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Thursday, 30 April 1942

Senator COLLINGS (QUEENSLAND) - I admit that my friends opposite are distressed, because by co-operation, and not by competition, our organization is now able to purchase something like equality on the air.

Senator McBride - Then what the Minister said was a smoke-screen.

Senator COLLINGS - What I said was a fact.

Senator McBride - The Minister cannot have it both ways.

Senator COLLINGS -I will tell the honorable senator why I can have it both ways. I was anxious to take advantage of propaganda in the last election because I wished to come back to this chamber. I like this work; I spent a lifetime trying to achieve the position 1 hold, and I did not do it for any personal reason, because when I started there was no payment of members. In consequence of that, I could not get within cooee of my objective. At any rate, we have become intelligent since then and in this regard have defeated our opponents. We are in this chamber on terms of equality as to salary, even if members of the Opposition are short of some of the essentials which we have for successful political careers. As I was anxious to have some propaganda that my organization could not afford, I decided to be reckless and pay for a quarter of an hour over a B class circuit. I thought it was worth the cost, but it hurt, and it would have hurt still more if, after having been prodigal in that way, I had been defeated at the poll. We have to keep in mind in these discussions the fact that we ought not to talk merely for the purpose of making speeches, but for the purpose of saying things that can be justified in any circumstances whatever. We in this National Parliament have no right to talk about political speeches as something discreditable, and I shall never allow statements to that effect to pass without protest.

I should here like to repeat what I said to Senator Gibson this afternoon immediately on the conclusion of his speech. That speech taught me more about the bill than I could have learned by the closest possible reading of it. It was one of the finest speeches we have heard in this chamber. It crystallized the whole subjectso that all of us could understand what is in the bill and how its provisions compare with the report of the joint committee. The whole procedure has been an education. The committee was appointed, and it travelled over Australia to take evidence. Its report and the bill crystallize its conclusions. The report is one of the first efforts of its kind that have come to fruition. We have had inquiries over and over again, and elaborate reports have been prepared time after time on the same questions, but they have been pigeon-holed without action being taken. This time the work has been done splendidly, and the result is to be found in the bill.

Even if the measure is not all that some of us desire, it is nevertheless a highly desirable piece of legislation. The criticism of some members of the Opposition shows that they would like to soo further provisions in the bill, while other members would like to delete some of its provisions. We are making progress, nevertheless, and wireless, with all its achievements, is still in its infancy. As the years go by we shall realize what a wonderful force we have at our command, and what a wonderful moulder of public opinion it can be. We should use it more and more for the uplifting of the people, for I believe we have no other engine, not even the mighty engine of the newspapers, that can he made such a powerful force for the good of the people. It can be used without regard to politics, race, or creed. One thing we can compliment the Australian Broadcasting Commission on is that the national stations controlled and operated by it have done more to raise the cultural tone of the Australian community than has anything else. They have popularized classical music, although sometimes I have been inclined to think that they have popularized the other kind of music too much. That, however, is only my personal bias. They have practically driven the playerpiano out of existence by providing real music simply by turning a switch. Mechanical contrivances like playerpianos never produced music. Further, the commission has brought to this country artists which the common people would never otherwise have been able to hear. That applies particularly to people in outback regions. In addition, the commission has encouraged local talent which otherwise might never have been developed. Those things should be kept in mind. Senator Brown and Senator

Arnold said quite a lot about propaganda. I would point out that propaganda is not necessarily something which is improper. Here we have at our disposal a wonderful service which even now is merely in its infancy. None of us can visualize what developments there will be in broadcasting, even during the next ten years. This wonderful service can be employed in the schools, and for disseminating adult educational lectures; it can bring great enjoyment by broadcasting high-class music and, of course, the other kind, if the public demands it. There is talk of a new order after this war, hut unless we are prepared now to make up our minds to use every instrument of propaganda in order to prepare the people for a new conception of life, a new standard of culture, and a new idea of what democracy really means, there is little hope of abolishing the old order and establishing a better one. The radio service must be used to stimulate the imagination of the people in such a way that it will bo possible to wipe out the evil things of tin; earth, such as war, for the rest of time.

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