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Tuesday, 13 December 1927

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- Every honorable senator will agree that it is time a bill to deal with wireless broadcasting came before us, especially in view of the importance of wireless to the isolated sections of the community. I do not profess to know a great deal about wireless myself, but I have had many conversations with men who have studied the science, and realize the still greater benefits which it will in future confer" upon the community. Within the last few days I have read in the Radio Journal, published in Sydney on the 23rd November last, a number of interesting articles. In one of them the writer referred to what he considered were weaknesses in this bill. He said -

The weak parts appear to be that in consideration of the company waiving claims covering £125,500, it will receive a 3s. payment on listeners' licences, a total of £37,500 per annum, or £88,000 less than originally demanded, although the making of such demand was adversely reported on by the royal commission. Furthermore, the Commonwealth Government, by granting £37,500 per annum to Amalgamated Wireless for alleged patent rights, have virtually estimated such patent rights at a capital value of £375,000, although they have not yet been validated.

Senator McLachlan - There is no need to validate what is granted; in that case validity is assumed.

Senator PAYNE - That may be so; but, evidently, the royal commission reported adversely .on the claim referred to. I have been asked to draw attention to what is regarded as a serious omission from the bill. Clause 6 a of the agreement reads -

The company shall make its Australian patent rights available' free of charge during the currency of this part to - (a), ouch wireless telephone broadcasting station in the Commonwealth and its territories, for the purpose of the establishment and carrying on of wireless telephone broadcasting services.

My informant has pointed out that by including the word " telephone " the clause will restrict the benefits which wireless will confer on the community. He has suggested that in the interests of the community the word " telephone " should ' be omitted. Clause 6 a would then read -

Each wireless broadcasting station in the Commonwealth and its territories, for the purpose of the establishment and carrying on of wireless broadcasting services, and

I understand that wireless experimenters are of the opinion that further wonderful developments in wireless may be expected at almost any time. They point out that in that event the whole community would be penalized, because with clause 6 unaltered, Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited would be able to demand almost any sum before allowing messages to be transmitted by any new system.

Senator McLachlan - The honorable senator appears to visualize another Marconi.

Senator PAYNE - The people to whom I have been referring are certainly enthusiasts; but in the light of developments that have taken place during recent years, we should be prepared for still further marvels. Every week opens up new avenues, so that it is impossible to predict the discoveries which may take place within the next few years. My informant is very anxious that nothing that we may do will in any way prevent the fullest use being made of further developments in wireless.

Senator McLachlan - This bill does not create a monopoly.

Senator PAYNE - Nevertheless only one form of broadcasting will come within its provisions. I have stated my case as clearly as v possible in the light of the information at my disposal. I propose to deal further with the bill when it is in committee, and I hope that honorable senators will then consider the advisability of amending the schedule along the lines which I have indicated.

Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.

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