16th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. Cunningham) took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
– Will the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce state whether, owing to the special difficulties of Tasmania with regard to the shipping of supplies to the mainland, the Government will appoint a Tasmanian to the vacant position on the Shipping Control Board?
– In view of the importance of Tasmania with regard to shipping, the matter will receive the consideration of the Minister for Commerce.
Employment of Chinese
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister read the statement appearing in this morning’s press, and also, I believe, in yesterday’s press, to the effect that the Minister for Labour and National Service has for some unknown reason instructed the Sydney Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board to suspend work on the new pipe-line from the Warragamba Weir to Prospect Reservoir, which is urgently needed, and has been put in hand on the instructions of the Government of New South Wales, and on which 200 stranded Chinese seamen had been employed ? Has the Minister also seen the statement by leading members of various trade unions in that State who say that they are at a loss to understand why the Minister for Labour and National Service has taken this action? Has he also read the statement of Mr. Upton, the Chairman of the Board, that despite the fact that the Chinese have been employed on the pipe-line, a further 200 men are required for this important work? Will the Minister state the reason for this impulsive action on the part of the Minister for Labour and National Service, because unless something is done in the matter, it is quite possible that there will be a misunderstanding between Australia and a gallant ally which is fighting with the British forces in this war. According to the representatives of the trade unions concerned, there is no reason why the Chinese workers referred to should not be employed on this important work.
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable senator has alluded, but I shall read it and confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service regarding it.
Use of Tasmasian Timbers
– Will the Minister for Aircraft Production state what stage has been reached with regard to the use of durable Tasmanian woods for aircraft production?
– Inquiries are being made regarding the use of, not only Tasmanian, but also other woods, both in Australia and overseas. I shall endeavour to furnish the honorable senator, as soon as possible, with a report as to the progress that has been made.
– I present the third progress report of the Joint Committee on Rural Industries.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer : -
The information is being obtained, and will be conveyed to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. The British Government informs the Commonwealth Government ahead of its requirements of certain commodities. In the interest of national security I do not think it advisable to name the commodities concerned or the quantities involved, but I can assure the honorable senator that every effort will be mode by the Government to ensure that the requirements of the United Kingdom are met where possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions, upon notice -
Will the Minister supply Senator Lamp with a copy of the circular issued by the Department of Munitions to the various colleges in Australia in regard to applications for cadet engineers for the years 1940-41-42, and a copy of the advertisements re same?
– The Minister for Munitions has supplied the following answer : -
The honorable senator will be supplied with a copy of the circular issued by the Department of Munitions to the various colleges in Australia, and, in regard to applications for cadet engineers for the years mentioned, in addition to a copy of the advertisements as requested.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
How many new branches of the Commonwealth Bank have been opened for business since 1st January, 1941?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer: -
The Commonwealth Bank advises that three branches have been opened for business since 1st January, 1941.
asked the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer : - 1, 2 and 3. Other departments than the Department of Commerce are concerned in this matter, and the Information desired is being obtained.
asked the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce hae supplied the following answer : - 1 and 2. Other departments than the Department of Commerce are concerned in this matter, and the information desired is being obtained.
Motion (by Senator Keane through Senator Collings) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Excise Act 1901-1934.
Debate resumed from the 30th April (vide page 6S9) on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill he now read a second time.
– When the debate on this bill was adjourned yesterday, I was referring to the fact that the knotty problem of broadcasting was dealt with very thoroughly, as we thought a little more than a year ago, but now we have it again before us. Judging ‘by the more or less innocuous provisions of this measure, it appears that another broadcasting bill may have to be brought down within the next twelve months. I should much regret to witness a perennial wrangle over this matter. I am disappointed that the hill does not go further than it does. At the same time one cannot help remarking about the smugness displayed by Ministers and Government supporters in their whole outlook upon the measure. They seem to he excessively pleased with themselves. On their faces is an innocent child] ike grin, as if they would say: “ Here is the great broadcasting bill that we threatened to bring down in this chamber if we ever got ‘back into power “. It seems to me that the benign influence of
Senator Gibson must have been exercised to a large degree, because the roaring lion that we expected when the Labour party assumed office has proved to be but a sucking dove. The roar that we haw heard so often in this chamber, particularly from the Ministers who preceded me in this debate, has changed into the cooing of a dove. I do not think that I have ever witnessed in thi-‘ chamber a more faithful representation of the antics of Nick Bottom than was provided last night by the Minister for the Interior (Senator Collings) and the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron). Thi* is not a Labour bill at all. If it is, it ivery anaemic. Instead of being so smug about the measure, one would think that honorable senators opposite would recognize that it has no relation whatever to Labour’s programme. The bill should b» labelled “ Gibson’s bill “. This is an excellent opportunity to follow the American practice of naming our legislative measures after their originators.
– That would not make it any worse.
– 1 cannot understand the smugness of honorable senators opposite. I congratulate the parents of the measure, namely, the Joint Committee on Broadcasting, of which Senator Gibson was the chairman. That committee did an abnormal amount of work. It collected, and collated, a mountain of evidence; and now we have the mouse. It is a very tame mouse, with hardly a kick in it. I should like to see the bill go further. On previous occasions, I have stated that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is merely an entertainment committee, and not a broadcasting commission at all. It simply arranges programmes. It has even brought here the English giant of criticism, Sir Thomas Beecham. However, the actual broadcasting, including research, is the work of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, which looks after the whole of the technical side. The experts of that department have done excellent work indeed, but I again submit that that is a job for the commission. At present, the commission is really only partly a commission, which part, either the top or the bottom, I do not know.
But it is not the whole. The commission should apply itself as an expert body to the future of broadcasting in respect of not only entertainment but also technical research. The technical aspect affects Western Australia possibly to a greater degree than the eastern States, because Western Australia depends on the landlines to South Australia to receive all, or nearly all, of what I consider to be the most important sections of our broadcasting programmes, namely, the British Broadcasting Corporation news and the war commentaries by experts in London. T always enjoy listening to those commentaries. However, this service depends upon the work of the technical officers of the Postal Department. Immediately any interference occurs with the regular broadcasting of news and commentaries, the private listener is jarred by loud, rude noises in his set. These are usually followed by a cultured voice expressing the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s regret for such interference, and offering the explanation that it is due to circumstances entirely beyond the control of the commission. That means that the technical experts of the Postmaster-General’s Department are at fault; and, of course, the commission has no control over these technicians. Ever since I have been a member of this chamber, I have contended that the commission should be given control over every aspect of broadcasting. I can see no reason why these technicians should not be transferred from the Postmaster-General’s Department to the control of the commission. Until that i3 done, I shall accept every opportunity to press this matter. I repeat that of all the States, Western Australia suffers most from this lack of cohesion between the technical and entertainments sides of broadcasting. I congratulate Senator Gibson upon the excellent speech he made yesterday in opening the debate on the measure on behalf of the Opposition. According to him it is very difficult to decide at what point the responsibilities of the commission begin and end in respect of the technical side. I do not think that that problem calls for abnormal brain power. Its solution is rather a matter of the will behind the deed. If we had the will, very little difficulty would be experienced in deciding the necessary demarcation.
Another matter on which Senator Gibson skated was the subject of copyright. We have always been led to believe that considerations in this country in respect of the payment of copyright fees are far from satisfactory. In fact, I have heard it said by persons who are qualified to speak on the matter, that we, in Australia, must still be living in the dark ages. It is time that the whole of our copyright legislation was brought up to date.
– We cannot deal with copyright in this matter.
– No ; but very little has been said about it, and it is time that the subject was considered seriously. Visitors from overseas have intimated that Australians are rather simple-minded in their attitude towards the payment of fees to Australasian Performing Eight Association. Entrepreneurs are being slugged, as they have been slugged for years, by this Association which has been classed with the Forty Thieves. I understood that the fee paid to this insatiable monster was approximately ls. l£d. an item. However, Senator Gibson informs me that it is approximately ls. for every item broadcast. A few years ago, the fee charged by the corresponding body in Canada was about 6d. or 7d. an item, but of recent years it was reduced to about 4£d. an item. Australasian Performing Right Association was formed originally to collect copyright fees on behalf of composers. I should be the last to deny to any composer full emolument for his work. But I take exception to the high rate of fees now being collected by Australasian Performing Right Association as compared with those charged by corresponding bodies in other countries. On many occasions, that association has refused to give to the Government any information at all as to what it did with the fees it collects. I estimate that its annual receipts amount to about £120,000. I should like to know what happens to -that money. I understand from Senator Gibson that the Joint Committee on Broadcasting experienced no difficulty whatever in obtaining from the association all of the information it asked for. If that be true, the attitude of the association has certainly changed. As late as two or three years ago, the Government could not secure any information from these extortionists. It is about time that the Australian Broadcasting Commission reviewed the whole subject of the payment of copyright, and demanded a reduction of the fees to bring them more into conformity with the fees paid to corresponding associations in other countries.
– The committee was given access to the whole of the accounts of Australasian Performing Bight Association.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.That body has certainly changed its attitude on this matter. In fact, on one occasion, the Prime Minister could not obtain any information whatever from it respecting its finances. At that time these extortionists even demanded a royalty on every occasion that God Save thu King was played. I understand that it is still collecting royalties in respect of Advance Australia Fair, although so far as I am aware no one knows who composed that anthem.
