Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 13 October 1949

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) .- I am interested in the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the proposed vote for which is £125,000. I think it was Sir Henry Parkes who said that if a government official were given an office he would soon have a department built round him. The truth of that is demonstrated by the proposed vote for the board. Its establishment was criticized in the Parliament when the proposal was first made.

Mr Calwell - Only its personnel.

Mr ANTHONY - Not only the personnel. The proposal was criticized on other grounds. The very first order made by the board was criticized. From what we can gather, that order, under which radio stations were to have been compelled to broadcast political propaganda entirely opposed to their principles, was submitted to the Minister for his approval before it was gazetted.

Mr Calwell - I did not see it until it was issued.

Mr ANTHONY - I accept the Minister's contradiction, but that has been said. What I am interested in is the enormous expenditure that the board has been able to incur in the short period that it has been in operation. It was created only a month or so ago, but the Estimates provide for a vote for it of no less than £125,000. It must be remembered that the board is only an administrative body. It has not to provide vast technical services or do other than make decisions, formulate policy and the like. Yet, on page 168 of the Estimates, we find such items as "Hire of motor vehicles, £3,300 ". That is equivalent to £1,100 apiece for each of the three members of the board. Then there is an item "Motor vehicles, £6,000". I presume that that item refers to the purchase of new motor vehicles. Does that mean that each member of the board- shall have £2,000 to expend on motor vehicles? I turn to the gazettal of vacancies. The three members of the board are Mr. L. B. Fanning, Mr. C. Ogilvy and Mr. R. G. Osborne. I should like the Minister to tell me what their remuneration is.

Mr Calwell - The chairman, Mr. L. B. Fanning, receives £3,000 a year, and each of the other two members, £2,750 a year.

Mr ANTHONY - The salary range of the secretary to the board is from £1,250 to £1,438. The salary offered for the position of " assistant secretary " ranges from £1,110 to £1,325. The position of " Director, Technical Services " carries a salary ranging from £1,375 to £1,563 a year. The director of programme services will receive from £1,375 to £1,563. Then we have the position of "Research Officer, Programme Services ", the salary for which ranges from £1,038 to £1,128. Another research officer will receive from £918 to £1,108, and the administrative officer will receive a similar salary. The salary of the finance officer ranges from £978 to £1,068 and that of the licensing officer from £790 to £888. The personnel officer will receive from £655 to £745. Two positions of " Engineer " carry salaries of £930 to £1,020 and £990 to £1,080 respectively. Then we have the deputy director, whose salary ranges from £1,110 to £1,200. So it goes on ! It would weary me too much to go right through the list. This is a newly created board that has been superimposed on existing services, such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Broadcasting Committee, and the Wireless Branch of the Postmaster-General's Department. All those officers of various types and descriptions are needed to help the three gentlemen who have been recently appointed as the dictators of Australian broadcasting services. I should like to know what services the board will render beyond those that we were told that it would render when it was established.

Mr Calwell - I shall tell the honorable member.

Mr ANTHONY - The Minister will have to tell me a lot to explain why it is proposed to expend £125,000 on a board that was set up only a month or two ago. I recollect that when the Department of Information was created, before the arrival in the Parliament of the Minister for Information, we were told that it would cost only about £70,000 a year. I should like to know what it costs to-day.

Mr Beale - It costs £186,000 a year.

Mr ANTHONY - Well ! The expansion of the Department of Information is analogous to what we may expect with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Perhaps we shall be told why it is thought necessary to expend on the board so much money as it is proposed to for a board that has been created so recently. Doubtless, as its activities expand, its expenditure will rise proportionately.

I reiterate my protest against the appointment of certain members of the board. The Government acted indecently in appointing Mr. Ogilvy. I have no personal objections to him, because he is a very fine person. But the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) accepted from the Macquarie network free time on the air every Sunday night. He took it without making any monetary payment. When the Australian Broadcasting Control Board was established, he selected from the Macquarie system one of its executive officers, Mr. Ogilvy. That was a quid pro quo for the services that it had rendered to him. It was a completely objectionable action. The Prime Minister may very properly say, " Oh, but I paid them nothing. It is a completely gratuitous service. These people mean nothing to me ". I agree that no monetary reward was given to the Macquarie network ; but it was given an influence on the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in the person of Mr. Ogilvy. That position enables Mr. Ogilvy, not necessarily as the official spokesman of the network, but as one who, because of his long service with it, must take into consideration knowledge that he has acquired in its interests to, in mind, serve such interests.

Mr Calwell - That is a terrible thing to say.

Mr ANTHONY - It is absolutely in accordance with the facts, whether it is terrible or not. The appointment of

Mr. Ogilvywas a reward to the Macquarie network for the services that it had given the Prime Minister every Sunday night, and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Eraser) every Friday night, in the shape of free time on the air. If that time were used by other persons in the community, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), the cost would amount to hundreds, or even thousands of pounds a year. The appointment of Mr. Ogilvy was indecent. The whole matter is improper. Free time on the air should not have been accepted by the Prime Minister from the Macquarie network. If he wants to use the broadcasting medium to tell the people of Australia about national policy or national interests, he should use the services of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and the Leader of the Opposition should be likewise entitled to use, pro rata, the services of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. To use the services of a private company, as the Prime Minister is doing, and say that the services cost nothing, and then to appoint an executive officer of that company to a position in which he may exercise control over all the rival broadcasting companies in Australia in an indirect way is grossly improper. Not much can be done about it now. I merely make my protest. We are entitled to be told why, in the space of a few months, it has been found necessary to expend £125,000 on an organization that was superimposed on all existing broadcasting services in Australia.

Suggest corrections