24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister read an editorial that was published in the “Whyalla News” of Friday, 2nd November, headed “ Shipbuilding in Jeopardy “? Does the Minister agree with the general purport of the article? The first paragraph stated -
The attitude adopted by the Australian Seamen’s Union over the manning of the tanker P. J. Adams by a crew other than one completely Australian, and the repercussions already caused, constitute a grave threat to the future of Whyalla shipbuilding.
Does the Minister agree with the suggestion in the editorial that the action of the Australian Seamen’s Union in endeavouring to victimize Ampol Petroleum Limited, for following the accepted pattern of the oil tanker trade in employing Chinese seamen, caused no resentment in Whyalla? In view of the likely hesitancy on the part of shipping interests to build ships at Whyalla with the risk of attracting similar Communist-inspired tactics, could this not mean that shipbuilding in Australia, even under subsidy, could be gravely threatened?
– I have not had an opportunity to see the article the honorable senator has referred to, but I very strongly and readily agree with the general purport of the article. A point that is frequently overlooked in this dispute, and to which the editorial apparently referred, is that the manning of this ship by a Chinese crew did not establish any new precedent and did not break any new ground, but simply followed the pattern of manning tankers that has existed in Australia for very many years past. Only one thing was unusual about “ P. J. Adams “. Here was a ship that was built in Australia. The Seamen’s Union had not objected to the employment of a Chinese crew - oddly enough - until the ship was built, launched and being fitted out for commission. I cannot but agree that the new break-through for Australian shipbuilding, with the placement, for the first time, of an order for a tanker in an Australian yard-
– And a 30,000 tonner, too.
– And a 30,000 tonner, too. The new break-through must, of course, be severely jeopardized by this irresponsible action of the Seamen’s Union.
– Do not get annoyed about it.
– I am not. Now, if my friend knew anything about this, he would identify where the annoyance was. It does not lie so much with me as with the shipbuilding trade unionists at Whyalla, who recognize that by this stupid action taken by the Seamen’s Union-
– Supported by the Opposition.
– And supported by the Opposition. By this stupid action the future of shipbuilding at Whyalla and in Australia generally - the future for the building of this type of ship - has, of course, been severely jeopardized.
– Does the Minister for National Development recollect having reported to the Senate some twelve months ago that there was a very bright outlook in relation to the development in Queensland of the mining of bauxite, to be treated by the Comalco aluminium concern whose works are situated at the Bluff, in the South Island of New Zealand? Has the Minister now been informed that Mr. D. J. Hibberd, managing director of this company, has stated that completion of the work will not be possible and that the proposition will be delayed indefinitely? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether any expenditure has been incurred by the Queensland Government or the Commonwealth Government on this project and what basis there is for thinking that the previous report that the bauxite development would go on expeditiously was justified?
– I know little more about this than I have read in the newspapers. My understanding of the position may differ from the view expressed by Senator Cooke. As I understand it, there is no variation in the programme so far as it relates to the mining and treatment of bauxite at Weipa. The problem that has arisen is in relation to the smelting. I do not know whether a final decision has been taken, whether it is proposed to smelt somewhere else, or whether it is proposed to go ahead in New Zealand. I have no information about the matter.
– I am not aware that any programme of the kind referred to by Senator Sir Walter Cooper is contemplated, nor do I think, expressing a personal view, that the circumstances call for such a programme. We have always been on friendly terms with Indonesia. We have trade arrangements with Indonesia. I believe that those arrangements will continue in the future.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether there is any truth in rumours current in Sydney that federal health authorities want all Australians vaccinated against smallpox, which is very prevalent throughout Asia. If there is any truth in these rumours, what plans have the health authorities for undertaking this great task?
– It is difficult to answer this question in a few words. Suffice it to say that the federal health authorities believe that there is a good deal to be gained by advising and encouraging people to protect themselves against an outbreak of smallpox.
– Have the authorities got the vaccine?
