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Friday, 27 November 1959

Mr BRYANT (Wills) .- 1 am inclined to agree with one of the points that was raised by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney). I think that secondreading speeches are _ too long. Perhaps we could reduce the time for them to twenty minutes. I realize that the person listening to the broadcast of the parliamentary proceedings is in great difficulty in understanding what goes on. However. I think that the honorable member is perhaps playing himself down a little by his general approach to this matter. On the whole, he makes a fair contribution to the debates in this place and while, politically, he is always wrong, his method of delivery and the way in which he puts his speech together contribute a great deal to the generally high standard of debate. 1 do not believe that honorable members need be ashamed of their general approach to matters that come before us. They are, generally, well informed. People and organizations who are looking for some one to make a speech about any matter, are inclined to turn first to their federal member of Parliament.

My purpose in participating in this debate is to raise a matter which is complementary or supplementary to that which was raised last night by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), and this afternoon by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). I refer to the development of Australian culture and the opportunities that are available for Australians to participate in cultural activities. The effect of television in the two major suburban areas of Melbourne and Sydney - certainly Melbourne - has been the almost complete abandonment of the motion picture-going habit. Quite a number of very good theatres in Melbourne are now on the market for sale. It would be a great pity if they were pulled down so that a service station or an industrial building could be erected. At present, one theatre in Coburg, which is in my electorate, is for sale. In all the large metropolitan areas there is an extreme shortage of public meeting places where people can get together for ordinary community activities, entertainment in the grand manner, and so. on.

I suggest that the Government gives serious consideration to the question or making finance available to municipalities or State governments to enable them to broaden their cultural activities. I know that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has a great interest in cultural matters. Perhaps he will be stirred to bring some force lo this appeal. Interest in this matter is so great in my electorate that on very short notice I received from the local citizenry a letter bearing 276 signatures asking me to approach the Government to see whether finance could be made available to the particular municipality or local cultural organization to enable it to purchase the theatre in Coburg. This is only one instance of opportunity knocking at the dom of every municipality in Melbourne to obtain premises in which to conduct cultural activities.

We must take steps to develop Australian cultural organizations so that the Australian people may have the opportunity to take part in these activities. For that reason I am bringing this matter before the House to put it on record. I have already written to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) about it. A great deal of money is not involved in the proposal. 1 suppose £15,000 or £20,000 would buy a building which would probably cost £30,000 or £40,000 to erect, If these buildings are removed, the community and prosperity will suffer a great loss.

Mr. Speaker,I should like to express our appreciation of the way in which you have performed your duties in this place, and lo wish all honorable members the compliments of the season. I do not think there is any honorable member in this chamber for whom I have not acquired a strong personal feeling in the four years in which I have been here. Of course,. I can only view with deep regret the political activities of some honorable members, but generally, the electors seem to have chosen a very good collection of people to send to this Parliament. We are our own public relations officers, and we should approach the people of Australia and let them know the way that we feel. Although we may disagree very strongly with the political activities of say, the honorable member tor Lilley (Mr. Wight), on the whole he is a very decent person. But that does not mean that he should not' be removed from this place at the earliest possible time. Similarly, I wish all members of the Cabinet a very merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and a very early, long and successful retirement.

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