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Wednesday, 24 February 1971

Senator KENNELLY (Victoria4.25) - Mr Deputy President,the debate on the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1971 affords us an opportunity to discuss certain matters that are of interest to the nation in regard to broadcasting and television. lt is most remarkable that this Bill was first introduced some time in March 1970. The Bill was aired further during the Budget session, and now it is placed before the Senate for debate. One wonders why the intervening period was not used to hasten the passage of the Bill. That is the history of the Bill.

In leading for the Labor Party in this debate, Senator McClelland said that we did not oppose the Bill but that in the Committee stage he would move 2 amendments. One amendment would deal with the promise made by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme), lt is most interesting to me that the Postmaster-General should make a promise that a Bill will take effect from a certain date. This has financial implications. I would be the last to say - and T mean this - that from my statement it can be inferred that 1 am suggesting anything improper on the part of the PostmasterGeneral. But, 1 am not so politically naive that 1 do not know that great political implications are involved in the fields of broadcasting and television. I would like to know - and I think that the Senate is entitled to receive an answer - why the Minister made the statement that the provisions of this Bill would operate retrospectively to 22nd October.

However, under the Bill now before us, the provisions which were to operate from 22nd October will operate now from 12th December. I ask: Were any transactions carried out between 24th October and 12th December? Has anyone escaped the net? The Postmaster-General can find the answers to those questions. We on this side of the Senate for quite a number of years have expressed our concern at the very many underhand methods that have been and are being used to contravene the Broadcasting and Television Act with respect to the number of broadcasting licences and television licences that can be held by one firm or by one person. Everyone knows that this Bill has been introduced for one reason, lt has been introduced to stop nefarious practices developed by * the most proper people. God forbid that anyone would hear me say that John Fairfax and Sons is not the elite of the proper.

Senator Cant - And Packer.

Senator KENNELLY - Of course, Sir Frank Packer comes from the same line. The nefarious practices that have been used by these people to obtain additional licences or to exercise control over more licences than those people are entitled to under the Act have been such that one does not wonder that these practices have proved to be too much for those who sit on the side of the Chair opposite to us. If it were not for the support given by those people through the mass media - that is, the Press, television and radio - which they control, those sitting opposite us would not have been able to fool the people as long as they have fooled them at the time of certain elections.

I believe the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who represents the Postmaster-General here and who is in charge of this Bill, at least should spell out in unequivocal language why the statement made or the promise given by the Postmaster-General has not been carried out. I ask the Minister also whether she would inform me - no doubt other honourable senators would like to know too - whether any transactions, which could be classed as evasive moves to cover up what they had been trying to do, have been engaged in between 22nd October and 12th December by those persons who exercise control over broadcasting and television stations? ..

As I have said, Senator McClelland has foreshadowed 2 amendments which will be moved at the Committee stage. The Labor Party proposes by the second amendment that the right should be given at any time - instead of the period being restricted to 2 years - for a person who is convicted of not holding or renewing a broadcasting and television licence to move to have the conviction set aside. 1 remember speaking in support of this type of proposal some years ago. 1 do not support people who do not abide by the laws pf this country. I am not like the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) who believes thai ' certain trade unions will pay money that they were fined prior to an amendment to' 'the Conciliation and Arbitration Act relating to the matter on which those unions were fined. Wilh some knowledge of the industrial life of this country, I think that it' would be wise to forget that portion of the Act. If this was done, I believe that 'we would see more harmony in industry than we see now.

I have been moved to participate in this debate following on -2 very interesting speeches that were made, last .night. T refer first to the speech made, by Senator Hannan. I regret that, following the period of his absence from the Senate for 3 years he has not returned with anY greater political sense.

Senator Cant - Do 'you want the honourable senator here to listen to you?

Senator KENNELLY - 1 told the honourable senator that it was going to happen. I never go behind a person's back. Senator Hannan interested himself in a station of which I am chairman.

Senator Greenwood - A very profitable station, too.

Senator KENNELLY - I admit that it is. With my colleagues. I run it well.

Senator Webster - By exploitation.

Senator KENNELLY - There is no more exploitation there than there is in the honourable senator's timberyard. Now, if the honourable senator wants to play it that way, we will play it both ways. I am chairman of the company that holds the licence to operate radio station 3K.Z. Senator Hannan said that the licence for that station was held by the Australian Labor Party. Again 1 must ask the honourable senator to keep to the facts. I thank God that the licence to operate that station, when granted in 1931, was not given to the Australian Labor Parly. If it had been, possibly the Labor Party would not have that licence today. Members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party know what happened to certain things that belonged to the Australian Labor Party in 1955.