– The machinery for immunizing the population is controlled by the States. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have ample supplies of vaccine. The Commonwealth encourages the State authorities to persuade people to take the precaution of being, vaccinated because, as Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin pointed out in this place recently, the speed of modern travel brings so many exotic diseases closer to us, whereas formerly the germs of those diseases underwent an incubation period aboard ship. The risk of the introduction of such diseases is therefore much greater now than it was in years gone by. I think it is fair and proper to say that we welcome any move by the States to encourage Australians to protect themselves against the incidence of smallpox. I repeat that the Commonwealth has ample supplies of vaccine to cater for the needs of the States.
– In order to overcome widespread confusion in South Australia, will the Minister for National Development, who represents the Prime Minister in this place, lend his good offices towards the settlement of certain issues? What items have been included in the oftrepeated estimate of £131,000,000 of Commonwealth assistance to the States, of which South Australia allegedly receives only 1 per cent.? Does the Minister consider that certain items might have been selected from the total of £113,200,000, referred to in this year’s published Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, out of which South Australia receives £11,200,000, or 9.9 per cent., the rest being ignored? Does the Minister consider that to those selected items might have been added the amount allocated to the Snowy Mountains authority for an entirely Commonwealth project and for which the State government beneficiaries have no liability? If this is a fact, would it not be reasonable to include such expenditures as the £17,000,000 estimated to be spent mostly in South Australia this year on the Weapons Research Establishment? Will the Minister request the Prime Minister to meet Sir Thomas Playford as soon as practicable in order to ascertain from him and to publicize the nature of his claim on the Commonwealth Government and to obtain an indication of the order of priorities that he seeks?
– I cannot add very much to what 1 said when this matter was under discussion in the Senate on an earlier occasion. There is in circulation a statement which attempts to belittle the Commonwealth’s contribution to works in South Australia. That statement refers to expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme as work done other than in South Australia, but in fact South Australia derives a good deal of benefit from the scheme. The statement makes no mention of the large sums that the Commonwealth has spent and is spending at Woomera. The statement deals with expenditure in a period when the Commonwealth was not actively engaged in railway construction. In other words, the statement is designed to show the Commonwealth at a disadvantage. As I have said previously, the correct way to view this matter is to look at the total expenditure by the Commonwealth in the States. The Budget Papers show that last year expenditure in South Australia amounted to 10 per cent, of the total expenditure in the States. That has been the average over the last four or five years. It is a fair allocation, having regard to the relative populations of the States. I would not be willing to make any suggestion to the Prime Minister or the Premier of South Australia. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister will be available if the Premier desires to make representations to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that Commonwealth restrictions on the export of manganese from Port Hedland, Western Australia, have brought carting to a standstill, and that about 100 people have been affected by dismissals? Also, is it a fact that a high officer of the Department of National Development has been to Port Hedland to investigate the situation? Will the Minister tell the Senate what restrictions apply to the export of manganese from Port Hedland? What were the findings of the official investigation?
– The Secretary of the Department of National Development was in this area recently, looking at manganese deposits. There has been no variation of Commonwealth policy, which is that on the discovery of a new mineral deposit the person making the discovery is entitled to export a certain proportion of the mineral. I think the proportion is one-third, but I am not certain of that. There has been no holding back on the part of the Commonwealth in granting the requisite export licence in this instance. Whatever delays have occurred are due, not to the Commonwealth, but to the mining companies concerned.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions. Has his attention been directed to the fact that during the months of October and November four conferences, largely of an overseas character, have been or are to be held in Melbourne? They are the World Power Conference, the Colombo Plan Technical Officers’ Conference, a meeting of the Colombo Plan Council of Ministers and a meeting of the International Labour Office for Asian Countries. I understand that the latter conference is due to be held any day now. Why has the Victorian capital received such marked favour? The Minister will agree surely that the New South Wales capital, the Queensland capital, and the Gold Coast of South Queensland are all well equipped with hotel accommodation and other facilities to cater for conferences of this kind. It may be that other State capitals are equally suitable. Can the Minister say why other State capital cities have not been chosen as the venues of conferences of world importance?
