Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 27 March 1941

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - This discussion seems to have got honorable senators into troubled waters. I have some knowledge of the constitution of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and I remember well the unhappy circumstances in which it was first appointed by the then Postmaster-General (Sir Archdale Parkhill). That honorable gentleman struck a number of breakers in his administration, and the original chairman resigned. It has not been a bed of roses for those who have followed him. There have been appointments to the commission which were in no sense political. The Government of which I was a member appointed Mr. Kitto to the commission when he retired from the PostmasterGeneral's Department. He was one of the original appointees, and he has given excellent service indeed. I do not intend to discuss the personnel of the commission, but what I do wish to bring forward is this: Although I was not successful with a recommendation which I made to the Government in connexion with this matter, I feel that broadcasting could bring the people of this country closer together. In Tasmania and Western Australia the people seem to regard themselves as a race apart.

Senator Fraser - I rise to a point of order. We are dealing with clause 4 which proposes to increase the number of commissioners from five to seven. I point out that when I strayed just a few yards off the road I was called to order.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Possibly the honorable senator was on Ben Nevis or in the Grampians. As the national broadcasting service is an asset of the people of Australia every endeavour should be made tobring in the people of Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania as full partners in the great institution administered by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the public interest. When I made a certain recommendation to Cabinet some years ago concerning the personnel of the commission, all its members and the general manager resided in Melbourne or Sydney. People living in Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Hobart and Launceston are as much interested in the broadcasting service as are the people of New South Wales and Victoria. I pay a tribute to the work done by the present chairman of the commission. Although he is a resident of New South Wales, I do not hold that against him. How could one hold anything against a man of such ability and possessing such a charming personality? I consider that the committee should support the Government's proposal to increase the membership of the commission. Then the Government could appoint seven persons of varying viewpoints. This vast power, placed in our hands by science, should be nurtured instead of criticized. It is only in its infancy. Consider what a tremendous weapon of war it is in the hands of scrupulous and unscrupulous authorities. "Senator CAMERON (Victoria) [3.3].- I am not much concerned whether the number of members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission remains at five or is increased to seven. I appreciate the statement of the Postmaster-General (Senator McLeay) that he thought improvement would be effected if an additional member were appointed to the commission to represent the trade union move ment. If the representative of the movement is selected by the Government, it will not necessarily follow that he will truly represent the movement. The only person who could be truly representative would be one selected by the trade union movement and be responsible to it. A person selectedand appointedby the Government would 'be responsible to the Government. Trouble has occurred in the past through governments selecting representatives of the Labour movement on different bodies. One case was the appointment of Labour's representative at the Geneva Convention. Onthat occasion the Labour movement had to submit a panel of names from which the Government made its selection.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator should confine his remarks to the question whether the number of members of the commission should be five or seven.

Suggest corrections