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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - I shall not pursue Senator Leckie's argument, but I wish to say something about the reasons that moved the Government to suggest State advisory committees. It was my desire when Postmaster-General that all the States should become interested in this tremendous scientific power of broadcasting. I found that the people of Western Australia thought that they were almost outside Australia. There were certain difficulties regarding broadcasting. The State advisory committees, of which we have a large one in South Australia, have never functioned.

Senator McBride - That shows how unnecessary they are.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They seem to me to be necessary because they keep the central bodies - the Postmaster-General, his department, and the commission - in touch with local feeling.

Senator McBride - If that were so, the central body would hear nothing but growls.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I ask the committee to stick to the scheme. The committees are only a little gesture, but they enable the States to feel that they are in the business. Broadcasting is only in its infancy, and there are things that appeal in different ways to the different States. Although the scheme has not operated, it will operate in future. It will gi ve the commercial broadcasters and the general public an opportunity to present their views, and will help the Australian Broadcasting Commission in deciding the class of programmes to be broadcast. The proposed standing committee also will ensure that State points of view are put forward, because the bill provides that the committee shall include one member from each State. The appointment of the committees will be in the hands of the Postmaster-General, who has outlined how he proposes to exercise his powers. I have felt that for a number of years the commercial stations have not been getting a fair deal in regard to their security of tenure. That also is a matter which can be brought before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Broadcasting or the State committees if necessary, which could investigate the matter and make recommendations which no government could ignore. Broadcasting to-day is only in a transitory stage. No one knows what will be done in the future in regard to such developments as television. I support the Government in this clause.

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