– As a Minister who comes from Sydney, I am afraid I cannot give an adequate answer. I point out that the World Power Conference was not really a government conference; it was arranged by the power people themselves. The arrangements for governmental conferences are made on each, occasion by the responsible Minister. I suppose there are facilities available in Melbourne for the conferences that the honorable senator has mentioned and that those facilities have been utilized.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. The Minister was reported as having made it clear, in announcing the new hospital benefits plan on 22nd October, that his offer was made on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, and also that Commonwealth and State officials would meet to work out the technical problems associated with a new agreement. Can the Minister advise us whether any modifications to the plan will flow from those discussions between Commonwealth and State officials, and also whether the South Australian Government, or any other State government has indicated acceptance of the new plan?
– I should like to correct the impression, which obviously is implanted in Senator Bishop’s mind, that the attitude of the Commonwealth was a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. I remind him that the transcript of the proceedings reveals that the attitude of myself and my Commonwealth officers at that conference was quite the reverse of that stated by him. I suggest that it would be a misnomer to call a meeting a conference when one party came in, made a proposition and adopted a takeitorleaveitattitude. We do not do business on that basis. It is true that officers of the State departments of health and of my department met quite recently to examine the machinery that would be adopted in the new processing required to implement the plan. I have not yet had the report of that meeting. I do not expect modifications to flow from a conference of officers. If there are to be modifications of such a scheme, they will flow from conferences of Ministers of the Crown. At this stage, no State Minister has asked for a further conference on this matter. Finally, may I say that there is no compulsion whatever on any State to accept this plan, but I shall be surprised if I live to see the day when a State government refuses to be associated with a plan that provides for free hospital treatment for pensioners.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a newspaper report that a new drug named gerovit is to be produced soon by Hungarian drug manufacturers? Will the Minister inquire into the claims made by the manufacturers regarding the effect of this drug on elderly people and will he give an assurance that it will not be sold or used in Australia until it has been proved demonstrably that it has no side effects at all?
– I have seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred. I seized the opportunity to ask my department to let me have a report on the drug and its effects, and also its side effects, if any. When that report is available I shall present it to the honorable senator for her information.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. President. No doubt you are aware that Australian Book Week was launched throughout Australia at the week-end. It is said to be the most massive effort ever made to focus public attention on books written by Australians and published in this country. Last September, Australia was represented for the first time at the International Book Fair at Frankfurt. This year, the “ London Magazine “, Britain’s foremost literary monthly, devoted its September issue to Australian literature and art. Why has the Library Committee failed to mark the event with a comprehensive display in King’s Hall of Australian literature, having in mind that wealthy and influential British and foreign publishers have shown an unprecedented interest in Australian authors? As the worth and strength of Australian literature have been recognized in Australia, will you, Mr. President, ask the Prime Minister to arrange for a set of Australian books, by Australian authors, to be presented to each delegation attending the present Colombo Plan conference, for inclusion in the national libraries of their homelands, as a special gift from the people of Australia?
– Answering the latter part of the honorable senator’s question first, a constant distribution of books is made by the Prime Minister’s Department to Australian embassies and other agencies abroad. I shall take up the matter of the exhibition and give the honorable senator a reply to that part of his question tomorrow.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether there is any move within his department or within the Qantas organization to send an aircraft to pick up and bring to Australia the Australian tourists at Biak in West Papua who are unable to get home in any other way? If there is, what is the basis of this mission of mercy?
– It is not the intention of the Department of Civil Aviation or of Qantas Empire Airways Limited to send an aircraft to Biak to pick up these people. This matter has been under close surveillance by the Department of Civil Aviation since the incident began. The latest advice, received only this morning from the officer of the Australian Department of External Affairs who is in Biak for the purpose of questioning these people, indicates that they would prefer to come home by a scheduled flight rather than by a special charter flight, and that they will be returning by the KLM service towards the end of this week.
