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Thursday, 3 December 1959

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- I want to refer to one unfortunate limitation on the gaiety of the approaching Christmas season. I refer to the banning, in certain circumstances, of a record called " Green Christmas ", which is the work of the American satirist, Stan Freberg. In this record, Freberg illustrates the commercialization and exploitation of Christmas by advertising interests.

Mr Duthie - Where?

Mr WHITLAM - In his own native land. However, due to inevitable and increasing imitation, it is occurring in ours also. The Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations has imposed a ban on the playing of this record " Green Christmas " by Australian commercial broadcasting stations. I want swiftly to assure honorable members that the record is impeccably proper and irresistibly witty. Indeed, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has played it on the air, and proposes to play it again.

Mr Wentworth - The honorable gentleman is quite entertaining himself.

Mr WHITLAM - Each man to his own forte. I may be better than Freberg at some things, but he would be better than I in this regard. The honorable member will not hear the record over the commercial radio, and Freberg will not be allowed to reproduce his performance on any commercial television station in Australia. The A.B.C. cannot afford to produce the show on its television stations. Therefore the honorable gentleman will have to listen to A.B.C. broadcasting stations if he wishes to hear the record. Better still, he can pay 9s. 3d. and play the record as often as he wishes. If he does so he will find it extremely diverting and a worth-while purchase on his part.

The important thing is that this seems to be an intolerable example of private censorship and private suppression of broadcasting material. We in this Parliament cannot just wipe our hands of this matter, because broadcasting stations in this country operate under the Broadcasting and Television Act, enacted by this Parliament, and under licences granted by the Postmaster-General. I hope that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), in consultation with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, will make inquiries to find out how many similar examples there are of censorship and suppression.

I apprehend that honorable gentlemen would be very loath to have the Australian Broadcasting Control Board imposing any bans on the playing of records; but this, of course, is a ban which is imposed by privileged companies - by companies which operate under our legislation and our administration as a Parliament. Public censorship is odious, but private censorship is more so. So I hope, Sir, that the PostmasterGeneral will make inquiries to see how prevalent this practice is and that, as a first step, he will put an end to it as far as this record is concerned, so that Australian listeners will be able to enjoy broadcasts of Freberg's " Green Christmas " from commercial broadcasting stations as well as from A. B.C. stations. As far as I can observe, the record is the best contribution so far made to the gaiety of the approaching Christmas season.

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