Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 1 May 1942

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - In the course of my remarks on the second reading of this measure, I took exception to the proposed transfer of the head office of the commission to Canberra. I am quite convinced that such a transfer would be a step in the wrong direction. It has been suggested that honorable senators on this side of the chamber have not grasped the full meaning of the sub-clause. It simply provides that -

The head office of the commission shall be established in the Australian Capital Territory on or before a date fixed by the Minister.

We do not know what may be in the mind of the Minister, and this clause gives him power to transfer the head office of the commission to Canberra immediately this bill is passed if he wishes to' do so. I maintain that under existing conditions that would be a grave mistake.

Senator Large - Why?

Senator JAMESMcLACHLAN.Because the head quarters staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission totals approximately 100 persons. Most of them are probably married men with families, and every body knows that the housing position at Canberra to-day is acute. On many occasions during his term of office as Leader of -the Opposition the present Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) bewailed the dearth of houses in Canberra, and urged the immediate construction of additional homes to cope with the shortage; yet, although thepresent Government has been in office for a considerable time, the difficulty has not yet been overcome. In fact, the position is decidedly worse, and even the Hotel Canberra has had to give up two pavilions to house government secretariats. Therefore, it is ridiculous to talk about bringing another 100 families to Canberra at present.

Senator Lamp - Whose fault is that?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is the fault of the Government.

Senator Lamp - The previous Government.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No. I. ask honorable senators opposite if any private houses have been built at Canberra since the present Government took office ?

Senator Allan MacDonald - And theCauseway houses are still there.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes.. The Causeway cottages were to have been, shifted holus bolus. We have been told that the commission itself will not be here all of the time, but will be a mobile forcemeeting at Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne,, or some other capital city as the occasion may- demand. Senator Amour has pointed out that it is just as easy for the commission to travel to these distant centres from Canberra as it is from Sydney. That argument works both ways. The commission is in Sydney now. Why does it want to move thewhole of its staff to Canberra when it can move conveniently from Sydney toits various places of meeting, just as it does at the present time. The Leader of the Senate said that the transfer would obviate a great deal of the lobbying that goes on now, with people continually pestering officers of the commission for appointments. The honorable gentleman also mentioned the numbers of letters sent by wouldbeartists to members of Parliament in an endeavour to secure auditions before the commission. Does the honorable gentleman not realize that this sort of thing would be increased if the head office of the commission were established at Canberra. Scores of applicants for positions would be pestering us all of the time, and the transfer would merely aggravate the nuisance which the honorable gentleman has said that he wants to avoid. If the clause merely gave approval for the head office to be established at Canberra at some indefinite date, it would have some virtue. I realize the importance of Canberra, and I agree that we ought to make it theNational Capital in fact as well as in name, but at this period, when we need practically every penny of revenue for the prosecution of the war, the proposal to move a staff of 100 persons from Sydney to Canberra, to no earthly advantage that I can see, is ridiculous. I ask the Minister at least to give us an assurance that the transfer will not bc effected under existing conditions.

Suggest corrections