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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- The piling up of committee on committee seems to me ridiculous. In addition to Parliament, there i3 the Minister, the commission, a parliamentary committee, and advisory committee. The Government says that the bill is a good one, and that we are going to have a broadcasting commission consisting of experts. It indicates, however, that it is not satisfied with the persons it will appoint, so it will impose on them a standing committee and other committees. It reminds me of the quotation -

Big fleas have littlefleas upon their backs to bite 'em,

And little fleas have lesser still, and so ad infinitum.

The commission will have parasites to "bite em ". I do not know whether that will keep them up to the collar, but it will certainly have the same effect as hobbling them. The joint parliamentary committee reported that the commission had done good work, but, unfortunately, the committee spoiled its recommendation by saying: "Although this commission has done excellent work, and although we expect the new commission to do excellent work also, we want it hobbled so that it cannot do what the experts think it should do, but must do what we as non-experts think it should do ". There is a commission which will advise the Minister, who will advise the Government, which will advise Parliament, and so on. It is so ridiculous that every body will be broadcasting or advising on broadcasting. There will be constant complaints and demands to the Minister to " Put me on this nuisance committee in Western Australia, or South Australia, so that I can gain fame by complaining about the Australian Broadcasting Commission ". The bill, taking it all round, is good, but the Government is seeking to spoil it by appointing too many watch-dogs. It is not common sense to hobble the commission in all its operations.

SenatorGIBSON (Victoria) [9.56].- I should like to enlighten Senator Leckie and Senator McLeay. The proposal in the bill will reduce existing advisory committees by thirteen members. In Western Australia, there is a committee of twenty members, and in South Australia a committee of twenty members.We propose to reduce those committees to seven. I confess that the problem is rather difficult. I would have preferred two committees, but I shall support the Minister's proposal. We have had a long conference on the subject, and the provision in the bill is the best practicable solution.

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