18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deput y Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to inform the House that the Honorable J. J. Cole, Minister for Labour and Emigration, Malta, is within the precincts of the chamber. With the concurrence of honorable members, I shall invite him to take a seat on the floor of the House beside the Speaker’s chair.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Mr. Cole thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.
– This morning, the Canberra Times published a report of a proposal to divert considerable quantities of water from the Snowy River to the Murrumbidgee River via Tumut. Will the Minister for Works and Housing furnish me with answers to the following questions: - (1) What volume of water will be diverted to the Murrumbidgee River via Tumut? (2) Will this diversion provide for greater irrigation in the Tumut Valley? (3) Will the scheme bring into control some of the upper waters of the Tumut River in order to assist in the prevention of flooding in the lower Tumut Valley? (4) Can the Minister indicate where the dams are likely to be constructed for the control of the waters of the Tumut River? (5) Will any power stations be constructed in the upper Tumut Valley ? (6) What is the estimate of the power which those stations will produce ? (7) When does the Minister expect that the work will be commenced ?
– The report on the proposal to divert water from the Snowy River to the Murrumbidgee River via Tumut has been submitted to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and copies of the document have been forwarded to the State Premiers for consideration: Before an approximate date for the commencement of the work can be decided, the project must be approved by a joint conference of representatives of the Australian Government and the State Governments of Victoria and New South Wales. Surveyors are continuing to obtain additional information in anticipation that the project will be undertaken. I believe that, ultimately, the work must be proceeded with, and it can be commenced whenever man-power and materials are available. Approximately 569,000 acre-feel of water will be diverted into the Murrumbidgee River. Irrigation will be the responsibility of the Government of New South Wales, and the project will certainly increase with the productive capacity of that area. Dams will be constructed to control some of the waters, which are regarded as the upper waters of the Tumut River, in order to assist to prevent flooding which occurs from time to time in the Tumut Valley. The controlled water which will go down the Tumut River will be 640,000 acre-feet. The major dams in the Tumut RiverSnowy River scheme will be constructed at Adaminaby and Tantangra, and other dams will be built at Lobbs Hole and Blowering to control the waters of the upper Tumut. The Tumut scheme provides for seven power stations, which will generate 720,000 kilowatts.
– I have received a telegram to-day from Mr. Killen, one of the leading pastoralists in the Riverina. in the following terms: -
Please endeavour by question in House ascertain main points of Snowy Committee report.
Can the Minister for Works and Housing inform the House of the amount of water that is to be diverted into the Murrumbidgee and the Murray, and when the scheme is likely to operate? The amount of water that will be made available for irrigation purposes is a burning question in theRiverina, and I should be grateful if the Minister would give the House all the information that is available on this subject as soon as possible.
– The total amount of water that will be diverted is 569,000 acre-feet. The telegram refers to the “ main points “ of the report. In my opinion, the main point is the unanimity between the Australian Government and the Governments of Victoria and New South Wales that this scheme is of great national importance and, therefore, worthy of the greatest consideration by them. When the scheme will commence will be decided after a conference of representatives of the three governments concerned.
– I have received from the Town Clerk of Ararat, in Victoria, the following telegram: -
Council desires suggest you request Government to invite Mr. and Mrs. Winston Churchill to tour Australia and visit localities arranged for Royal tour. Am sure would receive wonderful welcome. - Town Clerk.
Will the Prime Minister seriously consider that veryfine suggestion?
-Some time ago the Government invited Mr. Winston Churchill to visit Australia, but he intimated that pressure of work as leader of his party, and the literary activities in which he was engaged, prevented him from accepting the invitation at that stage. Indeed, I understood from the tone of his reply that he would he unable to accept for some time ahead. He was very appreciative of the invitation issued by the Australian Government, but he has not indicated that there is any likelihood that he will accept it. If he should care to do so, the Government would be very pleased to welcome him.
– I desire to ask a question of the Prime Minister about the destruction of rabbits. I have received many reports from shires in my electorate, and from other parts of New South Wales, pointing out the growing menace from rabbits. It is very difficult to deal effectively with them. The best way of doing so is by ploughing and digging, but this in ineffective in rocky country. Netting is very dear and difficult to obtain. Therefore, I ask the Prime Minister to arrange for a supply of fumigating gas with which to destroy rabbits. Present indications are that rabbits are threatening to become a plague which will cause losses amounting to millions of pounds to the nation, and many hundreds of pounds to individual land-holders.
– Reference to materials for destroying rabbits was made some time ago by members of the Opposition, who mentioned two kinds of fumigating gas, one of them being cyanogas. During the week, I answered a question on the subject by a member of the Opposition and representations have been made to me by several honorable members on this side of the House. A sub-committee of Cabinet recently discussed the matter. I understand that cyanogas does not require so much labour in its use, and that it is very effective. The subcommittee ordered a review of supplies, and dollars have been made available for the purchase of cyanogas. As the result of the review, it was found that supplies which were forthcoming from the United States of America, together with such quantities as we can obtain from easy currency countries, would together be ample to meet the demand.
Lossof Aircraft “ Lutana “ :report of Air Courtofinquiry-services to the East.
– In view of the complete exoneration of Captain Drummond, pilot of the Lutana, by Mr. Justice Simpson in his report on the loss of that aircraft, and also of the learned judge’s commenton the administration of the
Department of Civil Aviation in reference to safe flying, will the Minister for Civil Aviation state what action he proposes to take on the report, or is he satisfied with the departmental explanation ?
– The statement I made yesterday dealt with the report fairly well, although not in full detail. If the honorable member will refer to a copy of the report and the map furnished by the court, he will see that at no stage of the journey did the pilot cross the Kempsey Range, which is the subject of criticism. I am going entirely by the map which the court produced and furnished for my information, as Minister. As to the exoneration of the pilot, I have not offered any criticism of him in any way whatsoever. I simply set out the position as it was seen after a thorough examination by departmental officers, some of whom are so highly qualified and trained that their services have been sought by international civil aviation organizations with which they have received appointments. I point out that our standard in Australia which has been the subject of criticism, is as high as that in any other part of the world. An honorable member opposite says, “Ah”. If he knew a little more about the quality of the service provided in this country, [ am confident that he would express the same satisfaction with it as has been expressed by people throughout the world. As indicated in the statement that I have made, we are already taking action on items in the report.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether it is correct as stated by the Chairman of British Overseas Airways Corporation, Sir Harold Hartley, that representations by the Australian Government caused the Government of Hong Kong to abandon Cathay Pacific Airways as its chosen operator of an overseas airline from Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific being an airline in which Australian National Airways had acquired a substantial interest ? Is it true that, in making such representations, the Australian Government suggested that Qantas Empire Airways should be the nominated operator for the Hong Kong Government? Is it true that, as a result of the Australian Government’s intervention the Hong Kong Government selected British Overseas Airways Corporation as its operator, thus depriving Australia of the revenue to be derived from operating the service? Why did the Commonwealth intervene to influence the policy of another administration ?
– I have not seen the statement attributed to the Chairman of the British Overseas Airways Corporation regarding the establishment of an air service between Australia and Hong Kong. However, it is true that, in accordance with an agreement that international air services would be conducted by government instrumentalities, the Australian Government pointed out to the British authorities that they were proposing to designate a private airline to operate to Australia, which was not in accordance with the agreement. When the Prime Minister was overseas, he made representations on the subject, as a result of which the British Overseas Airways Corporation operated the service from Hong Kong to Australia, while the Australian Government, as was previously agreed, operated the service, through Qantas Empire Airways, from Australia to Hong Kong. The arrangement has proved very satisfactory, and does not deprive Australia of any revenue, because we have no right to run a two-way service to any terminal, thus shutting other interests out. The representations made by the Australian Government on the subject were in accordance with established policy, and were in the public interests.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General take steps to see that when the Estimates for 1949-50 are being prepared, provision is made for the vote of an amount sufficient to allow for the plans and specifications of the new General Post Office in Brisbane to he completed? I ask that this be done so that the Minister for Works and Housing can then refer the matter to the Public Works Committee for examination, in order that the building can he commenced at the first opportunity.
– I shall convey the honorable member’s suggestion to the Postmaster-General. I point out, however, that when the Estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department were under consideration recently, I assured the honorable member for Brisbane that provision had been made for an amount of £600,000 to be set aside for capital expenditure this year in respect of the Brisbane General Post Office. As honorable members know, when the honorable member for Griffith retired from the position of chairman of the Public “Works Committee, with full honour and glory, he was succeeded in that position by Senator Lamp. I shall see that- this matter is brought to the notice of the Postmaster-General, so that the Public Works Committee can add this item to all of the other important items listed for its attention on behalf of the people of Australia.
– It has been the custom of the Taxation Branch for longer than 30 years to regard the value of the keep and quarters of a “ found “ employee, as £1 a week. That amount is added to the amount of wages paid to such employees to assess the total amount of income for taxation purposes. I point out that in recent awards of the Arbitration Court, the value of keep and quarters of a “ found “ employee has been regarded as being a little over 30s. a week. In view of that, will the Treasurer inform the House whether he regards the allowable deduction of only 15s. a week for employers in respect of “ found “ employees as equitable ? If necessary, will the right honorable gentleman cause the act to be amended, or issue instructions that employers shall be allowed, as a deduction for income tax purposes, 75 per cent. of the amount stated in the appropriate award as the value of the keep of “ found “ employees ?
– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman has been the subject of numerous representations from the Taxpayers Association and the Graziers Association. It was examined some time ago and it was then decided that the change was not warranted. I ran, however, understand that circum stances may have changed. The matter will be reviewed when the taxation policy in general is next being reviewed.
Opinion about Australia.
Mr.RUSSELL. - Has the Minister for Immigration read the statement which appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser of the 23rd November wherein the Premier of South Australia, Mr. T. Playford, who has just returned from a trip overseas said, when replying to a welcome home tendered to him by the Lord Mayor, Mr. McLeay, that of all the countries he had visited, Australia was, without exception, the best place to live in ? He said -
Wherever you go overseas, there is much difference of opinion, resulting sometimes in hostility, and order is restored only by policing the people. We think we are regimented in Australia but we don’t know what the word “ regimented “ means.
– I read the statement by the Premier of South Australia with great satisfaction. I think the honorable gentleman told the truth about his observations overseas and I think his observations were correct. The Premier of South Australia, by the way, happens to be a member of the LiberalCountry party. He has been in office for a long time. If I could be sure that a visit overseas by every member of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party in this Parliament would result in their returning to Australia with the same opinions, I should recommend to the Treasurer that each be given a world tour, and I am sure that he would accept my recommendation.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the request of the Queensland Government for a guaranteed price for raw cotton has been refused until the Tariff Board has investigated it? If that is correct, will the right honorable gentleman expedite the result of the investigation so that any action by the Government shall be effective for the crop to he grown this year.
– The matter of a revised guaranteed price for raw cotton has been raised by several honorable members. The Minister for Trade and Customs himself has raised the matter with me. If I remember rightly the Premier of Queensland raised it at the last conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. I have examined the matter thoroughly. The last guaranteed price for raw cotton was given by the Government after it had considered a report on the subject from the Tariff Board. One of the troubles of the raw cotton industry is the diminution of production. About fifteen years ago, a large sum of money was borrowed to establish ginneries and for other capital expenditure in connexion with the industry. The Queensland Cotton Board has found it necessary to make a deduction from returns to growers to cover interest payments contributions to a sinking fund and administrative costs. Queensland raw cotton is free from control and growers can sell at the world parity price of about 32d. per lb. When the deduction is made to meet the expenses of the board, the repayment of the debt and interest payments, the return to the growers is less than the guaranteed return asked for. Less than 2,000 bales of raw cotton was grown last year compared with greater production in previous years. Growers remaining in the industry are being called upon to contribute about 7d. per lb. from their returns to meet the debt repayment and interest charges and the expenses of the board. I have suggested that the Commonwealth Bank spread the repayment of the debt over a longer period in order that annual payments to the sinking fund may be reduced. In the meantime, the Minister for Trade and Customs has referred the matter of raw cotton to the Tariff Board for investigation. I have not given the Commonwealth Bank a direction, I have only made a request that the terms of repayment be extended, but I think the bank will accede to my request. It is a matter of administration that concerns the bank. The Minister for Trade and Customs has promised to ask the Tariff Board to deal with the matter as quickly as possible. I cannot tell the honorable gentleman how soon it will be dealt with, but I shall try to obtain the information for him.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is true that Mr. Cunliffe, a representative of the British Aluminium Commission, arrived in Australia this week for discussions with representatives of the Commonwealth regarding the future set up of the aluminium industry in Australia? Will that gentleman make a survey of the bauxite deposits in Australia ? Is it intended that he shall visit Tasmania for ‘ discussion? with the Premier of that State, Mr. Cosgrove ?
– A representative of the British Aluminium Commission is due to arrive in Australia at about this time. I do not know whether or not he has yet arrived.
– He has arrived.
– Representatives of the British Aluminium Commission have visited Australia on other occasions. I understand that Mr. Thomas, the production manager of the commission, made a very full survey of the potentialities of aluminium production in this country. The- purpose of his visit was to assess the possibilities of increasing the production of aluminium generally within the British Commonwealth. I understand that investigations were also made in other countries, including Borneo and the Solomon Islands, in order to ascertain the quantity and quality of bauxite that could be obtained in those places-. I believe that Mr. Cunliffe proposes to discuss these matters generally with those interested in propositions to extend widely the production of aluminium in Australia. As I have explained previously, the Australian Government has entered into an agreement with the Government of Tasmania as the result of which both governments are partners in a joint venture for the production of aluminium in Tasmania. That agreement may not be varied by the Commonwealth except with the consent of the Tasmanian Government. I have discussed the subject with Mr. Cosgrove personally in order to ascertain his views should it seem likely that these other proposals will bear fruit. I propose to send, to Mr. Cosgrove full details of the results of investigations by the: representative of the
British Aluminium Commission. While I do not in any way wish to commit Mr. Cosgrove on the matter, it is possible that the Tasmanian Government may be prepared to cancel the existing agreement, provided that the industrial’ expansion of that State is not less than that contemplated under the agreement. No doubt the Tasmanian Government would demand a definite guarantee on that point. During his visit to Australia the representative of the British Aluminium Commission will discuss that matter with the Australian Aluminium Production Commission, which includes in its membership representatives of Tasmania - Mr. Benjamin is, I think, one of the Tasmanian representatives - and no doubt with myself, or with the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who also is interested in these problems. As soon as further information is available, I shall inform the honorable member accordingly.
– The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction will doubtless recall the correspondence that has passed between him and me since the conclusion of the war regarding the provision of a boat harbour for fishing craft at Bucks Bay, which is in my electorate. The honorable gentleman declared that it was not possible to use the resources of the Navy to break a hole through the reef there. I direct his attention to a report in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald to the effect that the Navy is, by means of explosives, to dispose of the remains of a wreck which has been on Maroubra beach for 30 years, the justification being that it is an obstruction to bathers. I ask the Minister whether naval forces and resources are to be made available to make beaches safe for bathing beauties, but not to make Bucks Bay safe for fishermen, and whether the Government believes in sport before production?
– The honorable gentleman’s question is based on the assumption that the newspaper report to which he has referred is a correct statement of the facts. I should have thought that honorable members opposite would have been very chary about accepting the accuracy of newspaper reports. especially after their experience during the last few weeks. If I informed the honorable gentleman that the resources of the Navy could not be used for the purpose for which he wanted them to be used, I am certain that I obtained that information from the Minister for the Navy and that it was correct. However, I shall again ask the Minister to examine the matter. If anything can be done to assist the honorable gentleman, I am sure that the Minister will be delighted to do it.
Mr- TURNBULL. - I direct attention to >a statement that was made by the Prime Minister recently when he was discussing greater production and the starving people of Europe. The right honorable gentleman said -
I want to make it perfectly clear that if we grow even more food it will not benefit those unfortunate people if they are unable to purchase it.
Later he said -
The matter of national production must be surveyed very carefully, and we must take into consideration our ability to dispose of our products.
I ask the Prime Minister whether those statements mean that he has some doubt about the wisdom of increasing our primary production, or that the multilateral agreements to which the Government is a party are not functioning satisfactorily? Is it not a fact that the present world problem is a lack of foodstuffs and not a lack of purchasing power ? Is it the Government’s policy to make >a drive for greater primary production?
– I thought that I had made it perfectly clear that, before we increase primary or secondary production, we must carefully consider whether markets will be available for our output. Some primary producers’ organizations, such as the dried fruits organization, have expressed doubt whether we shall be able to sell unlimited quantities of primary products abroad. Australia has a market for certain types of dried fruit in Canada and the United Kingdom, but we have had a hard fight to retain our preferential trade treatment in those countries. If honorable members will examine the relative figures, they will see that only the special preference which we have obtained has enabled us to compete successfully in Canada with the products of California. There is an unlimited demand for many primary commodities in the world to-day, but before we greatly increase our production, we must be certain that markets will continue to be available for them in future. I cite the example of wine. At the outbreak of World War II., the marketing of wine had become so difficult that it was thought that the Australian Government would be required to subsidize the industry in order to keep the vineyards in production. If the people of other countries have not sufficient money to purchase our products, they will go without them, and perhaps starve. The United States of America is providing substantial aid under the Marshal plan in order to succour the people of Europe, and is pouring out a vast amount of dollars to provide food for the Japanese. European countries are short of their requirements. The British Government has been more than generous in agreeing to make gifts to Europe this year of £75,000,000 sterling, and to release a certain amount of frozen sterling. The capacity of the people in the warstricken areas of Europe, and of the hundreds of millions of people in Asia to consume our products, is almost limitless, but their purchasing power is very limited. Economic problems such as the availability of money to buy goods, and the availability of goods, must be given careful consideration before we greatly expand our production.
– I have received representations from the Building Industry Congress and the hardware merchants in Perth explaining that the limited petrol ration does not permit them to undertake deliveries of materials required for the housing programme in that State. Will the Minister for Works and Housing examine the position? If he is satisfied that the housing and building programmes in Western Asutralia are being impeded through lack of petrol, will he take all possible steps to obtain additional supplies of fuel for the hardware and building trades?
– I shall answer the honorable member’s question. In view of the shortage of dollars which we need to purchase a large percentage of our requirements of petrol, the liquid fuel authorities must carefully examine any applications for an increased allocation of petrol. The cost of the petrol requirements of the British Commonwealth of Nations from the dollar area is equivalent to £14’0,000,000 sterling a year. As I recently explained to the honorable member for Reid, there is a good deal of coming and going in the sale of petrol. Some petrol comes from the dollar area, and some is resold to the dollar area for dollars. The position is most complicated, because it involves haulage and the use of tankers. Our first problem is that of obtaining dollars with which to purchase petrol. The necessary dollars must be provided from the dollar pool. Our second problem is not so much the availability of crude oils as the availability of refining capacity. The British Government proposes to provide refining capacity in England at an estimated cost exceeding £100,000,000. Endeavours are being made in many countries to step up refining capacity, which is a really limiting factor in the production of petrol at the present time. The consumption of petroleum products, including petrol and aviation spirit, in the United States of America is 70 per cent, greater new than it was before the war. I have discussed this matter at some length with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, and I shall refer the honorable member’s question to him. The most sympathetic consideration is given to applicants for addi– tional petrol when it is absolutely essential that persons engaged in commerce and industry shall receive an increased ration.
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has referred, but I certainly pay a great deal of attention to any statement which Mr. Gollan makes, because he has been h very able servant of the Australian Government abroad, and is well qualified to express an opinion about our trade with other countries. There are certain factors which have tended to hinder c-ur trade with the East. I cite, as an example, the lack of care on the part of some packers of canned fruits to send fruit of good quality and of a uniform standard. Some of them, appeared to act on the principle that as long as they made a quick profit, they did not care about the inevitable result of selling inferior products. Australia grows sufficient fruit to enable a valuable trade in that commodity to be developed with Eastern countries, but the limiting factor at the present time is the grievous shortage of tinplate. When I was in London a few months ago, I discussed that matter with the President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Harold Wilson. Even with rationing the use of tinplate, Australia will require approximately 107,000 tons of tinplate this year. Until recently it appeared that we should be able to obtain from the United States of America and the United Kingdom a total of only 84,000 tons. I am gratified to be able te say that the British Board of Trade has assisted us considerably to increase our imports of that material. The Eastern countries provide one of our best markets, but until we are able to obtain ample supplies of tinplate, we shall not be able to develop our trade with them in canned fruits, regardless cf the quantity of fruit we produce. I value very highly any opinion which Mr. Gollan expresses about overseas trade, and. I shall take the opportunity to read the report of hk opinions in the Melbourne Herald. As I have stated, he has been , one of our most valuable servants abroad, and any suggestion which he makes for the development of our trade will receive earnest consideration.
– Oan the Minister representing the Postmaster-General say whether it is true that there are 70,000 outstanding applications for telephones because the people to-day have the purchasing power to pay for them ? Is it a fact that, during the depression, when non-Labour governments were in office, the Postmaster-General’s Department published and distributed booklets in great numbers urging the people to install telephones on their farms, in their homes, in their factories and in their offices ? If so, will the Minister ascertain the number of copies distributed annually, and the cost involved? Will he find out how many persons were employed by the Postmaster-General’s Department in each State each year, canvassing the general public in an effort to get people to install telephones?
– There are probably more than 70,000 applications for telephones outstanding at the moment. I think the honorable member is right in suggesting that the large number of applications for telephones is due to the unprecedented prosperity of Australia because of good Labour government. During the depression, pamphlets were issued by the Postmaster-General’s Department about telephones, but I cannot remember just what they said. I shall ask the PostmasterGeneral to supply detailed information to the honorable member, as though his question had been asked on notice. I am sure also that what I said the other day in answer to another honorable member was correct, that during the depression, from 1934 to 1939, fourteen persons were continuously employed in New South Wales and eleven in Victoria canvassing the public and urging people to install telephones on their farms, in their homes, in their factories, and in their offices. I shall try to obtain the precise figures for each State in each year, and that information will be included in the statement which, I hope, the PostmasterGeneral will furnish before the end of the present sessional period.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
– Has the honorable member been misrepresented?
– Yes, in the press of yesterday’s date. In its account of the debate in the Parliament of Victoria, on the suspension of Mr. Keon, M.L.A., from the service of the House, the Melbourne Sun reported Mr. Galvin, Deputy Leader of the Labour party, as saying -
It’s also quite correct for Liberals in the Federal Parliament to throw out Fascist salutes and get the backing of their party.
The report continued -
Government members interjected, saying that that was not so, whereupon Mr. Hayes (Labour, Melbourne) and the Opposition Leader (Mr. Cain) shouted: “Oh, isn’t it; what about White, of. Balaclava?” [ have inquired of a member of the Victorian Parliament whether such mention of my name was made, and have been assured that it was, although he was uncertain who had made the reference. It is absolutely untrue for Mr. Galvin to say that members of the Liberal party, or of any other party in this Parliament, have acted in that way. I have a contempt for fascists and Communists and their salutes, and also for any person who could make such an allegation.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 24th November (vide page 3494).
Clause 6 - (1.) After Part I. of the Principal Act the following Part is inserted: - “ PartIa.: - The Australian Broadcasting Control Board. “ Ok.- “ (4.) The Board shall have power, subjectto any directions of the Minister -
– Discussion of this clause has centred on the provision in proposed new section 6k. which reads -
The Board shall, in particular -
ensure that divine worship or other matter of a religious nature is broadcast for adequate periods and at appropriate times and that no matter which is not of a religious nature is broadcast by a station during any period during which divine worship or other matter of a religious nature isbroadcast by that station.
I have a special reason for raising this issue. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) made it clear that only religious matter could be broadcast during the period set aside for that purpose, and he said that matters of a political nature obviously could not be broadcast at that time. Not long ago, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) described communism as a political philosophy. Many sermons are preached in the churches about communism. Indeed, communism strikes at the very heart of Christianity, and is causing a great deal of concern among churchmen to-day. Hardly a Sunday passes without sermons being preached on the subject. Therefore, if under this legislation, the Minister intends to prevent the churches from discussing communism during their services, he is proposing to do something which will be strongly resisted as it will be detrimental to Christian teaching, because communism is atheistic in principle and design. He will also be encouraging the spread of communism in our midst.
– The honorable member knows that that is not so. I did not say anything of the kind.
– The Minister said that no political broadcasts could be made during the period set aside for religious broadcasts. The Prime Minister described communism as a political philosophy. The Government has refused to do anything to suppress communism, andCommunists are recognized as members of a political party, and may stand as Communists for election to Parliament. If the Government intends to ban any reference to politics during the religious services on Sundays, but accepts communism as a political philosophy, how can the expression of political views be prevented? I contend that if communism is attacked under the Christian principle of toleration, we cannot say, “We will permit some discussion of communism, but we will not permit any other political discussion during that period “.I point this out to the Minister as being a distinct danger, on his own interpretation of the provision. I ask the Minister to give further consideration to this aspect and to be more explicit in his interpretation of what he means by political comment during a period of religious broadcast.