Senator Gair - They went to the proper Labor Party.

Senator KENNELLY - Now. Vince, let us not get onto that subject. We do not want to have a quarrel again.

Senator Gair - What did the court say?

Senator KENNELLY - If you want to revive this subject, I do not mind. You can make it as rough and as tough as you like. You will enjoy it and I will too. Senator Hannan was in error when he said that radio station 3KZ is owned by the Australian Labor Party. I say: Thank God that the Labor Party was not given the licence in 1931 because possibly we would have lost it in 1955 and that station certainly would have been ruined in recent years.

Senator Greenwood - Is not the honourable senator splitting hairs?

Senator KENNELLY - No, 1 am not.

Senator Webster - You own it under an alias.

Senator KENNELLY - No, we do not own it under any alias. Neither do you own your timberyard under any alias.

Senator Webster - I do not own a timberyard.

Senator KENNELLY - The licence to operate radio station 3KZ was given to the Industrial Printing and Publicity Co. Ltd in 1931. The wise people who led the Australian Labor Party in those days decided that, to avoid the consequences of any changes that might take place in the Party, the licence should be sought by a company that at least would be' able to operate it. So, the Industrial Printing and Publicity Co. Ltd owns the licence.

Senator Webster - Who owns the shares in that company?

Senator KENNELLY - Does the honourable senator want to know?

Senator Webster - Yes.

Senator KENNELLY - The Australian Labor Party owns 1.000 shares. The Trades Hall Council owns 1,000 shares. The union controlling the printing industry owns 1.000 shares. Other bodies hold varying parcels of shares. I and 2 other colleagues hold 1 0,000 shares in trust.

Senator Webster - Why does the honourable senator complain about the profit made by BHP when his radio station makes such an exorbitant profit?

Senator KENNELLY - I am not complaining about anything. I am only answering the question that was put up by a person who has returned to the fold, that is. Senator Hannan. He said:

On monopolies and quasi monopolies, the Australian Labor Party is in no position to cast the first stone. Kinged around Australia is a series of powerful radio transmitters which continuously feed out the old, worn out discredited and useless shibboleths of Labor Socialist propaganda.

All I can suggest is that, after he heard them and learnt them at his father's knee during his tender years, his father kept the faith but he did not. Anyway, the Labor Party does not own 3KZ. The honourable senator said a little later: . . the net profit to the Labor Party last year from the operations of 3KZ was $156,000.

His figures are wrong.

Senator Cant - What was the profit?

Senator KENNELLY - 1 Shall tell the honourable senator that at some other time. The fact is that the figure was not as stated by the honourable senator.

Senator Hannan - Was it more than that?

Senator KENNELLY - 1 am a bit too old in the game to be drawn in by a remark like that. A little later, when referring to a property owned by the Industrial Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd. he said that we charged $1,000 a year rent to Val Morgan and Sons Pty Ltd, a company which is the proprietor of 3KZ, the better broadcasting company. I should like to know where the figures cited by the honourable senator came from. They have never been published. Today I spent more than an hour trying to find these figures and so I say with great respect, and regret having to say it, that 1 would be a very bad judge if that information revealed bv the honourable senator in this place was not gained by him while he was a member of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.

Senator Hannan - That is untrue.

Senator KENNELLY - lt is all right for the honourable senator to say that.

Senator Hannan - That is a lie.

Senator KENNELLY - I have been to the Library and endeavoured to get this information.

Senator Hannan - Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise to order. The honourable senator has said that I am a liar. I ask for a withdrawal and an apology.

Senator KENNELLY - I did not. At no time have 1 ever mentioned that word. Perhaps the honourable senator's mind is such that he interprets my words to mean that. I have tried through 3KZ, through the Industrial Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd and through the Parliamentary Library to get the information which was stated by the honourable senator last night and have been unable to get it. The honourable senator said that the information was available from the Library, but the Library cannot produce it.

Senator Hannan - I suggest that you have a word with some members of your Party.

Senator KENNELLY - No member of my Party would have that information. I reiterate that the information used by the honourable senator in. this chamber last night was obtained by bini in the course of a job that he was given because he was defeated in an election.

Senator Hannan - That .is a lie.

Senator KENNELLY - I invite the honourable senator to prove me to be wrong. Let him get a copy of the 'Financial Review' from the Library and show me the figures.

Senator Hannan - You made the allegation; I did not do so.

