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Tuesday, 20 September 1949

Mr BLAIN (NORTHERN TERRITORY) - I ask the Prime Minister a question concerning the rights of the leader of the independent party in this House to speak over regional broadcasting stations in the Northern Territory during the forthcoming general election.

Mr Calwell - Which leader?

Mr BLAIN - The one who represents Alice Springs and Darwin. I point out that, although the Communists have not yet definitely stated that they will put forward a candidate, they are supporting the Australian Labour party candidate in the local Communist newspaper. I further preface my question by pointing out that, although the Prime Minister may, as leader of the Australian Labour party, nominate a candidate endorsed by that party to speak over the radio on its behalf, I, who represent the Northern Territory as an independent member, am not, apparently, entitled to enjoy the prescribed broadcasting facilities because I do not belong to a political party which will contest a minimum of 15 per cent, of the number of seats at the general election. I ask the right honorable gentleman, theref ore, whether he will extend to me, as the leader of the independent party in this House, similar facilities to those which will be given to the Australian Labour party candidate ?

Mr CHIFLEY - I do not know whether the honorable member for the Northern Territory regards himself as constituting a political party. However, 1 can inform him that I discussed, very briefly, the position of independent candidates with the Postmaster-Genera], and, as I indicated in the course of my reply to a. question asked by the honorable member for Reid, the whole matter is being re-examined :by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board at the request of the Postmaster-General.

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