– I thought that it would not be necessary for me to repeat what I said last night. I made it clear then that no minister of religion who uses a church service for the purpose of expressing his particular view of the impact of politics on the moral law, will in the slightest degree be inconvenienced or disadvantaged by this provision of the law. What we seek to ensure is that the time given to a religious body for the purpose of dissemination of its particular views, or for divine worship in accordance with its tenets, or for the preaching of any particular doctrine, it 3hall not be used for any other purpose. If that requirement is observed, there will not be anything to complain about. If, however, in addition to that, a layman is permitted to deliver wild diatribes on political parties in this country, or on matters that are not even remotely connected with the moral law, he should be prevented from doing so. The fact that hymns or other features of religious services precede such dissertations on topical subjects should make no difference. I assured the honorable member for Wentworth last night that the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon broadcasts from Wesley Church, Melbourne, will not be affected because they are not religious services. Any minister of religion can say what he likes in the pulpit, in the course of a religious service, but nobody should have the right to bring in a layman, whether he belongs to that, or any other denomination, Sunday after Sunday, for the purpose of making attacks upon governments, persons, or institutions in the middle of a religious broadcast. There is no objection to anybody commenting on the air on any of these matters, provided that they do it in the right setting. They could do it a quarter of an hour before a religious service, or a quarter of an hour afterwards.
If free time is allowed for religious broadcasts, the broadcasts ought to be religious. They ought not to be religiouscumpolitical.
– How will Catholics get on under this provision?
– I shall deal with that aspect.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - The Minister should confine his remarks to the answering of speeches that have been made. If he answers interjections only, we shall get into hopeless disorder.
– This is a principle for general application to safeguard religious organizations. It is a safeguard for the proper use of the medium of broadcasting. I believe that in some instances facilities that have been granted in this country for religious broadcasts have been abused. The abuses should be stopped. It is not in the interests of anybody that a person should be allowed, in the middle of the broadcast of a religious service, to discuss party politics in the most extravagant way.
– Is that done?
– Yes, continually, and it ought to be stopped. I have nothing to add to my explanation. I give an assurance that Pleasant Sunday Afternoon broadcasts, during which people of all political faiths are asked to express their opinion generally on matters affecting the welfare of the people, will not be affected in the slightest degree by this provision.
.- I am somewhat disquieted by the provisions of this proposed sub-section. The Minister’s explanation is, of course, a plausible one. I point out, however, that the Minister will be the Minister only so long as Fate wills that he shall be so. He is not permanently in his present office, and although his assurance might be given with the best of good faith, the fact is he will not be, on his own admission last night, the Minister in charge of this particular measure.
– Hear, hear!
– That interjection confirms what I have said. I am concerned about what may be the view of a succeeding administration, which may be of a very extremist character, in view of the drift of politics to-day. I am not referring to an administration composed of honorable members now in Opposition. The provision contained in proposed new section 6k (2) (b) (ii) must cause disquiet to religious organizations, particularly those that have been attacking the menace of communism in Australia, for the Minister has said that no matter which is not of a religious nature may be broadcast during a religious service. Although the Minister has given an assurance on this matter, I point out that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has said in this House from time to time that he recognizes the Communist party as an ordinary political party in this country and that it has the same rights as have other political parties. We on the Opposition side of the House deny that, of course, and say that the Communist party is a subversive organization. The Government apparently considers that Communists should be given the same rank and status as that accorded to the members of the Liberal party, the Australian Country party, and the Australian Labour party. The Government therefore regards Communists in the same light as it does members of those parties. The Prime Minister has repeatedly said so. The Roman Catholic Church is in the vanguard of the fight against communism in Australia. I have here a book written by Monsignor Fulton Sheen, who gave some notable sermons in this country when he accompanied Cardinal Spellman to Australia.
– Other ministers of religion have also delivered notable sermons.
– When the exminister, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) - I do not know whether he is a minister or an ex-minister now-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - Order! Honorable members of this chamber are designated by the names of the constituencies that they represent and not by their previous professions.
– I say, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that, in parliamentary pro cedure, previous professions are always used to designate honorable members. For instance, “ The honorable and reverend gentleman “ and “ The honorable and gallant gentleman” are allowable. I was referring to an honorable and reverend gentleman.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable gentleman referred to must be described as the honorable member for Wilmot.
– Well, if the honorable member for Wilmot will make declarations about communism in Australia similar to those made by thihierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, he will do something worthwhile, and 1 am not a member of that faith. I have with me books and pamphlets about th<* menace of communism written by mem bers of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. The first is the Conscience of the West. written by Monsignor Fulton Sheen, who, while he was in Australia with Cardinal Spellman, made some notable broadcasts, to some aspects of which some members of my denomination took exception, without reason, in my opinion. I think they were misunderstood. Another book issued by the Roman Catholic bishops in Australia is The Red Menace in Australia. Next I refer honorable members to the encyclical of His Holiness Pope Pius XI. on atheistic communism. Next I refer them to the Social Order: Reconstruction and Perfection, by His Holiness Pope Pius XII. The last was issued a few weeks ago. It was published “with the authority of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Catholic Church in Australia “, and it is entitled Socialization. It makes a. most critical examination of socialism and the destructive influences that that form of philosophy will have upon the religious institutions and the ethics and morals of this country. Those documents contain the approved tenets of the Roman Catholic Church, and bear the signatures of members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy from the Pope down to the archbishops of Australia. Are those prelates to be precluded, because they happen to be in front of a microphone, from espousing in their sermons to their congregations views that they have already written about and broadcast throughout Australia? According to the definition given by the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) that will be so.
– It will be so, because, they will be touching upon something of a party political nature.
– If, from the pulpit during the broadcast of a religious service these priests attacked communism, as they have done, to their great credit, up and down Australia, and the Minister in charge of this legislation at the time - I do not know who that Minister may be to-morrow or at any time in the future - took exception to what they said, and defined their statements as being of a party political character, they could be cut off the air. That is the only meaning that can be given to the proposal. I do not question the sincerity of the Minister in submitting this proposed sub-section to honorable members. I believe that what he possibly has in mind is the prevention of the intrusion of advertising and other objectionable matter into religious broadcasts, or the improper exploitation of religious broadcasts. No doubt, he aims at preventing abuses of that kind; but, in striving to do so, he has cast the net so wide that he will enmesh all the speakers that I have enumerated. If, in the opinion of the Minister in charge of broadcasting at the time, priests have touched upon anything that could be construed as coming within his own definition - and it could include socialism, communism, the social order and political parties which are doing this, that and the other, they could be debarred from broadcasting. What will happen, for example, if from a pulpit, there is condemnation of some action of a government, not necessarily this Government, but any succeeding government? The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) pointed out yesterday that this power might be safely vested in the hands of the Labour party, hut what would happen if it were in the hands of a man like the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who sits on this side and has strong views on certain matters ? If we pass this provision, there is a possibility that leaders of the Roman Catholics and the Methodists, of whom my friend, the honorable member for Wilmot, is a distinguished member, and others will be prevented from telling their members and adherents exactly what they wish to in respect of the moral laws of this country. If in doing so they should impinge, in any way on the party politics of the day, they may be banned from the air and the stations that permit them to make the broadcasts may run the risk of having their licences rescinded.
– I rise to clear this matter up once and for all. I am sorry to have to reiterate my assurances. The proposed new sections contained in clause 6 set out the various powers and functions of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The matter at present being debated is not a matter for the Minister. The Minister is divesting himself of authority, and reposing it in the board-
– This is the charter!
– This is only a part, of the charter. Clause 6 may contain the whole charter, but the particular reference to religious broadcasts is only a part of it. I cannot be more explicit than I have been, but I repeat that any clergyman who wants to talk on any matter that impinges on morals will be free to do so. That is what the provision says. No member of the Church of England who attended the recent Lambeth Conference will be precluded from attacking communism or monopoly capitalism in the pulpit, because the Lambeth Conference has passed resolutions dealing with both matters. The honorable member for Richmond. who has quoted from certain, pamphlets issued inside and outside Australia by Catholic dignitaries, will realize, if he has read them, particularly the last one, that the attack of the Catholic bishops is on communism and on monopoly capitalism as the cause of communism.
– That is misrepresentation.
– That is the story as they have set it out. They have attacked communism and monopoly capitalism. They regard the two as twin evils of the social order.
– They aim to keep in the middle of the road.
– Whatever their aim is, that is their basic criticism. If clergymen want to criticize communism because of its atheism and materialism, they will not be in the slightest degree prevented from doing so. If they want to attack the greed and cupidity of sections of the community, which, in their view, have been the breeding ground of communism, they will be entitled to do so. No one will restrict them. All these are matters of common sense in administration. If all honorable gentlemen are governed by their fears, none of them will leave this building to-night lest they be struck and killed by a motor car. If any one says that the board should not be entrusted with these powers because of the abuses that may follow, I direct attention to the fact that section 51 of the Constitution empowers the Australian Government to make laws relating to marriage and divorce. We have not exercised that power. We have allowed the States to exercise it for 48 years. But, if this’ Parliament liked to exercise the power, it could establish polygamy instead of monogamy as the law of the country, and there would then be nothing to prevent a man in this community from baring three or four wives.
– No government which did that would last long.
– That is the very point which I am making. Similarly, if any government abused the power given under this legislation it would not last long. Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth may make a uniform divorce law. Indeed, for many years there has been an agitation for the enactment of uniform marriage and divorce laws; but no Australian government has yet interfered in those matters.
– An Australian government will do so in the future.
– It may do so at some time, but no Australian government has yet done so. Apparently the Government could, if it so desired, establish the Mohammedan divorce law under which a husband who wishes to divorce his wife says to her three times, “ I divorce you “.
– I rise to order. 1 should like to know, Mr. Deputy Chairman, what the Mohammedan method of divorce has to do with the clause.. You. sir, are very rigid in disciplining honorable members on this side of the chamber if they depart in the slightest degree from a clause under discussion, but-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN .- Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. He is entitled to raise a point of order which will be answered by the Chair in due course, but in doing so he must not reflect on the Chair.
– I ask you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, to direct the Minister to return to the clause.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order! In stating his point of order the Acting Leader of the Opposition may ask whether the remarks of the Minister are in order. He has not done so. The Minister will proceed.
– Powers have been vested in this Parliament by the Constitution which no government in the history of the whole of our eighteen parliaments has abused. It is ridiculous to say that a power granted by an act of parliament may be abused by a government and that therefore the legislation conferring that power should not bcenacted. Honorable members opposite should be prepared to trust the board and the Government as boards and governments have been trusted in the past. There is nothing in this provision to justify the fearful imaginings of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). 1 learned very early in my life the truth of the saying that actual happenings are always less fearful than terrible imaginings. All the fears conjured up by the honorable member in respect of what might be done to Anglican or Catholic bishops arc so much waste of time. No government and no board would attempt to interfere with the exercise of the religious function of any minister of religion. So long as he deals in the pulpit with moral issues in the manner in which such issues have been dealt with ever since religious services have been broadcast as part of the national programme, there is no reason to fear this legislation. There have, however, been some happenings in the past the recurrence of which should be prevented. I am prepared to trust governments of every political colour to administer this power justly and fairly. E believe that the board which is to be appointed to deal with this matter will administer it justly and fairly and with due regard to its responsibility to the people.
– I wish to refer to a matter which the Minister himself has raised. I do not propose to discuss the teachings of the Catholic Church or of any other church. If I understood the Minister aright, he said, in effect, that any teaching given during a religious broadcast which impinged in any way on politics-
– On the moral law.
– Or, through a moral law, on political matters must in order to conform with the provisions’ of this proposed sub-section be uttered by ‘ a minister of religion. No lay person may give such teaching. I remind the’ honorable gentleman that some churches - the Methodist Church is an example - regularly use lay preachers.
– They are ministers of religion.
– They are not ministers of religion in any sense of the term; they are lay preachers.
– They are lay preachers who normally preach.
– No. Some of them may preach only once during the whole of a year or only once during the whole of their lifetime. Such persons may preach during the broadcast of a religious service. Some religious denominations have no ordained preachers. Their services are conducted oy lay preachers who speak as the spirit moves them. Such people may very well be included in this provision. I ask the Minister for a little further elucidation of the Government’s intention on that point. T believe that the interests of members of such religious bodies should be safe guarded. Under the Minister’s interpretation of the proposed new sub-section, they are not to be considered.
– The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) has dealt with a matter which I was about to raise. The purpose of this new sub-section is to prevent the broadcasting of non-religious matter during the broadcast of a religious service. I doubt whether the wording of the provision is as clear as the Minister appears to think it is. I should like to be sure that it will not be misinterpreted or wrongly administered. Some churches invite the members of the public to speak during their religious services. Those speakers may not even be recognized lay preachers. I myself have so spoken at religious services. During a religious service a speaker may be invited to give an address on a secular subject. That is often done. Services of that kind are different again from what we have come to know as Pleasant Sunday Afternoons. I assume that Pleasant Sunday Afternoons are not classed as religious services and may be broadcast without interference.
In discussing the proposed new subsection the Minister used the words “ political matter “. Those words do not appear in the sub-section which reads as follows : - (2.) In exorcising its functions under para graph (c) of the last preceding sub-section -
the Board shall, in particular -
Philosophy may not be religious, but a religious matter may be a philosophical matter^ How are we to determine what is and is not a religious matter? In this chamber earlier this week Ave had the amusing spectacle of honorable members arguing that words could mean what any one said or thought they meant. I believe that the wording of this proposed subsection is such that it may mean almost anything. As I have said, the phrase “ political matter “ is not used in it ; but it was used by the Minister in his explanatory remarks. In my view the wording of the sub-section is not sufficienty clear.
Paragraph iii of sub-section 2 deals with the provision of broadcasting facilities on an equitable basis for the broadcasting of political or controversial matter. I assume that that paragraph means that the board will ensure that the views of minorities will be permitted to be broadcast over the air on an equitable basis. Through the years, in this chamber and outside of it, many persons in this country fought for freedom of expression of opinion. Nothing that they gained should now be given away. I trust that this provision means that that freedom is still to be protected.
– I hope that the Minister (Mr. Calwell) will accept the criticisms of this provision, as we accept his assurances, in good faith. He will doubtless agree that this is an important matter, which raises the whole question of what may be described as the religious freedom of the air. Last’ night the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) gave some apt illustrations of how this provision, about which we on this side of the committee are very concerned, may operate.
I hold the view very strongly that, sooner or later, the leaders of the Christian churches will have to use their influence to a greater degree than they have done hitherto to give guidance to public opinion on moral issues in this country. For that reason I am afraid of this proposed section. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) used communism to illustrate the point that he was making. Let us take socialism. If a cleric considered it to be his moral duty to denounce from his pulpit some aspect of State ownership or control, that denunciation would be, in one sense, a political matter, but it would also be a religious and moral matter. If the remarks were made in the course of a sermon, it would obviously be introduced into a service of a religious nature. I do not think that the Minister will quibble with me over that statement. The usual acceptation of a “ service of a religious nature” is that it is one which begins with hymns and prayers, proceeds to a sermon or public address, and concludes with more hymns and prayers. If the Lyceum service of the Central Methodist Mission that is held in Sydney every Sunday afternoon is not a religious service or a service of a religious nature, then 1 do not know what is. It begins with hymns and prayers, there is an anthem, the speaker, who is introduced by the clergyman in charge, gives his address and the service concludes with more hymns and prayers. I have spoken at one of them, as no doubt have many other honorable members. My address was not of a political nature in the sense that it attacked the Labour party, but it dealt with politics and governments, in which every citizen, whether he be a churchman or not, is interested! That kind of service will be covered by this provision. I accept the Minister’s assurance that he would not interfere with such a service, or tolerate a board over which he has some powers of direction interfering with it, but there will be other Ministers and the personnel of the board will change. As the honorable member for Reid said last night, scripts will have to be submitted. If the board took a certain view of the script that was submitted by a speaker, he would be prevented from even beginning his address. He would be gagged, and the public would not know what had occurred. There are many other illustrations. Archdeacon O’Donnell of Tasmania is, I understand, a very well known Roman Catholic priest. During the course of the bank nationalization dispute, he denounced the Government’s attitude. I understand that he did not do so during the course of a church service, but if he had done so, would he not, according to the Minister’s own interpretation, have collided with this provision if it had been in force then ? If a clergyman denounced this proposed section from his pulpit in the course of a church service, would he not, during a service of a religious nature, be doing something which the board could forbid ? I accept the Minister’s assurance that he does not want to prevent, and would not allow the board to prevent, a person from making a public statement on a Sunday in regard to Sunday sport and drink, which are moral as well as religious issues, but it is probable that this proposed section will be on the statute-book for a long time, ft is all very well to say that nobody would dream of exercising these powers and that their inclusion in the bill does not mean that they will be exercised, but I have found in my short experience that if a provision is put into an act of parliament it is an open invitation to somebody with itchy fingers to use it. That is the trouble. I say that we should leave the people alone. Most of these questions are matters of good taste and opinion. Why is it necessary for the Government to in- :ert provisions in legislation to regiment] the opinion and good taste of the public?]
– Why does the honorh bie gentleman suggest that the Government wants to regiment anybody ? He has been told that we wish to prevent people from abusing a privilege.
– There is no suggestion that there have been any abuses that would justify a provision of this kind. Some of the statements that are made by Dr. Rumble from station 2SM have annoyed me very much, but I do not want to ban him. If I do not wish to listen to him further, I switch my radio set off. I should imagine that many Roman Catholics would be incensed, as I would be, if they heard the editor of the Bock on the air. I dislike the statements that he utters. Do we ban him because of that? We ignore him. Those are matters of taste and opinion, and are not usually controllable by legislation of this kind. The insertion of this provision in the bill is an open invitation to somebody to use it. It is a serious threat to religious freedom of the air. If it is passed it may have unexpected effects. When the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, who represents 35 per cent, of the Australian people, desires to speak on some moral or public issue, he will have to consider how far he can go, and submit to the proper authority the script of his remarks. When Cardinal Gilroy, who represents 18 or 20 per cent, of the Australian people, wants to speak on similar issues, he will have to consider this provision. I do not desire that such an obligation should be imposed upon either of those reverend gentlemen.
– Neither does any on*else.
– It can be imposed upon them by the words of this proposed subsection. I agree with the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) that this provision needs some clarification. I make no criticism of the Minister personally, but in common with other honorable members, I am deeply concerned that a provision may be inserted in the bill which may be used to injure members of the Christian faith in the performance of their duty.
– .Some honorable members have trenchantly criticized subsection 2 of proposed new section 6k. They object to the provision that the board shall, in particular - ensure that divine worship or other matter of a religious nature is broadcast for adequate periods and at appropriate times and that no matter which is not of a religious nature is broadcast by a station during any period during which divine worship or other matter of a religious nature is broadcast by that station ;
The wording of the sub-section is concise and simple. The provision has been drafted after mature consideration by departmental experts who have been dealing with broadcasting since its inception in Australia, and by a sub-committee of Cabinet whose duty it is to prepare and present recommendations to Cabinet on the subject. The statement that the subsection has been drafted loosely and without proper consideration is quite untrue. Some honorable members opposite have stated that the sub-section, in its present form, will enable the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to prohibit any minister of religion, lay preacher or preacher who is appointed by a church which does not normally pay a minister of religion, from exercising his right to conduct religious services. They have also complained that the sub-section is subtle and has sinister implications. Those criticisms are false. The subsection is designed for no other purpose than to ensure that radio stations shall set aside certain periods at specified times for the broadcasting of religious services. All honorable members will agree that that provision is proper. All broadcast.ing stations should provide a certain amount of free time on the air for religious services. For two or three years, I was a member of the Broadcasting Committee, and I recall that the matter of free broadcasting time for religious services frequently arose. Many witnesses expressed their views on the subject, and this sub-section is not incompatible with the views of the Broadcasting Committee. “Witnesses representing various denominations strongly supported the granting of free time for the broadcasting of religious services. Some honorable members appear to fear that the sub-section will be restrictive, and will prevent ordained clergymen and lay preachers from expressing their views or developing a theme at religious services. Those fears are not justified. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) drew on his imagination.
– lie always does.
– When lawyers desire to develop a particular line of argument, they pursue it to the extreme limit. The honorable member ha9 said that an Anglican or a Roman Catholic archbishop may be prevented, under this subsection, from, developing a theme in which he desired to give a lead to his flock on an important subject of the day. The point which seems to have been missed in this debate, and certainly the honorable member for Parramatta has missed it, is that a religious service is not used for such a purpose. A religious service in a church of any denomination is devoted to religious observance and education. An archbishop or a clergyman who desires to develop a theme in order to give a lead to his flock does not utilize the hour provided for religious devotion for that purpose. Clergymen and others will not be obliged to submit their scripts for examination before they broadcast a religious service. If an offence is committed against the sub-section a religious teacher may be obliged, on subsequent occasions, to submit his scripts. Almost certainly his attention will be drawn to the fact that he has transgressed.
Reference has been made to the Wesley Pleasant Sunday Afternoons in Sydney and Melbourne. When I addressed such a gathering, I spoke, not on a religious subject, but about housing and slum clearance, because the subject was fresh in my mind following an examination which the Social Security Committee had made into housing for the people. That subject was topical. A Pleasant Sunday Afternoon may commence with a hymn, and be followed by a prayer. Vocal items are frequently rendered by artists who give their time very willingly. Their contributions are greatly enjoyed by those who attend the meeting. The Pleasant Sunday Afternoon sometimes concludes with a hymn, but usually it does not,, and the benediction is pronounced. That kind of service does not come within the category of a religious service.
– I do not think that the organizers of the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon will agree with the Minister’? opinion.
– I do not believe that any one will describe a Pleasant Sunda, Afternoon as a religious service. 1 attended Wesley one Sunday afternoon for the purpose of listening to an address by the present Minister for Health in Victoria. I desired to hear his views on a certain subject. He took the Australian Labour Government to task right royally because of the restrictions which it was allegedly imposing on the people. For some reason or other, he had been selected to address the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon. The organizers select people to speak on a variety of subjects, but they do not contend that the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon at Wesley in Melbourne- oi at the Central Mission in Sydney is a religious service. I have addressed number? of Pleasant Sunday Afternoon gatherings throughout Australia, and nowhere have they been described as religious services. The religious services are purely the church services held at certain periods of the day. Some honorable member? have stated that socialism may be the subject of a broadcast. Some Minister? of religion subscribe very strongly to the view that Christ was the first teacher of socialism. One speaker may desire to speak about socialism, and another may wish to1 deliver- an- address on fascism.. Honorable members who. have opposed this sub-section have drawn on- their imagination, in order to create a bogy. They claim that the provision will restrict religious freedom. The principal purpose of the sub-section is- to ensure that all broadcasting- stations shall allocate time (ov religious services on special days and a-t special hours. Another purpose of the sub-section is to: ensure’ that the time provided for- church services shall be utilized purely for religious services; Reference has been made to the Salvation Army: T cannot imagine- any organization which is less likely to offend against this provision.. The Salvation Army band plays hymns, an address is given, and members of the congregation cry “ Hallelujah “. That kind of service appeals to many people. The Salvation Army will never transgress, any more than any other denomination will transgress,, against the sub-section.. Some churches have not a regular preacher. It is contrary- to their belief to have a paid minister. At their services, various people deliver addresses,, but they are very definite in their beliefs, and although they are laymen, I do not believe that any of them will transgress. We have no need to be concerned about this sub-section. It has been recommended by departmental experts in consultation with the parliamentary draftsman. It will not restrict the broadcasting time set aside for religious services. In such circumstances, I cannot see any danger of regimentation, because preachers will have complete freedom to express their views and conduct religious services at specified times. If they desire to deal with non-religious subjects, their scripts may be questioned, but that is a different matter. The proposed’ sub-section expresses what i3 meant, and the fears which honorable members opposite have expressed’, that religious freedom will be restricted and that the people will be regimented, are unfounded.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The Minister has exhausted his time.
– I have not yet spoken on this bill. 1 find a good deal in it to commend. If every broadcasting station in the country were closed, I, for one, would not feel the faintest sense of personal loss: Rut pro posed new section 6k (2) (6) (ii) is in rather a particular category, because the Government proposes by it to regulate religions broadcasts: I hold the opinion1 that when government’ interfere with and endeavour to regulate religious matters they invariably strike trouble, and this- will be no exception. The proposed’ new sub-section divides religious broadcasting- into two categories. The first includes broadcasts by accredited ministers of religion, whomay say what they like when speakingfrom the pulpit. I hope that no Government supporter has the idea that the Government is making any concession by putting that provision in the bill. It is a basic principle of religious freedom that ministers of religion should be free to say what they like from the pulpit. The second category includes broadcastsby laymen from churches or duringreligious ceremonies, and the matter so broadcast is to be subject to censorship. The duty of the censors will be to decide what’ subject-matter is religious and what is purely political, and even in the performance of that duty they will encounter all kinds of difficulties in interpretation1, let us consider such an every-day subject as taxation. That is clearly a political subject, and yet, from the earliest’ origins of our religion, it has been discussed by religious leaders. Public health is another such subject. In fact, it is almost’ impossible to talk aboutreligion without becoming political in one way or another, as the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) has himself admitted. Before a layman will be able to broadcast from a church during a- serrice, or during any religious ceremony, he will have to submit what he is- going to say to a government official for censorship, and if he disobeys the direction of the censor he will be liable to somesort of disciplinary action. Reference has been made during the debate to what have become known as pleasant Sunday afternoons. Many members of Parliament have spoken on those occasions, and’ invariably we have been asked, as politicians, to speak on political subjects. That is not to say that we have introduced party politics. The audience would not relish the intrusion of party politics, and that is the best guarantee that such intrusions will be avoided. However, if ;s pleasant Sunday afternoon is not a religious ceremony, then I do not know what it is. In Melbourne, such ceremonies, or services, or entertainments, or whatever we may call them, are occasionally broadcast, and I think it would be right to describe such broadcasts as broadcasts of religious matter. It seems 10 me to be wrong that what is said on those occasions should be subject to censorship in any form. There is another well-known broadcast feature known as The Catholic Hour “. I have myself been taken to task pretty sharply on more than one occasion by speakers during “ The Catholic Hour “ session. However, if a church or religious body believes that some political party or element in the community is acting in a way that is contrary to its belief, it should be entitled to express its disapproval through the most modern medium at its disposal. None of us likes being attacked, but we ought to defend the right of other people to attack us in such circumstances if they want to. “We must expect the churches to play an increasingly prominent part in social affairs, and it would be wrong to subject to censorship and regulation the utterances of their representative when they use the broadcasting medium. Anzac Day ceremonies are primarily of a religious nature. At any rate, it may be said that they are religious to the extent of 50 per cent. All of us have attended such ceremonies. Last year, the principal address at Melbourne was given by Sir Thomas Blarney. It is almost impossible to speak at such a ceremony without saying something which has a political flavour. One talks about the Army, or about the inequalities of civil life, or the spread of communism, and all references to such matters would have to be described as political if they were subjected to a searching analysis. We “have already had proof of how difficult it is to make a satisfactory decision when government censorship is being applied. Some time ago, I had occasion to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Mr. Calwell) about a broadcast on the subject of tuberculosis. The matter in question was a play called’ Secret Assassin, a prize-winning radio play in a competition held by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The prize was awarded to the play, but the commission would not broadcast it, as it was apparently unacceptable to thegovernment authority which was charged with the duty of censoring such matter. For all I know the censors may have acted wisely, but the point is that they had the power to censor a play dealing with a national subject, and to prevent it from being broadcast simply because a government authority did not approve of it. Moreover, the Australian Broadcasting Commission now claims that the play has become its property, and the author, Mr. Maxwell Dunn, cannot have it broadcast by any other broadcasting authority. I quote the following passage from a letter written by Mr. Dunn -
All my representations to the Australian Broadcasting Commission here and the Director of Public Health, Canberra, have met with no response whatever. No reasons have been given for the banning of this play. . . .
