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Thursday, 27 March 1941

Senator McLEAY (South Australia) (Postmaster-General) . - I ask the committee to accept the clause in its present form. The Government has given considerable attention to this matter. Honorable senators will appreciate that the commission settles matters of policy only. The payment made to the members of the commission is more in the nature of an honorarium. The chairman receives £500 a year, the deputy chairman £400, and other members £300. I assure honorable senators that I have had an opportunity to examine the work of the commission, and I cannot speak too highly of it and its members, who have devoted much time, energy and enthusiasm to their work. If we were to double or treble the amounts paid to the members of the commission, in some cases we would not be compensating them for the work that they are doing.

Senator Armstrong - It is a part-time job of course?

Senator McLEAY - Yes, but members of the commission are on the joh at all times. Meetings are held regularly once a month, and on other occasions should the need arise. The science of broadcasting is developing with amazing speed, and from what I said in my secondreading speech, honorable senators can appreciate the various interests that are controlled by radio. After a close examination of the duties of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in determining our national broadcasting policy, I came to the conclusion that it was advisable to recommend the appointment of some one closely associated with the Trades Hall or the Labour movement so that the views of that section of the community may he given full consideration. As I said in my second-reading speech, it is not the desire of the Government that broadcasting should become the instrument of party politics, and it is not envisaged that a Labour representative would watch only the interests pf one section of the community. We have only to take the fine example set by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) himself to see how the proposed Labour appointee could act. On matters even apart from party politics, he displays great eloquence, and shows a wide knowledge of the subjects on which he speaks. I sincerely believe that a Labour representative would be of great value to the commission in determining matters of policy. A point of particular interest is the development of instruction given by means of radio to children, particularly in country centres where, in some instances, there are no schools at all. To-day, there are scholars in 1,900 schools listening to national broadcasts which bring to no fewer than 100,000 children radio talks of particular interest to them. I propose to recommend to the Government that a man possessing high educational qualifications be appointed to the commission in order that there may be a better spread of ideas and a consideration of all points of view when dealing with matters of policy. I earnestly urge the committee to accept what I have put forward as being in the best interests of national broadcasting.

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