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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Sir CHARLES MARR (Parkes) (2:52 AM) . - I am astonished that honorable members should take a paltry view in respect of such a small tax for entertainment. The fee of £1 paid for a listener's licence in Australia entitles the holder to the cheapest form of entertainment it is possible to obtain.

Mr HOLT - The amount is not questioned.

Sir CHARLES MARR - That is the only question before the committee. If a man took his family to a picture theatre, the cost would be £1 for the night with the addition of the cost of train fares and supper. A person who can afford two, three or four receivers in his home should be prepared, to pay the proposed additional charge.

Mr HOLT - It is not entirely a matter of money.

Sir CHARLES MARR - The nuisance aspect has been mentioned. That is the view of those who are likely to dodge the tax. It will not be necessary to search the home of the honest person. I have given a. lot of consideration to the advisability of imposing a charge on sets,to be collected by the dealer at the time of sale.

Mr Archie Cameron - That would not help in regard to those sets that are already in use.

Sir CHARLES MARR - It would. Homes would be inspected in order to see whether there were sets in them.

Mr Holt - How many inspectors would be needed ?

Sir CHARLES MARR - The number of .inspectors employed to-day is not so large as the committee may believe. We had evidence which showed that some members of the public had installed in their motor cai'3 sets in respect of which they did not pay the licence-fee, because they had not a set in the home.

I3 it right to avoid the payment of the licence-fee on a portable set that is bought primarily for use in a motor car, but which may be used also in the home? Is it fair that the hotels of Australia should make payment in respect of additional sets, while private persons do not pay for such extra sets ? One hotel which came under our notice had 300 rooms, each containing a wireless set. The proprietor paid a fee of 10s. for each room.

Mr Francis - That is a business.

Sir CHARLES MARR - It is for the convenience of the guests. Surely, if a man whose home contains half a dozen rooms wants to have a wireless set in each of them, he should be prepared to pay the charge that is levied upon a hotel or other public dwelling place. The amount is paltry. On the other hand, it is proposed that there shall not be a charge in such deserving cases as the blind, the infirm, and some school children. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins) has stressed the educational value of broadcasting. We recommended that the fee should be abolished in connexion with schools that have to purchase receivers, and the Government accepted our recommendation. This small additional amount will help to compensate the commission and the Government for the loss sustained in those directions. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) has au amendment which should commend itself to the committee. If the listeners' licence-fee be abolished in respect of certain deserving cases, the committee should consent to the payment of an additional fee by those who are best able to afford it.

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