The play was written some time ago; it ban already been postponed once, without explanation. When it was programmed again, I asked for the script to make a slight amendment to bring it up to date. 1 noticed that the script had already been censored.
The medical facts of the script are correct and the script was read and approved by the Anti-Tuberculosis Association of Kew South Wales. Some parts of the new bill are such as to alarm every one connected with radio - especially radio writers.
I have introduced this matter into the debate because it seems to me that we are proposing to subject religious broadcasts to exactly the same kind of interference as Mr. Dunn’s play has met with. When we place in the hands of government instrumentalities the right of interpretation, and the power of censorship, we must expect mistakes and injustice, and the suppression of matter useful to the community just because it is unacceptable to the censoring authority. Therefore, I oppose the proposed new sub-section.
.- If the provision now being debated were intended to restrict ministers, lay preachers, or special speakers in churches at any time, as’ imagined by the . Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), the honorable member for Richmond (Mr.
Anthony), and other members of the Opposition, I should vote against it without any hesitation. Naturally, I have examined it closely and have discussed it personally with the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) two or three times, and, as the result of my examination, I am of the opinion that there is nothing to fear in it. Sermons and talks in church services and at Pleasant Sunday Afternoon functions will continue to be broadcast as they have been broadcast for years. The provision will apply only to religious broadcasts, and it is aimed at eliminating the sort of party political propaganda that has occasionally crept into such broadcasts. The Government’s intention to prevent that abuse is perfectly justified in my opinion.
I was a minister of religion for eight years until I entered this Parliament. I am sincere in my belief that I am a member of the right political party.- Even my church people had to admit that, whether they agreed with my political views or not. 1 was always careful not to preach party politics from the pulpit, and I should be the first to condemn any man who did so, whether he preached against the Liberal party, the Australian Country party or the Labour party. I am not in the least concerned about the Communist party. [ believe that any preacher could very well condemn that organization from the pulpit, because it is not a party in the same sense as are other political parties. Any provision in this measure that will help to confine ministers of religion, lay preachers and special speakers to the discussion of public questions apart from purely party propaganda in religious broadcasts, is all to the good. Not many preachers will be caught in the net. I know of only one current religious broadcast that might be involved. It is broadfast from a studio, not from a church. I refer to “The Catholic Hour” broadcast by station 3 AW. I consider that there are definite elements in that series which could come within the terms of the provision that the committee is discussing.
– Those services are not broadcast by a minister of religion.
– No, the individual responsible for them is a special speaker. I have no bias against the Catholic Church. Some of my best friends belong to it. Unfortunately, however, that speaker engages in propaganda of the kind that should be avoided. 1 certainly tried to avoid it throughout m experience in the ministry. The person making the religious broadcasts in “ TinCatholic Hour “ has deliberately brought party political propaganda into religious sessions. I do not know whether those sessions would come specifically under th* provision that we are discussing. I merely refer to them as an illustration of the sort of broadcast that might be affected.
As the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) said, it is desirable that divine worship should be divine worship and that Pleasant Sunday Afternoon sessions should be Pleasant Sunday Afternoon sessions, not forums for the dissemination of political propaganda. That will be assured by the proposed new subsection that we are discussing. The Minister for Information said that the subsection was definitely intended to prevent abuses in religious broadcasts. Surely the people of Australia hear enough of party politics from- this Parliament without wanting more of it in broadcasts of divine services of Pleasant Sunday Afternoon gatherings. Admittedly the influence of the church to-day is extending beyond the bounds to which it was limited in previous years. That is good. I should not like to think that this provision would restrict church activities in the social and economic field in any way. I believe that the church has a tremendous part to play in the social, commercial, business, educational and political spheres. In fact, Christianity is meaningless to me unless it is applied to the world around us. During the last twenty years, the outlook of the church upon big problems that affect our everyday lives has developed tremendously. Surely Christianity has something to say about matters that affect our bread and butter. That is what most of the churchmen believe to-day. More and more of them are accepting that belief, although some individual members still may not agree with it.
The fact is illustrated by the decisions of great church conferences, such as the
Lambeth Conference of the Church of England which the Minister for Information mentioned this afternoon. Examining the findings of that conference, one would almost imagine that they were the findings of a parliament, which in effect they were - a parliament of the church. Its decisions on the great variety of subjects that it discussed have been passed as a charter to the members of the church throughout the world. That is a wonderful illustration of the way in which the church is now tackling problems that for many years it avoided.
– It is waking up a bit.
– That is so. As the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) said earlier, it is waking up. The recent Amsterdam conference was attended by representatives of all the Protestant churches of the world. Over 166 delegates attended. It issued some extremely important pronouncements on economic matters. As an example, I refer to its pronouncement on communism and capitalism. It condemned both beliefs and suggested that a middle course, neither to the extreme right nor to the extreme left, should be pursued by all nations in order to find a permanent solution of the world’s economic problems. The Methodist Church, to which I belong, holds annual conferences in each State of the Commonwealth and has a social order committee. The Presbyterian Church also holds annual conferences and has such a committee. Many other Protestant churches and also the Roman Catholic Church have social order committees, which try to establish in the minds of people acceptance of their responsibilities as Christians. They try to teach people that Christianity should be applied to our social problems and does not consist merely in attendance at church, in praying, and in reading the Bible. Christians should get into the hurlyburly of life and there apply the principles in which they believe, which the great Founder of Christianity gave to the human race many centuries ago. That is the purpose of the new movement within the church. If proposed new section 6k (2.) (&) (ii) should in any way restrict the activities of the church in its legitimate pursuit of Christian aims and ideals, I should admit the fact and would vote -against the provision. However, the Government has no such intention. There may be a lack of clarity in the wording of the provision. The Minister is utterly sincere in his intentions, as the honorable member for Parramatta courageously admitted, and therefore he believes that the provision should be included in the bill. However, 1 think that the wording should b« tidied up a little. For instance, the church should still be allowed to condemn communism or capitalism in its broadcast services. That is not in the field of party politics. “We on this side of the chamber are opposed to communism, as also are honorable members opposite. “We are opposed, too, to extreme elements of capitalism. The church is on our side in that respect, and I believe that many honorable members opposite, in their hearts, are also seeking a middle course in politics. These matters should still be discussed in broadcast church services. Many of us will be asked to speak on such subjects at Pleasant Sunday Afternoon meetings. The provision that we are considering will not affect us, if our talks are broadcast, provided that we do not stray into the region of mere party political propaganda. I have often spoken from church pulpits on the subject, “ Can Christianity check communism?”, and I should be surprised if, in discussing that matter in a broadcast service, I should in any way infringe the terms of this provision. Some very unkind individuals describe Pleasant Sunday Afternoon sessions as sessions to keep “ Perishing Sinners Amused “. I do not agree with that. I think that these sessions are a very fine thing. They will not come under this provision, but everything depends on the wording of the clause. I disagree with my very great friend the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) on this point. He said that the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon gatherings will not be affected by this provision. I disagree. I do consider that the phrase “ or other matter of a religious nature “ includes such gatherings, as they have elements of a church service in them. I am sure that the Minister does not want those gatherings to be included in this provision ; he probably has in mind sessions that are broadcast from studios. If he wants to make the provision specific, I suggest that he eliminate the phrase “ other matter of a religious nature “ and insert instead “ broadcast services from a studio “.
– Will the honorable member move an amendment on those lines?
– I am not saying what I shall do.
– The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) would not even support putting a few words in.
– I never said that I would die for a man, and then refuse to do so.
– Although, from my own personal experience, many members of congregations would like to write out sermons for their clergymen, the Minister has no intention of writing out the sermons of the ministers of the churches. The Minister has no intention of throttling free expression in church services. He only desires to eliminate purely political propaganda.
Reference has been made to preachers. Honorable members will note that a definition of “ preacher “ is not included in the bill. There is no mention of preachers in the provision now being debated; it merely refers to “divine worship “. There may not even be a preacher or a sermon in a service of divine worship. On different occasions the service may be conducted by preachers, by laymen of the different churches, or by special speakers on particular subjects. All of these people would be covered by the proposed sub-section if they broadcast anything of a purely party political propaganda nature. Moral and ethical issues are not the only function of a church specifically. The Government has no intention of narrowing down the scope of church broadcasts to purely moral and ethical issues. We can relate moral and ethical issues to a economic problem and even, in some respects, to a political problem, such as housing, or defence, or perhaps even the conduct of this Parliament.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke. - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Proposed new section 6k (2.) (b) (ii), which is at present being debated, is most important, as it goes to the very basis of human rights. It provides -
The Board shall, in particular-
I remind honorable members that stress is laid on the word “ particular “ and the board is “particularly” required by the clause to - ensure that divine worship or other matter of a religious nature is broadcast for adequate periods and at appropriate times and that no matter which is not of a religious nature is broadcast by a station during any period during which divine worship or other matter of a religious nature is broadcast by that station ;
In addition to that, there are words of limitation on what matters should be broadcast from the station. Proposed new section 6k 1c provides that one of the functions of the board shall be - to ensure that adequate and comprehensive programmes are provided by such stations to serve the best interests of the general public,
Who is to be the judge of what is in the best interests of the general public, and who is to say what is to be broadcast from the churches by a minister of religion, or by a public man when speaking on a religious subject? According to the present wording of the provisions, the judges are to be the members of the board, acting under the direction of the Minister of the day.
We have had an assurance from the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) that this provision was drawn in a very precise and careful way by experts of the department. That is an assurance that it was not lightly drawn, and that much consideration was given to it. The Minister said that the provision was drawn in its present form only after very mature consideration by the Cabinet sub-committee and the Cabinet. It is useless for the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) to say that the Opposition is attempting to write into these words something that was never intended and that it would not be possible for the Minister or the hoard to do things that we have said they would be able to do. The words must be construed literally. It is extraordinary that the two apologist Ministers of the Crown, and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), should speak with entirely different voices on the matter. The honorable member for Wilmot said that if he thought that the provision would restrict the activities of the churches, he would vote against it; he said that twice in his speech. He also said that there was lack of clarity in the wording of the provision, which should be “ tidied up “. The honorable member then outlined ways in which it might be “ tidied up “. At that stage I asked the honorable gentleman if he was prepared to move an amendment on those lines, in order to clarify the matter. He then said that he would not do so, and he abandoned that line of argument.
– He did not say that.
– He did. He said he would not move an amendment. I am endeavouring to address you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I am being interrupted by the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan). The point I am trying to make is that, although we have been reassured by two Ministers that the provision does not mean what it says, the honorable member for Wilmot has expressed the opinion that it should lie “ tidied up “. The Minister for Information tried, as he always does, to mislead members of this chamber by drawing red herrings across the trail. He said that the Parliament of the Commonwealth, under its Constitution, had power to pass laws relating to marriage ana divorce, and that the Parliament could legislate to divorce anybody that it wished. In fact, it could play “ducks and drakes” with the marriage laws of this country. He made that ‘ statement in an attempt to demonstrate the futility of my argument, and to emphasize that it would not be possible for anything to be done under this provision that would prevent a minister of religion from criticizing matters of great and vital interest to the community. But the point is that nothing can be done by the Parliament of which the people of Australia are not aware, whereas anything can be done through a ministerial instruction to a board, without the knowledge of the people. The Minister may issue in structions or direct the board to issue instructions, that certain matters are not to be discussed from the pulpits.
– The Minister has no power at all to do so.
– He has every power. Ministerial power has been the them* of most of this Government’s legislation. The Minister’s words are belied by the very bills that this Government has brought down year after year, and he should hang his head in shame for having made such an interjection. The proposed new sub-section provides that the board shall have certain power, subject to any direction of the Minister. It is nonsense for the Minister for Information to say that the Minister will not have any power.
– The honorable member is trying to fool himself.
– The Minister is endeavouring, by making what he regards as amusing remarks, to turn this discussion from the lines on which it must be conducted. The two Ministers who have spoken on this measure sought to “soft soap” members of this Parliament by saying that this provision does not mean what it says, but then the Minister foi Repatriation let the cat out of the bag when he* explained in detail the great care with which this provision had been drafted by the Government’s experts, submitted to the Cabinet sub-committee. He said that it had been written letter by letter, comma by comma, and full stop by full stop, and then returned to Cabinet for further consideration. Therefore, it is useless for the Minister for Information to say that the provision does not mean what its words imply. Growing expansive in his confidence that he had “got away” with his explanation of the drafting of the provision, the Minister for Repatriation said -
This sub-section is not incompatible with the views of the Broadcasting Committee.
Hearing that, I was rather interested to find out just what the Broadcasting Committee did say. Paragraphs 413 to 420 of the sixth report of the Broadcasting committee, which sat under the chairmanship of Senator Gibson, deal with religious broadcasts. 1 can find no other mention of those broadcasts in the report; but in those paragraphs there is not one single word about such a limitation as is proposed in this measure. The Minister attempted to mislead the committee - I shall not :say deliberately but rather in complete ignorance. Continuing, the Minister for Repatriation said that there should be complete freedom on religious subjects, but that on nonreligious subjects questions might be asked and censorship might possibly be exercised. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) quoted from numerous books written by dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia, and by the bead of that church in the world, criticizing atheistic communism. Then he pointed out that not only the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Chifley) but also other Ministers had described communism as a political philosophy. Within the last six months, t received a letter from the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) who, at the time of writing, was Acting Prime Minister in the absence from the Commonwealth of the Prime Minister. I had questioned the Attorney-General about certain Communists who had been given passports to travel overseas to attend Cominform meetings in other parts of the world. The right honorable gentleman said, in Iris letter, that it was not proposed to prevent people who held this political philosophy from leaving the country. If the Minister regards communism as a political philosophy under the wording of this bill, any minister of religion, regardless of his denomination, may be stopped from attacking atheistic communism from the pulpit.
– The honorable member knows that that is nonsense.
– I know that it is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is in the bill. The Minister for Information is denying his own words, written by his own hand, in his own bible, with the approval of his own departmental advisers, the Cabinet subcommittee and ‘Cabinet itself. I have no doubt that he accepted the words with great joy; but now he repudiates them.. That shows his shamelessness.
Now I come to the question of the matters which may not be discussed in the churches because they are political matters. Let us suppose that w? had a government in power, either in the! Commonwealth, or in a State sphere, which was bent upon the development of the horse-racing industry - as it is called - and which decided that, for the good of the people, and their moral benefit, night-trotting should be held in the various cities and that people should be encouraged to attend those meetings and spend their money.
– On Sunday night, for instance.
– Yes. Suppose we had a government in power that worshipped al the temples of Mammon, and, while encouraging the breweries, did everything possible to suppress the doctrine of temperance. Should a minister of religion rise in his pulpit and attack the Government for encouraging gambling, horseracing, and drinking, Iris utterances could be censored from the air. He could be prevented from speaking on those matters, because in. the opinion of the board, he was not serving the best interests of th<general public.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am indeed pleased at the keen interest of honorable members in religious broadcasts^ hut I am amazed at some of their statements. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) said that the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell ) should hang his head in shame because he had. denied that the Minister in charge of broadcasting would have the power to do what he, the honorable member for New England, had claimed he had the power to do. The honorable member for New England, having had the bill passed to him, then read these words -
The Board shall have power, subject to any directions of the Minister -
There he stopped. It is easy to try to build up a case by taking words out of their context. The honorable member should have read on. The words thai he should have read are these -
Thathas nothing to do with what men shall say when broadcasting divine worship or other matter of a religious nature. If honorable gentlemen opposite wish to engage in debate they should do so fairly and cleanly and in accordance with the wording of the matter that they are debating. That matter to which they have specially directed their attention is the provision -
The board shall, in particular -
ensure reasonable variety of programmes;
ensure that divine worship or other matter of a religious nature is broadcast for adequate periods and at appropriate times and that no matter which is not of a religious nature is broadcast by a station during any period during which divine worship or other matter of a religious nature is broadcast by that station;
No mention is made of politics there. The honorable member for New England talked about horse-racing and trotting. If a minister of religion, in making a broadcast of a religious nature, condemned the enactment of legislation to allow night trotting or anything like that, he would be dealing with something of a religious nature. There is no question about that. The board is the authority to determine matters like that. I find nothing wrong with the provision and I do not agree with the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) that it is either loosely drawnor badly worded. I am prepared to accept the wording because I believe that it covers the subject. It provides that the board shall ensure adequate provision for the broadcasting of divine worship and other matter of a religious nature and that during the time in which such broadcasting proceeds no other matter shall be intruded into the broadcast. We are empowering the board to instruct broadcasting stations that whether they like it or not, or whether or not they are anti-religious and do not believe in church worship, they shall make time available for religious broadcasts, and stipulate that that time shall not be used for any other than a religious purpose. I have preached as a layman at many church services and I have spoken at many PleasantSunday Afternoon services. I do not know whether the latter would be covered by the words “divine worship or other matter of a religious nature “, although I think they would be, because the services are held for religious purposes, and unless I or any other speaker at such a service can keep within the bounds of a religious service, we should not accept an invitation to speak. If one advertises that one intends to conduct a religious service at which so and so will be the speaker, it is one’s duty to ensure that the speaker shall confine himself toreligious matters.
– That is the honorable member’s idea.
– It is my idea. I am as much entitled to express my ideas as is the honorable member, butI go further than the honorable member does and back up my ideas with the words of the proposed new sub-section. These set out that the board shall ensure that the time allotted to broadcasting stations for religious broadcasts shallbe confined to the purpose for which it was allotted. A government would not last long that said that because it had passed certain legislation a church, whether it be Roman Catholic or Protestant, would not he permitted to deal with certain subjects. Make no mistake about that !
Mr.Calwell. - Hear, hear !
– The Minister for Information referred earlier to the fact that though the Australian Government has the constitutional power to legislate to make polygamy legal in Australia, no government would dare to enact such legislation because, if it did, it would not last long. I agree! The Australian Broadcasting Control Board is to be established with power to ensure adequate broadcasts of religious matters. I am prepared to leave it to the board to do the right thing. Honorable members opposite are not fair to the Minister when they say that he will direct the board in that matter. He has not the power to do so.
– The Minister said nhat the board must’ comply with the policy of the Government.
– Nothing of the sort !
– I agree that the Minister has final control over the board. Certain provisions of the bill state that the board shall do so and so and others that the Minister may direct the board to do so and so. In this instance, the words used are unqualified. They read, “ The board shall “. They do not say, “ The Minister shall direct the hoard “. The Minister has power to direct the board only when the board recommends that he permit such and such to be done. I do not care who the Minister is, whether he is a Labour man or a Liberal, he would not dare to be so autocratic as to say to ministers of religion, “You are not to touch on certain questions, because we have passed legislation on them or ‘because it would not be good for the general public”. Neither the Minister who did that nor the government that permitted him to do it would reign for long. This provision is in conformity with much of the legislation that has been passed by past governments, both Labour and anti-Labour, r shall give an analogy. Honorable members opposite know, for instance, that in some circumstances a man who stands on the footpath ostensibly looking into a shop window will be told by a policeman to move on because he is obstructing pedestrians. If the man does not obey that order, the policeman can arrest him. However, no policeman would tell a woman to move on when obviously she was interested in viewing goods on display in a shop window. A policeman exercises that power only when he finds, it necessary to do so. Likewise, the board would exercise this power only when it deemed it necessary to do so. I for one shall never be a party to curtailing the rights of a minister of religion in the course of a religious broadcast to speak as he deems fit in defence of the moral and spiritual welfare of the community. However, I object to anybody being permitted, under the guise of a religious service, to broadcast what is neither more nor less than a political speech. The committee has devoted much unnecessary time to this provision. If we are afraid to give this power to the proposed board, we are simply straining at the gnat, for other provisions of the bill confer immense powers upon theboard and the Minister. I am certain that the board will exercise this power very rarely, if at all.
.- When I spoke earlier on this provision I thought that it was something which, had inadvertently slipped into the bill and that immediately Opposition members drew the attention of the Minister to it and stated their objections, something would be done about it. However, havinglistened to this debate, I have come to the conclusion that the provision goes much deeper than I at first thought. It is notjust a little something that has crept into the hill inadvertently, but a provision which has been made deliberately for a specific purpose, and that is to stifle criticism of a certain kind. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson) said that he would not object to anybody being allowed to broadcast their views on morals and ethics on e religious basis. Is he going to write sermons for persons who hold religious views which differ from his own? Does he espouse the views of all honorable members on religious subjects? One religious denomination may hold strong views on certain moral and ethical questions which another denomination may not regard in so serious a light. It is a matter entirely for the preacher or the particular denomination which is conducting the service to decide what views shall be expressed. Therefore, I resent the veiled suggestion made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh that all religious broadcasts should conform to a pattern approved by the board. That suggestion is implicit in the views he has expressed. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell.) has gone to great lengths during this debate to disown ministerial authority and responsibility,, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh quoted certain paragraphs of sub-section 4 of proposed new section 6k in an endeavour to prove that the Ministerwill have no control over the board in relation to programmes. The honorable member read paragraphs a, b and c of that sub-section, but only when honorable members on this side of the chamber pressed him to read paragraph d of that sub-section did he do so. The paragraph reads - (4.) The board shall have power, subject to any directions of the Minister -
The meaning of that provision is clear. . I have in my hand a copy of the latest edition of the A.B.C. Weekly, which is the official organ of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It contains page after page of broadcasting programmes. It shows that the programmes for Sunday next, the 28th November, include, for instance, these two items, “ Station 2CH, 7 p.m., news ; 7.15 p.m. St. Barnabas Church, Georgestreet Station 2SM, 11 a.m., High Mass “. Those services will be conducted by two different religious denominations. Those programmes are typical of those which the Minister will be given power under this provision to control through the board.
One organization which will welcome this clause because it is likely to be attacked as it has been attacked from the pulpit, is the Communist party of Australia. As I mentioned on a previous occasion, that party has been attacked by prelates of the Roman Catholic Church and by other church dignitaries. I do not know of any attack having been made from the pulpit upon the Liberal party or the Australian Country party. The Minister may know of such attacks having been made. However, I have heard broadcasts from the pulpit in which attacks have been made upon the Communist party. Nothing could be written into this hill that would suit Marx House better than this provision does. But the Minister says that there is nothing to it. First, he denied that the Minister would have any political control over the board. I repeat that the provision prescribes that the board shall be subject to any directions of the Minister in the control and arrangements of programmes and the licensing of broadcasting stations. Under that power, the licence of a broadcasting station can be cancelled if it makes a broadcast contrary to the provisions of this proposed new sub-section. The Minister, under this provision, can direct the board to discipline a station just as on one occasion Station 2KY was disciplined. If what the Minister says is true and if there is no intention to interfere with anybody, what is the necessity for this provision at all other than to protect the Communist party in particular? This provision was not recommended by the Gibson Committee or by the commission. I have studied the report of the Gibson Committee, of which the Minister was a distinguished member. The reports of that committee and of the Amour Committee do not contain one word recommending the insertion of a provision such as this in the Australian Broadcasting Act. If they do, and I have failed to find it, the Minister no doubt will be able to put me right when he replies. This is no innocuous provision; it has a longdistance purpose. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson) said that no government which used the power conferred by such a provision would remain in office for long.
– I said that any government which tried to dictate to a church what its ministers should say would quickly go out of office.
– If that be so, for what reason was this provision inserted in the bill, except for the purpose of enabling the Minister to dictate to a church? So that there may be no misunderstanding about the wording of paragraph b of sub-section 2 of proposed newsection 6k I shall read it again. It reads -
The Board shall, in particular -
Both the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the Minister have said that that does not mean what it says.
– On the contrary we have said that it does mean what it says.