– It was not composed, it came out of the scrap heap.
– It is about time that the collection of copyright fees by Australasian Performing Right Association was completely cleared up.
I congratulate whoever was responsible for the brainwave of proposing the prohibition of electioneering broadcasts on the two days preceding polling day. That is a very welcome innovation, because at every political election, on the two days preceding polling, the air is rendered hideous with election speeches.
– That proposal is taken from the Canadian legislation.
– lt is a very good idea; and it will certainly ease the minds, as well as the pockets, of political candidates who in the past were inclined to work even harder on the two or three days preceding polling day when the plot inevitably thickened. Personally, I should like to prohibit political speeches for a whole week preceding polling day.
I was glad to hear Senator Lamp bring forward the subject of the broadcasting of wl.ni I term “indecent” advertising matter on the Sabbath. Senator Brown also dealt with this matter. Clause 70 of the bill gives to the Minister power to review all advertising matter proposed to be broadcast by B class stations on the Sabbath. Many of these broadcasts in the past have, to say the least, been highly objectionable. I have had to restrain my own children from listening to some of the advertising shorts. One, particularly, that I have in mind related to a headache powder, some of the talks in connexion with which contained either a story of a man trying to murder his wife, or of a typiste murdering her boss. I do not know whether the firm was trying to increase the sale of its products by creating headaches among listeners, but it may have got some of its money back in that way. Much of the matter was highly objectionable, and should not have been put on the air in this or any other country. “ Shockers also, should not be allowed to be broadcast, nor should medicine companies which are advertising patent medicines be permitted to make statements that are too highly coloured and, in my opinion, largely devoid of truth. If a listener was of neurotic temperament* he might imagine that he had every pain and ailment in the medical dictionary, and that the particular patent medicine being advertised alone could cure him. The representatives of the people should take steps, through the Postmaster-General, to ensure that all objectionable matter is eliminated, and this is the time to do it.
Senator Gibson, when I was talking to him on the subject, referred to a matter that requires attention - the announcing of news items of an extraordinary nature. By now, the people of Australia have a fair working knowledge of the times at which news is broadcast over the national stations, and they know to a quarter of an hour when to listen for it. Nothing should be done to interrupt the continuity of the news sessions, and I suggest that the commission is wrong in breaking into such sessions to announce an important happening. Senator Gibson suggested to me, and I heartily agree with him, that the practice should be discontinued. If people have to wait for an hour, or even two hours, to hear something of national importance, it should not be too great a strain on their patience. The item, of course, might be of a most extraordinary nature, such as a declaration of war, and in that event it might be permissible for the commission to break into any programme to announce it. Matters of less national importance, however, though perhaps of great importance to certain people, could wait until the end of the news session without harm being done to any one.
I wish to repeat a request I made when the previous broadcasting bill was before us thirteen months ago. I then urged an increase of the news commentaries from abroad, especially from the United States of America. Since I made that suggestion, the importance of our relationship with the United States <if America has increased considerably, and what I said then applies with even more force to-day. Such a change would be appreciated, and even relished, by i he people of Australia. I conclude by expressing again my appreciation to Senator Gibson and the other members of the committee. When we heard of the appointment of the committee and of the nature of its personnel, (.specially its Labour personnel, we thought that some ructions might take place; but I personally am pleasurably surprised that the committee completed its work so soon and with such harmony. I resent any suggestion that broadcasting should be completely controlled by the Government to the exclusion of commercial stations. I would resist such a proposal to the utmost because I think that we have to thank the commercial stations for their contribution to the progress made by wireless in Australia. They have done very valuable work, and they ought not to be eliminated from the field of broadcasting in order to give complete control to the Government. The committee overcame that hurdle, and we now have its excellent report, and the bill. In common with other senators, I have much pleasure in supporting the measure.
– I, with other members of the Senate, congratulate the broadcasting committee upon the exceptionally good work it has done in iia report. When the committee was appointed it was subject to much criticism, and the allegation was made that the members of Parliament on it were wasting a lot of money by running all over Australia to inquire into broadcasting. I think that the critics of that time who have now had an opportunity to read the committee’s report will be fully convinced that what was spent on the committee was a sound investment for Australia. It is pleasing to know that the Government has acted so quickly on the committee’s recommendations, with the result that we have the bill before us at the present time.
I am particularly interested in the value of broadcasting to country districts. It is not only a form of entertainment, but is also a means of education to many residents in the distant parts of the Commonwealth ; in fact, it has been of greater advantage to them than to people who reside in the cities. In many places it is the only means of keeping in touch with the outside world and of hearing up-to-date news. Many outback settlers are able to see a newspaper only weekly or fortnightly, or it may be still less frequently; but they can hear the news as early as the people who live in the cities provided that they own a wireless set. In the past, the people in the cities have been better catered for in this respect than those in the country.
It is about ten years since I first brought to the notice of the then Postmaster-General the difficulties experienced by outback settlers in receiving wireless broadcasts, and it is unfortunate that even at the present time some of the remote areas are not adequately provided for. I am speaking particularly of the north-western and part of the central- western districts of Queensland. There is a B class station, 4LG, at Longreach in that area, which has given, and is still giving a very efficient service. I understand from the report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission that at a future date a national station is to be built to serve the part of Australia I have mentioned. It will, no do”ubt, be a first-class station, as the estimate of its cost is £40,750. The subject has been before the commission and successive Postmasters-General for some years past and I wish here to stress its importance. I realize that some attempt has been made to cater for the communities I hare mentioned by short-wave transmission from two such stations situated in Victoria and Western Australia. However, a dualwave set for receiving short-wave’ broadcasts is expensive, and to that degree country people are penalized by having to 6pend more than city people on their receiving sets. Particularly in summer time, reception has not been as satisfactory as was expected. In fact, in many distant areas it is impossible in the summer months to obtain satisfactory short-wave reception during the day. This is borne out by paragraphs 2il7 and 218 of the committee’s report - 217. All national medium-wave stations are operated by the Post Office for the Australian Broadcasting Commission under the 1932 act. These are supplemented by two short-wave stations which operate to give a coverage to the outback not reached by the regional station!!. 218. We are of the opinion that this coverage by short-wave is not by any means satisfactory, us it necessitates special short-wave Bets to receive the transmissions. We therefore recommend that regional medium-wave stations be erected as soon as practicable to serve these areas. We realize, however, that sonic parts must still rely on the short-wave system at the completion of the proposed programme. 1 hope that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will follow up the committee’s recommendations, especially those relating to the necessity to improve the service to people in country districts who depend upon the wireless for their entertainment and news. To that end, the national system should be extended by the provision of new stations to cover areas which to-day have a poor service on the medium-wave band. If that be done it will no longer be necessary for country people to pay large sums of money for a dual-wave set when an ordinary medium-wave set can be purchased at very low cost. I appreciate the work that the committee has done, and I feel sure that in the course of its exhaustive inquiries it investigated every aspect of broadcasting.
– in reply - I thank the Senate for the cordial reception given to this bill. I am sure that even honorable senators opposide will agree that such a reception was warranted in view of the fact that thic measure deals with a vitally important public utility which can be of great service to the nation if it is employed as it should be, namely, to give the greatest good to the greatest number of our people. I appreciate also the references which have been made to myself, but as 1 said in my second-reading speech, most of the credit for the basic principle underlying this measure is due to the Joint Committee on Broadcasting. Nobody can deny that the committee has done a wonderful job for th? people of this country. Its investigation? extended over a lengthy period and witnesses representing all shades of public opinion were examined. An open invitation was extended to all individuals who were interested in broadcasting to give evidence before the committee. Public notifications were always given of the date and place of the committee’* meetings.
I should like to join in the tribute* that have been paid to officers of my department for the assistance which the, have given in the preparation of this bill. I was glad to hear other honorable senators making complimentary remarks about these officials and I can assure them that their tributes were well merited. We have an excellent administrative staff. I regret that Senator Allan MacDonald saw fit this morning to comment on what he described as the smugness of Government supporters in regard to this bill. I thought that the honorable senator would have been the last person in this chamber to make such comments, because I am sure that he is just as interested as are other honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, in ensuring that our national broadcasting system shall give the best possible service to listeners.
Honorable senators opposite have requested that the bill be taken to the committee stage to-day, and that further consideration of it be postponed until honorable senators have had an opportunity during the week-end to examine the implications of certain clauses. As I said in my second-reading speech, I shall welcome any suggested improvements to the bill, and, for that reason, I intend to grant the Opposition’s request.
I congratulate Senator Gibson upon bis splendid second-reading speech, and I express to him my appreciation of the assistance and guidance which he has given to me in the preparation of this measure. I have not been in office for very long and I do not claim to possess anything like the knowledge that Senator Gibson has in regard to broadcasting and postal matters generally. For that reason, I am extremely thankful for his interest. I agree with Senator Gibson that the technical services of broadcasting should remain under the control of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The radio research work that has been carried out by that department has been invaluable, and I regret that, instead of being able to continue that work, these splendid technicians are now engaged on other activities, the aim of which, unfortunately, is destruction. However, that work is of vital importance to our war effort, and T often wonder if the people of Australia realize the importance of the work that is now being done. Many requests are received by my department for the installation of new private telephones, or for other minor services, and apparently few members of the public are aware that the men who formerly were engaged on the manufacture of telephone parts and other such work are now fully employed on war work such as radio location. I have no intention of interfering with that important work.
