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Friday, 6 December 1935


Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - by leave - In this morning's issue of the Canberra Times there is an article headed: "Party Scene - Sir Frederick Stewart's Attack ", which contains the suggestion that there was a disturbance in the party room. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has already, I understand, intimated that any such suggestion is without foundation, and, in fact, untrue. However, in thecourse of the article the following occurs : -

The policy of the post office, continued Sir Frederick, was causing the Sydney Council of Churches to lose £300 a week on 2CH. It was obvious that the post office was out to deprive Amalgamated Wireless of its placein the radio scheme. Yet, Amalgamated Wireless was a public corporation on which the Commonwealth had a majority of shares.

Sir Frederickcaused a storm of surprise when he disclosed that Station 2CH was owned by him, but that the licence was in the name of the Council, of Churches. Although it was losing heavily, Amalgamated Wireless was willing to purchase it. The Postal Departmenthad taken it upon itself to refuse to allow Amalgamated Wireless to purchase the station.

The statement that the post office is causing any one, either the Council of Churches or Sir Frederick Stewart, to lose £300 a week is inaccurate. The facts are that in June, 1932, a licence . was granted to the Council of Churches in New South Wales for a broadcasting station. Some time after the service commenced, it was ascertained that the conduct of the service was being under taken 'by a company known as the Council of Churches Broadcasting Company, of which Mr. F. H. Stewart was a governing director. The attention of the licensee - the Council of Churches - was drawn to the irregular and unauthorized arrangement, reference being made to wireless telegraphy regulation 4 (6), which reads as follows: -

Except with the consent in writing of the Fostmaster-Ceneral or an authorized officer a licensee shall not assign, sub-let or otherwise dispose of, or admit any other person orfirm to participation in, any of the benefits of the licence, powers or authority granted.

This communication was not answered for some time, but subsequently an application was received for permission to transfer the ownership of the station to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. It was pointed out to both the Council of Churches and to Sir Frederick Stewart that consent to the previous transaction had not up to that time been obtained. On the 11th March, 1935, the department received a communication from the Council of Churches announcing the passing of control. Sir Frederick Stewart also notified the department of this fact, and the matter was brought under my notice on that occasion. It was pointed out that Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited had a number of stations, and that the transfer might conflict with the new regulations which were at that time being drafted, but which had not been gazetted. Permission for the transfer was accordingly held up, and, in view of the close relations which had previously existed between - Sir Frederick Stewart and members of the Government, I took the precaution to bring the matter before Cabinet and obtain a Cabinet decision. It was decided to await further representations from Sir Frederick Stewart that it is a matter from abroad. I cannot see how this has caused a loss of £300 a week to the Council of Churches. I understand from Sir Frederick Stewart that it is a matter of extreme indifference to him whether the transfer is allowed to go through or not. In making my recommendation to the Cabinet, I shall bring under its notice such facts as I have concerning the control by the proposed transferee of any other broadcasting stations, and, in the light of all of the information available, a decision will be made. The way in which the matter has been presented in the newspaper article referred to is not only inaccurate, but, 1 think, designedly misleading.







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