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Wednesday, 6 May 1942


Senator LAMP (Tasmania) .- I desire to advance further arguments in favour of increasing the percentage of Australian compositions compelled to be broadcast by Australian stations. The statement on this subject which I was prevented from quoting during the committee stages reads -

The reason why Australia is full of imported songs is because the work of local song-writers of ability are prevented from reaching the Australian public in the strength and effectiveness given to the imported numbers. There is plenty of classical music, plenty of Australian pianoforte pieces, but between these and the vulgar crooning and other dance music there is practically no happy Australian " middle music " of songs for the people. Anything written by Australian song-writers in bright happy dance songs is literally killed by the importers of the American dance songs, who control all the means of publicity. Thus if. as happened in my own case at least eight times between 1924 and 1940 - andI have all the proofs necessary between those dates, thanks largely to the Australian press - an Australian song is produced in public ami liked sufficiently for the public to enter shops to ask for copies of it, the men responsible for the boycott and monopoly refuse to publish or record the song, urging the retail shops to persuade the Australian inquirer to buy an imported song instead.

The composer himself is helpless, for he finds that recording is refused for the song, and the wireless stations use far more records than they use flesh-and-blood singers, finding the records much cheaper. Orchestration is refused by the publishers who publish orchestrations of the imported songs, and thus the composer cannot hear Australian orchestras or dance bands play his song. If he pays one of these men to do the orchestrations, the next orchestra leader wants to be paid to do a fresh lot. and the composer, getting no royalties, simply cannot afford to continue. T he song is thus kept from being recorded and broadcast several times a day (as the imported Hollywood crooning numbers are broadcast) . and kept from being played by orchestras and dancebands. There remains sheet- publication of copies, but (although that. too. is of course refused) the copies would not sell unless the song had previously been heard several times through being recorded and orchestrated throughout Australia. Here are someexamples of the results of the boycott, with, of course, press extracts proving each case: In 1935 a Sydney magazine offered a prize, with promises of full publicity to follow for Australian dance songs. I composed the music of the waltz song to which the first prize was given, the words being by Moore Raymond, the Australian journalist who is now entertainments editor of The Sunday Dispatch. London. The press in various States announced the result of the competition, and Chappels, of Sydney, published the song, "The Silent Waltz", in sheet music. Recording was refused, so the public was prevented from hearing it on the A and B class chain of publicity; orchestrations were not distributed to the orchestras and dance bands throughout the land, and the published sheet-music, lying unheard on the shop shelves throughout Australia was withdrawn by Chappells and burnt. This song, when I reached London, was produced at Australia House at a big function just before the war, but in Australia it had been sent swiftly to oblivion by the force arrayed against it by the wealthy monopolists. Two Covent Garden artists introduced a song of mine and Sarah Sheldon's in Australian city halls. (Sarah Sheldon is the Australian song-writer who collaborated with me in the song that was awarded national and Empire broadcasts by the British Broadcasting Corporation just before the war.) A representative hearing of what the Covent Garden artists had done to bring forward an Austra lian song they had expressed a high opinion of, said to me : " Had that gesture been made outside your own country, it would have resulted in ^publication of your work. You must leave Australia." A visiting Englishman, hearing that " The Silent Waltz ", after winning the .Sydney competition, was supposed to be incorporated in an Australian film, said: "That simply will not be allowed to happen. J. am .in the film business,, and 1 have found, since my .arrival, that Australian films are contracted to American song interests for ten years ahead. You must get out of this country to .get a fair chance in Bongs." The manager of the Queensland A class station, 4QG, who had broadcast, through living artists, Mrs. Sheldon's and my songs, although, as they were not recorded, lie had to broadcast the imported songs much more often than .he could the Australian songs, wrote and said: "Australasian Performing Eight Association has been .formed. Now at last the boycott will be smashed. Get into touch quickly with them." When I did get in touch with 'Australasian Performing Bight Association, as it was called, J found that one of the men leading hi importing American songs was either its president- or its chairman. When I, rather unwillingly, called on a fighting type of newspaper to ask it if it would expose the position of Australian songs, it refused. I was told by a press-woman, later, that this refusal was due to the large amount of advertising given to the paper by one of the song monopolists.

Shortly after my arrival in London, .1 called on a comedian about to come out to Australia on contract, and took him a humorous Australian song. "It's exactly what the people would like ", he said, " for I know the Australian public, but one of your Australian men .connected with my tour has just flown over to Loudon and made mc promise to sing only the songs arranged for me ". In the West End of London, after I had won first prize at the British Broadcasting Corporation, a business mau who had lived in Australia remarked: "A song composer from Australia ! That's rather strange. I remember the day when your leading song publisher tied up with foreign song interest to kill every Australian song lie could. It paid him ; he is a wealthy man out there now. But how can you be a .song-writer in a land where no song-writer can get his songs a chance?" When the Anzacs reached Britain, after war had been declared for some time, people asked why the Australian troops, unlike the Canadian, had no songs of their o\VU. excepting "Waltzing Matilda", but were singing Holywood syncopated tunes with American and negro phraseology. These songs sell at sixpence each in England, but in Australia the monopolists charge the public two shillings - a difference not accounted for by the difference in wages.. Lastly, although my list of songs includes many others treated likewise, the boycott killed the song of the evacuated British children, which had been recorded, broadcast and even filmed .at the many ports of call; both recording and publishing have been refused, as with nearly all songs that inspire and aid morale. Australia, the best fighting laud in the world, is robbed by the monopolist of tile song world of her own inspiring, fight ing songs at the greatest crisis of her history Finally, I hold the proof .that this position pre-dates " talkies " and wireless, so the importers who mis-call themselves publishers, blame those in vain, but they are still successfully, and with enormous financial profit to themselves, exploiting Australian children with unclean, imported songs and robbing them o!" songs of Anzac tradition and sentiment.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.







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