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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) . - In my opinion, the committee should agree to the clause in its present form. The Joint Committee on Broadcasting, in making its recommendation regarding the employment of persons by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, took into consideration the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. That act provides that " no person shall be admitted to the Public Service unless he is a natural-born or naturalized subject of His Majesty ". Therefore, I consider that persons in the permanent employ of the commission, should also be natural-born or naturalized British subjects. The -idea that large numbers of immigrants will come to Australia after the war in search of employment and that the country will suffer if some genius be not appointed to the service of the commission, is an interesting subject for discussion on a hypothetical basis; but the actual fact is that there are many good Australians who could fill any position on the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. If aliens '.wish to become good Australians by adoption, they can qualify under the naturalization laws-

Mr Blackburn - After five years' residence in Australia.

Mr CALWELL - That is true. In my opinion, that period is not too long before an alien may become eligible for appointment to a governmental instrumentality such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission. There are good reasons for exercising greater vigilance in' a service of this kind than there is in appointing staff to, say, the Department of the Interior. I prefer to be too strict rather than too lax in this matter.

Mr Beasley - We cannot be too careful in making appointments to the national broadcasting service.

Mr CALWELL - That is my view, too. The bill has been correctly drafted in order to give expression to a belief that it is desirable, in peace-time as well as in war, to prevent the employment of an unnaturalized person in such a governmental undertaking as the Australian Broadcasting Commission. So much fifth column activity has been revealed in various countries since the outbreak of war that we are entitled to be more vigilant than we have been in the past in restricting the appointment of officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Mr Mulcahy - Even some naturalborn Australians have been placed in internment camps.

Mr CALWELL - And, conversely, some naturalized Australians are faithful supporters of the Allied cause. On the balance, the weight of argument is in favour of the clause in its present form.

Mr Holt - The honorable member is opposed to vesting this authority in the Minister ?

Mr CALWELL - The Minister should not be saddled with the responsibility of making a decision of this kind. It might place him in a most unfair position if he were to appoint, after the war, to a position in the Australian Broadcasting Commission, a Polish, Dutch, Belgian or other allied subject, when suitable Australians were among the applicants. If the Minister were forced to make such a decision, and relying on his own judgment, it could be a great disadvantage to himself, and he might also render a great disservice to the political party of which he is a member. The corresponding provision in the Public Service Act is almost identical with subclause 2 a.

Mr Holt - The Public Service is a different kind of organization.

Mr CALWELL - We should be even more careful in dealing with the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission than we are in the matter of entry to the Commonwealth Public Service.

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