Senator Gibson also mentioned the balancesheets of commercial stations, and suggested that they should be completed by the 30th June of each year. I do not agree with that because T feel that it would interfere with the business administration of these stations. Some of them close their financial year in December and others in June, and I remind the honorable senator that the Taxation Department allows business concerns to end their financial year whenever they desire. However, that is a small matter, and no doubt it will he discussed by the proposed standing committee.
Reference was also made by Senator Gibson to the proposed State advisory committees. As the commercial stations are also covered by this measure, the advisory committees will he called upon, to deal with them in addition to the national stations.
– When will they be appointed?
– Immediately after this measure becomes operative. They will be able to help the Government in dealing with matters such as obscene advertisements and general complaints. It would not be easy, nor would it be competent, for me or for departmental officers to exercise the same degree of supervision as will be vested in these committees. For some time past committees attached to the Australian Broadcasting Commission have been operating in the different States to deal with subjects such as broadcast talks and plays. It is not the intention of the Government to interfere in any way with these bodies. The advisory committees are to be appointed by the Minister because committees appointed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission would probably not be acceptable to the commercial stations. I agree that it would be most unsatisfactory for them if such committees were to make recommendations to the Government in regard to commercial broadcasting.
Senator Amour advocated the granting of free listeners’ licences to schools. I investigated this subject with departmental officers, and we decided that it would be fair to grant free licences to schools having fewer than 50 pupils. Our chief purpose was to provide wireless facilities for schools in the out-back portions of the Commonwealth. There are many one-teacher schools in country districts with only a few pupils, whereas larger schools have better opportunities to secure sets. That is why this provision was included in the bill. Some doubt was also expressed by Senator Amour as to the result of transferring from the Postal Department to the Australian Broadcasting Commission an amount of ls. from each listener’s licence fee. This change will involve approximately ?66,000 annually, and the honorable senator feared that the reduction of the Postal Department’s income from licence-fees would restrict the technical work of the department. However, I have made inquiries and have been assured that the change will not impede in any way the research work carried out by the department.
Senator A. J. McLachlan referred to the right to broadcast descriptions of sports meetings held within enclosures. The Government has given consideration ro this problem, which involves many complications which are well known to ihe honorable senator. We have not neglected the matter by any means. Although the commercial stations have obtained a decision in their favour from the courts. I regard the matter in the same light as does the honorable senator. Those persons who provide such an entertainment, whether it bc a race meeting or a cricket match, have to pay for the use of an enclosure, and it is not fair that any broadcasting station should have the right to erect a microphone on the outside of the fence and broadcast descriptions of the events free of charge. For the time being, at any rate, I shall consider any objections that may be raised by sports meeting promoters to broadcasts of such a nature.
Much discussion has centred on the A.B.C. Weekly. Senator Gibson yesterday gave us the history of the journal. At no time has it had any degree of stability.
– It has never had any degree of circulation or interest to the public.
– It has been attacked by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber at various times. Even the Australian Broadcasting Commission was not in a position to know whether the publication of the journal was to be continued or whether it was to be abolished at short notice. I intend to go into this matter immediately the new commission is appointed. I agree with honorable senators that there is room for improvement of the A.B.C. Weekly. I am not satisfied with the production; to be frank, whenever I pick it up it reminds me of the old World’s News. I believe that the new commission will improve the journal, and I am hopeful that, instead of sustaining losses, it will become a profitable publication. I agree that a mistake was made in trying to make the journal cater for all States. When the newspapers of Sydney refused to publish the commission’s broadcasting programmes, something had to be done, and I commend the commission on the action which it took to provide listeners of New South Wales with its programmes. However, it was rather optimistic in attempting to provide a journal suitable for all States. It would have done better had it restricted the circulation of the A.B.CWeekly to the State in which the newspapers ‘refused to publish its programmes. The newspapers in other States did nol refuse to publish the programmes, and I cannot see that there was any need to circulate the journal outside of New South Wales.
Some honorable senators have referred to the broadcast news sessions. While the Joint Committee on Broadcasting was conducting its inquiries, I, as Postmaster-General, recommended alterations of the times of broadcasting news sessions. I did so with the acquiescence of the committee. Whilst there has been adverse comment in regard to broadcast news, I contend that the wireless news service in Australia is a boon to the people in the outback areas. I was touring some of the remote districts of New South Wales in the course of a war loan campaign a few weeks ago, and I saw in many towns how crowds gathered in front of music shops and other places with wireless sets iu order to hear the midday news. I can assure honorable senators that that session is greatly appreciated in the distant country centres. I appreciate the warning given hy the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) of the danger of broadcasting (becoming the plaything of party politics. So far as I am concerned, the national broadcasting system will never become the plaything pf any party. There has been justifiable criticism of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s mistakes, but I remind honorable senators that nobody is infallible, and the mistakes which have been made will help to guide us in the future. I pay a tribute to the commission for the work that it has done over a number of years, and I compliment the chairman, Mr. Cleary, particularly. Mr. Cleary has done much for broadcasting in Australia, and a request has been made during this debate that he be reappointed as chairman of the commission. I assure the Senate that the fullest consideration will be given to the request by the Government. Again, I express my sincere thanks for the way in which honorable senators have received this bill. I am sure that in the committee stages it will have as smooth a passage as it has already had.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Definitions).
.- 1 should like to include a definition of the word “ Minister “. I know that the Constitution, the Acts Interpretation Act, and the Standing Orders of the Senate make provision for these appointments, but the public generally know nothing about them and I want to make the point quite clear to everybody who may be interested. I move -
That after the words “ established under this act “ the following words be inserted : - “ ‘ The Minister ‘ shall be the Postmaster-General or the Minister administering this act.”
I believe that the Minister will agree to the proposal.
– I have no objection to it.
– By phrasing his amendment in that way, the honorable senator has not accomplished what I should imagine is the end that he has in view. I understand that he desires the administration of broadcasting to be in the hands of the Postmaster-General. That is a desire which I share with him, but if “ the Minister “ is defined as “ The Postmaster-General or the Minister administering this act”, we shall do no more than the law provides to-day. Under the Acts Interpretation Act, “ the Minister “ is defined as “ the Minister for the time being administering the act or enactment in which, or in respect of which, the expression is used “. If the honorable senator wishes to confine the administration to the Postmaster-General he should say so, because there is provision later in the bill that, in the absence of the Postmaster-General, his executive functions can be discharged by the Minister noting for him.
– Senator Gibson merely wishes to make the position clear to the public.
– It is a pity that all acts of Parliament are not clear. I do not think that the second portion of the amendment is necessary.
.- The honorable senator speaks with a legal mind, but 999 persons out of every 1,000 do not know that there is such a statute as the Acts Interpretation Act. I merely wish to make it clear to the general public, in this bill, that the measure will be administered by the Postmaster-General. I am glad to be informed by Senator A. J. McLachlan that the second part of my amendment is unnecessary, and I ask leave to amend it by leaving out the words “or the Minister administering this act”.
.- I favour the amendment as originally submitted, but I cannot accept it as amended. At some time it may be considered that the Minister for Information is the most suitable Minister for the work of administering this act. I agree that at present, while the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is in charge of the technical services required in connexion with broadcasting, it is quite right that the Postmaster-General should administer the measure.
– I doubt whether the Government could accept the amendment as it stands, because it would limit it in the allotment of the various functions of Ministers. It is quite conceivable that the Government of the day may consider that broadcasting should he brought under the control of another Minister, and that would involve an amendment of this measure. I am in- favour of the original amendment, but I am opposed to the present amendment.
.- If Senator Gibson confines himself to the present amendment I shall support him, because it is a direction point as to the Minister who shall control broadcasting, as the law stands at present;but if he reverted to his original amendment, he would be doing nothing more than the law now requires. Senator McBride’s point is met by the provisions of the Acts Interpretation Act, section 19a of which states -
Where in any Act, whether passed before or after the commencement of this section, it is provided that the Act should be administered by a specified Minister of State of the Commonwealth, or should be administered, controlled or carried into effect by a specified Department of State of the Commonwealth, or where there is no longer a Minister or Department of the designation specified in the Act -
the reference to that Minister should be read as a reference to any Minister to whom the administration of the Act is allotted by the order of the Governor-General, and should be deemed to include any Minister or member of the Executive Council for the time being acting for and on behalf of the Minister to whom the administration of the Act is so allotted. . . .
It is for the Executive to say who shall administer the broadcasting act, but, as matters stand at present, I hold that that administration should now be with the Postmaster-General, and nobody else, because his department is the suitable authority to control and operate the broadcasting system.
SenatorFRASER (Western Australia - Minister for External Territories) [12.24]. - The amendment by Senator Gibson is intended to clarify the position, and, in my opinion, his original proposal is far preferable to the amendment in the altered form. The committee would be well advised to accept the first amendment.
– A definition of “ the Minister “ is contained in the Acts Interpretation Act, but, as the present amendment clarifies the position to a certain degree, I am prepared to accept it.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
.- I move -
That the following sub-clause be added to the clause : - “ (5) The commissioners shall be appointed by the Governor-General, and shall hold office, during good behaviour, for the period for which they were appointed.”