I take this opportunity to say one or two things about this ill-fated charter flight. The originator was Continentale Deutsche of Hamburg, a small airline company, which asked for a special permit on 26th October. Because the charter proposals did not comply in any way with our policy with respect to charter flights, this company was advised on the following Monday, 29th October, that a permit could not be granted. We then learned through civil aviation sources that a flight had been arranged and we understood that it was to terminate at Hong Kong, where the passengers would be transferred to a ship for transportation to Australia. The next we heard was that the aircraft had reached Hong Kong and had flown on from Hong Kong to the Philippines. That was quite unexpected. In Manila it ran into certain trouble and was actually placed under arrest. Released from arrest, it then flew to Biak. While this flight was going on, inquiries had been made at Qantas as to whether it would uplift from Biak on a certain date what was described as a crew of 68 seamen. Before this inquiry was processed, it was learned that the party referred to in the request was in fact the so-called charter party being carried by the German airline. However, the plane flew to Biak. In the light of all the circumstances, knowing that these people would be in difficulties, I had made it quite clear that, in order to get the Australians and the New Zealanders to Australia, the flight could come through to Australia and would be granted a landing permit, despite the fact that it was opposed to all points of our charter policy. Despite that, on landing at Biak the passengers were literally dumped and the aircraft went about and flew off leaving the passengers there. The Government immediately took steps to have an officer despatched to Biak to interview these people who might be in distressed circumstances. However, it is now found that all of them desire to come home by normal flights. I understand that if any of them are in financial difficulty temporary finance is being made available to them through the Government representative.
I take this opportunity to point out the danger of so-called charter-parties and accepting so-called charters by fly-by-night operators. The credentials of the operators should be examined very closely when they attempt to do something which obviously is not in conformity with the usual rules of charter or the international carriage of passengers by charter aircraft.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Health, arises from the question asked by Senator Fitzgerald about the danger of smallpox entering Australia, which has been accentuated by the change-over of administration of West New Guinea. Has the Department of Health examined the possibility of recommending the immunization of certain groups of people? It appears to me to be much more practicable to immunize people such as doctors and nurses who may have to handle mystery cases or cases that have not been diagnosed coming into hospitals, and perhaps customs officers and doctors who meet people on their arrival at aerodromes. If the Department of Health has not done that, will the Minister take the matter up with the department and see whether there is any value in the suggestion?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is that we have taken a very lively interest in this matter and have encouraged, with a good deal of success, immunization campaigns amongst officers on duty at airports and seaports and other persons likely to come in contact with people arriving from overseas who might be carriers of this disease. It is fair to say that the people who are engaged in those enterprises are more than anxious to protect themselves by this precaution. I can give the honorable senator an assurance that the Department of Health is very much alive to its responsibilities in this matter and that a responsive note is struck in the hearts of the people concerned.
– I direct a question to either the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior or the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Because of the importance that the loyal Australian people attach to the proposed visit to Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and because it would be fitting for Her Majesty officially to open certain important projects in Canberra, such as the Commonwealthavenue bridge and the court house, what action does the Government contemplate in answer to the threatened go-slow and noovertime campaign which the Canberra Trades and Labour Council is reported to be organizing? Will this campaign tie up indefinitely projects to the value of £25,000,000? Will this mean that these projects will not be finished in time for them to be opened by Her Majesty?
– I should like to say a good deal on this matter; but I understand that at present it is before a conciliation commissioner, so I think it is proper that I should say nothing until he has disposed of the matter.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for National Development, although I am a little diffident about asking it. In the last month two prominent officials of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and an official of the Miners Federation have assured me that they believe too much coking coal is being shipped out of Australia and that our resources are limited. Will the Minister again have a look at the position and give the Senate an assurance that we are preserving a sufficient amount of coking coal?
– Before the export trade was accepted and before we embarked on the export of coking coal overseas, a survey was made of known and potential reserves and there was no hesitation in accepting the export business. I remind Senator Arnold that the scene has changed a good deal since the estimate he has cited was made, and there are large coking coal deposits now available in Queensland which were not known at the time when this export policy was entered upon several years ago.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has any pressure or influence been exerted on TransAustralia Airlines by the Government to purchase the American Boeing 727 jets to equip its fleet with modern aircraft? Is it a fact that the de Havilland Trident, the French Caravelle and the American Boeing 727 have comparable performance and ability to serve the needs of Australian domestic airlines? Are the Australian domestic airlines each free to choose any aircraft they think most desirable for their own purposes without government influence of any sort?
