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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- During ray second-reading speechI questioned the wisdom of sub-clause 2 of this clause, which provides that, after the initial licensing period of three years, renewals of licences may not be operative for more than one year at a time. I did so having in mind the fact that B class stations should be as competent, well conducted and educative as possible. I doubt whether they could afford to expend large sums of money on the improvement of their services if, after the initial three years licensing period, they could not expect security of tenure for more than one year at a time. I have not consulted any representatives of the commercial stations on this subject, but, looking at the matter from a business man's point of view, it seems to me that this provision restricts the incentive to develop commercial broadcasting and is likely to prevent the owners of B class stations from investing large sums of money in equipment and other improvements. No business man would like to know that his business would be secure for only twelve months at a time, and no investor would be likely to regard such an undertaking favorably. So far as I can see, the Minister has no power to cancel the licence of a wireless station except for broadcasting anything offensive or detrimental to the public welfare. At the end of twelve months, the Minister may cancel the licence of a commercial station if he considers that its programmes are poor. The Government seems to have made up its mind that the B class stations are to carry on, and it ought to enable them to continue their work under the best possible conditions. In other clauses, it is provided that the licence may be cancelled if the station broadcasts objectionable matter, andI quite agree that that power should be exercised by the Minister ; but, under this clause, it would be easy for the Government to close the commercial stations one by one. I am wondering if the clause is so phrased as to enable the Government to change its mind with regard to the commercial stations without reference to Parliament.

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