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Tuesday, 15 April 1969

Senator CORMACK (Victoria) - 1 am reluctant to intrude at this stage, but I waited to see whether the matter was concluded when Senator McManus sat down becauseI had hoped that Senator McClelland, of the Opposition, would rise to rebut the claims made by Senator McManus. Over the last few years we have learned to expect from Senator McClelland a fierce defence of the integrity of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, that the intellectual licence of its members should be preserved, that the instinct of drama should have free expression and that this is the sole area of dramatic integrity available to the Australian electorate. Senator McClelland has remained silent. I would have expected him to rebut the matters to which Senator McManus drew the Senate's attention tonight. I did not see the programme that Senator McManus mentioned. At least it was a dramatic exposition of some of the areas of uncontrollability into which the so-called intellectual Australian drama has intruded. 1 thought that the description of the programme, asgiven by Senator McManus, was quite disgusting.

The answer lies with members of the Opposition who have been espousing the cause of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.

The Senate must be concerned with the extent to which a permissive society allows the Australian Broadcasting Commission to go. What is the path for those people who present and use the resources of society, sponsored and economically and financially sustained by government? What is the road of the so-called permissive society that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has allowed to be extended? At what point does the management of the Australian Broadcasting Commission stop and say tha: this is far enough? In the final analysis, to what extent does Parliament intrude? lt is good enough to say that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is not under the control of Parliament - and it is true- -because Parliament, as far as I am aware, has never exerted control over the Commission. But does there exist in the Parliament itself an area in which to take a stand? What is the extent of permissive licence by the so-called artistic expressions? These are questions thai I ask and to which I direct the attention of honourable senators on the other side who espouse the freedom of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. For several years we have remained silent on this matter. The question of whether we should remain silent or not only now comes into perspective as a result of the case quoted by Senator McManus.

Senator Dittmer - The honourable senator is not implying that the Opposition supports disgusting programmes, is he?

Senator CORMACK - Time and time again I have heard the Opposition demand a freedom and a licence for the Australian Broadcasting Commission because the dramatic instincts of the artists must have free expression. Tonight Senator McManus gave an illustration of the dramatic expression of the artistic capabilities.

Senator Little - There comes a time when silence is no longer silence but weakness.

Senator CORMACK - I agree that there comes such a time. Tonight Senator McManus at least made out a prima facie case that silence must no longer be regarded as a measure of dispassion but as cowardice I think Senator McManus has done a service to the community and to Parliament by raising the matter in a dramatic way tonight. 1 hope ii is not len at this stage. 1 had hoped that some member of the Opposition would attempt to rebut the c.-ise, but honourable senators opposite have remained silent.

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