That provision, which was contained in sub-section 2 of section 6 of the existing act, has not been incorporated in this bill, because it is covered by the Acts Interpretation Act.
Amendment - by leave - temporarily withdrawn.
.- I move -
That sub-clause (4) be left out.
Sub-clause 4 provides that the head office of the commission shall be established in the Australian Capital Territory on or before a date fixed by the Minister. The head office of the commission is now at Sydney, and has been situated there since the commission was established. No reason has been given, and I have found none in the report itself, why the head office of the commission should be transferred to Canberra.
– Does the honorable senator wish to see it established in Melbourne ?
– No. I am prepared to leave the head office where it is at present. However, at this stage, I shall not discuss where it should be, because that seems to be a matter for determination by the commission itself. We have appointed the commission to control national broadcasting throughout Australia, and it seems to me that that body should know best where it can most conveniently establish its head office. Consequently, I am not concerned at the moment with determining where the head office should be. If I were to touch on that point I should be disposed, with the information I have at present, to think that the head office of a body of this kind would be most conveniently situated, from the point of view of both the commission itself and also the public, in one of the larger State capitals.
– The policy of the Government is to bring the head-quarters of all its activities to Canberra as and when opportunity offers.
– It is partly because 1 realize that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Col lings) is particularly enthusiastic about bringing everything to Canberra that I interpret this sub-clause as an invitation to the Minister to bring the head-quarters of the commission to Canberra whether or not that be wise. I do not think that we can lay down as a general rule that the head-quarters of every activity of the Government should be brought to Canberra. At any rate this matter should not be decided by a Minister who has a prejudice towards bringing everything to Canberra. I am not prepared to leave the matter in his hands. It should be decided by the commission itself.
– It is the policy of the Government, and not merely my policy as Minister for the Interior, to transfer the head-quarters of all government departments to the National Capital. I am only one among the Ministers who compose the Cabinet. We have no intention, for instance, of attempting to bring the Service departments to Canberra while there is a war on. However, we do not intend to allow the head office of other government departments to remain elsewhere when it is clear that they can operate from the National Capital, not only just as effectively, but also under conditions far more conducive to effective service than prevail elsewhere. The propaganda to sabotage Canberra is not new. It has been going on since the inception of the National Capital. Many departments have already been brought here. Despite the persistent propaganda against Canberra, and the natural reluctance of people to break old associations in cities where they have lived for the greater part of their life, the unanimous testimony of those public servants who have already been transferred to Canberra is that, as the result of their experience here, they do not, in any circumstances, wish to return to the cities which they were obliged to leave. Further, when it has become necessary to transfer portions of various staffs from Canberra to other cities because of the exigencies of war, the public servants so affected have been very sorry indeed to leave here. All of them have made what arrangements they could in preparation for their return to Canberra as early as possible. Instead of giving up their homes they havemade arrangements with the Department of the Interior to lease them to other people during their temporary absence. The Australian Broadcasting Commission can readily establish its head-quarters in Can berra and do its work here just as efficiently, and under far more comfortable dignified and happy surroundings than exist in the hurly-burly of big cities. In Canberra, members of the commission will be free from the importunities of hundreds of people who have no real business with the commission, such as persons who believe that they have outstanding talent simply because somebody has told them so, and for this reason persist in endeavouring to obtain auditions. Even when they are granted auditions they have not the slightest possible chance of obtaining engagements. Members of Parliament frequently receive letters from these disgruntled individuals to the effect that they are heaven-born artists and the commission has refused to grant them engagements, not because they lack talent, but because of some prejudice against them on the part of the commission. Except during war, there is no kind of administrative work which cannot be carried on efficiently from Canberra. When the war is over, and provided that it ends the way we want it to end. and we are still controlling this country, we shall ensure that the Service departments should be brought to Canberra. We shall make it a truly national capital.
– Does the honorable senator propose to bring the graving dock from Sydney to Canberra?
– One would not expect a remark of that kind from an honorable senator who has occupied positions of great responsibility in this Parliament. It denotes either a child mind, or a very crude attempt to embarrass me. I can understand that Senator McBride’s mentality would be quite equal to the prodigious task of bringing the graving dock from Sydney to Canberra. However, I can only speak with certainty about what we can do, and have done, in Canberra. In many instances we have succeeded where the previous Government failed. I can also indicate what can be done at Canberra when the war is over. I wish to see this provision retained in the bill. I oppose the amendment. The plan of the National Capital provides for the construction of lakes in the city. Those lakes can, and will be made. Then, whilst Canberra shall not have a graving dock, because it does not need one, it shall have aquatic sports, national and international. I ask honorable senators not to be led away by frivolous interjections about graving docks, but to keep in mind the fact that we have a city well worth while developing. The transfer of the head-quarters of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to the National Capital will be only another step closer to the day, which I hope we shall all live to see, when Canberra will be, not only in name, but also in reality, a capital of which every Australian can be proud.
.- I do not propose to debate the amendment. With the other members of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting, I share responsibility for this recommendation, in respect of which the committee has expressed its composite mind. Therefore, I feel disposed to support the Government on this point.
SenatorLECKIE (Victoria) [12.43]. - I am sorry that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) has not only sabotaged one of his own colleagues, but has also spoken offensively to an honorable senator on this side. All of us know that the Leader of the Senate has a pet obsession about Canberra which he obtrudes into discussions in season and out of season. When an honorable senator points out that it is conceivable that some departments can be better administered from some centre other than Canberra, he is immediately assailed by the Leader of the Senate, who questions his motives and alleges that he is endeavouring to sabotage the National Capital. I have no objection to the development of the National Capital. Canberra is most beautiful, and it grows more beautiful daily. However, much of the work of a body like the Australian Broadcasting Commission consists in gathering information in order to enable it to keep right up to date in its activities, and, consequently, I should imagine that it would want to establish its head-quarters where it thought best.
– We have a telephone service in Canberra; probably the honorable senator is not aware of that fact.
– I am not so sure of it, because I have been endeavouring for several hours to get a call through to Melbourne; and I know that other honorable senators have had to wait for five or six hours to get calls through to other capital cities. The commission will certainly be greatly inconvenienced if it be obliged to conduct its business with its branches over the air. This provision is governed by clause 10, which sets out the remuneration to be paid to commissioners, four of whom are to be part-time members of the commission.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I repeat that it seems to me that the Broadcasting Commission should not be stationed at Canberra. It has three main functions - the dissemination of news, the provision of entertainment, and the education of the people. No one can say that Canberra is the seat of news, of entertainment, or of education. It is only the seat of political news for a very brief period when, by the good grace of the present Government, we are called together for a day or two. In the spheres of education and amusement, all the artists and educationists, and most of the facilities, are in the big cities. I have been engaged in some contemplation of the composite mind of Senator Gibson. In a composite mind there are two or more elements that are not the same, and in the composite mind of the committee there were elements that did not think alike.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Brown).There is nothing in the clause about composite minds.
– I am speaking of one of the reasons given for proposing to bring the Australian Broadcasting Commission to Canberra. In the composite mind of the committee the attitude of members must have been “ Yes,” or “ No,” or indifferent to the three functions I have mentioned. Can any one in this chamber say that Senator Gibson is indifferent and cannot make up his mind on any matter? Any one can assume that a considerable proportion of the members of the committee were against this provision -going into the bill. I have been wondering whether the Government has a composite mind on this matter, too. I know that the Leader of the Government in this chamber has not a composite mind, but has a monomania on this subject. I wondered whether that monomania overpowered the composite mind of Cabinet and of those directly opposed to the clause. The provision we are discussing has to be considered in relation to clause 10, which provides for the remuneration of members of the commission. I suppose the Government and the Minister would expect the chairman of the commission, who will receive £1,250 a year, to give his whole time to the work. He will not be a part-time officer in the ordinary sense of the word, and I do not think he has been a part-time officer in the past, in spite of his low salary.
– No one need take a position on the commission if he does not like Canberra.
– I should think that the Government would desire to have the best men obtainable on the commission. To pay the chairman £1,250 a year for being at the head of an institution whose revenue is more than £1,000,000 a year does not seem extravagant. The vice-chairman and the other members of the commission will receive £300 a year, and will be expected in their part-time jobs to come to Canberra and work thoroughly and effectively. That would be expecting too much of them. I have heard about sweating in this community, and if this proposal is not an example of sweating I do not know what it is. I should imagine that the Government would not desire to have on the commission retired persons who have no contact with the ordinary business or amusement life of the community. We need to have active commissioners, and no one who is at all active can afford to devote all his time to work at Canberra on a salary of £300 a year. The two clauses are diametrically opposed. If the head office of the commission is at Canberra and members of the commission are expected to travel here week after week at a salary of £300 a year, the Government and this Parliament have a great surprise in store for them. They will not be able to obtain the high-quality men and women that they expect to serve on the commission. I have not heard one word as to why it is desired to have the head office of the commission, in Canberra, but all the logical reasons point the other way. If there is any other reason except the superabundant monomania of the Leader of the Senate, I should like to hear of it.
.- The committee gave much consideration to ‘this sub-clause. Every proposal in the report was handed to each member of the committee, and we discussed it at length. We gave long and due consideration to the proposal to bring the head office of the commission to Canberra. Senator Leckie has shown that he knows little of the commission’s functions. It may meet at Canberra, but we suggest that it may meet also in Queensland or in Western Australia. We do not suggest that it should continually meet at Canberra. All the bill provides is that the head office of the commission shall be at Canberra, but it does not say that the commission shall hold all its meetings in Canberra. It will control an Australian broadcasting system, and it is right that it should be established at Canberra, and not at Sydney or Melbourne in preference to any of the other States.