– Both the honorable member and the Minister agree that any preacher may discuss any subject on moral or ethical grounds but that he may not discuss it on political grounds. I am glad to observe that the Prime Minister has returned to the chamber. Time and time again the right honorable gentleman has declared that if a party should be condemned in this country, and it has been condemned by most religious organizations in this country, it is a party which is opposed to the teachings of Christianity. I have referred to the many books issued by the churches dealing with atheistic communism.
– When is the honorit bie member going to read them ?
– I have read them and I commend them to the diligent study of the Minister. They were presented to me by distinguished persons, who suggested that I should read them and inform my mind about what was going on. I have done so. This bill is designed to protect only one party, the Communist party, and it is designed to “tine only one organization, the Christian church of this country.
. - All honorable members want to go home for Christmas; but if we are to have a continuation of the desultory discussion of the kind we have had from some Opposition members in relation to this provision during the last hour, we shall not be home until Easter. T do not know what the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) would do if they did not have communism to talk about. They would have nothing else to discuss, and they would not be in political life. The honorable member for Richmond has deliberately misrepresented the whole purpose of this bill. The powers and functions of the board are set out in the proposed new section 6k. The board in carrying out its functions will not be subjected to ministerial interference or control in any way. The PostmasterGeneral possesses to-day similar powers to those proposed to be vested in the board and may exercise every one of them if he wishes to do so. The purpose of this new section is not to create additional powers, but merely to divest the Postmaster-General of certain powers and to vest them in the board. The Minister’s control is covered by subsection 3 of the proposed new section 6k. which reads -
The Board may make recommendations to the Minister as to the exercise by the Minister of any power under Division 1 of Part III. of this Act.
The words “ this act “ refer to the principal act. They have no relation to the bill. In reading the proposed new section 6k, the honorable member for Richmond noted that the hoard may have power to. do certain things, subject to any directions of the Minister. Those power; are compassed in paragraphs a, b, c, and d of sub-section 4. of the proposed new section. The honorable member for Richmond quoted paragraph d of that sub-section, which relates to the regulation of programmes in respect of which the Minister may give directions, and dishonestly tied the wording of that paragraph to paragraph b of sub-section 2 of the proposed new section which does not authorize the Minister to give any directions at all and which deals with matters in respect of which the Minister does not wish to give directions. We do not want to prevent anybody from attacking communism in the pulpits of our churches.. Those who do so, whether they be ministers of religion or not, attack the Communists on moral grounds. They deal,, not with political, but with moral issues. In the future, just as in the past, any person may say anything about communism from a church pulpit. What the honorable member for Richmond is afraid of is that people who have written the books he has mentioned may say something in a pulpit in denunciation of monopolistic capitalism. In the books published by the Catholic Church, monopolistic capitalism is as roundly condemned as is atheistic communism. I have read the decisions of the recent Lambeth conference. I shall provide the honorable member with a copy of them so that he may have some good reading during the coming week-end.
– I have read them.
– My copy, which c-ame by air-mail, has only just reached me, and is an advance copy, so that the honorable member cannot have already read them. I. shall see that he gets a copy of the decisions of the recent Lambeth conference and not of the conference that took place about ten years ago. I am sure that he will find in these resolutions of the Anglican Oecumenical Council a denunciation of atheistic communism and of monopolistic capitalism. We have no desire to prevent anybody from saying what they want to say. The committee can safely pass the provision.
– Will the Minister give an assurance that after this bill is passed there will be no more interference in church broadcasts than there is at present ?
– I assure the honorable member that there will be no censorship of scripts and that no inquiries will be made to ascertain what a preacher proposes to talk about. Any minister of religion will continue to be as free as the Quaker who speaks as the spirit moves him,
. -I am amazed that the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) should have the temerity to say that if we continue to discuss .important clauses of bills brought before us as thoroughly as the clause now before the committee has been discussed by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and myself, we shall not get home until after Christmas. There was an implied threat in the honorable gentleman’s statement to deny to honorable members their right, to discuss mat ters which they consider to be of urgent public importance and to put their views before the Parliament and, through the Parliament, to the people of Australia. The honorable gentleman’s threat was unworthy. The extraordinary difference of opinion between the honorable gentleman and the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) on this matter reminds me- of Bacon’s question, “What is truth?”.
– Order! There is nothing about Bacon in the clause before the committee.
– To say the least it is extraordinary that two Ministers of the Crown should be so much at variance in this matter. The Minister for Information has stated that no censorship will be imposed under proposed new section 6k on broadcasts of religious services by church bodies or organizations. That was a clear and unequivocal statement. But the Minister for Repatriation said - and I wrote down his words so that there would be no mistake about them -
If they desire to deal with non-religious subjects, their scripts may he questioned.
Who is to determine what shall be included in a religious broadcast? Is it to be a minister of religion who may be speaking from his heart, or some one else ? The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) who was a minister of religion, spoke from his heart this afternoon, when he described the proposed new section as an example of loose draftsmanship. The honorable member is a member of the Australian Labour party and a supporter of the Government, and I admire the courage and truthfulness that he displayed in denouncing the provision. 3 suggest to the Minister for Information that he should confer with the honorable member and endeavour to redraft the clause. The Minister for Repatriation said that religious broadcasts will be subject to censorship, but his colleague, the Minister for Information, said that no censorship will be imposed.
– No Minister said that censorship would be imposed.,
– I did not invite any interruption from the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully).
– Then keep to the truth.
– I object to the remark of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and I ask that he withdraw it.
– There is nothing unparliamentary in the expression “ Keep to the truth “.
– I ask for the withdrawal of the expression, because it is offensive to me.
– I rise to order. If any member of the committee makes an offensive remark to another, the member affronted is entitled to a withdrawal of the offensive remark.
– Order ! The Chair has ruled that there is nothing unparliamentary in the expression “ Keep to the truth “. The Chair will not entertain any further points of order on the matter. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) will continue his speech.
– May I ask for the withdrawal of the remark complained of, which is offensive to me?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The Chair has ruled that there is nothing unparliamentary in the expression complained of. The honorable member may proceed with his remarks, but I ask him to confine them to the clause before the Chair.
– Considerable discussion has taken place about whether the proposed new sub-section that we have been discussing will prevent an attack being made on the Australian Communist party in the course of a religious broadcast. I propose to refer to the statement on social justice which was published this year with the authority of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church of Australia, but I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; progress reported.
– by leave - His Majesty the King has requested His Excellency the Governor-General to con- vey the following message to the people of Australia : -
It was with very deep regret that I accepted the advice of my doctors to postpone my longplanned visit to Australia and New Zealand next year. The Queen and I have been looking’ forward so eagerly to renewing happy memories of twenty years ago, whilst to Princess Margaret this first sight of your two countries would have been a new and enthralling, experience. We know well a wonderful welcome was being prepared for us, and that the postponement of our visit will be as sharp a disappointment to all of you as it is to us. You may be sure that I look on it only as a postponement and that, when circumstances permit, I shall make every effort to come and see you once more.
Meanwhile I wish to thank you very warmly . for all the kind and sympathetic messages that are reaching me from all parts of your two countries.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Audit Bill 1948.
Immigration (Guardianship of Children)
Bill 1948. Egg Export Control Bill 1948.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Holloway) read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The necessity for the introduction of this short measure has arisen from the recent demarcation dispute in the coal-mining industry. This measure is in furtherance of the co-operative policy which exists between the Governments of the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales in relation to the coal industry in that State. Steps have already been taken by the two Governments in implementation of this policy. They are evidenced by the Coal Industry Acts 1946 of the Commonwealth and of the State, which set up a Joint Coal Board and a Coal Industry Tribunal. The latter body is invested with power to deal with industrial disputes in the coal industry.
No doubt honorable members are aware of the dispute which recently arose in respect of the work of constructing a certain tunnel in New South Wales known as the Kemira tunnel. The work was being carried out largely by members of the Australian Workers Union, and it was claimed by the Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation that the work was proper to be performed by its members, and there was a general strike on the coal-fields arising out of this claim. Ministers of the two Governments intervened in the matter, and it was announced, on behalf of both Governments, on Saturday, the 6th November, that, if work was resumed on the coal-fields, steps would be taken forthwith to set up an appropriate arbitration authority to settle the question as to which is the industrial organization the members of which should carry out the work. On Monday, the 8th November, the Federal Council of the Australian Coal and Shale Employees Federation ordered the resumption of work and work was resumed on the following morning.
The question which has arisen as to the performance of work at the Kemira tunnel is one which, from one angle at least, affects the coal industry in New South Wales, but the Coal Industry Tribunal set up by the existing legislation has no jurisdiction to deal with the present question. It is now proposed that the two Governments shall, acting jointly, as they did in 1946, provide for tha appointment of an arbitrator with power to settle the present question, and, having done so, to make any necessary order as to rates of pay and conditions of employment. It is proposed that the Arbitrator may, instead of dealing with rates and conditions himself, refer these matters to an appropriate industrial tribunal for determination. The arbitrator appointed under this act and under a State act on identical lines which will be passed by the State Parliament forthwith, will not be a continuing authority. His appointment will be entirely to deal with the questions specified in this bill. His decision on the demarcation question will stand and have effect overriding, to the necessary extent, any inconsistent award or order by any other Commonwealth or
State authority. Any award he may make as to rates of pay and conditions of employment will, however, be subject to variation by any industrial authority within the competence of which such questions normally fall. It is necessary that this should be so as, undoubtedly, some questions as to rates and/or conditions will arise during the not inconsiderable period required for the completion of the work. I commend the bill to the House as one which the circumstances amply justify and which is also necessary for the purpose of honouring the undertaking of the Government to the employees concerned.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Harbison) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 3537).
.- When progress was reported, I was referring to the matter that would be permitted to be broadcast from the pulpit in a religious service. The Minister for Information said that any matter would be permitted to be broadcast if it dealt with moral issues. In a book published in Australia with the authority of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, entitled Socialization, the following passage appears concerning communism : -
Its political objective is the dictatorship of one party, achieved by the use of revolutionary violence, the destruction of all other parties and the suppression of all other political opinions.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - The Chair reminds the honorable gentleman that only any matter that may be broadcast can be dealt with in the discussion of this clause.
– The proposed section 6k (2) (b) (ii) states that the board shall, in particular, ensure that no matter which is not of a religious nature is broadcast by a station during any period during which divine worship or other matter of a religious nature is being broadcast by that station. I am endeavouring to show that, under this provision, the board may hold that a matter is not of a religious nature. 1 arn quoting from a book that has been issued with the approval of the Archbishops and Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia to show the nature of the matter that is now broadcast by that church in its attack upon communism, and I am bearing in mind that communism has been described by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) as a political philosophy. The book contains this passage -
Socialization in this strict sense has a Marxist basis, and is repugnant to Christian social principles.
Socialism is a doctrine that is supported by this Government and by other Labour governments in Australia. Under this proposed section, a minister of a church would be prevented from criticizing communism or a government which supported socialization, in the strict sense in which it is defined in this book.
The debate on this provision has shown the necessity for its amendment. Therefore, I move -
That, in proposed new section 6k, subsection (4.), the words “subject to any directions of the Minister “ be left out.
The amendment, if it is accepted by the commmittee, will have the effect of preventing the Minister from interfering with the board and of forcing it to do anything that he desires it to do in respect of the matters which are dealt with in paragraphs a, b, c and d of sub-section 4 of the proposed new section 6k. As the matter now stands, paragraph d would permit interference by the Minister in the decision on whether any matter which is not of a religious nature shall be broadcast during any period when divine worship or any matter of a religious nature is being broadcast by an Australian Broadcasting Commission station or a commercial station.
The Minister has told us repeatedly that he is a just man. If he wishes to live up to the standards that he has created for himself, he should be only too pleased to accept this amendment, which is designed to ensure that there shall be freedom of the air and that no religious body shall be prevented from discussing those matters which it conscientiously be lieves it is necessary to discuss for the welfare of the Australian people.
– The honorable gentleman is out of order, as usual.
– The amendment is in ‘ order, but it does not refer to the matter that the honorable gentleman is discussing.
– The amendment is designed- .
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The Chair has accepted the amendment, but points out that it does not refer to the part of the proposed section 6k that has been discussed. It has reference to clause 6 generally, but has no reference to or any influence upon the matters that the committee has discussed recently. It is in order, and, as such, is accepted by the Chair.
– It is in order, but it is useless.
– I move -
That, in proposed new section 6k, after subsection (5.), the following sub-section be inserted: - “ (6.) Before making any recommendations to the Minister under this section, the Board shall give due consideration to any recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Broadcasting.”.
One of my chief objections to this bill is that it was not referred to the Broadcasting Committee. That committee has, in the past, done very useful work but, if it is to be ignored by the Government, it will not be able to perform its proper functions. The bill deals with finance, which was the subject of consideration by the committee, but in relation to the board which it is proposed to establish the committee was not consulted. This cannot be called a controversial amendment and the Minister ought to accept it. It merely provides that the Broadcasting Committee shall be allowed to perform its proper functions.
– The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) is a young and enthusiastic member of the Broadcasting Committee who has given a great deal of time to consideration of the matters that have come before the committee. One of the committee’s reports that the honorable member signed recently contained several paragraphs dealing with the powers that should be exercised by any authority established to coordinate programmes and to carry out other similar duties. The Government has incorporated the committee’s recommendations in the bill.
– The committee’s recommendations are nowhere in the provisions in this bill in the same detail as in the report.
– I cannot remember the exact sections at the moment, but I repeat that, very largely, the Government has accepted what the committee, of which the honorable gentleman is a member, recommended should be the powers of the controlling authority.
– The provisions regarding the constitution of the board are not in accord with the committee’s recommendations.
– It is true that the government of the day did not consult the committee, but there is no obligation on the Government to do so when it decides to place before the Parliament suggested amendments of the law. Under the Australian Broadcasting Act any matter may be referred to the committee. Under this measure the Minister can still refer matters to the committee and, doubtless, he will do so. There is no reason to believe that the suggestions made by the committee in its report to the Parliament insofar as they affect the Board or the PostmasterGeneral, will not be referred to the board. It is also true that the question of finance was studied by the committee, but that examination was in respect of the finances of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and not of those of the board to be established to co-ordinate programmes. It would not be right for the Government to accept the amendment, but 1 give the honorable member an assurance that the committee will be consulted by the board from time to time, and that if at any time the chairman of the committee should desire to consult the board, there would not be the slightest difficulty in arranging a consultation.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 to 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 (Commission to prepare annual estimates).
.- I wish to revert to a matter to which I referred during the second-reading debate. One of the disabilities under which the Australian Broadcasting Commission labours is in respect of its finances. The commission considers that a charge is improperly imposed upon it by an organization known as the Australasian Performing Right Association. That charge is very heavy indeed. If honorable members read the commission’s annual report they will discover in the statement of receipts and expenditure that the commission last year paid the Australasian Performing Right Association about £45,000 for copyright fees. The commission has claimed that a very large portion of that sum is disposed of by the Australasian Performing Right Association in a manner that is not in accordance with the general principles of equity. I raised this matter last night when I pointed out that the Australasian Performing Right Association is an organization which is supposed to collect revenue for the benefit of Australian composers and authors and of composers and authors in other parts of the world. Some years ago, I believe in 1938 or 1939, the Australasian Performing Right Association collected £44,000 in copyright fees. It furnished those figures when its activities came under parliamentary criticism. As a result of a question that I asked the then Prime Minister, the association furnished statements showing its receipts and disbursements. These showed that of a sum of £19,496 received by the association on behalf of authors and composers, only £164 went into the pockets of authors and composers in Australia. Therefore, whatever we may feel about having to pay such financial tribute to the Australasian Performing Right Association so that humble authors and composers may be rewarded for their efforts, the satisfaction of helping our authors and composers financially is vitiated by the knowledge that only an infinitesimal portion of the tribute goes into the hands of those who are properly entitled to it. The great bulk of the money collected in copyright fees by that association goes into the hands of what one might term “ capitalistic society “. It is paid to wealthy publishing houses like Allan and Company Proprietary Limited of Melbourne, who received £1,100 out of that £19,496, of which amount that company distributed only £19 in royalties to Australian authors and composers. Albert and Company, of Sydney, received £2,600. I have no record of the amount that it distributed to authors and composers. Apparently it was nil, because no return was forthcoming from the Australasian Performing Eight Association on behalf of that company. I say that this is a scandal that ought not to be permitted to continue. The Minister said, in reply to my criticism on this subject, that no complaint had been made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and that therefore nothing could be done. I have quoted the commission’s report, and I refer to it again so as to put on record that time after time the Australian Broadcasting Commission has drawn the attention of the Government to the fact that it is being unfairly charged between £17,000 and £20,000 a year.
– Is the commission being overcharged by that amount, or charged up to that amount?
– Overcharged by that amount. I shall refer to the portion of the report that deals with that aspect. The Minister knows all about it because be is a signatory to the Gibson report that went very extensively into the matter.
– I am a signatory to two reports.
– That is_ so. The Gibson report drew up certain conclusions about the matter, and there was a second report, which the Minister signed as chairman of the committee that succeeded the Gibson committee. He signed the first report as a member only. One of these reports endorsed the principle that something ought to be immediately done concerning the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s payments to the Australasian Performing Right Association, which is a monopolistic concern. The Australian Broadcasting Com* mission has pointed out that the performing right fee payable to the Australasian Performing Right Association is ls. compared with a performing right fee of 6d. in Canada and 7-Jd. in New Zealand. The Australian Broadcasting Commission claims that it pays to the Australasian Performing Right Association annually an amount of £17,000 in excess of a just and equitable fee. The Government should certainly investigate that complaint. The Australasian Performing Right Association extracts from the Australian public many thousands of pounds a year in respect of various performing rights. For years, a licensee of a hall had to pay for the privilege of playing music for which the Australasian Performing Right Association held the copyright, and as far as I am aware, that position nas not changed. Every person who plays a gramophone record in a broadcast programme has to pay a performing right fee to that monopolistic organization.
– He really has to pay two royalty fees, one, in respect of the matter broadcast, and the other in respect of the manufacturer of the record.
– I am aware of the position, but in the time available to me, I am not able to deal exhaustively with the payments that must be made to the Australasian Performing Right Association. As I stated in my second-reading speech, the Attorney-General’s Department advised some years ago that legislation could not be introduced to remedy the position until Australia had ratified the Statute of “Westminster.
– The honorable gentleman is indulging in tedious repetition.
– I agree with the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) that our efforts to have the position corrected have been long and tedious.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order! All interjections are disorderly, and I ask the honorable member for Richmond to ignore them.
– According to the reports of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Australasian Performing Right Association has been receiving £17,000 per annum more than the amount to which it is justly entitled. Our efforts te remedy the position may seem tedious, but they are justified. The Government should introduce legislation to compel the Australasian Performing Right Association to submit to compulsory arbitration the question of performing right fees. All that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has asked is that the matter be submitted to arbitration. More than five years ago, the Minister for Information, who was then the Chairman of the Broadcasting Committee, signed the following recommendation : -
We recommend that legislation be introduced as soon as possible to give effect to the recommendation in the Gibson report.
The Gibson Committee had recommended that legislation be introduced to compel the Australasian Performing Right Association to submit the matter to arbitration. The report continued -
We also recommend that the introduction of this legislation should not be delayed for decisions or for amendments of copyright law which we understand has been under consideration for many years.
– The Australasian Performing Right Association is supposed to collect fees on behalf of authors and composers who otherwise might be deprived of the fruits of their labour. Every year, the association collects approximately £150,000 for performances in music halls, cafes, hotels, ferry boats and public halls, as well as from national and commercial broadcasting stations. According to the last report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, no less than £45,000 was paid by it to the Australasian Performing Right Association in one year. Of the total amount collected by the association, only a small part goes to Australian authors and composers. Some years ago, I learned that, out of a total of £19,000 dispersed by the association, only £164 went to Australian authors and composers. Therefore, the assertion that the money collected is being used to foster Australian art cannot he substantiated. For many years past, efforts have been made by honorable members of all parties in this Parliament to ensure that justice is done, but because the income of the association is in the vicinity of £150,000 a year, some mysterious force seems to prevent action by any government. Some years ago, a judicial inquiry into the activities of the Australasian Performing Right Association was held. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who had been Postmaster-General a little while before, and therefore the Minister under whom the Australian Broadcasting Commission operated, denounced what he called the bushranging operations of the Australasian Performing Right Association. He concluded his speech on that occasion by saying -
I consider that bushrangers who operated in the earlier years of Australian development were a very dull lot. We now know to our cost that there are methods by which money may be collected more easily and without risk to life or reputation.
He was followed in the debate by the then Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Forde, who later became Deputy Prime Minister, and he also criticized the operations of the Australasian Performing Right Association. His speech is reported in Hansard as follows : -
I shall read to honorable members the names of some of them, and I have yet to learn that they are either writers or composers. They include -
Albert and Son, Sydney; Boosey and Hawkes, Sydney; Chappell and Company, Sydney; Davis and Company, Sydney; Nicholson’s Investments Limited, Sydney; Palingand Company, Sydney; Sterling Music Publishing Company, Sydney; Allan and Company, Melbourne; W. Bassett, Melbourne; L. F. Gollin and Company, Melbourne; Sam Fox Music Publishing Company, Melbourne; J. C. Williamson, Limited, Melbourne; A. Eady Limited, Auckland; Chas. Begg and Company, Wellington; Performing Right Society, London.
– Almost all of the big music shops in Sydney are represented in that list.
– That is so. They are neither writers nor composers, but we are told that they have purchased the Australian rights of the works which they control.
– Probably the composers of some of the works on which the Australasian Performing Right Association levies fees are on the dole.
– No doubt some of the people responsible for these works are in old men’s homes in London, while their compositions are being played in Australian theatres and halls, and the Australasian Performing Right Association draws in the aggregate large sums from those theatres and halls.
I have quoted expressions of opinion from three or four parliamentarians, who expressed detestation of the method by which a private company had been able to exercise a taxing power at the expense of the public. The honorable member for Barker said he was satisfied that the association was not legally or morally entitled to more than about 50 per. cent. of the money it collected.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - The honorable member’s time has expired.
– As no other honorable member wishes to speak at the moment, I shall take my second period. In the United States of America and Canada, the law requires the Performing Right Association to publish a list of works in respect to which it claims the right to levy fees for performance. Before the passing of that legislation, the association had claimed the right to collect fees on about 2,000,000 compositions, but when it was required to substantiate its claim it could do so in respect of only about 250,000. I am told that, at one time, the Australasian Performing Right Association was collecting copyright fees for the playing of “ God Save the King “. The association certainly levies fees for the so-called Australian national anthem, “Advance Australia Fair “. Last night, the Minister for Information claimed some credit for ensuring that the fees so collected were paid to the Presbyterian Church, which had inherited the rights of the author of that composition.
– I claimed thatI had helped to popularize the composition, thereby increasing the amount collected in fees for its performance.
– On the 30th April, 1942, I asked the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, the following question : -
Has the Prime Minister noticed in the press recently that the Australasian Performing; Right Association - an organizationwith international ramifications - has, during the past few months, collected ?500 in royalties for the performance over the air of what is now generally recognized as the Australian national anthem, “Advance Australia Fair”?
Mr. Curtin’s reply was as follows :
There is some substance in the statement made by the honorable member for Richmond, but what is true to-day has also been true during the last seven years. The position of the Australasian Performing Right Association and its claims to copyright in music have been reviewed by a committee of the Parliament, and a full report, dealing with the arrangements between the association, picture theatre proprietors, the Australian Broadcasting Commission and others, has been furnished to the Parliament. No government has yet given effect to the recommendations of the committee. The present Government has been preoccupied with the war; previous governments were preoccupied with other things.
I do not blame any government for the present situation. There was criticism when the Menzies Government was in office, as well as during the term of office of other governments, but I certainly object to the continuation of the existing system. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has consistently asked, in each annual report, that the anomaly should be remedied. It has stated in its twelfth annual report that for years it has been paying an amount of ?17,000 annually in excess of what it considers to be a proper and equitable charge. It declares that it has repeatedly asked for a remedy, but nothing has been done. The Australasian Performing Right Association is a monopoly which levies fees as it pleases. There is no governmental authority to control its charges. The Prices Commissioner could never have interfered with its rates, and therefore it has been able to charge whatever fees it wishes. The Broadcasting Committee which was presided over by ex-Senator Gibson and of which the present Minister for Information was a distinguished member-
– Thank you.
– That tribute is sincere. I believe that the Minister ima.de a valuable contribution to the deliberations of the committee. It con- ducted an exhaustive investigation and recommended that there should be one -Australian fee payable by the Australian ^Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Federation of Commercial Broad- Casting Stations, shared in proportions to be determined. It recommended that the fee should be fixed by agreement. I point out that the Australasian Performing ;Right Association charges two separate fees. One is levied upon the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the other upon the commercial stations. In every other country, a combined fee is charged. In Canada, it represents approximately 6d. for each listener’s licence, but in Australia the Australasian Performing Right Association collects, for exactly the same service, approximately ls. for each licence.
The commission has complained for years about this profiteering at the expense of the Australian people, but it has not been able to secure a remedy. The Broadcasting Committee recommended that legislative action be taken to remove the anomaly. It was not satisfied that the Government had power under the Copyright Act to enact such legislation, and it consulted the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt). In the light of his advice, it reported to the Parliament in 1943 that the only obstacle was the Statute of “Westminster, and that, when the Statute of Westminster had been ratified, the way would be clear for Australia to emulate Canada, which had ratified the statute many years before, and pass legislation to compel the Australasian Performing Right Association to submit to arbitration the equity or otherwise of its charges. After mature consideration, the Attorney-General reported -
I have recently discussed with the Joint Committee on Broadcasting the question whether there is any legal objection to the establishment of a proposal for compulsory fixation of fees for copyright or performing right in relation to broadcasting in Australia. In Canada, there is compulsory fixation of such fees. It may well be held that in Australia such a system of compulsory fixation, by compulsory arbitration or otherwise, would not be a mere modification or dealing merely with procedure and remedies. If section 2 of the Statute of Westminster were in force here, no difficulty on this score could possibly arise, and I have so advised the Broadcasting Committee. No such difficulty exists in Canada, because the Statute of Westminster was applied there in 1931.
