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Thursday, 27 March 1941

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) . - I support the proposal that the number of members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission be increased to seven, because in that case- there wouldbe less chance of a Western Australian being squeezed off the commission in the re-shuffle that will probably occur. The conditions of broadcasting in Western Australia differ from those in the eastern States. A high-class programme can be put on the air in the eastern States at an hour convenient to the residents in those States. Supposing that a programme is broadcast at 8 p.m. from Sydney or Melbourne, the hour then is 6 p.m. in Western Australia and my experience is that people are not keen to listen in at that hour because they are either returning home from work or are having dinner. The eastern States have a large number of national and commercial broadcasting stations, but there are comparatively few in Western Australia. National stations are required at Geraldton and in the north-west portion of the State. A representative of Western Australia should be appointed as a member of the commission to watch the interests of that State and particularly to give better services to our isolated and other country districts. I have no objection to a suitable person being appointed to represent the Australian Labour party. However, country residents are more dependent on broadcasting than are city residents. I suggest that if political affiliations are taken into consideration, not only should the Australian Labour party be entitled to representation, but also the Australian Country party. I support an increase in the number of members of the commission to seven because then the Labour party and the Country party could both be given representation.I hope that one reason for the Government's proposal to increase the number is not to enable it to grant leave of absence for two or three years to one of the present members of the commission.

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