We had no axe to grind in »the matter. The proposition was carefully examined, and eventually we were unanimous in our decision. Unless the six members were in agreement, a proposal would not be put in the report as a recommendation of the committee. An important point is that the office is not to be established in Canberra to-morrow, but at a convenient time on or before a date fixed by the Minister. It cannot bo established here in five minutes. We also realized that the commission, when it moves about, must take documents and staff with it. We say the staff can be permanently established at Canberra.
If the commission with its office in Sydney can deal with all matters affecting Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, why cannot it deal with Sydney matters from Canlberra?Past commissions have done excellent work, and the new commission, during its five years of office, will see a great development in radio, and will have to keepabreast of the times. That is why we need on the commission men who can work for Australia. I am confident they will not regret that their head office is to be established at Canberra.
The change will not involve much loss of time. The members can be at Melbourne or Sydney at night, and at Canberra the next morning. By travelling at night they will not waste any time. They can meet at Canberra in comfort and do the work twice as well as they could at Melbourne or Sydney because they will not be subject to so much lobbying. I agree with Senator Leckie in his appreciation of the work done by the chairman on a salary of £500 a year, and I trust that the chairman will do even more effective work in the future, when he will have to be conversant with all the ramifications of the commission. Unless he does that he will not be doing justice to the job. He did not in the past do all the work himself; there were other commissioners associated with him, and he had an excellent staff. The work is part-time work. Members of the commission will not meet every day. They will meet only when there is an important matter of policy to deal with, or when the Minister needs an important decision. There is not one clause in the bill that has not the unanimous support of the committee. I do not think that any member of the Opposition would say that Senator Gibson, the honorable member for Boothby (Dr. Price), or the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) would not watch the interests of all sections of the community. They, like myself, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) were unanimous on every point. Every clause of the bill had to receive the support of six members of the committee or it was rejected. If there was any opposition to a proposed recommendation, it was not included in the report. Therefore, I suggest that this committee should agree to this clause without amendment. I suggest to Senator Spicer that if he has confidence in the three members of his own party who were members of the committee, he will withdraw his amendment.
– There is only one condition under which I should be prepared to oppose the amendment. I was very interested to hear Senator Amour’s statement, which I accept completely, that this sub-clause is in accordance with a unanimous recommendation of the committee. That undoubtedly strengthens the case for the inclusion of this provision in the bill, but I am sure that whatever the committee may have considered to be necessary, it did not think that the move to Canberra should be made in war-time. That is the important point. Senator Amour has said quite correctly that the commission would travel from one State to another, and would hold meetings probably in all capital cities, but he added that the commission had to have a staff at its headquarters, and that is what I fear. Despite the fervour with which the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) supported the development of Canberra during his long term as Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, since he has been in his present position he has not been able to provide sufficient housing accommodation at Canberra to meet present requirements. Therefore, I suggest that it would be quite wrong in time of war, when man-power is one of our greatest problems, and materials cannot be obtained except for high priority work, to transfer the Australian Broadcasting Commission and its staff from its present head-quarters at Sydney. If additional accommodation is required, it can be obtained more readily in Sydney than in Canberra.
– Has the honorable senator read the sub-clause to which he is referring?
– It does not specify that the transfer must take place next week.
– I realize that, and I shall deal with that matter at a later stage. It would be iniquitous to ask the people of this country, who are burdened with extremely heavy taxes and constantly urged to lend money for defence purposes, to bear the cost of transferring the head-quarters of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to Canberra and of providing the additional housing accommodation that would be necessary. I assure the Leader of the Senate that I have read the sub-clause, and I realize that it will become operative only at the discretion of the Minister, but throughout the term of office of this Government we have had conclusive evidence that, under the guise of coping with war emergencies, the Labour party has introduced its policy, piece by piece, into the legislation and administration of this country. I shall not be prepared to allow this clause to remain unless Ireceive an assurance from the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) that, for the duration of the war at least, nothing will be done to disturb the existing head-quarters of the commission. Unless such an undertaking is given, I shall certainly support Senator Spicer’s amendment.
– I should hesitate to support this sub-clause as it stands but for the proviso that the matter shall be left in the hands of the Minister. Surely, in a time of national crisis such as this, the good sense of a Minister would make him hesitate to remove the head-quarters of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to Canberra.
– Is the Minister giving an undertaking that there will be no move until after the war?
– The responsible Minister in this case is the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley), and he may give whatever undertaking he likes. I consider that, as the sub-clause stands at present, an adequate safeguard exists.
– Why not leave the matter to the commission?
SenatorFRASER. - I shall deal with that aspect of the matter, too. Had Senator Spicer, in his usual efficient legal manner given this matter a little more consideration, he would have hesitated to move an amendment such as this. The sub-clause, as it stands, provides that, at the discretion of the Minister, the head office of the Australian Broadcasting Commission shall be removed from Sydney to Canberra. I hesitate to think that any responsible Minister would adopt such a course at present, in view of the many difficulties mentioned by Senator McBride.
Senator Leckie seemed to be very concerned with the possibility that members of the commission would have to reside in Canberra. Apparently, he believes that the sub-clause means, in effect, that the commissioners must come to Canberra and must stay here. Actually, there is no such obligation on members of. the commission. I point out to the honorable senator that although the Seat of Government is at Canberra, members of Parliament do not necessarily reside here, and, in fact, most of them do not stay here any longer than they can help. Also, Cabinet meetings are held away from Canberra on many occasions, but that does not mean that Canberra does not continue to be the Seat of Government. Government departments continue to function here although Cabinet may be sitting in Sydney or Melbourne, or even in Perth. Therefore, the argument advanced by Senator Leckie that members of the commission would have to live at Canberra, and could not do so on the salaries which they are to receive, is absolute piffle.
– Members of the commission would have to travel to Canberra.
– That is so, butI take it they would be entitled to travelling expenses. The honorable senator’s argument is irrelevant. If members of the. commission had to reside here and hold all their meetings here, it would be an entirely different matter.
– Then this sub-clause is only make-believe?
– No; it is reality, but the commission may, if it likes, hold meetings at Sydney, Melbourne or anywhere else. It is quite evident that Senator Leckie has not read the sub-clause, and I suggest that he should do so.
– In the course of my remarks on the second reading of this measure, I took exception to the proposed transfer of the head office of the commission to Canberra. I am quite convinced that such a transfer would be a step in the wrong direction. It has been suggested that honorable senators on this side of the chamber have not grasped the full meaning of the sub-clause. It simply provides that -
The head office of the commission shall be established in the Australian Capital Territory on or before a date fixed by the Minister.
We do not know what may be in the mind of the Minister, and this clause gives him power to transfer the head office of the commission to Canberra immediately this bill is passed if he wishes to’ do so. I maintain that under existing conditions that would be a grave mistake.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Because the head quarters staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission totals approximately 100 persons. Most of them are probably married men with families, and every body knows that the housing position at Canberra to-day is acute. On many occasions during his term of office as Leader of -the Opposition the present Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) bewailed the dearth of houses in Canberra, and urged the immediate construction of additional homes to cope with the shortage; yet, although thepresent Government has been in office for a considerable time, the difficulty has not yet been overcome. In fact, the position is decidedly worse, and even the Hotel Canberra has had to give up two pavilions to house government secretariats. Therefore, it is ridiculous to talk about bringing another 100 families to Canberra at present.
– Whose fault is that?
– It is the fault of the Government.
– The previous Government.
– No. I. ask honorable senators opposite if any private houses have been built at Canberra since the present Government took office ?
– And theCauseway houses are still there.
– Yes.. The Causeway cottages were to have been, shifted holus bolus. We have been told that the commission itself will not be here all of the time, but will be a mobile forcemeeting at Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne,, or some other capital city as the occasion may- demand. Senator Amour has pointed out that it is just as easy for the commission to travel to these distant centres from Canberra as it is from Sydney. That argument works both ways. The commission is in Sydney now. Why does it want to move thewhole of its staff to Canberra when it can move conveniently from Sydney toits various places of meeting, just as it does at the present time. The Leader of the Senate said that the transfer would obviate a great deal of the lobbying that goes on now, with people continually pestering officers of the commission for appointments. The honorable gentleman also mentioned the numbers of letters sent by wouldbeartists to members of Parliament in an endeavour to secure auditions before the commission. Does the honorable gentleman not realize that this sort of thing would be increased if the head office of the commission were established at Canberra. Scores of applicants for positions would be pestering us all of the time, and the transfer would merely aggravate the nuisance which the honorable gentleman has said that he wants to avoid. If the clause merely gave approval for the head office to be established at Canberra at some indefinite date, it would have some virtue. I realize the importance of Canberra, and I agree that we ought to make it theNational Capital in fact as well as in name, but at this period, when we need practically every penny of revenue for the prosecution of the war, the proposal to move a staff of 100 persons from Sydney to Canberra, to no earthly advantage that I can see, is ridiculous. I ask the Minister at least to give us an assurance that the transfer will not bc effected under existing conditions.