I remind honorable members that this Parliament ratified the Statute of Westminster several years ago. I pursued the matter further, and, on the 8th March, 1945, I asked the then Prime Minister the following question: -
Will the Prime Minister give effect as soon as possible to the recommendation of the Broadcasting Committee, in February, 1943, that legislation be introduced to empower the Australian Broadcasting Commission to compel the Australasian Performing Bight Association to arbitrate on the matter of fees payable by the Australian Broadcasting Commission ?
Mr. Curtin gave me an indeterminate answer then, but promised to supply a complete answer later. Unfortunately, I believe that he was ill at the time, and two months later an answer was supplied by the present Prime Minister, who was then Acting Prime Minister.
I emphasize the fact that the reply was given after a delay of two months, which indicates that the right honorable gentleman had had plenty of time in which to examine the situation and prepare a considered answer. The reply which I received from him on the 8th May, 1945, was in the following terms : -
On the 8th March, 1945, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) asked a question relating to compulsory arbitration in connexion with the payment by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of fees for performing rights. I desire to inform the honorable member that before any action can be taken in this matter, it is necessary for certain legislation to be passed by Parliament. The drafting of the necessary bill would entail considerable work, and .pressure of more urgent and important matters. . . .
– Did not the honorable member read that to me previously?
– Yes, and I shall read it often, because the Minister for Information earlier this week virtually dishonoured the promise that the right honorable gentleman made to me in 1945. This was the promise -
The drafting of the necessary bill would entail considerable work, and pressure of more urgent and important matters particularly those relating to the war, has prevented the task from being undertaken.
I ask honorable members to note this final sentence -
A suitable bill will, however, he drafted as soon as practicable.
In the meantime, the Australasian Performing Eight Association, a private monopoly, is levying upon the Australian Broadcasting Commission an annual charge that, according to the commission’s report, is £17,000 in excess of the charge that should be made. Nothing has been done’ about that, and apparently nothing is likely to be done.
I say that nothing is likely to be done because, when I raised this matter previously, as the Prime Minister reminded me, the Minister for Information interjected that the Copyright Act prevented action from being taken and suggested tl at we should wait for the outcome of an international conference that was to he held later. Yet, in March, 1943, as chairman of the Broadcasting Committee, he tabled in this chamber a report in which the committee made this specific recommendation : -
We recommend that legislation be introduced as soon as possible to give effect to the recommendation in the Gibson report. We also recommend that the introduction of this legislation should not be delayed for decisions on other amendments of copyright law which we understand have been under consideration for many years.
I emphasize the words, “should not be delayed”. That report is dated the 2nd February, 1943. I also emphasize the Prime Minister’s promise to me in May, 1945, that a bill would be drafted “ as soon as practicable “. Nevertheless, when I raised the matter in this chamber last night, the Minister for Information, who signed the report which I have quoted, interjected that we must wait for the decisions of the forthcoming international copyright conference.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is entitled to put his point of view on the matter of the Australasian Performing Eight Association in the discussion on this clause of the hill. Nothing that the committee can do in the matter can affect that association at this stage. I promised the honorable gentleman last evening that when certain international conferences which had been held, or were in course of being held, had completed their investigations, and the alterations which they had suggested had come to the notice of the member-governments throughout the world, this Government would consider what changes were necessary in our Copyright Act, as a result of the agreements reached. I did not say that international copyright law precluded consideration of the matter at this stage. In referring to the British Copyright Act I think I said - if I did not say it then, I say it now - that we have become parties to the British Copyright Act because we have adopted the relevant provisions of that legislation. I have noted what the honorable gentleman has said, and I shall ask the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) to give him a complete statement of the present position in regard to the payments that are made by the publishing houses in Melbourne, Sydney and elsewhere. I shall give the honorable member as complete an answer as possible, as though he had raised the matter on notice. At least, the up-to-date story will appear in Hansard, so that all honorable members will be apprised of all of the information that the department can supply. The matter of amending legislation is not properly a subject for the attention of the committee. Of necessity that must await consideration at a later stage.
– I admit that I cannot move any amendment now.
– The honorable member has made his protest, and I have promised him consideration of the matters raised, which is all that I can do at this stage. .
.- The clause at present being considered by the committee is one which seeks to place broadcasting under the control of the government of the day, through the appropriate Minister. It will give the Government control of all finances associated with broadcasting. During the last two or three days a number of honorable members on the Government side of the committee have read extracts from speeches that 1 have made in the past, in an effort to show that I should support the bill in its present form. However, if those honorable members would take the trouble to read the whole of the speeches that I have delivered on this subject in the past they would see that I suggested something altogether different from this measure. It is true that I suggested that tJ] ere should be general over-all control, and I am glad that, to a degree, such control is provided for in this bill. In the speech that I delivered in this House in 1932, as reported in Hansard, volume 134, at page 95, I said -
If broadcasting is to be removed from the exigencies of politics it must be placed Tinder a board operating upon a charter which gives it full responsibility over both the programme matter and the technical administration, without any interference directly from the govern ment of the day. . . .
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The committee is now dealing with clause 12, which makes no reference to a board. That matter has already been dealt with. The clause deals with a new method of financing the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and that is the only matter than can be dealt with at present. I asb the right honorable member to confine his remarks to the clause that is being debated.
– In those circumstances there would rest on such a body full responsibility in the matter of programmes. I pointed out on that occasion that the body controlling broadcasting in Australia should receive the whole of the licence-fees, not merely a part of them. Under this bill, the old system of financing the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be abolished, because the Australian Broadcasting Commission Fund will cease to exist. Provision is made in this measure for the Australian Broadcasting Commission to prepare annual estimates, and those estimates will form part of the budget.
When I spoke on this matter sixteen, years ago, I pointed out that during the years of the depression it was found that,, although practically every industry in Australia was on the down-grade, themanufacture of radio sets was on the up-grade. The reason for that was that radio provided entertainment for the mass of the people. Although many people in this country could not afford to pay for admission to picture theatres, they could afford to pay annual licencefee, and were then able to listen to broadcasts in their own homes. In many instances, they purchased radio receiving’ sets on the time-payment system.
I point out that, in order to enable the Australian Broadcasting Commission, or any other body controlling broadcasting in this country, to maintain a high level of entertainment for the people in good times and in times of depression, that body should receive the maximum amount of money. I fear that under the proposal to make funds available to the Australian Broadcasting Commission by means of appropriations by the Government, when conditions are bad and money is not very free, the amount of money to be supplied to the commission will be curtailed, with the result that the standard of entertainment provided for the people of this country will be lowered. I protest against this provision. I feel that, in the circumstances that I have outlined, a grave injustice may be dons to the people of this country. The Minister may reply that the Government intends to give the board more money. I suggest that the best idea would be to give that body the whole of the licencefees. When speaking on this matter in 1932, I suggested that the Director of Postal Services should be a member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Under the bill now before the committee, it is proposed that a representative of the Postmaster-General’s Department shall be a member of the board. I agree that that is a very good thing. I also agree that if the Government intends to deal with this matter in the way indicated in the bill, a representative of the Treasury should be a member of the board. Such a member would be able to control the matter of licence-fees. If the total amount received as licence-fees in any year were in excess of the amount necessary to provide good entertainment for the public during that year, the unused portion of the fees could be placed in reserve, in order to maintain a high standard of entertainment in bad years. Radio licence-fees should not be dealt with by the Government in the way that the proceeds of the petrol tax have been dealt with.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The right honorable gentleman knows that it is not permissible for him to deal with petrol or other taxes at the present time.
– I point out that licence-fees were imposed in order to enable the Australian Broadcasting Commission to provide good quality entertainment. I should not like to see those fees diverted for use otherwise. It must be remembered that people living in the outback areas of this country are, in many instances, forced to rely on radio programmes for the bulk of their entertainment. Should they wish to enjoy other forms of entertainment, it may be necessary for them to travel hundreds of miles. For that reason, also, I should like to be assured that the maximum a mount of money possible shall be made available to the board to enable first-class radio programmes to be provided regularly. Therefore, in the interests of those people, I should like to see some control exercised to ensure that whatever money is subscribed by listeners in licence-fees shall be paid to the Australian Broadcasting Commission to be used for the maximum benefit of the people generally. Should a subvention be necessary to assist the commission to meet building costs incurred in the course of the expansion of the national broadcasting system, there is no reason why that should not be done, but we should make certain that whatever money goes into “ kitty “ by way of licence-fees shall be used solely for broadcasting purposes.
.- I direct the attention of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) to sub-section 2 of proposed new section 28 which provides in paragraph b that the commission shall pay the remuneration and allowances of the . commissioners, and the salaries, wages and allowances of the general manager and the officers and employees of the commission. I shall deal with this matter briefly, because I understand that the whole question of salaries of employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission has been discussed recently in several States. I know that such discussions have taken place in Western Australia at least, and I consider that the procedure was most unfair. A number of employees of the commission put up a case for increased salaries. They were employees who had been engaged by the General Manager, Mr. Moses, and they were, in fact, seeking increases of the salaries that had been fixed by the General Manager. Mr. Moses himself went to Western Australia to oppose them on the matter, so that in effect, the case was judged in the presence of a person who was a party to the dispute. The experience was most humiliating for every one concerned. When an employee was advancing an argument for an increased salary, the line of questioning to which he was subjected was, “ How much of your work is actually done by your underling?” and “Is he not in fact more important than you?” In these scandalous proceedings, the General Manager, in effect, played off one man against another. He was the judge of the importance of their work. He had engaged them. An employee who sought to prove that he should be paid more, was placed in the position of having to fight his fellow employees. There are no employees in the whole Commonwealth, in private enterprise or Government employment, who are so lacking in the safeguards that arbitration represents, as are the employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The method by which such inquiries are conducted should be changed. I realize that that matter is not strictly within the province of this legislation, but I hope that the Minister will look into it.
Another matter to which I wish to refer concerns performing rights. I was astonished to learn that the annual amount that the Australian Broadcasting Commission had to pay for performing rights was only £45,000, and I take it that when the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) said that the Australian Broadcasting Commission believed that it was paying £17,000 too much, what he meant was that the Australian Broadcasting Commission thought that it was paying £17,000 too much by comparison with the commercial stations. I am not competent to comment on that, but I wish to refer to a matter which has been mentioned by the Minister, namely, the recurring royalty that is paid by the Australian Broadcasting Commission on the playing of “ Advance Australia Fair “. The Presbyterian Church is the legatee of the composer of that work, and is receiving a regular income from the performance of it, but I consider that the Australian Broadcasting Commission should protect the reputation of the composer by playing that tune much better than it is played as an introduction to the national news sessions. The tune is murdered. If the Minister wants to hear it played properly he should hear the band of the Young Australia League play it in Perth. At present, the composer’s reputation is being destroyed. The founder of the Young Australia League, the late Mr. J. J. Simons, suggested that the. commission resents having to play the tune at all, and deliberately bowdlerizes the rendition of it. The performance compares very unfavorably with that of “The Song “of Australia “-“ There is a land where summer skies “, -which, some people believe, should be the Australian anthem. I ask the Minister to consider whether the Australian Broadcasting Commission is getting full value for the money that it pays for the right to play “ Advance Australia Fair “, and I suggest that when he is next in Perth, he should take the opportunity to hear the Young Australia League band play it. It is really quite a good tune in spite of the way the Australian Broadcasting Commission plays it.
– The point that has been raised by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has not any great substance because the finances of the Australian Broadcasting Commission have been in a bad way for some time, and Treasury assistance has been needed to enable the commission to balance its accounts. We are providing a threeyear plan for the commission, and the new system provided for in this measure will be of benefit. So far as I am .aware, only one raid has been made on the finances of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and that was made by Mr. Thorby when he was Postmaster-General. Its object was to balance the budget. That was a most unfortunate happening, and it set back the activities of the commission.
I shall take note of what the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has said about the manner in which the evidence of the employees of the commission in regard to the fixing of their wages and salaries, and the determination of their conditions of employment, is heard. An award was made recently by the Public Service Arbitrator and I believe that it was tabled in this chamber some time subsequent to the 11th of this month. Mr. Birkett represented the arbitrator in certain States, and took evidence on his behalf.
– People who are not regular employees of the commission conduct special sessions for which they receive fees.
– I shall bring that matter to the notice of the commission. I thank the honorable member for his observations on the subject and on the playing of a good Australian anthem. Although I cannot. agree that “Advance Australia Fail “ can be classed as a national anthem, it is a good anthem expressing Australian nationalism. When I am next in Western Australia I shall take the opportunity to hear the Young Australia League band playing that tune, and I hope I shall appreciate it in the way that the honorable member for Fremantle does. I shall make the comparison that he asks, and find out whether the rendition of “ Advance Australia Fair “ by the Australian Broadcasting Commission can be improved. From the point of view of Australian nationalism, I hope that the playing of that tune will become even more popular with the passing of time.
.- I was glad to hear the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) say that “Advance Australia Pair “ was an Australian national song but not our national anthem, and I agree that we should have an Australian national song. I think, however, that we could have a better Australian national song.
– “ Waltzing Matilda”?
– Let me tell the honorable gentleman that “ Waltzing Matilda “ is not a bad song, either, and it expresses the really authentic Australian sentiment better than “ Advance Australia Fair “ does.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The committee is not entitled to decide, and is probably not competent to decide, which is the better Australian national song. The question before the Chair relates to payments to the Australasian Performing Right Association in respect of performances of “Advance Australia Fair “ and other music.
– Australia might save some of the cost of royalties now paid to the Presbyterian Church if we had an Australian national song competition.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order! The Chair will not allow a discussion on a competition for the development of an Australian national anthem. The honorable gentleman is far too wide of the clause.
– I return to the point that we were discussing. This £17,000 that is paid to the Presbyterian Church-
– The honorable member has it mixed up. The Presbyterian Church gets only a fraction of that sum.
– Whatever the amount is, and while I entirely agree with the principle of having an Australian song, I suggest that we might have a better one than “ Advance Australia Fair “. The Minister for Information, who is so enthusiastic an Australian would do well to consider my suggestion and have a competition to find one.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 to 16 agreed to.
Clause 17 (Limitation of ownership of commercial broadcasting stations).
– I direct the attention of the committee to this clause, because it radically changes the present system of limitation of ownership of commercial broadcasting stations. Section 53 of the principal act reads - (1.) Any person making application lor the grant or renewal of a licence for a commercial broadcasting station shall furnish to the Minister such information as he requires and shall lodge with the application a statutory declaration stating that the grant or renewal of the licence will not result in the ownership by any person, or in any person being in a position to exercise control, either directly or indirectly, of more than -
If amended as proposed, section 53 of the principal act will read -
A person shall not own, or be in a position to exercise control, either directly or indirectly, of, more than -
one metropolitan commercial broadcasting station in any State;
) four metropolitan commercial broadcasting stations in Australia;
four commercial broadcasting stations in any one State; or
eight commercial broadcasting stations in Australia.
Undoubtedly the committee will agree that it is desirable to prevent monopoly control of broadcasting stations. But clause 17 goes on to provide for the amendment of the principal act by the omission of sub-section 2, which reads -
Where the applicant is a company, the statutory declaration referred to in the last preceding sub-section shall be made by a majority of the directors of the company and the manager or secretary of the company.
The omission of those words and the substitution of the words “ a person shall not own …” will omit any reference in the section to “ a company “. The principal act provides against a company owning more than the specified number of stations. Does the omission of reference to a company make any difference? In any event, why are the words to be omitted?
– Prior to the enactment of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Act 1942, the limitation on the number of stations that could be held by any person or persons was covered by a regulation under the Wireless Telegraphy Act. The 1942 act was both an. amending and a consolidating act, and the principles, in fact, almost the exact verbage, of the regulations first promulgated by the late Sir Archdale Parkhill were put into the 1942 act. We do not propose to alter in any respect anything that has been done under those regulations or the 1942 act. We seek to make the provision more positive. Section 53 of the principal act is intended to place a limitation on the ownership of commercial broadcasting stations. At the present time, however, it merely requires any person making application for the grant or renewal of a licence to make a statutory declaration to the effect that the grant or renewal of the licence in question will not result in any person owning, or being in a position to exercise control, either directly or indirectly, of, more than the stipulated number of stations. It is considered that this requirement should be stated more positively and the section is being amended accordingly. At present all that is necessary for a person - and a person includes a company by virtue of the Acts Interpretation Act - to file a declaration. We want the provision to be more positive still to ensure that no person shall be able to evade the provisions of section 53.
– I am glad to hear the explanation given by the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell). I agree with the limitation of the ownership and control of commercial broadcasting stations, but I consider that an assurance was necessary that existing broadcasting companies were not to be upset in any way. The Minister referred to my association with such a company. I have no apology to make for that, because Australia should have more of the type of the ownership with which I am associated. It is the kind of ownership in which citizens of a district subscribe for from ten to 200 shares in the company. That will never make them rich, but it ensures the supply of a necessary service. I believe that the Postmaster-General’s Department requires that control shall be exercised by the local residents in districts where licences are issued and so it is necessary that the local residents, who exercise the control, shall be shareholders. Metropolitan interests had some association with that company, but it was necessary that local citizens should retain control of the company as a condition of obtaining the licence for the district. Whilst I had no money at that time - I have not much now, and I shall never be rich - I believed that it was my duty as a citizen of the district to do what I could to get that licence for the district. . I make no apology for urging the provision of safeguards against the development of monopolies in broadcasting. I note that the Government has decided to continue the control it has exercised up to date, but I wanted to be assured that small companies controlling broadcasting stations in country districts shall be protected.
– I give the honorable gentleman that assurance.
– I should like to be clear as to whether the acceptance of this clause will result in any alteration of the ownership of any licences at present current in respect of commercial broadcasting stations.
– None whatever.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 18 agreed to.
Clause 19 (Licensee to keep accounts, records, &c).
.- This clause brings home to the committee more forcibly than any other clause the fact that commercial broadcasting stations are to be subject to government control to a degree that is likely to result in the whole of their ramifications, trading activities” and administrative methods being made known to the board. Proposed paragraph b reads -
That, of course, makes it perfectly clear that the hoard proposes to know the whole of the business associated with the broadcasting stations because whatever documents or information it requires with regard to their business activities must be made available by those stations to the .board and, of course, from the board the Minister will be able to obtain all the information that he requires. The principle behind such a provision is wrong. Members of the Opposition parties have from time to time protested against the fact that the Government has sought by one means or another to obtain all the information that it can relating to the business and administrative methods of private enterprise, and here its intention, is expressed by giving to Any such requests made by the board the force of law. Thus, commercial broadcasting stations will have no alternative but to make available to the board when it so requests information concerning the whole of their business arrangements. That is part of the pattern of socialism which the Government is implementing. It proposes to acquaint itself with the whole of the ramifications of private enterprise wherever it can. I sincerely hope that adequate provision will be made to ensure that such information which the board obtains with regard to one station shall be kept secret so that it will not be ascertainable by another broadcasting station or by _ the authority controlling the national stations. For instance, the board may decide to use such information as it may obtain, not by retailing it to the national stations, but by using it in its direction of the policy of the national stations. That danger became apparent to me immediately upon reading the clause. Some safeguard should be provided to ensure that any information of that kind that the board obtains shall be kept secret. A safeguard similar to that which preserves secrecy in respect of income tax returns should be provided in this legislation. Under this measure, the board will control the whole broadcasting system on a semi-nationalized basis, but should it be the policy of the Government subsequently to nationalize the sys tem completely the Government will need to obtain information of this kind. The principle of the clause is wrong. If it means that the board shall have the right to this information in order to carry out the policy of the Government which the Opposition parties have opposed, and will continue to oppose, some safeguard should be provided to protect commercial broadcasting stations against the possibility that the information they supply to the board will be divulged to their detriment.
– This clause amends section 67 of the principal act for which the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) voted when it was passed in 1942. That section reads - (1.) The licensee of a commercial broadcasting station shall -
Under the clause now before the committee it is proposed to amend that paragraph by adding after the word “ form “ the words “ to the satisfaction of the Board “. Section 67 continues -
That paragraph is not being altered. I remind the Acting Leader of the Opposition that he and every other member of the Parliament in 1942 voted for that provision. In 1942 the Government took almost absolute power to conduct the most searching investigation into the activities of broadcasting stations and no member of the Parliament at that time objected to that provision on the motion for the second reading of that bill. I suppose that that was because that legislation was based entirely upon the recommendations of the Gibson Committee, the membership of which was equally representative of the Government and the Opposition parties. Those recommendations were made unanimously. Indeed, honorable members vied with each other in. praising the bill when the legislation was before this chamber. The provision I have just read was one of the recommendations made by the Gibson Committee. Section 67 continues -
That involves a complete revelation each year of the accounts and of all the business activities of broadcasting stations in a form satisfactory to the Minister.
– Is not the effect of the clause now before the committee simply to transfer to the proposed board powers similar to those now held by the Minister ?
– That is so in general terms. Section 67 continues -
within three months after the thirtieth day of June in each year, furnish to the Minister a statutory declaration stating -
keep such records relating to the broadcasting service as the Minister, from time to time, directs, and supply copies thereof to the Minister as required.
Almost anything the Minister required to know about a broadcasting station had to be supplied to him, or his officers, and such information was supplied to officers of the Postmaster-General. In future, such information will be supplied to the board. In order to perform its duties effectively, obviously it must have transferred to it the powers which in the past were exercised by the Minister. Subsections 2 and 3 of that section read - (2.) Any licensee may, with the leave of the Minister, adopt an accounting period being the twelve months ending on some day other than the thirtieth day of June, and thereupon the provisions of paragraphs (c) and (d) of the last preceding sub-section shall apply in relation to that licensee as if the references therein to the thirtieth day of June were read as references to that other day. (3.) Where the person required to make the statutory declaration specified in para graph (d) of sub-section (1.) of this section is a company, it shall be made by a majority of the directors of the company and the manager or secretary of the company.
At the end of sub-section 3 we propose to add the following sub-section: - (4.) The licensee of a commercial broadcasting station shall, upon request by the board -
Obviously if the board is to exercise real control it must have power to require the licensee of a commercial broadcasting station to furnish full particulars of the licensee’s broadcasting activities. The proposed new sub-section expresses in extended form the provisions already included in the principal act, which required a commercial station to give to the Minister any information for which he might ask at any time. The other point made by the Acting Leader of the Opposition is that some secrecy should be observed in relation to the information furnished to the board and that it should not be disclosed in such a way as to enable it to be misused or used to the disadvantage of the stations concerned. I assume that the honorable member really asks that such information should be disclosed only to an authorized person, and then only to a person who really needs it in the exercise of his duties. It is impossible to provide against the leakage of information. We have been plagued in this Parliament during this session with secret information that has been disclosed in one way or another. Even the best regulated parliaments cannot control their secrets completely. I assure honorable members that the members of the board will safeguard the books, records and documents assigned to their care. They will be as careful of information that comes to them in the course of their duties as are the heads of our public departments. I have no reason to suspect that the power proposed to be given to the board under the proposed new subsection 4 will be misused, nor can I see how the board will function unless it be given this power.
– The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) has very cleverly turned what I have said to create the impression that I believed that there are already sufficient powers in the principal act to enable the board to obtain all the information it requires. The honorable gentleman read the provision -in the principal act, which places an obligation on commercial broadcasting stations to furnish certain information. The existing provisions of the principal act have enabled the commercial broadcasting stations to be satisfactorily controlled up to the present. If the Minister requires certain information relating to the activities of a broadcasting station before taking action against it, he has power under the principal act to obtain that information. I am at a loss to understand why it is necessary to widen that power by requiring commercial stations to make available for inspection by the board or an authorized officer such books and documents relating to the activities of the station as the board may specify. Under the principal act, the Minister has power to demand that accounts be compiled in a certain way and that information relating to those accounts be furnished to him. Now, however, it is proposed that the board shall be granted power to require the production of books and documents. If the proposed new sub-section be incorporated in the legislation the board will have power to obtain the fullest possible information in regard to all the activities of every commercial station. It is to that proposal that I object. If the board be granted such wide powers it will be able to demand the immediate production of books and documents relating to every phase of the activities of a commercial station. The licensees may have to hand over hooks and documents which they need for the administration of their businesses.
– The phrase “books and documents” should be read in conjunction with the phrase “ as the board specifies “.
– Paragraph b of proposed new sub-section 4 provides that “the licensee of a commercial broadcasting station shall, upon request, furnish to the board such particulars with respect to broadcasting activities as the board specifies.
– That does not mean that the licensee must furnish all its books and documents to the board.
– No, but the board will have the right to demand the production of all books and documents if it so desires. The orders of the board are to have the full force of law and the commercial stations will he compelled to furnish any books and documents asked for by the board.
– Was not such a power implied in the principal act?
– No. If that were so, there would have been no need for this proposed amendment. Obviously the powers conferred by the principal act were not regarded by the Government as sufficiently wide, and this dragnet amendment has been drafted to widen them. If the Government wishes to take complete control of an organization, the production of all its books and documents, and the furnishing of full information relating to its business is essential. In my second-reading speech I said that it was obviously the intention of the Government to take over the commercial stations. This provision is undoubtedly designed to give effect to that intention.
