressed by those highlights than by the long arguments that are broadcast at present.


Mr ALLAN FRASER (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Who would decide what were the highlights?


Mr CHANEY - I would consider the highlights of parliamentary life, since I have been here, to be, in the first place, question time. Other highlights could be speeches made not by Ministers but by members on the back benches on both sides of the House. The cost would be small, compared to the cost of broadcasting the full proceedings, to tape record the complete proceedings and then skilfully edit the recording. The editing could be done by a committee comprised of broadcasting, authorities and representatives of the Parliament. Such a committee would decide what the public should hear over a period of one or two hours. I do not think any honorable member would claim that the whole proceedings of Parliament are of interest to anybody. The broadcasting of parliamentary debates is an expensive process. In some States Parliament is broadcast to the detriment of other programmes, because the parliamentary broadcast monopolizes the land line.

A scheme such as I advocate may have another beneficial effect on honorable members. It is well known that there is a fight to speak at the golden hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. When this House is not on the air, speeches made here are far more interesting because honorable members are conscious of the fact that they are not on the air. They say what they want to say and sit down. This adjournment debate to-day was a surprise to us all and it has been very interesting to listen to the short speeches that have been made by honorable members. But many of us would not have stayed in the House if we had expected honorable members to speak for 30 minutes. Most honorable members to-day have said their piece and sat down. The broadcasting of Parliament is doing a lot to destroy respect for Parliament among the people of Australia.

I join with other honorable members in the expressions of goodwill that have been voiced to-day. I have had one disappointment, however. I felt sure that for the first time we might have seen the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) .dethroned from his position at the top of the question list. I saw with great disappointment that there was a dead-heat between the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), each of whom logged 27 questions during this sessional period.







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