Senator KENNELLY - The honourable senator said that the information was contained in a copy of the 'Financial Review' which was available in the Library, but I challenge him or anyone else to get that from the Library. I have .tried to get that information. It shows how low one can get when one is given a job because he is defeated-

Senator Hannan - Mr Acting Deputy President, the words being used by the honourable senator are offensive to me. Under Standing Orders I- ask that they be withdrawn. The honourable senator knows that he is not the only- member of the Labor Party in the Federal members' rooms who knows something about the profits of the ALP.....

Senator KENNELLY - I refuse to withdraw them. 1 said nothing offensive. All I am saying is that the honourable senator said that everything he had disclosed was reported in the 'Financial Review', so there was no problem about the matter as it was available in the Parliamentary Library. I have spent hours trying to find this material. The ladies in the Library have been very kind and have sent notes to me to say that no statement has -appeared in the Financial Review' giving this information. It is not that the Labor Party has anything to hide. I am delighted that our station is a financial success. But let us consider what your station. 3XY-

Senator Greenwood - Whose station?

Senator KENNELLY - lt was owned by the Liberal Party in conjunction with Hoyts, and recently it was sold to the Age' newspaper company. The Liberal Party ran that station so well that for 3 years it was rated eighth out of the 8 stations in the Sydney and Melbourne ratings and in one year it was rated seventh. Compare that with the way we run our station. In the last 4 years we have never been lower than joint second in the ratings and have been rated first. Of course our station is a success. This shows that we are able to run things.

Senator Greenwood - Are you leaving your Party, Senator? This does not help your Party.

Senator KENNELLY - Others who follow me will keep the faith and so long as (hey keep the faith I shall be happy. We may not always win, but sooner or later you will see the wisdom of much of what we do. I should like to refer now to my ex-colleague, Senator Little, who has had something to say by interjections. He said that we should get rid of the programme Labor Hour' because on that programme someone referred to him as a monkey. 1 look at him and I think the comment was unfair. He said also that someone referred to him as a liar. If anyone in the course of a radio programme referred to me as a monkey I would say that he was a bad judge because I arn a bit better looking than that, but if he referred to me as a liar and a thief I would make him prove it in the courts. Do not tell me that Senator Little does not know how to go about getting a copy of a transcript of what was said during a radio programme. He has only to write to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Every script must be kept for 6 months. Unfortunately we have struck a little trouble on that station with foolish people saying foolish things and we have paid.

Senator Little - Mr Hartley was one.

Senator KENNELLY - Do not confuse the Kennelly argument. If I may revert to Senator Hannan's remarks, the honourable senator talked about the Labor Party owning station 2KY in Sydney. It does not own that station and has never owned it.

Senator Little - Do you suggest that they did not make those remarks about me?

Senator KENNELLY - I do not know, but I am saying, and perhaps I am giving you more credit than you deserve, tha't if you heard them you should have gone on with the matter. I would have tried to do something about it for the honourable senator and to settle the matter.

Senator McManus - Sir Bernard Evans has the lot and you have none left.

Senator KENNELLY - We have a lot left. The honourable senator knows for how long I have been an official of the Labor Party. During that time we have never been broke and we are not broke now. Senator Hannan went on in an airy fairy way and said that station 2KY in Sydney was owned by the Labor Party. That station was never owned by the Labor Party. The licence was granted to the Labour Council of New South Wales.

Senator Hannan - How can--

Senator KENNELLY - How this; how that. The next point is that the only station the Labor Party owns in New South Wales is 2HD in Newcastle.

Senator Hannan - Have you had a brawl with the Sydney Trades Hall Council, too?

Senator KENNELLY - The honourable senator is so lacking that he would not have a fight with anyone at all. I have never heard a greater .Communist bailer in my life. Yet he comes into this chamber and supports selling China steel that comes back in bullets in Vietnam and he and all his colleagues are worried that they will not be able to sell further wheat to China.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Senator Kennelly, please return to the Bill.

Senator KENNELLY - I just thought that I would give a little back. Senator Hannan then referred to South Australia. He was on the Broadcasting Control Board. He would know what percentage of the Methodist station in South Australia the Labor Party owns - less than 5 per cent. It is true that 4K.Q in Queensland is owned by the Labor Party. The Labor Party in Western Australia has never owned a station. As one who was looked after by his colleagues when he was out of the Senate by being given a job, at least he should have, gained some knowledge and not come into this chamber and, wittingly or unwittingly, made a speech that is full of inaccuracies and provides information a portion of. which he could have obtained from only one source. Last night he said: 'I am not allowed to disclose any of the Control Board's figures'. We are not ashamed of the figures of profits that we make. We have to submit them. We have adhered to everything. Wc have to. under the law.