– What documents does the honorable gentleman think should not be made available to the board?
– In competitive businesses of all kinds and in the professions there are many documents which are regarded as secret.
– If a commercial station published a balance-sheet, does the honorable gentleman believe that the board should not he able to check it?
– That is not the point. Provision has already been made in the principal act to enable full information to be obtained concerning the accounts of commercial stations. Apart from account books, other books and documents are used which are peculiar to those businesses. The board wishes to have access to such books and documents.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 20 and 21 agreed to.
Clause 22 (Political broadcasts).
– Under this clause it is proposed that section 89 of the principal act, which deals with political broadcasts, shall be amended by omitting sub-section 1, which is as follows: -
Subjectto the provisions of this section, the Commission may determine to what extent and in what manner political speeches or any matter relating to a political subject may be broadcast from national broadcasting stations, and the licensee of a commercial broadcasting station may arrange for the broadcast of such speeches or matter from that station.
It is proposed to insert in its stead the following new sub-section: -
Subject only to this section, the Commission may determine to what extent and in what manner political speeches or any matter relating to a political or controversial subject may be broadcast from national broadcasting stations, and, subject only to this section and toPart 1a of this Act, the licensee of a commercial broadcasting station may arrange for the broadcasting of such speeches or matter from that station.
It is also proposed to omit sub-section 3, and to insert in its stead the following sub-section : -
Neither the Commission nor the licensee of a commercial broadcasting station shall broadcast any dramatization of any political matter which is then current or was current at any time during the last five preceding years.
In the course of his second-reading speech the Minister (Mr. Calwell) made it perfectly clear that the Government intends to curtail the broadcasting of the “ John Henry Austral “ session, and the Government’s intention was the subject of a prolonged debate on the second reading of the bill and also when clause 6 was before the committee. Through the agency of the proposed board, the Government proposes to prevent the broadcasting of matters relating to a political or controversial subject and to prevent dramatization of any political event of the preceding five years. It is significant that the period mentioned coincides with the period in which the Australian Labour party has determined to implement its socialist policy. Of course we know that that political party decided to adopt socialist policy many years ago, but only in the last five years has it attempted to implement that part of its policy. Indeed, the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. Curtin, gave an assurance to the Parliament-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) must not attempt to pursue that line of argument, but must connect his remarks with the clause under discussion.
– I was merely making passing reference to the undertaking given by the former Prime Minister that the Australian Labour party would not attempt to implement its socialist policy during the war. Of course, we all know what has transpired since. But because broadcasting sponsors have successfully broadcast dramatizations of some of those political happenings, Labour has decided to intervene. Although the radio dramatizations are quite acceptable to the majority of listeners, they are obviously not acceptable to the present Government, and that is the reason why the present provision has been inserted in the bill. The proposed board is to be empowered to determine what constitutes a political or controversial subject.
Although the clause under consideration contains a most objectionable provision, we know that the Government will not accept any amendment, either of the clause or of any other provision of the bill. The Government has the numbers, and it has made it perfectly clear that it intends, regardless of the consequences of some of the provisions of the bill, to have its way with the measure. One outstanding result of the enactment of the measure will be that broadcasting stations will not be able to give their listeners the benefit of a fair presentation of matters of outstanding public interest. Members of the public will, in effect, be told what types of broadcast they may listen to, and those to which they may listen will not be concerned with matters of real public interest. The proposed board will tell broadcasting stations just how far they may go. Since the board will be controlled by the government of the day. it is obvious that the present Government, if it continues in office, will be able to exercise considerable power in this important field of influencing public opinion. Obviously the political party at present in power has more to fear from the exposures made by broadcasts of political matters, and therefore it has determined that it will not permit radio stations to present to the public facts or arguments concerning current political topics. I do not propose to repeat what I said in the speech which I made in the second-reading debate, but, in fairness to those who may desire to present to the people public questions in a way that will bring home to them their full import, it is necessary for me to emphasize this aspect of the measure. Of course, if the measure were intended merely to prevent the broadcasting of simulations of parliamentary debates, I should not find myself very much out of step with the Government. For example, I do not think that it is right for any broadcaster to be able to say over the air : “ The Minister for Information, Mr. Calwell, said this . . . Listen to Mr. Calwell “, and to simulate the Minister’s voice. Such a practice is open to the gravest abuse. However, I cannot see that any harm could be done by an announcement which simply makes a factual reference to a statement by a Minister whose name is given. It would be quite in order, I should imagine, for a broadcaster to say: “ The Minister for Information, Mr. Calwell, made the following statement in the Parliament “, possibly mentioning the date of the statement and supplying a reference to the report in Hansard or in the press, without any attempt to simulate the Minister’s voice. Of course, I realize that it would be extremely difficult for any one effectively te simulate the voice of the present Minister for Information. In conclusion, I should like the Minister to inform the committee what the Government intends in regard to such broadcasts.
.- It is regrettable that the “ John Henry Austral “ session should have been given so much publicity in the debate which has taken place “ on the bill, because the sponsors of that session are not entitled to receive such free publicity.
However, the matter is of such importance that I propose to say something concerning it. As was pointed out by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) the Government proposes to amend the present legislation by omitting from section 89 of the principal act sub-section 3 and inserting in its stead the following new sub-section: -
Neither the Commission nor the licensee of a commercial broadcasting station shall broadcast any dramatization of any political matter which is then current or was current at any time during the last five preceding years.
The bill will not prevent the dramatization of all political matter ; the only political or controversial matter which will be excluded will be current matter. For example, in 1953, radio stations will be quite free to dramatize the political events of this year. Of course, the bill will prevent broadcasts of-
– Any matters of immediate moment which may embarrass the Government.
– Members and supporters of the Government receive a lot of embarrassment in the Parliament. For example, members of the Opposition are continually telling us that we are “ off the rails “ and that we have not done anything right in all the years that Labour has been in office. We have to contend with constant criticism of that kind, but we do not object to it. What we do object to is the type of bitter, dishonest propaganda that is disseminated by such radio sessions as the “ John Henry Austral “ series. The time has come for the Parliament to legislate in order to establish some standard of fair play-
– lit is a matter of ethics.
– That is so, and whilst I do not criticize legitimate broadcasts of political opinions by the Liberal party, which has the money and can afford to expend it on such publicity, I take the strongest objection to cunning propaganda of the kind I have mentioned. Of course, all the broadcasts made by that session are not objectionable. That session is on the air every night, and the subjects of some of the broadcasts are quite legitimate. I emphasize that the bill will not in any way interfere with such ‘broadcasts. All that honorable members on this side of the chamber are endeavouring to ensure is that there shall be fair play in broadcasting. I propose to give an illustration of the type of broadcast made by the “ John Henry Austral” session, and to invite the people to judge for themselves whether the Government has been justified in introducing this provision. In the Melbourne Bun of the 24th of this month the following report appeared : -
An attack on the “level to which Federal Parliamentary proceedings have been allowed to descend “ was made in the Liberal party’s John Henry Austral broadcast - A Little Peace and Quiet - heard over 3DB-LK last night. The atmosphere of Federal Parliament was recreated in the broadcast. The voice of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) was simulated. Austral explained that he was using exact quotations from Parliamentary debates.
I do not think I should read the next, portion of the report.
– The report continues -
Mr. Ward’s voice was heard saying : “ Look at the member for Henty. He is Fascistminded. The un-Nordic looking member has not yet stripped and beaten a Jewish maiden, but he is quite capable of it. “ And take the member for North Sydney - this doddering old war-monger who wants to see the youth of this country conscripted to fight on foreign battlefields “.
Austral commented : “ For that kind of thing, ladies and gentlemen, you pay Mr. Ward and his colleagues something like £3,000 a year, plus expenses, plus - in all probability - a pension. “ Can’t we have a little peace and quiet so that the affairs of this nation can be conducted with dignity, discretion and responsibility? Can’t we have a Parliament instead of a circus with political mountebanks clowning at microphones ? “
That was only part of the broadcast, but that is all that was reported in the Melbourne Sun. It may be said that “ John Henry Austral “ has a right to simulate the voices of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), but my criticism is that in his broadcasts he presents a one-eyed view of the proceedings of this Parliament. Honorable members opposite will probably concede that I try to be fairminded, but this kind of biased presen tation of our proceedings gets under my skin so deeply that, if it is repeated, I am prepared in my broadcasts fromstation 7LA at Launceston every Friday night to tell the people of Australias exactly what does happen here. I am prepared to tell them of the statementsthat Opposition members exchange acrossthe floor of this chamber, and of other happenings in the Parliament.
– Did not big businessbuy this man out?
– He used to broadcast for the Labour party, but he wasoffered a higher salary and went acrossto the Liberal party. I do not blame him for that. These broadcasts are bringing the Parliament down to the level of thegutter. They are one-eyed, parochial, unfair, and biased. If “ John Henry Austral “ wanted to be fair, he could simulate the voices of some of themembers of the Opposition and repeat what they have said across thefloor of the chamber to honorablemembers on this side. If this kind of broadcast by the Liberal party continues, I am prepared to tell my listeners exactly what happens here. I do not think it is fair that the peopleshould be given the impression, by meansof these broadcasts, that the Labour party is the only party that is indiscreet in this chamber. I could tell the country of many things that honorable membersopposite have done in the Parliament, and not only in this chamber. We haveput up with this kind of thing for year after year, and we have had to take it, but now the Opposition is kickingbecause this measure of control has been proposed. I do not want tohave to do what I said that I am prepared to do, and I do not think that it is right that we should be goaded into telling the country exactly what happens here. Even “ John Henry Austral “ should observe some of theethics of broadcasting. This bill will not cut his session out completely, becausea man of such inventive genius can surely think of some way other than dramatization to conduct his session for the Liberal party. Many ‘ members of the Labour party, many people who arepolitically neutral, and even some- who support the Liberal party, have told me that, in their opinion, the “ J ohn Henry Austral “ session goes too far. When the supporters of the Liberal party say that, I think it is time for honorable members opposite to consider where they are going. If the sessions continue, though they will not continue for much longer on similar lines, they would probably do the Labour party more good than harm, because ultimately the people would realize their unfairness. If the Liberal party cleans these sessions up a little, and presents its views more fairly and democratically, it will attract more supporters than it can hope to attract by continuing them in their present form. I do not think that there is anything permanently dangerous about this clause, lt will not put an end to the “John Henry Austral” broadcasts, and the Opposition cannot claim that it will wipe out one of its sessions. Some of the statements made by “ John Henry Austral” have been almost defamatory. In one of the broadcasts the voice of Mr. Speaker was simulated, which seemed to me to be disrespectful to the Parliament. The Acting Leader of the Opposition has said that he is opposed to the simulation of the voices of members of Parliament or, for that matter, of anybody else.
– It is in bad taste, but I do not want to gag people for breaches of taste-
– The broadcasts are in bad taste, but “ John Henry Austral “ can change his tactics. There is no need for him to go off the air altogether. This bill is a warning that these unethical and almost immoral broadcasts in sessions sponsored by the Liberal party or any other political party must .cease. If I had been guilty in my radio sessions of the acts of which “ J ohn Henry Austral “ has been guilty during the last six months, I should not protest if I were told that I must get off the air. The “ John Henry Austral “ broadcasts are unfair, and against all the ethics of broadcasting. The bill is not designed to restrict the proper activities of the Opposition in sponsoring broadcasts throughout the Commonwealth. In bringing down this measure, the Govern ment surely cannot be accused of attempting to dictate what honorable members opposite should say and think. Personal abuse of members of the Parliament is too common. What we do and say to one another is probably not the concern of anybody else but ourselves.- When we are abused and slandered by people who do not know all that goes on here, I think we must call a halt and say that that is playing a pretty low game. I know that on occasions there could be more decorum in this chamber, but tempers become frayed here just as they do sometimes at Sunday school meetings, council meet inga and church meetings. We are human beings and not little gods. We are members of the rank and file of Australia. We represent the people of the Commonwealth, and constitute a cross-section of the population. When tempers are frayed at times, that is human. But the people of the country do not realize that there are many times in this Parliament when we are perfectly quiet. This House is more often orderly in its behaviour than many people realize. Yet, when an incident occurs such as that of last Wednesday, when three honorable members were suspended from the service of the House, the electors say, as some said to me following that occasion, “ Why weren’t the proceedings of the House being broadcast on that night ? “ That shows that the electors like to hear honorable members “ having a scrap “, and yet the same electors criticize us for unruliness. It is difficult to say what they want.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) stated that he did not desire to give any free publicity to the “ John Henry Austral” broadcast and that he considered that, from that point of view, the less he said about the broadcasts the better. But he devoted most of his speech to the subject of those broadcasts, and on behalf of the Liberal party I thank him for the extra publicity he has thus given to them. He also said that he regarded the broadcasts as so reprehensible that they would bounce back against those authorizing them, and that the people would rebel against them with the result that the political party authorizing them would lose more than it would gain by them. That is precisely the point that I have been trying to make. If such matters are left to the people they will find their own level and justice will be done. But the planners and doctrinaires must always be fiddling around with the people. They think that they know everything better than the people do, and they say, in effect, “ We must turn the knob off for them. They cannot turn it off for themselves “. That is not only the pure milk of socialism, but it is also of authoritarianism, and it sticks out a mile in this bill. Of all the clauses of the bill, I believe that the one now before the committee is the worst, because, in my opinion, it will permit deliberate inter*ference with the right of the people to exercise their own taste and judgment. I have said that simulation of voices is a matter of bad taste. But because I hold that opinion I am not going to bash some one else down and prevent them from having contrary opinions of their own, and from expressing them. I am expressing sentiments that, I believe, will find an echo in many hearts.
– There is no suggestion in this provision of interference with the right of anybody to say anything he likes. The provision forbids the dramatization of political matter only.
– The provision amounts to an absolute prohibition against any dramatization of a political matter and, as we were told by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and more specifically by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), it is directed against the “ John Henry Austral “ series, and will put that series off the air.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member for Wilmot mentioned a reference in a “ John Henry Austral “ session to a statement made by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). I did not hear that particular broadcast and am relying for my facts on what the honorable member has said about it. But I did hear what the Minister, whose words were repeated in the broadcast, said in this House when he spoke about a member of the Opposition. Ls it not a fact that the Minister for Transport made a beastly attack upon another honorable member, and talked about stripping Jewish maidens? Did he or did he not make those statements? The answer is that he did. If he did make these statements, is it fair or is it not, that public attention should be drawn to them ? Does the Government propose to gag a member of the public or an organization because he or it draws attention to the fact that an honorable member of this House made a speech of that kind? I consider that it was a deplorable speech, and I would get up on a platform anywhere and say so publicly. If it is my right to say so publicly, have not others a right to say it in a dramatization? So long as there is no attempt to simulate the voice of the honorable gentleman who made the remarks. I can see nothing wrong in doing so. The fact sticks out in a particularly naked and ugly way that the Government does not like being attacked by - effective and clever dramatization, and, therefore, instead of either countering it by propaganda of its own, which is the normal way-
– And thereby getting down into the gutter.
– But the Government went down into the gutter to hold off-
– Order !
– I ask for a withdrawal and apology by the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I withdraw my remarks.
– I also want an apology from the honorable member.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable gentleman must withdraw and apologize to the Chair for unparliamentary language.
– I withdraw and apologize to the Chair, hut I say that, compared with the propaganda methods of this side of the House, the Labour party has, for a long time, used methods of propaganda which are far nearer to the gutter than anything that the Opposition has used, and that is the thought that I was seeking to express. Anything that has ever been said in the “John Henry Austral “ broadcasts is just a Sunday school picnic statement compared with what has been coming from the Government side of the House for years. But one must put up with that sort of thing. Such criticism is of the essence of democracy. Sometimes it is rough, crude and unjustifiable, but the Government’s method of gagging criticism is plain tyranny. There oan be nothing in the bill worse than this provision for the silencing of Opposition criticism just because the Government cannot face it. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) referred to sub-section 1 of the proposed new section S9, and I also refer to that sub-section and its addition of the word “ controversial “ to the existing section. I ask the Minister why that word is to be introduced into the proposed new section. He will remember that under the original section 89 (1) there was a provision that the commission should determine the extent of political speeches arid the manner in which political speeches or speeches relating to political subjects could be made.
– When the honorable gentleman reforms his manners I shall give him courteous treatment.
– I gather from that statement that the Minister does not propose to reply to my question. If he feels that way about it well and good, I remind him that any sharp retorts from this side of the chamber have been provoked by himself. If he does not want to reply, he need not reply.
– Order !
– We have heard the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) defending dramatized broadcasts intended to belittle the Parliament. A sentence or two later he gave vent to an outburst of abuse himself and was compelled to withdraw and apologize by the dignified demand of the Minister at the table and the impartial action of the Chair.
– I rise to order. Is an honorable member, in addressing himself to a clause in a bill, permitted to refer to an incident that the Chair has already ruled upon?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.He is not entitled to do so, and I ask the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) not to pursue that line of argument further.
– There is to be no parliamentary dramatization, either.
– The incident has been heard over the air, but it certainly will not be dramatized, even before the bill becomes law, in the “ John Henry Austral” series. The Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) said that he objected to the simulation of the voices of honorable members of this Parliament over the air, and that he considered that form of political dramatization objectionable and would agree that it should be banned by law.
– No, I said that it was bad taste.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is not yet the Acting Leader of the Opposition. I am referring at this stage to the remarks by the Acting Leader of the Opposition when he said that he considered that the simulation of the voices of members of the Parliament over the air was objectionable and that he would support legislation designed to prevent that practice. Yet the honorable gentleman knows that the voices of members of the Parliament have been simulated over the air in broadcasts authorized and paid for by the Liberal party. He is the Acting Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal party. What, then, is his position in this matter? Does he feel that it is necessary for a Labour government to pass legislation to prevent the Liberal party from doing something which, he agrees, is highly objectionable end. should be prevented by law? Is he not competent to act for the Parliamentary Liberal party in this matter? Are not those broadcasts made on behalf of that party? Has he no control of the party which he leads? If what is being done is objectionable, as he says, and should be made unlawful, why has he not taken action to prevent it, and thus obviate the necessity for making a special enactment? The broadcasts are
Dot being made on behalf of any other political party.
The honorable member for Parramatta has stated that the matter is one of bad taste. He also considers that it is a form of broadcasting which should not be used, but he has said, in effect, “We should leave it to the people. They will deal with it, and justice will eventually be done “. The honorable gentleman is also a member of the political party which is authorizing the action which he has described as bad taste. Why, then, should he say that the matter should be left to somebody else to stop? Members of the Liberal party had the power and the opportunity to stop those broadcasts months ago. Actually, they have revelled in them, and justified them. They now attempt to prevent the passing of a law which will end broadcasts which, they say, are objectionable and in bad taste. The fact that certain broadcasts are objectionable, and in bad taste, is not sufficient ground for banning them, but I consider that sufficient ground exists for banning broadcasts which resort to complete and deliberate falsification. I have listened to the broadcasts of “John Henry Austral “ on many occasions. Mr. Cooger, who writes them, is a brilliant script writer, and no expense is spared in employing trained actors and providing suitable atmospheric effects. Technically, the broadcasts are excellent. However, such broadcasts are either designed to deceive or are calculated to deceive, and they do deceive the ordinary listener into thinking that he is hearing the actual voices of members of the Parliament, and that the statements which he hears are statements made by honorable members. Obviously, that is objectionable, dishonest, and a perversion of the proper purposes of the broadcasting system. It is absurd for honorable members opposite to pretend now that a new step is being taken to suppress political dramatization. A law is already in existence which provides that political dramatization shall not occur in certain circumstances. That principle has been agreed to by the three political parties represented in this chamber. The only point at issue now is the period, and the circumstances in which political dramatization may occur. No principle is in- volved. We shall merely determine the period within which political incidents may not be dramatized. I believe that the simulation of proceedings in this chamber, designed to deceive or calculated to deceive the people about what is occurring here should not be limited to five years. I do not see any reason why :< John Henry Austral “ or’ anybody else should be able to create a deliberately false impression in the public mind about what has been said by members of the Parliament, who are still alive, merely because the debate may have occurred more than five years ago, whether it actually happened in the Parliament or not and whether the circumstances in which it is presented to the people have any relation whatever to the truth of what occurred on that occasion. It might have been better if this proposed new subsection had been drafted in another way, and had been aimed deliberately at preventing the falsification of the proceedings of the Parliament, and the simulation and impersonation of the voices and actions of public men. Such practices are a complete betrayal and misuse of the proper functions of the broadcasting system. The statement by the Acting Leader of the Opposition that once this proposed new sub-section has been agreed to, there will no longer be opportunities for the fair presentation of political argument, is almost too absurd to require a r-Ply. There was fair presentation and ample opportunity for the fair presentation of political argument before the present form of political dramatization was introduced into broadcasting, and there will continue to be opportunities for the fair presentation of political argument without political dramatization.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has referred to the excellent broadcasts which he gives from a Launceston station every week. I have the opportunity every Sunday evening, through the courtesy of a commercial station, and without charge, to speak to an audience of more than 60,000 listeners. The audience tunes in eagerly to station 20A at 6.45 o’clock every Sunday evening to hear the truth about political proceedings.
– What time does the honorable member broadcast?
– At 6.45 o’clock every Sunday evening.
– That is a good advertisement.
– When I give those broadcasts, there is no necessity for me to engage in political dramatization, or do other than intelligently summarize to an intelligent electorate the political happenings of the week.
.- Honorable members should examine proposed new sub-section 3 of section 89 with the greatest care. In my opinion, it is the most iniquitous provision in the bill, and may well be regarded as similar to the repressive measures of the late Dr. Goebbels. The proposed new sub-section states -
Neither the commission nor the licensee of a commercial broadcasting station shall broadcast any dramatization of any political matter which is then current or was current at any time during the last five preceding years.
I should like to know who will interpret the meaning of “ dramatization “. Will the responsible authority be the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) ? A series of mistakes may easily be made. The Oxford Dictionary defines “dramatization “ as follows : -
Conversion into drama; a dramatized version. “Drama” is defined as -
A series of actions or course of events having dramatic unity, and leading to a final catastrophe.
The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) should be interested in that definition. A catastrophe will befall the honorable gentleman and the Labour Government at the next election if they persist with legislation of this kind. Why has the Government decided that a broadcasting station shall not broadcast a dramatization of any political matter which is then current or was current during the preceding five years ? Can the reason be that that was the Government’s worse period of administration, and that it therefore proposes to stifle any attempt to ridicule it? Honorable members opposite cannot stand ridicule. Apparently they are indifferent to the political dramatization of incidents that ridicule them for their policy before 1943. What are honorable members opposite afraid of ? They cannot “ take it”. In this sub-section, they are seeking to attack the author of the “ John Henry Austral “ series of broadcasts. I do not know the person responsible for those broadcasts, but I have heard a few of them, and I have not taken exception to any of them. Had similar broadcasts been directed against the Liberal party, we would have dismissed them as, an attempt to ridicule and criticize us. Australia is still a free country. Dictators take various forms. I little thought that the mild-mannered honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) was in that category, but he said,, in effect, “ This will be a warning: that this type of propaganda must go off the air “. I do not desire to wearyhonorable members by recounting the oppressive measures which the late Adolf Hitler and his sattelites imposed upon the German people, but this sub-section suggests one of their measures to suppress free speech. In 1938, Germans were not permitted to tune in to broadcasts from any other country. They were permitted to hear about happenings in Germany, and even then, the news was censored. The same applies to the press. We profess to believe in the freedoms of the Atlantic Charter. For many centuries, British communities have enjoyed freedom of the press and freedom of expression; yet the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, who broadcasts intelligent statements every Sunday night - I am sorry that I am not one of the 60,000 who listen to them - is prepared to deny freedom of expression to others. The honorable member also edits a newspaper called the Observer. There is, of course, a rival journal published in London, from which, perhaps, his journal takes its name.
– I suggest that the honorable member get back to the clause.
– I am speaking to the clause. The radio and the press are related.
– There is nothing in the clause about the Observer.
– The clause deals with censoring, and if there is to he censoring of radio broadcasts, it is but a short step to censoring the press. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro told us that he broadcasts to his electors every Sunday night, but there must be no rival in the field, apparently. His broadcasts are serious and intelligent efforts, so he assures us. I must listen to him next Sunday night. That will make 60,001 listeners - for once, at any rate. This Government is treating the Parliament to an exhibition of totalitarianism. During the last five years, there have been many such exhibitions, but I cannot dilate upon them because of the limitations imposed upon me by the Standing Orders. The Government is determined to impose upon the people a further measure of control. During the war, the Government tasted power, and it has grown to like pushing people around. It is reluctant to relinquish totalitarian powers. It sees that its popularity is waning, and it fears damaging criticism. It is not necessary to consider the results of by-elections and State elections in order to be convinced that the Government’s popularity is decreasing. The Government’s reaction to the criticism in the “ John Henry Austral “ broadcasts is sufficient to indicate that. Another very modest effort at criticism is broadcast every Saturday night from station 3XY, covering the week in Canberra, and it is contributed to by members of the Liberal party. The broadcasts are factual, and perhaps intelligent, like those of the honorable member for EdenMonaro, but evidently they have not proved as popular as those of “ John Henry Austral “, because the Government has taken no action against them. When the present Opposition parties are in power one of the first laws to be repealed will be the one we are considering. Of course, the bill will be passed now, because everything has already been settled in the party room at the top of the stairs on the other side of the chamber. Freedom of speech, freedom of the air and freedom of the press are already going. The excuse is that “ John Henry Austral “ does not indulge in fair comment. There is no secret about the reason for this repressive measure. It has been frankly admitted by the honorable member for Parkes and the honorable member for EdenMonaro. The man responsible for the dramatizations to which the Labour party objects once worked for that party. Since then, he has seen the light, and now works for somebody else. That is what worries the Labour party so he must be hounded down. If this or any other man says over the air anything that is libellous, the person or persons libelled can have recourse to the law. If he says anything that is obscene, blasphemous, or indecent, he can be prosecuted in the courts. We do not need any greater protection than that in a British community. The Government, however, has a totalitarian outlook, similar to that of fascist and Communist governments. We know that Goebbels was known as the Minister for Public Enlightenment, and it is but a short step from the Ministry of Public Enlightenment to the Ministry of Information.