– Last Thursday I answered a question framed in terms similar to the question that has been asked by Senator Cant. I pointed out then that neither Trans-Australia Airlines nor AnsettA.N.A. had yet informed me of the aircraft for which it proposed to seek a certificate. So in point of fact I literally do not know what aircraft will be requested by either T.A.A. or AnsettA.N.A. As I do not know what aircraft they will ask for, it follows that I could hardly have brought any pressure to bear on any one to buy this or that aircraft. The fact is that the agreement which is annexed to the legislation passed by the Parliament as recently as last year makes it abundantly clear that the aircraft to be purchased by the two trunk-line operators need not be identical aircraft. The only requirement is that they are in the same type category.
Senator Cant also asked whether the operating performances of the Caravelle, the Trident and the Boeing were similar. 1 would not attempt to answer that question, although I think that enough has been said publicly by the operators and the experts to indicate that at least the Trident and the Boeing are generally accepted as being comparable aircraft. At this stage however, to preserve my own position of aloofness in this matter, I would not make any comment at all.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister seen a letter published in the “Daily Telegraph “ this morning from a citizen who appears, on the face of it, to have some grievance about bringing his mother and twin brother to Australia? As the citizen has given his name and address at the foot of the letter, can this case be investigated and a report made to him?
– I have not seen the letter to which the honorable senator has referred, but no doubt it will be brought to the attention of the Minister for Immigration and he will have the matter investigated. If the Minister has not had the letter brought to his notice, I shall see that that is done.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation on the same subject as that asked by Senator Cant. If aircraft of the size of the Boeing 727 are to be purchased by either of the Australian airlines, will the use of these aircraft make necessary increased expenditure on airports either directly by the use of the Boeing or similar large aircraft, or indirectly by the diversion of aircraft of the Electra type to other airports the runways of which would need to be extended? What secondclass airports would be involved in such expenditure? If expenditure of this kind were the sequel to the purchase of such aircraft, could the Commonwealth Government afford to remain aloof from influencing decisions on the type of aircraft to be bought?
– I think it can be fairly said that the introduction of any new types of aircraft for Australia would require certain modifications to existing airports and facilities. The variation and the alterations required would probably depend upon the type of aircraft selected by the airlines. But I would make it quite clear that the selection of aircraft is a matter for the airlines themselves. When they have made a selection, then the Commonwealth Government will necessarily have to examine and determine its policy in respect of airports.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation received from the acting town clerk of Carnarvon a letter regarding the aerodrome at that town? In the letter it was to be pointed out that the site of the airport was holding up the expansion of the town and that already building restrictions were being imposed, particularly as to the height of buildings. Has the Minister examined this matter and can he inform the Senate whether he has any plans for the expansion of the aerodrome or its removal from the vicinity of the town?
– I have received the letter to which the honorable senator has referred and I can only say at the moment that the representations made to me are under consideration.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the deep concern regarding the grave road toll and the necessity for devising uniform national standards for the safety and operation of road vehicles, will the Minister inform the Senate on the outcome of the meeting of the Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Committee held in Adelaide between 23rd and 26th October and especially on the discussion regarding seat belts?
– The Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Committee held a most satisfactory meeting in Adelaide at the end of October. Reports made by the State delegates at this meeting indicated that considerable progress was being made towards complete uniformity in adopting the draft regulations defining vehicle construction, equipment and performance standards as recommended by the Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Committee. Amendments incorporated in the past few months in the regulations of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland bring these regulations almost totally in accord with the Motor Vehicle Standards Committee’s draft regulations. The new road traffic regulations of South Australia are more in line with the committee’s draft regulations than ever before. The regulations of Western Australia and Tasmania are currently being rewritten and it is expected that the completed redraft in both States will reflect full adoption of the Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Committee’s draft regulations.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it a fact that Trans-Australia Airlines made a record profit of £400,000 in the last financial year? In view of a number of queries which have been emanating from honorable senators opposite over the past few years, is the making of this substantial profit an insidious and dastardly method being adopted by the Government in order to cripple T.A.A.?