.- I hope that the committee will retain this clause in its original form. It is most desirable that the Government should take a definite stand in relation to the transfer of governmental institutions to Canberra. From my own experience, when I was Minister for the Interior, I know that the staffs of many government departments and commissions do not hesitate to use all their efforts to prevent their transfer to the National Capital.
– How could they be accommodated in Canberra?
– No Minister would be foolish enough to bring people here unless accommodation were provided for them. Every Commonwealth government, whatever its- political colour, should do its utmost to bring about the transfer of all departments to the Australian Capital Territory at the earliest possible date. I say frankly that I encountered a great deal of passive resistance from some public servants to my endeavours to bring them to Canberra. The real purpose of this city as the main administrative centre of Australia will never be fulfilled while Commonwealth departments are spread all over Australia as they are at present. Senator James McLachlan himself said that he believed that Canberra should be the centre of all Commonwealth governmental activities 1 hope that the time is not far distant when it will be the centre of all governmental activity in Australia, and when we shall no longer have State parliaments with wide powers, which some of them are now using in a way that impedes the nation’s war effort. It is only natural that people who have established their homes in other cities should wish to avoid being transferred to Canberra. But Canberra has been established as the Seat of Government for the Commonwealth, and the proper place for the head office of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and all other governmental bodies is here. I hope that one of the most urgent post-war activities of the Commonwealth will be the elevation of Canberra to its proper place in the national structure. This measure will not have effect for only a few weeks or months. As Senator Gibson has pointed out, it will place the activities of the Australian Broadcasting Commission on a permanent basis. Consequently, it is wise to include in the bill a provision that the Minister shall have power to bring the public servants who are under his control to the capital city. In any case, the decision to transfer the office to Canberra will be made by the Government, not by the Minister, because no Minister would act on his own initiative in a matter like this. The fact that accommodation at Canberra is badly strained at present is due to the rapid war-time expansion of departments and to the scarcity of artisans and materials. That position can be overcome. I hope that similar clauses will be included in other measures as an indication that the Commonwealth Parliament is taking definite steps to ensure that this business of having important departments scattered all over Australia shall end. From my own experience as a Minister, with one department situated at Canberra and another in Melbourne, I know that this system involves a great deal of travelling, waste of time and needless expense. Ministers have to take staffs with them from one place to another, and at present probably too much travelling is done by many senior officials and Ministers because of the scattered nature of governmental activities. I hope that the clause will remain intact and that before long we shall see the commission’s head office established under proper conditions in the Australian Capital Territory.
– I - It appears to me that, in this discussion, honorable senators have evaded the realities of the situation. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has vastly different functions to perform from those of the departments to which Senator Foll, who has resided lengthily in the Australian Capital Territory, has just referred. T rival the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) in my admiration of Canberra and my desire to see it develop in every possible way, but it would be wrong to let sentiment interfere with the realities of this case, which I hope to put before this committee in a very few words. The make-up of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is provided in the bill. Its functions, it is true, appear to be more like those of a company board of directors than of any ordinary government department, but I assure honorable senators that those functions are of a most absorbing character. The commission was meeting continuously during my regime as Postmaster-General. Although all of its members did not reside in Sydney, and very properly so, they assembled regularly at the head office there, and the chairman was in constant touch with his highly-paid executive head, the general manager. In passing, T pay a high tribute to the present general manager, Major Moses, who is recovering from wounds which he sustained on active service overseas. The commission is a body that has to meet the public. It has dealings with all classes of people, such as university professors, musicians of the highest calibre, entrepreneurs who provide entertainment for the public, the Australasian Performing Bight Association and all sorts of business houses and people who provide records and music. Is that the sort of job that could be discharged satisfactorily at Canberra? To suggest that the proposed transfer is intended to save the commission from being pestered by would-be artists is merely to play with the matter. That sort of thing is part of the commission’s job. God knows, some of our best artists have emerged unexpectedly from obscurity! One was brought to public attention when Richard Tauber was in Australia. He was virtually picked up on the streets of Sydney, and he has since become a distinguished violinist. If the commission and its head office are to be relegated to Canberra, such people will have much less chance of obtaining a hearing from the commission than they have now.
– If the commission’s head office is in Sydney now, how do Melbourne artist3 get on?
– The commission has an office in Melbourne on a smaller scale, and many Melbourne artists go to Sydney. What facilities would the commission have in Canberra for granting these people a hearing? There would be difficulty in obtaining musica] instruments and there would not be proper studios for auditions. The commission’s proposed building programme at Sydney, as Senator Gibson will recollect, will cost some thousands of pounds; and its Melbourne building programme also will involve a great deal of expenditure. The State capital citiesare the places where the commission and its officers should meet aspiring artists. I have no doubt that the general manager would delight to live in such a beautiful place as Canberra, but the proposal is unpractical and unwise. If any body can prove to me that the commission could work as effectively at Canberra as it does at Sydney I should not oppose the proposal. However, the decision as to when the transfer will be made is to be left to the Minister. It would not be fair to place that obligation on a Minister who would undoubtedly be subjected to pressure from his distinguished colleague, the Leader of the Senate, who equals only myself in his love of Canberra and its surrounding beauties. To allow ourselves to be guided by sentiment instead of by the realities of the situation would be to do an injury to this bill that we ought not to do. I know something of the work that the commission has to do and of the negotiations that have to takeplace from day to day. It is necessary for the general manager to be in close contact with the chairman of the commission in order to discuss urgent matters and obtain guidance. I share SenatorLeckie’s views regarding the remuneration of the chairman of the commission, but that remuneration connotes that the chairman must be in close touch with his executive head. To have the head office of the commission at Canberra, to which people would have to be brought in droves from Sydney, Melbourne or elsewhere, would be unpractical. If the commission is of the opinion that it could operate from Canberra, it should be allowed to decide the matter for itself. Otherwise I shall vote for the deletion of the clause, so that the head office may remain where it is. The Leader of the Senate, in answer to Senator McBride, suggested that there is no immediate prospect of the commission establishing its head-quarters at Canberra owing to the present disturbed conditions. But the point we have to consider is whether the best broadcasting service for Australia is to be obtained by having the head-quarters of the commission here or in one of the large capital cities. The commission has been through a difficult period, and I believe that the members of its head-quarters staff in Sydney number 100. I have had some experience of the telephonic difficulties of the commission when it was first established. Trouble was experienced in getting the commission to work in harmony with the Postal Department, but, when Mr. Kitto was appointed at my instigation to deal with the technical services, that difficulty disappeared. With a senior officer of the Postal Department in charge of the Sydney office, close association between the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the department can be maintained, but by removing the head-quarters of the commission to Canberra that desirable liaison would be weakened. Paragraph 245 of the report of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting, on which this clause is based, states -
Our recommendation is that the Government should grant the Australian Broadcasting Commission permission to proceed with its programme of office and studio buildings as early as possible after the war, but we feel that the central administration of the commission should be located in Canberra as soon as practicable, and we recommend that the necessary provision to that end be included in amending legislation.
– Is there anything wrong with that?
– Yes. Although the committee was divided over the matter, that recommendation was inserted in order to secure a unanimous report. Is every speech that has to be perused by officers of the commission to be sent to Canberra, and then back to Sydney or Melbourne? I am entirely in agreement with those who contend that Canberra must advance.
– Yet the honorable senator would take any whip with which to beat it.
– If a proposal is wrong, it is the duty of honorable senators, irrespective of party affiliations, to apply their minds, not to some sentiment, but to real reasons, in order to decide what is best in the interests of broadcasting in Australia. This is the people’s broadcasting bill. Can the work be better done in Canberra than elsewhere, or is it preferable to leave the head office of the commission where it is at present? There can be no doubt in the minds of those who approached the matter without prejudice, and without any of the glamor with which some people surround Canberra. Unless the Minister will accept the addition of the word “ practicable “ I shall not support the sub-clause.
– I have accepted this clause on the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting, and I have heard no good argument to-day in opposition to the proposal. The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has suggested that Sydney is the only city where the commission could do its work in a practical manner. What is to happen to Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth? I take it that the recommendation implies that only the central administrative staff should be located in Canberra, and the studios and audition rooms now in use in the capital cities of the various States would remain where they are to-day. Senator McBride has asked for an assurance that no alteration will be made during the war. We should all like to know when the war will be over, but it is not practicable for any alteration to take place in the near future. We have not the accommodation necessary to house the commission’s administrative staff at Canberra. Even members of Parliament have had to give up their rooms in order to provide accommodation that is urgently required for other purposes. Building is now subject to priorities, and there is no possibility of a building of the kind required by the commission being erected at Canberra during the war period. If during that period some of our troops returned from overseas and required to be provided with employment, it might be necessary to start a building programme, but there is little present prospect of any effort being made by me_ to remove, the head office of the commission to Canberra.
– -Then why include this sub-clause?
– Because of the recommendation of the committee that ha3 taken evidence regarding the matter. I inquired from the chairman of the commission as to how many members of his staff would be affected by a transfer of the head office to Canberra, and was informed that the number was 100. I am surprised that honorable senators opposite were also possessed of that information. I do not know whether they have been lobbying.
– That is not my practice.
– I am in accord with the recommendation, but, as I have said, it is impracticable to give effect to it at present.
– [ did not intend to convey the impression to Senator A. J. McLachlan that a transfer of the commission’s head office to Canberra would involve the removal of studios and technical equipment, since all that would be involved would be the establishment of the administrative centre at Canberra.
