Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 4 May 1961

Mr HAYLEN (Parkes) .- We have had a tirade from the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in relation to bis Communist phobia. He has talked about where there are Communists and where there are not. I think that we can dismiss them, because I have a serious question to discuss, relating to the employment in this country of artists, cartoonists -and others. If honorable members read their newspapers in the morning, and if their wives, children and friends read their newspapers in the morning, they hope to have not only the news but the idiom of Australia represented to them by the cartoonists and by other Australians who are employed as creative artists by those newspapers. To-day, because of the incidence of syndication and the cheapness of overseas rubbish, the Australian cartoonists, creative artists and commercial artists are losing their jobs. While we have perhaps 80,000 or 100,000 unemployed Australians, we should look at the sort of pabulum that is served to us. As a federal Parliament, we should look at the mass media that comes to this country. What do we get? We get the Joe Palookas and the 101 other Americanisms. Since they are clever, entertaining, amusing and whimsical they have a place in mass media and journalism. But we should be careful that we have not. crushed the creative urge of Australian artists, cartoonists and others who create in the minds of the Australian an Australian way of life.

I have been asked by the federal executive of the Australian Journalists Association to issue a warning to this Parliament that we should have consideration for the employment of Australian artists and cartoonists. What sort of a spirit have we when United Kingdom comedy, United States comedy and bodgie stuff is slopped into this country and we gobble it up? I think not so much of adults as of the children and the juveniles who are loosely called teenagers. The East Sydney Technical

College provides some of the best art training in Australia. From it 50 students recently graduated. Only two of them have jobs, because the syndicalists - those who want to import cheap and nasty American comics - have robbed the Australian of a great medium of artistic expression.

Let me take honorable members back to the era of "Smith's Weekly" and of the " Bulletin " in its heyday. In the days of Low, in the days of " Hop ", in the days of Cecil Hartt, in the days of Stan Cross and a dozen other Australian artists humour was created for us which was distinctly Australian and of our own soil. It was something to laugh at and something that we understood. What do we get to-day? We get a sort of rubbishy syndication which has no relation to our own country nor to our own idiom. I plead to-night for an opportunity for the employment of Australian artists. They are a queer group. Australian cartoonists and Australian writers of comic strips are not regimented. I would say that the political allegiance of many of them was unpredictable but surely, theirs was the peculiar genius and application that ought to be in the mass entertainment media of this country.

Much of the material that comes from America and the United Kingdom is cheap and nasty and I plead to-night, for a quota for the cartoonists and artists of this country. You might impose that quota in order to meet a spiritual desire to see something of our own country, something of the Australian idiom, something of the laughter and beauty and terror of this land of ours so that you can laugh and say, "That is right." If it is a knock against the Labour Party or against the Liberal Party what does it matter, so long as it is something Australian and a more vital comment? The deadpan westerns, the Joe Palookas and the 101 other strips that represent the American idiom are not for us.

There is no party political argument in this. I merely say that surely, now that we are approaching the 200th year of Australian sovereignty, we should have some representation of our own country in our newspapers. Australia is continuing to lose its greatest artists, commericial artists and cartoonists who are going abroad because of the lack of opportunity in this country.

Imported comic strips are being extensively used. The " Daily Telegraph " happens to be my particular bete noire but it will serve as an illustration. It spends £200 a week in buying Yankee material. There is nothing wrong with the American sense of humour but it is not our idiom, it is not our feeling and it is not Australian. We have to do something about this.

What happens to our artists? Last week a number of artists came to my office in Sydney to discuss the situation. They included Mr. Hanna, Mr. Beck and Mr. Sprod who has a job with " Punch " in London - the acme and essence of democratic humor. But he could not get a job in Sydney. Nobody would employ him. Why do we export our brains in this way? We have Mr. Romain, Mr. Horner and Mr. Pieremont and a dozen others whose names come to my mind. What a waste that we should sack these fellows because the " Sydney Morning Herald ", or the " Daily Telegraph " or the Melbourne " Age " decides to buy syndicated material. I have no barriers against art work wherever it comes from. If it is humour of the type of Arno of the " New Yorker ** and is clever and subtle, good luck to it. Let it come in. I never approved of the censorship of " Lady Chatterley's Lover". It made us look ridiculous. I do not want to dwell on that subject except to suggest that honorable members should look in the Library and read the " Memoires of Hecate County ". They will see there something infinitely worse than " Lady Chatterley's Lover ". But D. H. Lawrence was an artist and it makes us fee] sick when the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senatory Henty) who I understand is a Tasmanian crockery merchant decides to censor " Lady Chatterley's Lover ". All we get from cultured people around the world is a horse laugh. But in addition to this, we prescribe and dismiss our clever men and cartoonists and writers.

The Parliament must be seized of its duty in this matter. We are the voice of the Australian people. If an American, an Englishman or an Asian comes to this country, he asks what makes us tick and be real. He asks what we have that does not exist in other countries of the world. He asks, "Where is your literature, where is your art, where is your idiom, where is your ethos? " Are we so miserable that we can have nothing? Have we imposed on ourselves a sort of colonialism, thinking that all is right as long as we can get what we want overseas?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

Suggest corrections