– Like my leader, Senator Spooner, I always take a good deal of pleasure in answering a question which is of a completely unpolitical character. Yes, Trans-Australia Airlines again made a record profit, despite the dire prognosti cations of the gentlemen who sit opposite. The progress of T.A.A. is thus confirmed. It is interesting to notice that the latest report submitted by the Australian National Airlines Commission to the Government and to the Parliament is the seventeenth submitted by the commission. It is the thirteenth submitted to this. Government which, if any notice at all were to be taken of the Opposition, was bent, first, upon selling T.A.A. and then, unable to sell T.A.A., upon its destruction in one way or another. This report on the operation of T.A.A. is merely symptomatic of the fact that under the policies pursued by this Government the airline industry has been advanced to a better position than it ever enjoyed in the past, and it is now in a position where it can be regarded as being reasonably commercial.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer: -
For many years it has been the practice of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to present special programmes to mark the national days of various countries with which Australia maintains diplomatic relations. These are normally programmes of music of the country concerned. However, the A.B.C. has recently reviewed the existing arrangements and decided that - (a) the A.B.C. will continue to broadcast special programmes to mark the national days of British Commonwealth countries; (b) it will not broadcast in the home service national day programmes of any other countries owing to the large and increasing number of countries whose representatives might request such programmes and the difficulty of meeting all those requests within the programme time available.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
Is the Commonwealth Co-ordinator of the Good Neighbour Councils employed in an honorary capacity? If not, what remuneration and expenses does he receive from the Government for his work?
– The Minister for Immigration has furnished the following reply: -
The Commonwealth Co-ordinator of Good Neighbour Councils is a paid employee of the Commonwealth. He occupies a position with a salary range of £2,293-£2,488 per annum. This classification is that fixed by the Public Service Board some twelve years ago for his predecessor in this position. The co-ordinator draws travelling allowance and allowance for the use of his private car, when its use is authorized, at the rates applicable to Commonwealth public servants as approved by the Public Service Board. The present occupant of the position is a retired public servant. While he is so employed he is required to surrender half of his retirement pension from the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. This amounts to £1,251 8s. lid. per annum, and is a direct saving to Commonwealth costs.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade has informed me as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 to 4. Yes.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– I now furnish the following replies: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has furnished the following information: -
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– I now furnish the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 and 2. A man by the name of Vickers was charged in a court in Sydney on 8th October, 1962, with a breach of section 253 (a) of the Navigation Act 1912-1958. Section 253 (a) provides that “No person shall knowingly send by or carry in any ship any dangerous goods under a false description “. The goods concerned in this offence had been described on import documents as scrap brass and scrap cartridges and on export documents as scrap brass. Vickers was fined £500.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Estimates of Expenditure 1962-63 provide under annual appropriations for expenditure of £167,877,000 on Capital Works and Services. This bill, in conjunction with the Supply (Works and Services) Act 1962-63, will provide for the parliamentary appropriation for expenditure on -
Details of the proposed expenditure are given on pages 238 to 255 of the printed Estimates in the schedule to the present bill and in the document “ Civil Works Programme 1962-63 “, which was made available to honorable senators with the Budget on 7th August, 1962.
The amounts included in the bill have already been examined in detail by the Senate in its consideration of the Estimates.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this bill is to authorize the payment in 1962-63 of special grants totalling £11,251,000 to the States of Western Australia and Tasmania. The payment of these grants has been recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its twenty-ninth report which has already been tabled. The bill also authorizes the payment of advances to Western Australia and Tasmania in the early months of 1963-64, pending the authorization by Parliament of the special grants for that year. A similar provision has been included in the legislation authorizing payment of grants for a number of years.
Under the procedures currently adopted by the commission the special grants recommended each year are composed of two parts. One part is based on the commission’s estimate of a claimant State’s financial needs for the year in which the grant is to be paid, and is regarded by the commission as an advance payment subject to final adjustment two years later when the commission has completed its examination of the audited budget results of the States for that year. The other part of the grant represents the final adjustment, positive or negative, of the advance payment made two years earlier.
In accordance with its usual practice, the commission has arrived at its recommendations by making a detailed comparison of the budgets of each of the claimant States with those of the standard States, particular account being taken of differences in levels of expenditure and in efforts to raise revenue. As was the case last year, the commission has taken the States of New South Wales and Victoria as the standard States for the purposes of these comparisons.
The special grants which the commission has recommended for payment in 1962-63 and the special grants paid in 1961-62 are set out in the following table which, with the permission of the Senate, I incorporate in “Hansard”.
