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Wednesday, 14 December 1927

Senator MILLEN (Tasmania) .I listened with some pleasure to the speech of the Leader of the .Opposition (Senator Needham). He showed that he had devoted a great deal of care to the subject in order that he might express from his point of view opinions in relation to the wireless position in Australia. I am sorry that he has been misinformed in many ways, and I hope that before I sit down I shall have pointed out to him the false trails he has been following. I was considerably surprised with some portions of his speech, especially when he extolled the value of the royal commission's' report. Unquestionably there are one or two glimmerings of sense in that document, from which I shall quote one or two paragraphs. One paragraph reads -

Nationalization of the beam service has been suggested. This would, if practicable, be a solution of some part of the problem, but would not do justice to the persons who are jointly interested with the Commonwealth in this venture. Further, it would deprive the service of the initiative which private enterprise enjoys.

If there is anything in this world in which initiative is necessary, it is in connexion with .wireless. A further paragraph reads -

The contractual relationship between Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited and the great radio companies of other parts of the world render it more likely that the people of the Commonwealth will get the benefit of rapid modernization by a continuation of the present control of the beam service. Moreover, the information before the commission shows that private companies are in charge of the overseas means of communication in some other parts of the world, and that they are giving satisfactory service.

I could continue to pick out similar passages just as the Leader of the Opposition selected those that were in support of his argument. There is one to which I should like to refer at this stage .

The Leader of the Opposition dealt with what, in my opinion, is a grossly unfair paragraph, because it contains a statement that has been taken out of its proper setting. I refer to the following statement: - "Its own selling agent in Western Australia said that the Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited is the worst hated firm in Australia." I cannot understand why the commission lifted that statement from the evidence of a witness and included it in its report. The witness referred to was Mr. Wilkes. After he had seen the report of the commission, he promptly wrote to the Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited the following letter dated the 26th October, 1927 : -

Dear Sirs,

I wish to direct your attention to the following passage in the report of the royal commission on wireless: - "Its own selling agent in Western Australia stated that Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited is the worst hated firm in Australia." I was astonished to find this isolated sentence lifted out of the whole of my evidence and given a prominence and meaning in the commission's report which it was never intended to have. I invite any one to read my evidence, and they will see for themselves the injustice of the commission's action in so seriously and unjustly taking an isolated phrase out of a large amount of evidence given by a witness and using it to misrepresent both the witness and an important Australian firm. I listened to all the proceedings of the commission in Western Australia, and I gathered the impression that the chairman of the commission was trying to make the witnesses say or prove that the failure of broadcasting was due to the Amalgamated Wireless Australasia Limited; but in my opinion the commission failed utterly to secure any evidence in Western Australia that even suggested this. The failure of broadcasting in Western Australia has been rather in spite of the efforts of Amalgamated .Wireless than because of anything that the firm has done.

Senator McLachlan - I do not think we are very much concerned with the popularity of anybody.

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