– Order ! The honorable member must not indulge in personal criticism.
– Well, the Minister for Information has himself told us that he has practically a monopoly of brains. The Government is afraid of criticism, and will stifle criticism over the air if it can do so. The committee should divide on this clause, so that honorable members may show their disapproval of it. We cannot hope to defeat it, but the vote that will be registered by the people at the next election will be decisive. This Government, with its dwindling majority, is on the way out. Other totalitarian governments can create a diversion by beginning a foreign war when they find themselves becoming unpopular. This Government is attempting to bolster its position by the enactment of repressive legislation, but the people will not have it. This is iniquitous legislation, and it will be repealed by the government that, in a year’s time, will take the place of the present one.
.- The problem of the dramatization of political matter is a thorny one. I remember distinctly that it was the Labour party which first used the political drama in an election campaign. I plead guilty to the offence. We used it in a general election in 1932. We did not win the election, but our action caused a great deal of controversy. The United Australia party was at the time very hostile to those dramatized broadcasts, and wanted them to be forbidden. ‘ In the election of 1937, Mr. Curtin used political radio plays in the Labour party’s campaign against conscription. The plays were written by the late George Edwards, and they, also, aroused a great deal of hostile comment from supporters of the Lyons Government. Like myself, Mr, Curtin did not win. It was largely because of those plays, broadcast on behalf of the Labour party, that the first parliamentary committee on broadcasting recommended legislation against the broadcasting of political dramas. However, when the bill came before the Parliament, it was amended so that the provision covered only the period of an election campaign. It was not until the Liberal party obtained the services of an advertising firm, which had formerly handled campaigns for the Labour party, that the Liberal party went in for political radio plays. When that firm handled our campaigns, we used its political plays; when it became the agent for the Liberal party, that party went in for political drama. Now the Labour Government, like the old United Australia party and like the Liberal party, wants to eliminate them altogether. I agree with everything that has been said in criticism of the simulation of the voices of public men by actors. T believe that it would be very difficult indeed to justify such procedure. But what was good enough for the Government should be good enough for the Opposition. The real difficulty in this problem is to decide where the ban shall begin and where it shall end. Suppression is a nasty thing, and it is always a boomerang to the party that uses it.
It will be necessary for the board to define matters which is political and that which is non-political. That will be a very difficult problem to solve. Would the late Prime Minister’s famous appeal to the United States of America be regarded as political? I put that question to the com mittee. If so, under this bill, there could be no mention of Mr. Curtin’s great speech to the people of the United States of America till five years had elapsed. Yet that wonderful appeal was one of the outstanding contributions to the history of Australia. There may he great national events calling for dramatic treatment, but broadcasts describing them to the world will be taboo under the bill. Then there are the documentary broadcasts produced by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Are they to be banned if they touch on politics? I want to show the difficulties involved in the provision that we are considering. I am not concerned about “ John Henry Austral “. I have never heard him, and I do not want to hear him. I want to deal with the full effect of the clause which the committee is considering. How would it be possible to produce an adequate documentary broadcast relating to our social services if the story could not be carried beyond the year 1943 ? That would be the effect of this bill. Yet to leave the story at 1943 would be to render the production entirely useless and without point. How will it be possible under the terms of this bill to broadcast the “ March of Time “ ? Fancy the “ March of Time “ being kept back to the year 1943. Why time would have passed by! It would not be marching on. The excellence of those broadcasts is recognized, not only in Australia, but also throughout the rest of the world. Many of the most important British Broadcasting Corporation newsreels will be banned under this bill. The most important news features of the British Broadcasting Corporation are full of politics.
Moreover, will not this clause ban broadcasts dealing with international politics? Australia is a nation. The super-intelligent in this Parliament are fond of telling us that we are too isolated and that our international outlook is not broad enough. Nevertheless, this clause must extend to international politics, and therefore, broadcasts on such subjects will be silenced. Even the short-wave service will be affected unless, as it is exclusively under the control of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), it is to be exempt. But this is supposed to be an all-embracing bill, and it is difficult to believe that the short-wave division of the Department of Information will not be under the control of the board. Shortwave broadcasting is capable of doing more harm than any other broadcasting system, both overseas and in our own country. Let us suppose that the recent outburst of anti-American propaganda had been despatched abroad, not by commercial stations, not by Australian Broadcasting Commission stations, but by the Government’s own short-wave service. The result would be very bad indeed for the reputation and the security of our country. Very careful consideration should be given to these matters.
I know that many members on the Government side of the chamber have very serious doubts in regard to this bill. It is their responsibility as a measure of protection, to ensure that the right appointments shall be made to the board. A blunder in that direction would be very costly indeed. A wrong decision by the board which will be in control of broadcasting could cost many thousands of valuable votes. Listeners could be antagonized by acts of the board. It is very important that the committee should consider that aspect very carefully, because bur political future is being placed in the hands of the three members of the board. If I were in their place, I should make certain that the Government did not make a wrong decision. If the board made a right decision, it would serve a very useful purpose.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Burke). - We are not discussing the composition of the board.
– But our political future would be in the hands of the board.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- If the honorable member connects his remarks with clause 6 he may continue.
– If it asserted its independence, and made its recommendations based on equity, it could he a very useful body, but if it were to reduce the quality of Australia’s broadcasting to the level of the broadcasting from certain other countries, that would be very bad indeed. I am not concerned at all about “ John Henry Austral “. I have never listened to his broadcasts. I do not know whether they are good or bad. However, I am. concerned about the effects of this clause.- I consider that they will be very bad against the Government, and harmful to the best interests of Australia.
– I have listened to all that members of the committee have said about this clause, and I shall not detain the committee very long in reply. It is quite easy to reply to the many misstatements that have been made. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) did not make a single statement in accordance with fact in his criticism of the provisions of this bill. In the first place, it was not the broadcasting of the dramatization of political matter at the time that he was the Premier of New South Wales, or any actions by the Australian Labour party in either the State sphere of New South Wales, or the Commonwealth sphere, subsequent to 1932, that influenced the broadcasting committee known as the Gibson Com’mittee when bringing in its first report, as a result of which a prohibition on dramatization between the issue of a writ and election day was placed in the present Australian Broadcasting Act. The parliament of the day unanimously accepted that provision. It agreed that no dramatization of political matter should be permitted from the time an election started until it had finished. The Gibson Committee unanimously recommended that provision because of the shocking behaviour of certain people connected with the United Australia party about the time of the 1940 election. That party financed a series of dramatized broadcasts, in which the late Herr Hitler figured very prominently. He was greeted with the singing of songs, a lot of noises, and the cry “Heil Hitler ! “ The person simulating Hitler then proceeded to ask how the election in Australia was progressing. The voice, with a strong teutonic accent, said that the Australian Labour party was doing all possible to prevent England from winning the war, that the Australian Labour party was a pacifist party and proGerman in its outlook.
– And was it not ?
– That is not true, and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) knows it. Having heard the report, the voice, in broken English, said, “ That is very good news. Germany hopes that the Australian Labour party vill vin the 1940 elections “.
– Goebbels said that.
– The Goebbels in the United Australia party started that propaganda and it was so nauseating that most of the commercial -stations would not play the record. I have a copy of the record, and I will play it for any honorable member who wants to hear it, to show the depths to which some people will go in misrepresenting a situation, in order to try to snatch an electoral victory. It was the most nauseating thing that was done in that, or in any other election.
The Gibson Committee consisted of three non-Labour men, namely, Senator Gibson, Sir Charles Marr, and Dr. Price, who were all excellent people and personal friends of mine and three Labour men, Senator Amour, the present Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan), and myself. We unanimously recommended that there should not be any more of that sort of dramatisation at any succeeding election of the Parliament. That recommendation was accepted unanimously. Therefore, this Parliament, having accepted the recommendation that a prohibition should be placed on political dramatization between the issue of the writ and the day of the election, cannot, on principle, object to the prohibition of dramatization. Nothing of that kind again happened, until, the “John Henry Austral” series began, and the simulation of voices was resumed. If dramatization is- not prevented, how can the simulation, of voices be prevented ? It has been admitted that there has been simulation of voices not only of members- of Parliament, but also of public servants. In a broadcast entitled,, “Is your Home your Castle?” an- episode, portraying a visit by a wireless inspector to- a residence was featured. The lady of the” house- assured the officer tha.t she had no’ wireless set, arid denied him. admission. He stated that he must make, an inspection, in order to be sure that she Was telling the truth, The recording continued-
Wireless Licence Inspector: 1 am empowered hy law to enter and search. I am sorry, madang but that is the position; A lot of people listening were probably deluded into believing that the voice was that of a real wireless inspector. “ John Henry Austral “ proceeded-
And that is the position! It is lawful for postal officials to enter and starch private dwellings for unlicensed radio sets.- That operators of unlicensed radio sets should be detected cannot be denied, I have not the slightest doubt that the powers of entry and search are exercised with the greatest restraint. Nevertheless, the powers have been conferred and could easily be the thin ddgs St a very dangerous weapon.
That was the dramatization df & lie, because wireless licence inspector^ have no right to enter premises and search. In order to try to create a political atmosphere, “ John Henry Austral has dramatized lies, add misrepresented the position to the people. The Speaker of this Parliament has been the victim pf one of these dramatizations. His voice has been simulated. Sentiments’ have been put into this mouth that he has” never uttered. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) has been victimized also and his voice has been simulated. Radio listeners have” heard a voice’ s’ay “ The Minister for the Army spe’aking “, tod he has been made to say things’ that he would never think, of saying”.- Can any honorable member say that that helps democracy? Gait he beliaé that that ought to be permitted’? There will be ho prohibition” on any person’ making an attack on any member of this paY.liament or any person outside’ this Parliament at any *time, provided that the person who” makes the’ statement is’ identifiable- tod takes responsibility for his statement. He could make false charges’ against met, toy other Minister Mr. Speaker, or tie Chairman of Committees. Indeed I believe tha’t he- could make’ false charges’ against honorable Members’ opposite and there Would be’ no interference with him outside the due processes’ of law. AR things that such a person might say that Woul’d render’ him’ liable’ for’ conviction or damages-, om the .score of slander’ dr defamation or something else, will still hold’. Straight broadcasts will not be interfered with in any way, and anything that “ John Henry Austral “ has been saying up to date- he will still be able to say, but without the falsification of the situation by the system called dramatization.
– Does dramatization mean only the impersonation of somebody else’s voice?
– That provision was put into the Australian Broadcasting Act in 1942 by this _ Parliament and the administration of the act was vested in the PostmasterGeneral. I do not think that any attempt has been made to dramatize anything in an election campaign since then. In Canada, there is a complete ban on dramatized political broadcasts.
– In Russia, too.
– -Is the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) having a cheap sneer at Canada? I remind him that the Canadian people are at present governed, not by a Conservative party government or a Labour party government, but by a real Liberal party government. In the Canadian act there has been for many years a prohibition on dramatization.
– For what- period ?
– At all times. In suggesting to the committee that the principal act should be amended in the manner desired by the Government, we are bringing Australia further into line with Canada. The clause does not prohibit the dramatization of any matter that is five years or more old. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) cast an insult at me when he said that I was the Australian counterpart of Dr. Goebbels. I hurl that insult back in his teeth. I have no desire to interfere with the rights of anybody. The honorable member for Balaclava himself adopts the Goebbels technique in this chamber day after day, telling one lie after another about this Government. It is he who adopts _ the role of a dictator. The Hitler technique is with him and not with any member on this side of the chamber. I have paid the honorable member the compliment of listening to his broadcasts over 3XY. I am probably one of the very few people who do listen to him because, according to public opinion polls results that I have seen, that station has a very low rating amongst listeners. I have also listened to the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson), and the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) delivering the same old speeches. I have not been impressed, naturally, but I assure the honorable member for Balaclava that all the things that he has said in the past he may continue to say. He may misrepresent this Government to his heart’s content over any station, and so may any other honorable member. Anybody can put his case according to his point of view. The prohibition is on dramatized broadcasts which are intended to misrepresent and mislead, and which do in fact misrepresent and mislead.
– Are sound effects also likely to be excluded ?
– I have not attempted to define “ dramatization “ because that is a matter for the board, and I do not know who the members of the board will be.
– When I asked whether it meant the simulation of voices the Minister said that it did. All I am asking now is that he should go a little farther.
– -I do not intend to go in the direction in which the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) wants me to go. I do not know what he means. Does he mean a blare of trumpets or the singing of songs before somebody goes on the air?
– The committee could argue that matter for hours. According to my understanding of the position there will be nothing to prevent the singing of songs in the course of a political broadcast. The point with which we are concerned is the falsification of facte. If the use of sound effects helps to create a false atmosphere, and assists misrepresentation, obviously that too will come under the ban. No doubt, sound effects can be used rightly; they can also be used wrongly. All we seek to do by this clause is to extend the ban which the Gibson Committee recommended for election periods, and which the Parliament unanimously accepted. Honorable members opposite have nothing to fear. If they have a lot of money to spend on buying broadcast time, they may continue to do so if they wish, and they may get the same speakers to tell their story between now and the next elections, in fact, right up to the “Wednesday before election day. There will be nothing to prevent them from doing that; but if they hope that something may eventuate out of those broadcasts to their own benefit, I say, “ Remember Truman “. I ask that the committee resolve this matter expeditiously, so that the other clauses of the bill may be passed without delay.
Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) 1 10.26], - We are dealing now with one of the more interesting provisions of the bill. The question of dramatization has a history, and it has a potential future. A.s the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) has said, this question was considered by an all-party committee, and I thinks that it may be worthwhile to do what other members have not done so far, and that is to quote from the findings of that committee. On that committee, the representatives of the parties now on this side of the chamber, were the chairman, Senator Gibson, Sir Charles Marr and Dr. Grenfell Price, three men whose judgment would be, I believe, considered to be at least up to the average.
– Above the average.
– I say that it would be at least up to the average because I do not wish to over-state my case. In their report, those three gentlemen stated - 400. The growth of dramatized broadcasting in recent years and the bitter protests that it has evoked have led the Federation of Commercial Stations to give consideration to the matter. The Federation is rightly determined that offensive broadcasts should be eliminated by all commercial stations and has a rulea self-discipline rule - which obliges all station managers to submit matter for political broadcasts to the Federation Secretary for approval before broadcasting. 407. On the occasion of the 1940 Federal elections, when simulated German voices were used in’ the making of certain records by an advertising company, action was taken by some station managers to prevent the use of the records at all; in other cases they were withdrawn following protests by electors. The evidence discloses that the records were not played to any extent, but the fact that they were played at all, instances the easy way in which passions could be inflamed and bitterness created by trickery and deception. 408. There is reason to believe that in one State election campaign this objectionable practice was also followed. It is a practice that cannot be deprecated too greatly and its perpetration in the future should be prevented by law.
There is no qualification or equivocation in the language used in that report. That language applies to the dramatization of political broadcasts, and it does not limit dramatization to the period between the issue of the writ and polling day. My own view accords with what I know to be the law of Canada and that is that there should be no attempt to dramatize politics over the air. I cannot understand the reason for the provision of a five-year term in this measure, because if the dramatization of events more than five years’ old is to be permitted, we on this side of the chamber will be entitled to dramatize certain things in our own way, which would be detrimental to the present Government. The Government has been in office for more than five years, and I believe that some of its worst acts were committed at the beginning of its career, when, because of the existence of a state of war, and the threat of an invasion of this country, it got away with many things that the people would not have tolerated at any other time. We have only two courses open to us; either we allow dramatization without any limit or we abolish dramatization. It would be in the interests of clean politics if the dramatization of politics were completely prohibited. Certain references have been made to the “ John Henry Austral “ broadcasts. I have not heard one of them.
– Neither have I.
– The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) and I are not interested in them. If I have any case to put to the country as a member of the Parliament I can put it to my people or to people who invite me to do so by word of mouth or over the air. The law of this Parliament provides every honorable member with the greatest forum of the air ever granted to any parliament. Our Standing Orders would prevent dramatization of any act by any honorable member in the House. We have to “ say our piece “. If we have a case to put, that case will not be improved by dramatization. I know of no suitable substitute for truth in politics - none whatever. Therefore, I believe that it would be in the interest of politics - clean politics - if this clause were amended so as to remove the five-year limit and prohibit the dramatization of politics altogether.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 23 to 27 agreed to.
Schedule and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 23rd November (vide page 3314), on motion by Mr. Calwell -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The bill is a sign of change. It is very welcome, and I support it. I think the women members of the House should not let the occasion pass without acknowledging and expressing appreciation of the progress that is being made by this legislation and the nationality legislation of other parts of the British Commonwealth. Under it the status of women is greatly improved. The bill makes changes in the nationality law, but, to me, and I hope to other women also, its distinguishing feature is that it removes a disability on married women under the existing nationality law by enabling them to choose for themselves their nationality and status. Thus history is made. The bill would have been an impossibility only a few years ago, and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) can rightly claim that this is an historic occasion. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) admitted, in his second-reading speech, the value of the clauses affecting the status of women, but then said that the bill was of no use to any one in Aus tralia. Loudly and vigorously he claimed that it benefited nobody. I remind him. that there are many women in Australia who may well object to his sweeping statement and denunciation of the bill. Instead of benefiting no one,, the legislation benefits at least half of the people in this country; it benefits at least 3,781,767 persons. Times change and we do not all drift with the tide, or wish to do so, so that to-day, it is well for the honorable member for Parramatta and others to remember that the Commonwealth is not wholly a community of men and that this change in women’s statusis appreciated.
Reading the digest of the speech made by the Lord Chancellor, which wassupplied very kindly with the bill, I noted his claim that we have to distinguish our citizens from the citizens of other member States of the British Commonwealth. This idea is well developed; but, after all, why should it be necessary so to distinguish between the citizens of one part of the British. Commonwealth from citizens of another part? Why should they not be brought closer together? Why should not every opportunity be taken to stress the unity of its peoples, irrespective of national’ boundaries? It may be remembered bysome honorable members that in recent years Mr. Churchill actually offered some form of common nationality with the British to the people of France, and there have been similar suggestionsaffecting the United States of America and the United Kingdom. If such suggestions bear fruit, perhaps the day will come when we shall become citizens of the world - a phrase that honorable members may remember was coined or used by the kindly and gentle OliverGoldsmith. . Honorable members of thisHouse and members of the community who scorn anything like idealism may regard the idea as idealistic, but we may well ask, “Why not, in view of theconstant failures of practical people?”
The powers to be given to theMinister mean that he will have an absolute discretion to grant rights without giving a reason. He should therefore be given a general discretion to waive all requirements and all provisions of thebill. There could be international’! developments that we. cannot at this moment foresee and there could he cases of hardship. There are some minor matters that I wish to raise when the bill is taken into committee, but I wish to ask one question now : Are stateless persons covered by the bill? Are they covered by the definition of “’ aliens “ and so enabled to qualify for naturalization? I urge the Minister to clarify that point, because there must be a great many stateless persons throughout the world to-day.
– I have no desire to prolong the debate upon the bill, which was fully discussed last week. #However, I do not approve of certain features of it. No sane person could object to Australians being given a distinctive nationality if we could as much as pretend that Australians have not had a distinctive nationality for the last 150 years. I do not accept this proposal as something necessary, merely because other parts of the British Commonwealth have agreed to it, when they did so without reference to the peoples of the respective countries. I cannot accept this proposal.
– Australian citizenship?
– We cannot divorce this proposal from the ‘present trend of events. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) mentioned the march of time; this is another step in the march of time under socialism. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) may smile, but, surely, no one can regard as insignificant the statement attributed recently to Sir Stafford Cripps that disintegration of the Empire is necessary for the success of socialism. That is true, because, whilst the British Empire cannot be socialized, it can be attacked on the principle of divide and conquer. It can be broken up into several parts and this part socialized to-day and that part to-morrow. Should that happen, the British Empire would be a heterogeneous mass of unrelated nations, instead of the cohesive whole which, up to date, has enabled us to revel in the title “ British “. There is something warm and homely about the term British which has proved to be sanctuary and security for the politically oppressed and the homeless of all coun tries. What will the term “British” mean in the future? We have delighted in the fact that we have been able to call ourselves British, but, under this proposal, Australians are to be deprived of that title; we are to be deprived of British nationality, and the British Commonwealth of Nations is to be changed to something like the “ Commonwealth of Nations “.
– This bill specifically provides that an Australian citizen shall be a British subject.
– The honorable member should read the speech made by the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) when moving the second reading of the bill. There can be no question about the meaning of what he said. This measure means the breaking up of the British Empire, step by step. I do not believe that Australians as a whole accept this legislation, or that honorable members should acquiesce meekly in it because the present British Government, which is making Great Britain a home of socialism, has accepted it. It has been said that that Government introduced itscomplementary legislation reluctantly. We have also been told that Canada has endorsed this proposal. Is it not possible that Canada, being the next-door neighbour of the United States of America, is not satisfied to become a part of thesocialized system now being introduced! by the British Government? That Government says that it has been compelled: to endorse this proposal because some convention of Prime Ministers, on other representatives having no authoritywhatever from the peoples of their respective countries committed Great Britain te it. Because those representatives said that this proposal is necessary,, are we meekly to agree to it? I havealways been proud to be known asBritish, and to be assured that even if” I could not be known as an Australian I would be known as British. That satisfied’ everybody who realized that the title”British” commanded respect in any part of the world. I repeat that theBritish flag has been a haven and sanctuary for the oppressed. It will nolonger be so, because it will no longerbe British in the sense that it has been up till now. The British flag has flown in China, India, remotest Africa, in the torrid and the frigid zones, in fact, all over the world, and wherever it has flown it has represented sanctuary, warmth and friendship. Every one who respects British citizenship will regret that that is to disappear because some persons have arrogated to themselves the right to force this proposal upon the people of the British countries whether they want it or not. I shall not accept the proposal in that sense.
I say deliberately that no one can be ignorant of the fact that for years there have been elements working in the world with the avowed and single objective of bringing about the destruction of the British Empire. They have been succeeding gradually. However, the Marxist programme is not to change things over night, but gradually and systematically to effect changes over a number of years so that each generation will accept the little bit which the preceding generation succeeded in implementing until in the end everybody will accept the changes as natural. Those influences have been working for years with the one objective of destroying the British Empire as we have known it up to date. They have succeeded to a certain degree because traitors within our own country, people who are allegedly British and because they are thought to be British have been trusted, have been working in the interests of those foreign elements. Yet, we are supposed to accept this change meekly. I repeat that this is part and parcel of the scheme to which [ have referred to destroy the British Empire. It will have the effect of widening the gap between Australians and the hub of the Empire to a greater degree than could ever have been achieved under the Statute of Westminster. After this legislation is passed we shall practically be a foreign power, another nation instead of a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Whether this legislation is passed or not I shall always be British in opinion and sentiment.
– m reply - The title of the bill is “A Bill for an Act, relating to British Nationality and Australian Citizenship “. There have been several notable exceptions from the general line of attack made by honorable members opposite upon this legislation, but most of the speeches of Opposition members have been directed towards proving that under this measure British nationality falls into second place and is no longer the operative status. That opinion was expressed by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). The truth is thai under this bill British nationality has been placed in the forefront. I have quoted the title of the bill, and I have emphasized that it is a bill relating first, to British nationality, and, secondly, to Australian citizenship. The whole design of the scheme upon which the bill is based is to ensure the maintenance of British nationality throughout the British Commonwealth. The Acting Leader of the Opposition said that before a British subject will be able to enjoy the full rights and privileges of Australian citizenship he will have to make application to be registered. The essential point is that a British subject will not have to be registered as an Australian citizen in order to retain the privileges which he now enjoys. The bill in no way derogates the rights and privileges of a British subjectMr. Anthony. - May I ask a question of the Minister at this stage?
– Order! The honorable member has already made his speech. The Minister is entitled to be heard without interruption.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition said that in the United Kingdom the registration of a British subject as a United Kingdom citizen is mandatory, but that in Australia that is not so and that the Minister has discretion in the matter. He also said that in the United Kingdom only twelve months residence is required, but that in Australia five years’ residence is necessary. His observations are accurate as far as they go ; but the differences between the two countries have to be taken into consideration. Australia is a migration country; the United Kingdom is not.