– Has the honorable senator ever been inside the administrative office of the commission?
-Yes. The honorable senator seems to imagine that when a person who thinks he can sing wishes to be tried out, he must button-hole members of the commission before an opportunity to be heard is given. We know that in every capital city the commission has studios and provision for auditions and the transmission of programmes. I was never under the impression that a transfer of its administrative staff to Canberra would involve the removal of the various mechanical contrivances that are necessary in broadcasting the programmes regularly heard over the air. Each State is represented on the commission, and there is no reason why the members should not gather in Canberra for the purpose of their conferences. They could come here as well as go to Sydney, Brisbane or any other city. I do not know what the members of this commission think about the possibility of a transfer to Canberra, but I know that many commissions would object to it. They need a little gingering up to enable them to realize that Canberra is the centre of Commonwealth administration. I hope that, when members now in Opposition get back into ministerial office, they will take a firmer stand than has been made in the past in order to ensure that thus capital city shall become the administrative centre for the Commonwealth.
.- In view of the remarks of the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley), I think it is proper that I should say that I was not asked, or prompted, by any body to move my amendment. I did so because of my own reactions to the sub-clause as it stands. The speech of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) was even more irrelevant than most of his speeches in this chamber. It was based solely on the argument that Commonwealth departments should be housed in the national capital. With that argument I have no dispute whatever. Such departments should be transferred to Canberra; but this is not a Commonwealth department. It is a commission created for the purpose of performing a most important public function.
– For the Government?
– Yes ; but everything done for the Government must not be done from Canberra. As I said in moving my amendment, I have no objection to the head-quarters of the commission being situated at Canberra, or at any other city ; but I am concerned to see that the place where it is to be situated is determined not by some prejudice in favour of the National Capital, but by reference to the realities of the situation by men who understand the real needs of the commission. That forces one to the view that the proper body to determine where the head office of the commission shall be is the commission itself. That is all I am asking.
– The creature greater than the creator?
– Not at all. When a commision of this kind is appointed, it is proper to trust it to perform honestly and to the best of its ability the duties that are assigned to it. I have heard practically nothing in this debate to lead me to the conclusion that Canberra is the proper place for its head-quarters. I put this important point to honorable senators. The commission is carrying on functions of a character in respect of which it is important that it should be constantly aware of public reactions. It is most essential that members of the commission and its general manager and officers at the head office should be constantly aware of public reactions to the activities of the commission. I know of no place in Australia where it is more difficult to determine public reactions to anything than the city of Canberra.
– We get newspapers here occasionally.
– Yes, but one does not get reactions of public opinion from newspapers.
– I can understand the Leader of the Senate having so poor a knowledge of public opinion if that is the source upon which he relies. All honorable senators know that the real reactions of public opinions are to be obtained in talking with our fellow citizens over the lunch table in the large capital cities.
– We have lunch here occasionally.
– Yes, the honorable senator has lunch here, probably, with the same people day after day. The * head-quarters of the commission should be in a centre which will enable it to feel the pulse of the public in relation to its activities. I am not concerned which city is selected by the commission. At present its head office is at Sydney, and I shall be quite happy if it be allowed to remain there.
– Why not make it Brisbane ?
– -That is ridiculous. The members of the original commission, for reasons of their own, decided at the outset, apparently, that Sydney was the most convenient place. Why should we now insert a direction in this measure to the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) that he shall at some time transfer the head office of the commission to Canberra? The PostmasterGeneral has told us that he does not intend to effect the transfer at present; that he cannot do it now. If the transfer is not to be made until after the war, even if we believe that it should be made, why put this direction in the bill to-day? We can amend the measure accordingly after the war. We can then decide to insert a positive provision that the head office of the commission be transferred to Canberra; that is the right time to judge the matter. We are now being asked to give a direction to the Postmaster-General that, at some time in the future, in circumstances which we cannot now envisage, he shall direct that the head office of the commission be transferred to Canberra. I cannot imagine anything more nonsensical. It has been suggested that my amendment is a reflection upon my colleague, Senator Gibson, who was chairman of the joint committee. That argument is based on the claim that we should accept every line of the committee’s report, and that none of it should be subjected to criticism. All I have to say on that matter is that, had I been chairman of that committee, I should have thought that there was something wrong with the report if it did not contain anything with which a member of this chamber could find fault. I am sure that that is Senator Gibson’s reaction to that argument. This recommendation is one of the weakest of the committee’s recommendations. It contains all the elements of a recommendation which has been agreed upon as a matter of compromise between the members of the committee for the purpose of returning a unanimous report. I have acted on joint committees, and I know what is done when a committee desires to return a unanimous report. In fact, committees of which I have been chairman have returned one or two unanimous reports. You do not put down the exact thing which you, or another member of the committee, might desire. If you can, you chose a form of words acceptable to every body, having regard to the circumstances. I have no doubt that that is what happened in this case. Close examination of this recommendation will show that it is unwise. Having regard to existing circumstances, we cannot do better than leave the matter, as we have left many others, to the discretion of the members of the body concerned.
.- Senator Spicer has argued that thi* matter should be left to the decision of the commission itself. It is reasonable to assume that the committee conferred with the members of the commission, and with every body whom it thought was competent to express an opinion. Senator Spicer is asking us to accept him as a. greater authority on the subject than the joint committee, although he has never consulted anybody, comparatively speaking, on the matter. One cannot imagine for one moment that the joint committee ignored the commission on this point. Indeed, I should think that the committee would approach the commission before anybody else on the subject. The committee has martialled its evidence in the form of this recommendation. The point I make is that Senator Spicer egotisticallysays to the committee, “I am a greater authority than the commission or the committee; accept me and reject them On the weight of evidence, I am not prepared to do so. I am perfectly certain that if Senator Spicer were presiding in a court of law, and had the duty of coming to a decision on the weight of evidence, he would take the stand that I am taking at the moment.
Senator A. J. McLachlan advanced arguments which have been very capably met by his colleague, Senator Foll, who pointed out that it would not be necessary for would-be artists to come from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or any other place, to Canberra for auditions, because facilities already exist in each capital city for testing such applicants. Thus this work can be carried on without the least increase of expenditure. Senator A. J. McLachlan pointed out the difficulties which he claimed would arise as the result of transferring the commission’s head-quarters to Canberra. The same arguments could be used just as effectively in favour of the removal of Parliament from Canberra to Melbourne or Sydney. It could be contended that the interests of Parliament are so diverse, and its work so absorbing, that we should be able to carry out our tasks more efficiently in Sydney or Melbourne. We have heard that argument for years. Nevertheless, the consensus of opinion is that the Parliament should be in Canberra. Senator McBride has no objection to the transfer of the commission’s head-quarters to Canberra, provided that an assurance be given that the transfer will be effected at a time more convenient than the present. Senator Foll has no objection to Canberra in this respect.He advanced a very good case in support of the recommendation of the committee. Thus, honorable senators opposite are divided on this matter. We must come to a decision on it on the weight of evidence, rather than be influenced by prejudice or bias. In that case, I submit, we should reject the amendment.
.- 1 cannot quite understand the violent opposition to the deletion of this subclause. Why is the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley) opposed to the amendment? We who support the deletion are not so much concerned as to whether the Australian Broadcasting Commission will function better from Canberra, Sydney, or somewhere else. What I am concerned with is that the sub-clause will tie the hands of the Minister. I am wondering whether, in the face of a definite instruction, he will be able to stand up to the undertaking that the transfer to Canberra will not happen at the present time. If the sub-clause be deleted, the effect will not be to trammel the Minister in any- way. I should judge that in such matters as this he would rely on the advice of the experts in his department. The deletion of the sub-clause will in no way restrict him in moving the commission to Canberra; but I object to Parliament instructing him.
– The honorable senator used to believe in ministerial control when he was on this side of the chamber.
– I do now. What I object to is giving instructions like those contained in the sub-clause to the Minister stipulating how he shall administer his department. Any responsible Minister would accept the advice of his expert officers as to whether the removal of the commission’s office to Canberra would be in the best interests of the commission. Why, then, should he be instructed? Does he not feel strong enough, and does the Government not feel strong enough, to decide on the removal without a special instruction from Parliament?
– It is perfectly proper to decide the question by a majority vote of the committee.
– It is not desirable to tie the hands of the Minister. If he can tell me what extra powers he will have if the sub-clause remains in the bill, he may satisfy me. I cannot understand why the Government is insistent that the sub-clause should remain. It seems to have been placed in the bill so that the Minister can say, after he has removed the commission to Canberra in war-time, “I was instructed to do it”.
SenatorCollings. - The purpose is to protect him from the lobbying of members who may want the commission to be moved to Melbourne.
– Such a confession of weakness by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Collings) is appalling. I believe that there is only one possible state in which the Leader of the Senate would be prefectly happy, and that is a state that is a vast kindergarten in which he is the head schoolmistress.
Question put -
That sub-clause (4) be left out (Senator Spicer’s amendment) .
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator Brown.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Guaranteed Price tor Vegetables - Destruction of Rabbits - Wool Purchases - Commonwealth Finances.
Motion (by Senator Collings) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Earlier in the sitting, Senator Johnston asked me, as the Minister assisting the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
What prices have been guaranteed by the Government for potatoes and other vegetables in each State of the Commonwealth?