Senator Webster - Tell us the percentage that you make on capital.

Senator KENNELLY - I will, lt was about 2.5 per cent for the year that Senator Hannan quoted. I have worked it out at about 2.5 per cent on what the station is worth.

Senator Webster - On paid-up capital?

Senator KENNELLY - On what the station is worth. Members of the Government parlies are very prone to gloat if a Labor government enters into the business world and makes a mistake and loses. I do not know Bourke's; but I know what the ACTU is. I ask the workers of Victoria always to go and support their own shop. I know that they will do so.

Senator Webster - That is a free advertisement.

Senator KENNELLY - Of course it is a free advertisement, just as the honourable senator wanted to give Myer's one earlier today. Senator Hannan will be here for three and a bit years. God forbid that he will ever get in again.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Order! Senator Kennelly, you must not refer to the Deity as you have. You have used the expressions 'God forbid' and 'For God's sake', and I ask you not to do so.

Senator KENNELLY - If my statement offends you in any way. Mr Acting Deputy President. I humbly withdraw.


Senator KENNELLY - The last thing I wanted to do on Ash Wednesday was to be blasphemous. The Senate is a wonderful institution, lt is an institution which should be respected and which expects those who stand up on their feet to speak the truth, to bc careful and not to make rambling statements implying everything in the world. As one who in June .will have had 33 years in the parliamentary life of this nation, let me give some little advice to Senator Hannan: Have' a look at the facts. No-one minds an honest mistake. But when an honourable senator stands up here and says things which, to my knowledge, could be obtained from only one place-

Senator Hannan - That shows how ignorant you are of your own organisation.

Senator KENNELLY - When one obtains information from a certain place one is bound to retain it.

Senator O'Byrne - Under oath.

Senator KENNELLY - As one of my colleagues says, under oath, lt seems that Senator Hannan will go to any lengths to submit a case, as long as he thinks it will please those nice young ladies or elderly ladies who have the right to select the first second and third Government candidates for the next Senate election. 1 say in conclusion that, as Chairman of Directors of the Industrial Printing and Publicity Co., I am not ashamed in any way of the profit we are making. We have run a successful business. I hope that as long as I am in that position we will continue to do so. Just as I believe that the people can run many activities for the nation, I believe that my first job as a member of the Labor Party is to show that we can run a printing organisation and a broadcasting station that are helpful to the nation.

Senator Gair - Did you not tell us at the outset that your Party did not own the station?

Senator KENNELLY - Senator Gairknows as much about it as I do. His memory of what happened when he sat in the councils of the Party is not that bad.

Senator Gair - I am the fellow who reminds the elephant.

Senator KENNELLY - I do not mind that. Senator Hannan complained by inference that we did not take the advertisements of other political parties, lt is true that we do not do that.

Senator Hannan - I did not mention it.

Senator KENNELLY - I suggest that the honourable senator read the Hansard report of his speech. We do not take the advertisements of other political parties because there is nothing in the Act that says that we have to. If one does not take paid advertisements from any party, one is clear. It is true that we advertise the Labor Party on 3KZ.

Senator McManus - Arc you saying that the DLP has never had anything broadcast over 3KZ?

Senator KENNELLY - Yes, it has. 1 referred to advertisements.

Senator McManus - Speeches.

Senator KENNELLY - Yes. Under the Act we are bound to do that. We are bound lo broadcast the policy speeches of the recognised parties. As Senator McManus knows, we carry out the provisions of the Act. But it is a matter of fitting things in at limes when we can fit them in. I hope that, with minor amendments, the Bill will be passed. I believe that it will do something in the interests of television. 1 cannot understand why the Commonwealth does not act in conjunction with the States to obtain the name and address of each purchaser of a television set, in order to facilitate the collection of licence fees. The Postal Department must be spending great sums of money on the employment of inspectors, who must miss at least half the people who do not hold licences. Some evaders are detected, but it is a conduct of business that would not suit me. T ask the Minister why the operative date was changed. Were there any relevant transactions between 24th October and 2nd December, or whatever the dates are? if the Minister will give that information the matter will be laid to rest.

Senator HANNAN(Victoria!- Mr Acting Deputy President, I claim that T have been misrepresented, In the farrago of nonsense to which we have just listened it was claimed that I had said that radio station 3KZ had refused to accept Liberal Party advertisements. 1 made no reference to such a refusal in my speech. As for Senator Kennelly's other implications, the information in respect of which I spoke is available from sources other than those to which he referred.

Senator Kennelly - May I raise a point of order?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laucke) - Senator Hannan has claimed to be misrepresented.

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