The United Kingdom has always freely admitted any British subject, irrespective of race ; but Australia has always applied a selective immigration policy which extends to British subjects as well as aliens. Australia temporarily admits non-Europeans who may be British subjects, but if the principle adopted by the United Kingdom Government were followed here such persons would not be debarred from becoming Australian citizens and would be entitled to remain here permanently in opposition to our established migration policy. Our separate migration policy in respect of Asiatics does not go back only to 1901, when federation was inaugurated. In the case of Victoria, it goes back to 1854 when the Colonial Government passed legislation to prevent the entry into Victoria of Chinese subjects. Similar legislation was passed in other colonies in the succeeding years because of hostility which had developed between Europeans who had come here seeking gold and the Chinese who were on the same quest. It is interesting to note that when the Australian population numbered approximately 1,000,000 the Chinese members of the population totalled approximately 40,000. In other words, of every 100 people in Australia in the 60’s and early 70’s, four were Chinese. The Australian colonies, by legislation, established principles upon which the Commonwealth Parliament in the early Hays of federation decided to enact restrictive immigration legislation. “We have differed from Great Britain in our immigration policy, both as a Commonwealth and as a collection of colonies. There have been other differences. It is idle for honorable members opposite to say as did the honorable member for Indi, the Acting Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), that this legislation will dismember the British Empire or the British Commonwealth. There has been a vast growth of the British Empire and the British Commonwealth during the last 100 years or more. At one time what was known as the Manchester School dominated English political thought. It continued to dominate British thought even until 1885. The Manchester School thought that ulti mately all the Dominions, like the American colonies, would fall away from the Empire and declare their independence, and that nothing could be done to stop them. An “analogy was then made between the British Empire and the tree that bore fruit which fell away naturally and normally. There was an historic case in this country in which a very distinguished statesman in the colony of Victoria, George Higinbotham, challenged Downingstreet on some matter of importance. Higinbotham ultimately became the Chief Justice of the State of Victoria. He was a man of great thought whose memory is revered by those who appreciate the contributions of the great men of that time to the making of the Australia which we know to-day. Higinbotham referred sarcastically to “the man Rogers of Downing-street “. ‘ Years afterwards, the butt of Higinbotham’s sarcasm, Mr Frederick Rogers, who had actually been the real ruler of the Empire from his under-secretary’s chair, became Lord Blackford. On his retirement he wrote a survey of his political life in which the following passage gave expression to the Manchester philosophy : -
I had always believed - and this belief has so confirmed and consolidated itself that I can hardly realize the possibility of any one seriously thinking the contrary - that the destiny of our colonies is independence, and that in this point of view the function of the Colonial Office is to secure that our connexion, while it lasts, shall be as profitable to both parties, and our separation, when it comes, as amicable as possible.
Other people in the time of Mr. Rogers shared that notion. Mr. Joseph Chamberlain was the republican Lord Mayor of Birmingham and a wave of republicanism was sweeping through the British Empire at that time. The Australian Natives Association was founded in Victoria during that wave of republicanism and had as its first president Mr. J. L. Purves, Q.C., the leader of the Victorian bar, and an avowed republican. The Manchester school subsequently lost its influence and another school of thought prevailed. It held that the British Empire should adopt a common code ,of nationality laws so that its members should not fall away but should stand more firmly together. That school of thought still prevails, but in the course of the years there has had to be some elasticity, some flexibility, in interdominion relations. The British attitude towards the American colonies in the days of George III. was so rigid that the ties between the two countries were easily broken. To-day there is no danger of what are generally known as the members of the British Commonwealth of Nations wanting to destroy the British Commonwealth. Canada, which has its own particular difficulties, enacted legislation in 1946 establishing a separate Canadian citizenship. South Africa had enacted a similar law in 1935, and Ireland, which had gone its own way largely in the matter of nationality also passed a similar act in 1935. The Australian Government could have said to the Government of Great Britain and to the Government of New Zealand, “ We shall stand together as an inside bloc within the British Commonwealth, and we shall have a common citizenship between the two dominions and the United Kingdom “. However, the adoption of such a scheme would, by its very nature’, have placed Canada and South Africa in an invidious position, and would, in fact, have encouraged those people in the two dominions who want to break the link with Great Britain to intensify their propaganda. Notwithstanding the small numbers and negligible importance of those people, we cannot afford to disregard their efforts. Furthermore, Canada and South Africa would have been placed in the invidious position of having to choose between seeking absolute independence or an incomplete participation in British affairs. The meeting of dominion representatives which took place in London in 1946, as the result of which experts were summoned to London last year to consider this matter,, approved the establishment of separate, individual citizenships, at the same time maintaining the common status of British citizenship. The British Empire has been held together by a series of brilliant compromises,, and that must necessarily continue to be the case. As a matter of fact,, a number of people in Great Britain boast that the British have a genius for compromise, and they certainly demonstrated it in their relationships with Ireland. When Ireland decided to sever the last link with Great Britain, the United Kingdom Government, in conjunction with the Government of Northern Ireland, declared that the existing principle that a person either possessed full status as a British national or was merely an alien, no longer applied. Henceforth, Irishmen will he neither British subjects nor aliens, but will be fitted into some intermediate category. Honorable members must have read joint statements by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister of Ireland, in which it is agreed that citizens of Ireland who go to live in Great Britain or in a British dominion qualify automatically for citizenship of the particular country in which they go to reside, and that citizens of Canada, South Africa, Australia or the United Kingdom who take up residence in Ireland immediately qualify for all the privileges of citizenship of that country. That arrangement is simply another example of brilliant compromise.
– Irish citizens who go to an Empire country will be required to register in that country?
– The honorable member overlooks the fact that prior to the introduction of the present legislation British subjects who went to Great Britain also had to register.. Even in Australia a British subject who arrived in this country and took up residence did not immediately obtain the advantages of full citizenship. For instance, under our electoral laws they must have resided six months in Australia before being eligible to be enrolled.
– What is the position of - a person who has been resident in Australia and goes to Great Britain? People who go to South Africa to reside have to live in that country for at least five years to obtain citizenship. Under the new scheme, will British arrivals in another dominion have to register, or will they automatically receive full citizenship ?’
– Every British subject who is resident in Australia at the time the bill is proclaimed will automatically become an Australian citizen. The bill will only affect those who arrive in this country subsequent to the enactment of the measure. I emphasize that in agreeing to introduce this measure, which is complementary to the legislation that is being enacted in other British countries, the Government was desirous of rendering the fullest possible assistance to the United Kingdom, particularly in view of the difficult situation created for Great Britain, not by any action of that country, but by the problems affecting certain British dominions. We certainly do not wish to make the situation any more difficult for the British Government or its people, hut, on the contrary, we are anxious to do everything possible to discourage those who advocate the secession of British dominions or seek to create trouble in some other form. Our whole purpose has been to assist and co-operate. I remind honorable members opposite that when federation was inaugurated and the Australian colonies became States within a Commonwealth, the Australian people adopted their own flag. Whilst that flag has a Union Jack in the corner, the remainder consists of the flag of Eureka. In other words, the Australian national flag is an incorporation of the .Southern Cross and the Union Jack. At that time critics contended that once Australia adopted a separate flag it would break away from the British Empire. The fact is that during two world wars the Australian flag has flown over many of His Majesty’s Australian ships. Unf ortunately, some of those vessels went down; but they went down flying the Australian flag - a fact which does not seem to substantiate the prophecies of those who contended that the adoption of a separate national flag would result in the disintegration of the British Empire.
In 1926 Mr. S. M. Bruce, now Viscount Bruce, the late Sir Neville Howse, V.C., and Mr. John Latham, now Sir John Latham and Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, attended an imperial conference in London, at which the status of the dominions was formalized by the famous Balfour Declaration. Previously, there had been no for- mal definition of the relationships of the dominions to Great Britain. I have no doubt that some people contended then that Australia’s representatives were parties to an arrangement which would ultimately destroy the British Empire. To-day we do not hear much criticism of that kind. Nevertheless, it is as well to remind ourselves that in those days there were in the Australian community people who were violently opposed to the Statute of Westminster, or to any formal definition of imperial relationships. The Statute of Westminster has not weakened, but has strengthened the British Commonwealth.
It would be the acme of futility and the height of stupidity for any one to advocate that Australia should sever itself from the United Kingdom. If we are to continue to hold this country we must have two certain moorings; we must have a mooring in the United Kingdom and one in the United States of America. We must strengthen our relationships with the members of the British Commonwealth and, at the same time, maintain the happiest and friendliest relationships possible with the United States. If either of those moorings is severed Australia will be so endangered as to imperil its survival as an independent nation.
– Must an Englishman who comes to Australia to reside register on arrival, or does he attain Australian citizenship automatically ?
– He becomes an Australian citizen after residence cf five years in this country, but the Minister for Immigration may reduce the period to one year. Normally the qualifying period will be reduced to one year. The residential qualification in some dominions is five years, whilst in others it is only one year. The Government has decided on a compromise by providing a statutory period of five years residence, but, at the same time, empowering the Minister to reduce the period to one year.
– Will an Australian citizen be treated similarly if he takes up residence in the United Kingdom or in a British dominion?
– Yes, precisely. The honorable member will realize the wisdom of not granting citizenship automatically after twelve months’ residence. It could happen that an Englishman who visited New Zealand and remained there for twelve months, thus qualifying for New Zealand citizenship, might come to this country, and, after twelve months, become entitled to Australian citizenship. For that reason it has been decided to impose a qualification of five years residence. We do not want the importance of Australian citizenship to be reduced to a farce. However, there is another reason for the inclusion of residential period of five years. Undesirables or fugitives from other countries may come here, and unless a reasonable period of residence is required as a qualification they could demand citizenship before we bad time to satisfy ourselves of their fitness. Furthermore, the Australian Government and diplomatic representatives might be involved in considerable embarrassment if persons who had precipitately acquired Australian citizenship went abroad and involved themselves in serious trouble in other countries.
– Is the proposed provision that the Minister may shorten the qualifying period of residence to twelve months common to all the legislation of the British Dominions?
– I think that is so, but I am not quite sure. The right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin), the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) and the former honorable member for Hume, Mr. Parker Moloney, attended an Imperial conference in London in 1930 to discuss similar matters to . those embraced in the present bill. At that time Great Britain and the Dominions still observed the “ common code “, which contained only a very loose definition of British nationality. Prior to 1914 the policy adopted was not to make the definition of British nationality too tight, but today the policy of all British countries is to maintain British nationality, while emphasizing local identity by conferring separate citizenships.
– With regard to obtaining Australian citizenship in five years or one year, can an Englishman or a European from some other dominion register here and obtain Australian citizenship within a shorter period than five years or one year?
– No ; no more than a British subject who comes to Australia from any of the Dominions is entitled, under our electoral laws, to be registered as a voter or to stand as a candidate for Parliament without having been resident here for a period of six months.
– Does the provision with regard to the six months still obtain?
– Yes. We do not want people to come here merely as tourists, register on the day of their arrival, vote at an election and then leave the country. There must be some evidence of their desire to make thi? country their adopted home.
– What is the position with regard to Poles who have been in England for five or six years ?
– They can qualify for Australian citizenship after they have lived in Australia for twelve months. That provision is now in our nationality laws, and it will not be altered in any way by this bill. Under this legislation, they can apply for Australian citizenship, and if they are accepted they automatically acquire British nationality.
– Is Australian citizenship to be a necessary qualification to vote in an election?
– It will still be sufficient to be a British subject and to have lived here for six months?
– Yes, to be registered as an elector or to qualify as a candidate for Parliament. I hope that, by that line of argument, the honorable gentleman is not trying to exclude the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes).
On page 14 of the report of the 1930 Imperial Conference the following passage appeared : -
That it is for each member of the Commonwealth to define for itself its own nationals, hut that, so far as possible, these nationale should be persons possessing the common status.
The 1930 conference was of the opinion that the time had come for a more particular definition of citizenship, whilst maintaining the common status of nationality.
There was another Imperial Conference in 1937. It was attended by the late “Mr. J. A. Lyons, the late Sir Archdale Parkhill, Mr. R. G. Casey and Mr. Bruce, who is now Viscount Bruce. Nobody would accuse those four gentlemen of wanting to do anything to dismember the British Commonwealth or to destroy the association of free nations inside the Commonwealth. The 1937 Imperial Conference decided that British nationality was still to be retained as the basic nationality, but it concluded, among other things, thai: -
It is desirable, however, to secure as far as possible uniformity in principle in the determination by each member of the Commonwealth of the persons, being British subjects, to be regarded as members of its community.
– Does the Minister agree that the basic words there are “being British subjects “?
-Order! The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has asked sufficient questions.
– “ Being British subjects” is the basic principle of this bill. We are doing nothing that conflicts in any way with any decision of the 1926 conference, which may be said to have adumbrated the subject, of the 1930 conference, which developed it a little, or of the 1937 conference, which expressed the most explicit desire for separate citizenship that had been expressed up to that time. I ask honorable members opposite to listen to the words that were used by the late Mr. Lyons, in summing up the results of the 1937 conference.
– The conversation of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) is too audible.
– I have not spoken.
– The Chair has listened to the right honorable gentleman reading a document loudly.
– I take objection to that remark. I was not reading a document aloud. I was reading it to myself.
– I have been listening to the right honorable gentleman. He has been one of the chief offenders in disturbing the House with audible conversation. I ask him to remain silent.
– With great respect to you, sir, I say that you are absolutely wrong.
– I do not think I am’ wrong. I may not have been correct as to the actual moment, but a few minutes previously tho right honorable gentleman was an offender in that way.
– I ask honorable members opposite to listen to the words that were used by the late Mr. Lyons in summing up the results of the 1937 conference. There is something of special significance in them to which the honorable gentlemen opposite who have so violently and unrestrainedly criticized this bill might direct their attention. Mr. Lyons said -
We have shown that the forebodings of those who felt that the constitutional developments of the past few years might lead to the disruption of the British Empire were without foundation, and we have again demonstrated the common sense and genius for self-government of the British peoples.
I repeat those words in relation to this measure. There is nothing harmful in it. There is nothing in it that this country will ever regret. On the positive side, there is a good deal in it that will be of benefit to Australia. It will help the Australian people to a rightful expression of their sense of nationalism. To be a good Australian does not mean that one is anti-British. On the contrary, it means that one is going to help to promote the growth and development of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Any attitude other than that would bo a foolish and dangerous one for an Australian to adopt.
There are many other observations that I should have liked to make upon the various contributions to the debate. I do not wish to conclude my remarks without congratulating the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) upon his thoughtful contribution. I also congratulate the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), who did not go so far as other honorable members opposite in his condemnation of this measure. If I recollect correctly, he said that, much as he disliked it, he recognized that it was inevitable. It is part of the inevitable growth of the British Commonwealth. We certainly should not do anything that would add to the difficulties of Great Britain in its relations with those Dominions which, for reasons which seem good and sufficient to them, want a more explicit definition of their status viz-d-viz Great Britain. We must go along with all of the peoples of the Dominions as far as we can. I am sure that if the tolerance that was shown at all the Imperial conferences to which I have referred is extended to this legislation, it will work out as beneficially for Australia as all the other developments that have occurred between 1901, when this nation of ours federated, and 1948.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mb. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Definitions).
– 1 should like the Minister to explain the portion of this clause that states that the definition of “ foreign country “ - . . does not include a trust territory, a state or territory which is or becomes a protectorate or protected state for the purposes of the Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom known as the British Nationality Act . . .
The clause also states that a “ trust territory “ means - . . a territory administered by the government of any part of His Majesty’s dominions under the trusteeship system of the United Nations.
I am concerned with the relationship between those definitions and Australian citizenship. In view of the definitions that I have quoted, will the measure mean that, should the United Nations, acting in accord with the trusteeship system, decide that foreigners shall be admitted to a trust territory, such foreigners would automatically come within the range of Australian citizenship; or would the law that applies to ordinary immigrants who come to Australia, and over whom we have some sort of control, apply? Would foreigners admitted to a trust territory be on exactly the same basis as immigrants? Under the trustee system it is possible that certain quotas of foreigners may be admitted to trust territories. I am not saying that that will be so, and no doubt there would be some objection to such a move, but time marches on and the decisions of the United Nations about trust territories may be widened regarding the admission cf certain quotas of people of different nationalities, who by virtue of their admission to a territory, may automatically have the right to acquire the nationality and the rights of citizenship of the country administering the territory. Does the measure mean that foreigners entering a trust territory like New Guinea, to which the normal laws regarding the acquisition of citizenship do not apply, would automatically become Australian citizens or would they have to be in that territory for a specified period before acquiring Australian citizenship? Alien immigrants entering Australia must remain in this country for five years before having the right to become Australian citizens.
.- After World War I. Australia acquired what was known as a class “ A “ mandate in New Guinea, and Britain acquired a class “ A “ mandate in Palestine.
– The New Guinea mandate is a class “ C “ mandate.
– It is a class “A” mandate.
– It is a class “C “ mandate. Class “ C “ mandates are for territories where the natives are undeveloped.
– New Guinea is a class “C” mandate.
– It was regarded as the highest form of mandate, but under British law a person had to live in the King’s Dominions for five years before having the right to be naturalized. In consequence, it was held that an alien living in Palestine could not be naturalized under the laws of Great Britain, and a person living in New Guinea could not, under Australian law, become naturalized as a British subject. We had that common nationality law, which was varied only after meetings of Imperial conferences. The Imperial conferences of 1926, 1930, and 1937 did nothing to seek amendment of the law which placed in a rather invidious position those persons who went to live in Palestine or New Guinea. Australia was concerned with people who “went to live in New Guinea. It so happened that many missionaries and traders who had lived in New Guinea for 24 years could not, because of that law, become British subjects. However, some years ago I introduced legislation, which the House accepted without a division, providing that residents of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea could become naturalized British subjects in Australia after a qualifying period of residence in the territory. Such persons, however, did not thereby become naturalized British subjects outside Australia, as this Parliament could not pass laws affecting the status of such people in any other part of the British dominions. As a result of the Imperial conference held in 1946, and the subsequent meeting of experts, it was decided to enact uniform laws throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations under which persons living in a mandated territory administered by Britain or by one of the dominions could qualify, by the same period of residence, for British nationality as if they lived in a dominion. That is the purpose of the definition of “ foreign country “ which is contained in the clause. People living in those trustee areas may become British subjects and acquire Australian citizenship with the same facility as if they lived on the mainland, and that irrespective of whether Australia ever decides to do what South Africa proposes to do in its plan to annex south west Africa, in spite of the United Nations, or whether it continues the trusteeship system under the United Nations.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Continuance of certain Irish citizens as British subjects).
– This clause reads as follows: - (1.) An Irish citizen who, immediately prior to the date of commencement of this Act, was also a British subject shall not by reason of anything contained in the last preceding section be deemed to have ceased to be a British subject if at any time he gives notice in the prescribed form and manner to the Minister claiming to remain a British subject on all or any of the following grounds: -
The Dail has repealed the External Relations Act, and Eire has established itself as the Irish Republic. That action in itself must give cause for concern in connexion with this bill and corresponding legislation which other members of the British Commonwealth have passed or will pass. The Secretary of State in the United Kingdom said that the British Government would have to take certain action in relation to complementary legislation to this bill. The bill, which the British Parliament has passed, will not be proclaimed until the 1st January, 1949. I should like to know whether the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) can explain to honorable members the effect of the repeal of the External Relations Act, and whether the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has conferred with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Attlee, on the matter. I should also like to know whether the British Government, before proclaiming its bill, which is complementary to the bill which we are now considering, proposes to introduce amending legislation, and whether a reciprocal arrangement has been made with Eire. Candidly, I cannot envisage such an arrangement. Before the Dail repealed the act, reciprocity was an acknowledged fact between members of the British Commonwealth and Eire. The situation has since changed. I should like to know whether the Minister considers it advisable to make this bill conform to amended legislation which other members of the British Commonwealth must pass in view of the new status of Eire.
.- I. suppose that the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) when replying to the questions which the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has asked,, will state, in effect, that the position is covered in section 6 of the Imperial Act. which will be proclaimed on the 1st January, 1949. That section provides that -
Subject to the provisions of sub-section (3.)- sub-section 3 relates to renunciation -
A citizen of any country mentioned in subsection (2) of section one of this act or a citizen of Eire, being a person of full age and capacity, shall be entitled, on making application therefor to the Secretary of State in the prescribed manner, to be registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies, if he satisfies the Secretary of State either -
that he is ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom and has been so resident throughout the period of twelve months, or such shorter period as the Secretary of State may, in the special circumstances of any particular case accept, immediately preceding the application ; or
that he is in Crown service under His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom.
If that bill is proclaimed on the 1st January, 1949, it will enable Irish citizens who claim to have associations with Great Britain or to be in Crown service to elect and obtain British subjecthood. Incidentally, I understand that the name “ Eire “ is giving way to the original name of “ Ireland “. I have now described the’ position under the British act. That position having been created between the British and Irish Governments, it appears to me that Australia must pass some kind of corresponding legislation. One might make an apt comment that Ireland has put itself out of consideration in this matter as the result of repealing the External Relations Act; but the British Government has seen fit to make special arrangements and it is sensible that we do the same. Incidentally, I should point out that considerable criticism has been voiced in England because it is said that the position will be made more complicated. In other words, the situation before the passing of the British legislation was more flexible than the new formal relations will be. However, the British Government has taken that action, and I do not see any objection in principle why Australia should not follow suit. Therefore, I shall not raise anyobjection to this clause on principle, but I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that the provisions of the clause are unnecessarily wide. It states - (1.) An Irish citizen who, immediately prior of the date of commencement of this act-
That will be the 25th January, 1949. was also a British subject-
That can only mean that he is a British subject under section 6 of the British act.
– No, under our relevant legislation.
– I concede that. He is either a British subject under section 6 of the British act or under the provisions of the Nationality Act 1920. Clause 8 of the bill reads -
– (1.) An Irish citizen who, immediately prior to the date of commencement of this Act, was also a British subject shall not by reason of anything contained in the last preceding section be deemed to have ceased to be a British subject if at any time he gives notice in the prescribed form and manner to the Minister claiming to remain a British subject on all or any of the following grounds: -
It was deemed by the United Kingdom Government that he should have association by way of descent, residence or service with the Crown. Ho must be ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for twelve months, or such shorter period as the Home Secretary may direct, or hemust have been in the service of the Crown. In this bill it is proposed to go much further.
We say that, in order to qualify, he must be or have been in the service of the Crown under an Australian government. Does that mean he need have served only for a day in some war-time department? Is the qualification to be as light as that? To go to the other extreme, does it mean that he must be a permanent officer in the Australian Public Service? I could understand such a requirement, but I cannot understand what is meant by “ he is or has been “. The other qualification is that the person is the holder of an Australian passport issued by an Australian government. That does not seem to me to be sufficient qualification. I agree that if the person has associations by way of descent or residence, he should be qualified for Australian citizenship as for Britishm citizenship under the British act. Why was it thought necessary to widen the qualifications so considerably in respect of Irish citizens wishing to claim Australian citizenship as compared with Irish citizens wishing to claim British citizenship?
– This subject is very involved and complicated. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has drawn attention to that clause of the bill which refers to the position of Irish citizens before the commencement of this legislation. Two categories are involved. There are those who were Irish citizens before the commencement of this act, and those who are to come within its scope at some period subsequent to its proclamation. Those who are deemed to be Irish citizens, and, therefore, not British subjects according to Irish law, are persons who were ordinarily resident in Ireland when the Irish Parliament passed its first nationality law in 1935, or those who became Irish citizens after that date. We want to make it easy for people to become Australian citizens because of the peculiar position of Ireland in relation to Great Britain and Australia and Canada, in which countries large numbers of people of Irish blood or descent reside. Wo do not want to make it more difficult for them. Before the recent decision of the Irish Parliament to sever the last link with the British Crown - and this observation answers in whole or in part the query of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) - the Government of the United Kingdom, in consultation with, the Irish Government, defined a new class of person. Prior to the agreement being reached between the two Governments, which agreement Australia also accepted because we considered it primarily a matter between the Irish Government and the United Kingdom Government - a person was either a British subject or an alien under British law; but under the agreement there was defined a new class of person, an Irish citizen who was not a British subject yet was not an alien. A. reciprocal arrangement was made between the Irish Government, and the Government of the United Kingdom, and the Irish Government is prepared to extend that arrangement to Australia. Under the arrangement there is reciprocal recognition of citizenship in regard to people going from Ireland, to reside in the United Kingdom, and people going from the United Kingdom to reside in Ireland. When we read in the press that the Irish Government proposed to sever the’ last link with the Crown, we waited for advice from the United Kingdom Government as to the legal and constitutional position in respect of Irish citizens under the act passed by the British Parliament, hut not? proclaimed. A series of conferences was held in Paris between representatives of the British Government including the Lord Chancellor, some members of the Irish Government, the Australian Minister for External Affairs (Br. Evatt), and M. St. Laurent, representing Canada, as well as representatives of the Dominions of New Zealand and South Africa. At that conference, it was agreed that a statement would be made in the Irish Parliament. I believe it was made yesterday, and reported in to-day’s press. A statement was to be made simultaneously in the Parliament of the United Kingdom by a British minister expressing the views of the British and the Dominion Governments. The Australian Government had given its concurrence to the proposed statement by a representative of the United Kingdom Government That state-
Mr. Calwell. ment, I understand, was also made yesterway, and reported in to-day’s’ press. In both statements it is declared that there will be no alteration in the relationship laid down under the British aci between citizens of Ireland and Groat Britain on the one hand, and between citizens of Ireland and of Australia, on the other. No matter what action the Irish Government may take, the Government of the United Kingdom says that there will be no need to amend the British act, which is to be proclaimed on the 1st January next. Therefore, there isno need for us to amend our legislationnow or at any other time. It is just one of those compromises for which the British people have a genius. Despite all the external evidence to the contrary, there is still to be a close association between the Irish Government, the Government of the United Kingdom, and ourselves. The situation is rather intriguing, and I think it might be advisable to defer consideration until tomorrow so that honorable members who wish to do so may study the matter further.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointment - Department of Immigration - D. W. Burbidge.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for
Postal purposes - Sydney, New South
House adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 November 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19481125_reps_18_200/>.