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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr BLACKBURN (Bourke) .- I move -

That, at the end of sub-clause (2.), the following further proviso be added: - "Provided further that with the consent in writing of the Minister the commission may appoint to any position named in suck consent a person named in such, consent who is not a British subject.".

Mr Holt - That would suit me.

Mr BLACKBURN - I do not see this matter in the same light as does the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan). The clause does not, I think, relate solely to the office staff. There is, of course, a distinction between persons serving the commission permanently and other persons by contracting with it for varying periods as do singers, musicians, lecturers, and the like. This clause would cover permanent employees but not artists engaged under special contracts. Not only office staffs but also announcers and other persons in fulltime employment may come within the provisions of the clause. Certain persons with special organizing or artistic ability and experience may be desirable members of the staff, and I should not like to see them debarred from appointment because they were foreigners. It is desirable, in my opinion, that, with the consent of the Minister, the commission shall be permitted to appoint a person named in such consent to a position specified, even though he may not be a British subject. I have taken the opportunity to examine the provisions of the Science and Industry Research Act, under which the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was established. It provides an analogue to this commission. Section 14a of that act resembles this act, inasmuch as the employees of the council, like the employees of the commission, are not subject to the Public Service Act; but that act does not require that the persons appointed by the council shall be British subjects. I realize that it is very desirable that the council shall be able to employ the best man it can obtain, even though he may be a foreigner. I consider that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should have similar power.

Mr Holt - There are in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research very distinguished aliens who are helping us at this time.

Sir Frederick Stewart - That is a different matter.

Mr BLACKBURN - It is not different. If the commission thought that a special service it desired to give might be best organized and directed by a foreigner, it could persuade the Minister that the foreigner whom it named should be appointed. That is all that the amendment seeks to do.

SirCHARLES MARR (Parkes) hope that the committee will not agree to it. It proposed a departure from the procedure laid down in the Public Service Act. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) has mentioned in his analogy two completely different set-ups. Scientists are not needed for appointment to accountancy and other positions in the commission. The honorable member has said that musicians of note might be brought to Australia. The commission has on its staff a director of music, a director of programmes, assistant directors of programmes, and directors of many other features. Those men are permanent officers, and they will have the organizing of the introduction of overseas artists to Australia. The amendment would make possible the adoption of back-door methods in respect of appointments to the commission, upon which subject the joint parliamentary committee had very emphatic evidence. It would make possible appointments by the Minister to the commission. The power of the commission or the commission acting in collaboration with the Minister, to appoint a friend or an alleged friend is to be withdrawn. All appointments will have to be made as the result of the prescribed entrance examination. If this legislation be kept in conformity with the Public Service Act, we shall not go far wrong. If the provision in relation to appointments in this measure is wrong, the corresponding provision in theCommon wealth Public Service is also wrong. The amendment ought to be withdrawn.

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