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Wednesday, 11 November 1964

Senator BUTTFIELD (South Australia) (2:12 AM) . - I refer to Clause 4, which reads in part - (1.) In this Act- " gross earnings ", in relation to a commercial television station in respect of a period, means the gross earnings of the licensee of the station during that period in respect of the televising from the station of advertisements or other matter, including the gross earnings of the licensee during that period in respect of the provision by him of, or otherwise in respect of, matter televised from the station, not being earnings from the production and recording on photographic film, or the recording on photographic film, of matter consisting wholly of an advertisement;

I request the following amendment -

In the definition of " gross earnings ", after " advertisement " add - , provided that if the licensee satisfies the Minister that any such earnings have 'been received in connection with the televising of, or the provision by him of, musical, dramatic or other artistic material wholly produced or originating in Australia, as defined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in its categories of programmes, then only one-half of those earnings shall be included in the gross earnings of the station ".

I noticed that when a similar amendment was moved in another place the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) asked what it meant. He could not understand what " musical " and " Australian content " meant. It is very simple to answer those questions - obviously, the words mean anything of a dramatic nature, if it is performed by Australian artists; anything of a musical nature, wherever it is composed, if it is performed by Australian musicians, lt is my intention that they should all be included.

Senator Henty - It includes Australian musicians performing in England, does it?

Senator BUTTFIELD - We do not receive a licence fee from there.

Senator Henty - The programme is performed there.

Senator BUTTFIELD - Is the honorable senator confusing the issue? Is the hour too late for him? We are not asking for licence fees for anything done in England.

Senator Henty - But the honorable senator is referring to the programmes.

Senator BUTTFIELD - So long as the material is defined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board I would be agreeable to it. The Postmaster-General also asked what the word " artistic " meant. It is very easy to answer the question, although I will not take time to do so now. One has only to look at the dictionary. Well, since honorable senators laugh I will quote what an artistic production is. The word " artistic " means -

Of or pertaining to artists or art; befitting an artist. Or characterised by taste discrimination, judgment and by art and skill.

Senator Gorton - Now define art.

Senator BUTTFIELD - Very well, I will define art. An artist is one who follows any pursuit or employment in which skill or proficiency is obtainable by study or practice; one who practises or is skilled in an art. Honorable senators can have a look at the definition of " art " as well. I will not take up any more time. I want to answer one or two remarks made by Senator Hannan who said that £3 10s. would be the return-

Senator Henty - It was £3.

Senator BUTTFIELD - Very well, £3. It only goes to prove that it is good to have a few practical people in the Senate in addition to lawyers when these things are being computed. First, there are very few good Australian programmes that can be produced for £1,000, as the honorable senator quoted. Secondly, if he has read the amendment carefully, he knows that it 1 refers to any such earnings in connection with the televising of such programmes, which would bring it to a great deal more than that amount although it is not a large sum. The proposition contained in the amendment would not be insulting to the stations. It would be a gesture indicating that the Government appreciates their problem and wants to give them an incentive to continue producing good Australian programmes. I believe that it would be a way of saying: "We intend to look at this matter. This is our thinking. We will see that incentives are provided for this sort of thing ".

Senator Henty - I do not want to be rude; but if the figure is not £3 a day, what is it? Does the honorable senator want us to vote blindly?

Senator BUTTFIELD - At this stage I cannot give the exact figure. How can I? I do not know what the cost of the programmes will be. I do not know how much the advertising will cost. It is impossible for me to estimate the figure. All I am saying is that it will be more than £3 a day. I hope that the Committee will give consideration to this matter, because I am quite convinced that the stations will take this proposition in the way it is meant; namely, as an incentive to produce good programmes, which is what we are all seeking.

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