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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr MORGAN (Reid) .- We should adopt the recommendation of the Parliamentary Committee on Broadcasting. It has' had opportunities which have not been available to other honorable- members to investigate the work of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and to estimate the ability of the present chairman. In its wisdom, it has fixed the fees proposed in this clause as fair remuneration for his services and those of his fellow commissioners. I realize that there is a great disparity between the rates proposed for the chairman, the vicechairman, and the other members of the commission, as the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) has said, and, had he moved to increase the fees payable to the ordinary members of the commission, I should have supported such an amendment. I belong to a building-up movement, not to a breaking-down movement, and I believe that the labourer is worthy of his hire. The present chairman of the commission has held high positions with private concerns and was the Chief Railway Commissioner for New South Wales for some time. In those positions he received much higher salaries than that which is now proposed for the chairman. I believe that, as Chief Railway Commissioner, he was receiving £5,000 or £7,000 annually. If lie is good enough to hold high positions in other concerns, he is good enough to serve the Commonwealth as chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and he will not be over-remunerated, because the commission is a very hig organization and handles hundreds of thousands of pounds annually.

Silting suspended from 6.15 to S -p.m.

Mr MORGAN - The general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission will probably be paid £3,000 or £4,000 a year. The remuneration of the chairman should bear some reasonable relation to the salary of the officers of the administration. The joint parliamentary committee paid a tribute to the services rendered by the chairman and the other commissioners. Apparently, a gratuity is not payable to the commissioners upon their retirement. The committee mentioned a striking example of ingratitude and discourtesy, in that certain commissioners who had given much valuable service first heard over the air that the Government had terminated their appointments. The pro posed remuneration of the chairman and the other commissioners would not be an over-payment. I see no reason why the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) ought not to consider the desirability of increasing to £500 the remuneration of the commissioners other than the chairman and the vice-chairman. There could be no objection to that, Apparently, an additional appropriation would not be needed, because payment would be made out of the general funds of the commission. The remuneration of the chairman, in particular, should be such as will enable him to take a continuous interest in the affairs of the commission, and not be obliged to rely on the advice and information tendered to him by officers of the administration. I have seen too many undertakings "go on the rocks " because " guinea-pig '' directors were content merely to draw fees and attend meetings every month, accepting what was placed before them by the officials. Maladministration or defalcation has often remained undiscovered until too late to be remedied, because the directors showed a pathetic reliance on the officers and took everything for granted. I cannot support the amendment. If the honorable member for Cook will alter it by proposing that the increase to £500 which I have mentioned shall be made, I shall have much pleasure in. voting with him.

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