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Thursday, 23 March 1972
Page: 895

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - I know the answer which was provided for me by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) to the question asked by Senator Douglas McClelland. I appreciate that the answer was short and that it indicated that the reason why the tapes were called for by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was for the Board's purposes under the Broadcasting and Television Act. Of course those purposes are stated in the Act. The Broadcasting Control Board has a general overall obligation with regard to the administration of the broadcasting system of this country. For the Board to be able to discharge that function it is necessary that it should know what is being done and what programmes are being carried out. How can it do that unless it has this power which it may exercise from time to time to call for the tapes in the case of broadcasting and to ensure that it has the information which it requires? Senator Douglas McClelland makes a preposterous suggestion that the Broadcasting Control

Board is in some way acting under Government direction if it ever asks a station or a licensee to provide information as to what is being said over one of the broadcasting stations. Yet that is the position which Senator Douglas McClelland is using as the basis for his objection and for his quite unfounded charges against the Prime Minister, the Postmaster-General and the Government.

I think we have reached a stage where the. sort of statements which are being made represent a dishonest, unscrupulous political tactic. What has Senator Douglas McClelland said today? He has said that calling for the tapes amounted to a coercion by the Broadcasting Control Board and by the Government. Where is the evidence of that? It is simply an allegation which is made. Nothing is given to support it and there has been a call for a denial of the allegation. We find that Senator Douglas McClelland, by way of supposed support for what he is saying, says that the reason why these particular tapes were called for was that the Prime Minister had carpeted the Postmaster-General. Where is the evidence of that? Who knows what the Prime Minister says to one of his Ministers? I know from my experience that the Prime Minister is not the type of person who carpets Ministers. This is emotive political double talk by people who do not know and who, once again, seek cheap political headlines by making an allegation without any knowledge whatsoever in the hope that a little bit of the mud which is thrown will stick.

The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) interjected during the course of what was being said by Senator Douglas McClelland and asked where was the basis for the allegation. What did Senator Douglas McClelland say after he had indicated that he had information on this matter? He said that it was a rumour. He then went on to suggest that it was a political fact as if a political fact is different from other facts which one regards as either provable or not provable. That is the type of thing which is being aired from time to time as a basis upon which a person has to make a denial. Without consulting the PostmasterGeneral I am not in a position to say what he has been told by the Prime Minister or what he said to the Prime Minister or to other Ministers. At this time I' am not in a position to know the reasons of the Broadcasting Control Board, or whether the Postmaster-General played any part in this matter. I would not believe that the PostmasterGeneral had any part in what the Broadcasting Control Board did. I believe that after Senator Douglas McClelland reflects upon this he will also believe that the Postmaster-General had no part in the matter.

But when an allegation is made of the character made by Senator Douglas McClelland it goes throughout the land if the Press seeks to publicise it. The allegation is made and no one can' deny it until one reaches the person involved to find out what has been said. By that time people have lost interest. We have heard the allegations which were made by Senator Keeffe in this chamber earlier this year about matters which Senator Bonner raised in the chamber last night. When Senator Keeffe made his allegations they were given the widest publicity. What sort of publicity is given in the Press of .this land this morning to what Senator Bonner said last night? There was scarcely a mention because the issue has died down. The initial allegation has had its fling and the fact of a denial is not regarded as relatively newsworthy. This is the type of tactic which is being engaged in and these things should be pointed out. That is what T am doing. There is absolutely no basis to the sort of allegations being made by Senator Douglas McClelland today. He just comes along with a generalised statement. He has no facts and no evidence to back it up. He then asks why the allegation is not denied. In these circumstances, I will pass on to the Postmaster-General what the honourable senator has said. I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will disdain to give Senator Douglas McClelland any further information unless there is something to back up what he has said.

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