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Wednesday, 26 March 1941

Senator DARCEY (Tasmania) . - I have listened with a great deal of interest to the discussion on this bill. Since hearing the speech of the Minister who introduced it, I have studied the measure carefully. Two years ago there was a complaint in this Chamber that the Australian Broadcasting Commission was neglecting Australian artists and paying high salaries to artists from overseas, and therefore I am glad to find that, whereas last year the commission paid £26,810 to visiting artists, the amount paid to Australian artists was £279,580. That proves conclusively that the complaints made here have had some effect in encouraging Australian art. Since the Australian Broadcasting Commission was appointed, there have been great developments in connexion with broadcasting. The commission has had at its disposal considerable sums of money. In 1932 the number of licences gran-ted to listeners was 362,936; to-day it is 1,268,130. Those figures show that the commission is instructing the people as well as entertaining them. People of all ages, from the kindergarten stage onward, can obtain valuable information, which should be of great 'benefit to them, by listening to the various sessions of the commission's programme. Already there is one lady on the commission, and if two more members are to be appointed I suggest that one of them should be a lady. There is a strong body of opinion in my State in favour of that being done. Women understand children, and an additional woman member of the commission would be able to suggest programmes which would be of benefit to them. I agree with those who say that as only one political party is represented on the commission the Labour Party also is entitled to representation. I do not wish to introduce politics into the control of the commission, but it seems to me that the strongest party in this chamber should have some say in the making of appointments to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I observe that the chairman is to be appointed for three years' and is to be eligible for reappointment;

That, I , believe, is the usual provision. I often wonder what the emoluments of the members of the commission amount to when all payments to them are taken into consideration. I have in mind the amounts paid to members of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. I know Mr. Moses, the general manager of the commission, and some members of the commission. Mr. Orchard is an old friend of mine. He has done good work. I hope that two more appointments will be made to the commission, and that one of them will be a woman. In these days women are doing the work of men to a greater degree than formerly. They frequently complain that they are not paid at the same rates as men. In some respects the women of Australia are showing up better than the men. I should like to see another woman on the commission if additional appointments are "being made.

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