The Minister for Supply and Development has now furnished me with the following answer : -
Prices have not yet been fixed for potatoes, but the matter is being considered by the Prices Commissioner and will be the subject of an early announcement. With regard to vegetables, no general arrangements have been made relative to a price guarantee. Arrangements are made with individual growers for the production at firm prices for the specific needs of the fighting services. These prices must, of necessity, fluctuate to some extent in accordance with the climatic and other conditions prevailing throughout the Commonwealth.
– This morning, Senator Johnston asked the Minister representing the Minister for War Organization of Industry, upon notice -
The Minister for War Organization of Industry has now furnished me with the following answers: -
.- I desire to make a short statement in regard to the purchase of wool by manufacturers. From time to time, statements have appeared in the press to the effect that wool manufacturers in this country obtain their wool at the appraised price. To me that seemed to be very unfair, because the appraised price of wool is always 8 per cent, .below the price the grower receives. I put the matter to the Minister assisting the Minister for Commerce and he very kindly supplied ‘me with information which I think will be very valuable to those interested in wool-growing. The position is that the manufacturer obtains his wool at the appraised price, plus 15 per cent., provided the purchase is made for local use. If the wool is for use in manufactured goods for export, a surcharge of 25 per cent, is imposed, making a total of 40 per cent, payable on the appraised price. If the goods are for use for Empire military purposes, 2-J per cent, discount is allowed on the wool content. That refutes the statements which hare appeared in the press, because the manufacturers have to pay more than the appraised price, plus 8 per cent, which is generally under-valued, and it is just as well that the wool-growers should know where they stand in regard to this matter.
– Recently, I received a letter from the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) setting out replies to questions which I asked in this chamber on the 26th March. My first question was -
What is the total amount of inscribed stock sold since the present Government has been in officer
The Treasurer’s reply was -
Statistics are not now kept of the issues of inscribed stock as distinct from treasury bonds. The total amount of stock and bonds sold since this Government assumed office is £82.480,000. This does not include stock and bonds issued in connexion with the conversion of matured securities.
It is very hard to understand why statistics are not kept, as the two issues are entirely different. They carry different rates of interest, and this is the first time that I have seen them lumped together. My second question was -
What is the total amount of treasury-bills issued in the’ same period?
The Treasurer’s answer was £48,550,000, which goes to prove that the present Government has already increased the national debt by £131,030,000. My third question was -
Is it a fact that the private banks were not permitted to purchase bonds in the recent loan?
The reply was -
The private trading banks are not now permitted to subscribe to Commonwealth loans without the consent of the Commonwealth Bank. No such permission was given in regard to the recent £35,000,000 loan.”
Unless the Government continues to issue inscribed stock and treasury-bills to meet its commitments, only two avenues of obtaining revenue are left, namely, taxation and national credit. I understand that there is also a regulation which prevents private banks from granting overdrafts to people to enable them to purphase government bonds. From time to time I have questioned this method of raising money for war purposes. In my opinion it is a constitutional crime. The ever-increasing volume of money extracted from the pockets of citizens of Australia has grown to such a gigantic figure that directly or indirectly, every man, woman or child has to bear a share of the burden. It is time that some attention was devoted to the unconstitutional aspect of Commonwealth taxation, because even if this financial evil has become, by usage and custom, an integral part of our economic system, there is no necessity to continue it if it can be proved that taxation is not only unconstitutional but also unjust, unfair, and unnecessary. Every authority must readily agree that the only constitutional power for the creation of money is the Government, and that this power should naturally include everything that is used as money. We find from experience that by means of taxation and loans the Government obtains the money which it has a constitutional right to create. In the past the Government has confined itself to the creation of metallic currency, and it was not until the advent of the Commonwealth Bank that it took over the creation of paper money, namely, Commonwealth Bank notes. As paper and metallic currency cover less than 1 per cent, of our financial transactions, it is clear that the remaining 99 per cent, is dealt with by those very useful institutions, the banks, and in this respect it will be admitted readily that the trade and commerce of the world could not function without the agency of the banking system. Thus, through their administration, the banks have taken to themselves the general control of the financial system, and, through the operation of that system, the general control of our economic life. Therefore, 99 per cent, of our money is outside the constitutional control of the Government. At this stage, it may be difficult to visualize Australia being free from taxation and loans, but if we go back to the beginning of these things, we learn that our first governments and financial advisers decided, quite wrongly from a constitutional point of view, to take from the people .the very money which the Government has the only constitutional authority to create. Had our governments always retained as their’ exclusive prerogative the creation of money and the credit which is used as money, Australia to-day would be debt and taxation free, and the physical ability of the people to produce goods and services would have been the deciding factor in determining the amount of new money required to be created without interest. The proper functioning of the Commonwealth Bank now gives to Australia a sound constitutional opportunity to lighten the load of taxation and loans. The Commonwealth Bank is not so much a bank as it’ is Australia’s accountant-general. The late Sir Denison Miller started this great bank without capital. An advance of £10,000 from the Commonwealth Government was all that was necessary, because, as Sir Denison Miller stated on many occasions, it had the total wealth of Australia behind it. What the monetary value of this total wealth may be has never been determined accurately by our government statisticians, but is known to be more than £5,000,000,000. Although during the 30 years of the existence of the Commonwealth Bank it has never been been allowed to function to its maximum capacity, it has produced some remarkable results, particularly (hiring the past two years. The following figures are taken from the balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Bank which I have in my possession: -
During the same period, government and municipal advances, including treasury-bills, made by the nine trading banks increased by £53,000,000 - from £46,000,000 to £98,000,000. The profit made by the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Savings Bank for the half -year ended the 30th June, 1940, amounted to £1,075,155 15s. 2d., or more than £2,000,000 per annum. Some years ago, when the then Treasurer, Mr Casey,introduced a bill providing for the establishment of a Commonwealth mortgage bank, he proposed to sell £30,000,000 worth of inscribed stock and debentures in order to raise the necessary capital. Actually, it was not necessary for him to sell debentures or inscribed stock at all, because all this capital was already in hand. That waa something which was put over him by the private banks. The present way of raising money . is a national tragedy. On the 30th June, 1939, the Commonwealth Bank held the following securities : -
On the 30th June, 1940, those securities had been reduced to -
That represents a net reduction during the year of £19,616,660. During the same period governmental and municipal advances by the nine trading banks increased by £21,600,000- from £22,100,000 to £43,700,000. Treasury-bills increased by £14,400,000- from £23,900,000 to £38,300,000. The total increase amounted to approximately £35,000,000. Why should treasury-bills be issued to the banks? They are merely undated promissory notes, and the banks have the right to go to the Commonwealth Bank at any time and change them for notes. I remember the chairman of the associated trading banks saying on one occasion that he was sorry that the interest that he received for treasury-bills in London was only 10s. per cent., whereas in Australia he could get 30s. per cent. from the Commonwealth Government. That is the manner in which the private banks have managed the financial affairs of this nation. During the period which 1 have mentioned, the interest paid by the citizens of the Commonwealth to the nine trading banks amounted to £972,000 made up by 3½ per cent. on securities totalling £21,600,000, and l½ per cent. on treasury-bills totalling £14,400,000. This amount of nearly £1,000,000 per annum is added to taxation, whereas if it were provided bythe Commonwealth Government, it would be deducted from taxation as all profits from the Commonwealth Bank go to Consolidated Revenue, national debt reduction, or reserved funds. During the same period, government and municipal advances made by the Commonwealth Savings Bank increased by £263,841- from £141,149,782 to £141,413,623. I have urged on many occasions that our national credit should be fully utilized. The following is a system for utilizing national credit which has been prepared by one of Australia’s leading accountants -
£1,000,000 FOR PRODUCTION OF CONSUMPTION GOODS.
(Profits are not shown for the sake of clearness, but they do not materially affect the position. )
1 ) The private banking system issues a non- interest bearing loan of £1,000,000 to industry for production of consumption goods. It mokes a charge for its services.
As the bank merely monetises the national credit for this purpose, it issues a debenture, secured upon its assets, for £1,000,000 and lodges it with the Commonwealth Bank. It is not permitted to make any advances without issuing such a debenture.
As this debenture represents future national assets in the form of additional consumption goods, the Commonwealth Bank also issues a debenture, secured upon its new asset, for £1,000,000 to the nation’s financial representative, the Commonwealth Treasurer.
Industry sets to work and in the course of producing the goods distributes £1,000,000 among the general public.
and (6) Industry then sells the goods to the general public for £1,000,000 and receives the money in prices.
Industry repays its loan to the private banking system.
Theprivate banking system redeems its debenture for £1,000,000 lodged with the Commonwealth Bank.
The Commonwealth Bank redeems its debenture for £1,000,000 lodged with the Commonwealth Treasurer.
Result. - The Commonwealth Treasury has £1,000,000 of new money (credit) to spend on munitions of war which is absolutely debt and interest free. In times of peace this would be spent on ordinary expenses of government, and redemption of old bank created debts, thus eliminating the necessity of taxation. All money paid in cancellation of bank debts is itself cancelled.
– In conformity with the sessional order that unless otherwise ordered, the motion for adjournment shall be put on Fridays, at 4 p.m., I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 May 1942, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1942/19420501_senate_16_170/>.