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Friday, 1 May 1942

Senator FRASER - The responsible Minister in this case is the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley), and he may give whatever undertaking he likes. I consider that, as the sub-clause stands at present, an adequate safeguard exists.

Senator Spicer - Why not leave the matter to the commission?

SenatorFRASER. - I shall deal with that aspect of the matter, too. Had Senator Spicer, in his usual efficient legal manner given this matter a little more consideration, he would have hesitated to move an amendment such as this. The sub-clause, as it stands, provides that, at the discretion of the Minister, the head office of the Australian Broadcasting Commission shall be removed from Sydney to Canberra. I hesitate to think that any responsible Minister would adopt such a course at present, in view of the many difficulties mentioned by Senator McBride.

Senator Leckieseemed to be very concerned with the possibility that members of the commission would have to reside in Canberra. Apparently, he believes that the sub-clause means, in effect, that the commissioners must come to Canberra and must stay here. Actually, there is no such obligation on members of. the commission. I point out to the honorable senator that although the Seat of Government is at Canberra, members of Parliament do not necessarily reside here, and, in fact, most of them do not stay here any longer than they can help. Also, Cabinet meetings are held away from Canberra on many occasions, but that does not mean that Canberra does not continue to be the Seat of Government. Government departments continue to function here although Cabinet may be sitting in Sydney or Melbourne, or even in Perth. Therefore, the argument advanced by Senator Leckie that members of the commission would have to live at Canberra, and could not do so on the salaries which they are to receive, is absolute piffle.

Senator Leckie - Members of the commission would have to travel to Canberra.

Senator FRASER - That is so, butI take it they would be entitled to travelling expenses. The honorable senator's argument is irrelevant. If members of the. commission had to reside here and hold all their meetings here, it would be an entirely different matter.

Senator Leckie - Then this sub-clause is only make-believe?

Senator FRASER - No; it is reality, but the commission may, if it likes, hold meetings at Sydney, Melbourne or anywhere else. It is quite evident that Senator Leckie has not read the sub-clause, and I suggest that he should do so.

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