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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr CONELAN (Griffith) (12:31 PM) . - I support the bill, but regret that the Government has not taken this opportunity to carry out the plank of the Labour party's platform favouring the nationalization of the broadcasting system. The joint committee was equally divided on this question, the three Labour members recommending nationalization and the three non-Labour members opposing it. The broadcasting system of New Zealand has been under national control since 1936, and the people there have had no reason to be other than pleased with the service rendered. Many essential services in this country, including education, health, railways and tramways, are nationally controlled. If radio were put on a similar footing it would be more capable of control than are many other essential services under public ownership. For instance, censorship would be simpler. The arranging of programmes would be facilitated. Better service could be rendered to the people in all particulars. In the United States of America, broadcast listeners pay no licence-fee. "With nationalization of broadcasting in Australia, listeners could enjoy a similar privilege.

Sir Frederick Stewart - The broadcasting stations in the United. States of America are commercial.

Mr CONELAN - I admit that, but that does not alter the fact that the people are not charged a fee for the privilege of listening-in. There is no possibility of the commercial stations of this country allowing the people to listen to their programmes free of charge.

Sir FREDERICK STEWART (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The commercial stations get nothing out of the wireless fees.

Mr Archie Cameron - They live on the revenue from advertising.

Mr CONELAN - The objective of the Australian commercial stations is to make as much money as they can out of selling time.

Mr Morgan - That is why they are in the business.

Mr CONELAN - That is what I am trying to overcome. So far the commercial stations have been able to operate by the payment of a licence-fee of £25 per annum. It is now intended that the owner of a station which shows a profit shall be required to pay, in addition to the flat rate, one-half of 1 per cent, of the gross revenue for the privilege of selling time. Now, if the Government were to give effect to the policy of the Labour party, that revenue could be used for the benefit of the people, not merely for the benefit of a few shareholders in broadcasting companies.

Sir Frederick Stewart - Another plank of the Labour party's platform is unification.

Mr CONELAN - The honorable member supported a move towards unification when he voted in favour of uniform income taxation. The honorable member was so strong in his support of uniformity in that direction that he should be equally in favour of uniformity in all directions - unification.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).Order ! It is not in order for the honorable member to discuss unification on this clause.

Mr CONELAN - This is the appropriate clause on which to suggest that the broadcasting system should be national- i zed.

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