In total, the special grants recommended for 1962-63 are £20,000 greater than those paid in 1961-62. In 1961-62 the increase in the grants recommended for Western Australia and Tasmania over those for the preceding year was £2,613,000. The substantially smaller increase this year is primarily due to the fact that the adjustment to the advance payment made two years earlier is about £1,500,000 less this year than in 1961-62.
The effect of adopting the commission’s recommendations would be to increase the total general revenue grants, that is, financial assistance grants plus special grants, payable to the two claimant States by about £1,589,000 this financial year, using for this purpose the Commonwealth Statistician’s latest estimates of the financial assistance grants. For Western Australia the increase would be approximately £1,187,000 and for Tasmania approximately £402,000. The precise amounts payable as financial assistance grants for 1962-63 remain to be determined by the Statistician before, at the latest, 31st December of this year. In addition Western Australia will receive £894,000 and Tasmania £1,168,000 from the additional assistance grant of £12,500,000 being provided in 1962-63 for employmentgiving activities.
The estimated amounts of total general revenue grants payable to each State in 1962-63, and the amounts paid in 1961-62, are compared in a further table which, with the concurrence of the Senate, I also incorporate in “ Hansard “.
The Government considers that the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s recommendations regarding special grants for Western Australia and Tasmania in 1962-63 should be adopted. I therefore commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cant) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to amend the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act 1923-1957. The amendment became necessary following a recent opinion by the Commonwealth’s legal advisers that the laws relating to the release on licence of prisoners from the Territories of the Commonwealth serving terms of imprisonment upon conviction under the laws of the Territories are deficient. For example, if such a prisoner serving a term of imprisonment in a State is released on conditions, or a prisoner so released in a Territory subsequently goes to a State, there appears to be no way of enforcing the conditions of his licence. A prisoner whose detention arises from an offence under the federal law and who has been transferred from a Territory can be released on licence under provisions of the Crimes Act before completion of his sentence. That act also provides for conditions to be attached to the licence, which can be enforced in any part of the Commonwealth.
A prisoner transferred from a Territory, whose detention arises from an offence under a Territory law, as distinct from federal law, can also be released on licence either in the exercise of prerogative powers of mercy or under Territory law. It is doubtful, however, in the case of a licence issued under a prerogative power, whether the conditions of the licence can be enforced at all and, in the case of a licence issued under a Territory law, whether it can be enforced outside the Territory. The best way to ensure enforceability of conditions attached to a licence in respect of prisoners convicted or ordered to be detained under a law of a Territory is to have the provisions regarding the issue and enforcement of such licences enacted in a Commonwealth statute and in the circumstances it is appropriate to make such provisions in the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act.
The bill intends to achieve this purpose. It provides that the Governor-General may grant a licence to be at large to a prisoner who has been removed to a State or Territory in pursuance of the act. The release of the prisoner may be subject to conditions specified in the licence and the conditions may be varied, revoked or additional conditions may be imposed. The licence itself may also be revoked.
A person who fails to comply with a condition of the licence may without warrant be arrested and brought before a prescribed authority, that is, a magistrate, a district officer, or an assistant district officer of a Territory. If there is no lawful excuse for the failure to comply with the conditions the magistrate cancels the licence. The person may, however, appeal to the Supreme Court of a Territory or a prescribed federal court in the State against the cancellation of the licence. Where a licence has been revoked or cancelled the offender has to serve the balance of his sentence.
The position is similar in the case of criminal lunatics removed to a State or another Territory who have been ordered to be detained during pleasure. The bill provides that a criminal lunatic, who has been removed to a State or Territory, my be released from custody either unconditionally or subject to conditions by order of the Governor-General. The conditions may be varied or revoked, or additional conditions may be imposed, and a conditional order for release may be revoked at any time. Where an order is revoked or a person fails to comply with a condition of the order, the person may without warrant be arrested and detained in custody as if the order for release had not been made.
The bill further extends the provisions of the act to a person who has been sentenced to death in a Territory and has had his sentence commuted to a term of imprisonment, and also to habitual criminals who are being detained in prison after expiration of their sentences.
The bill provides for other amendments which are designed to remedy minor defects in the existing act. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
Debate resumed from 8th November (vide page 1290), on motion by Senator Paltridge-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I hasten to assure the Government that the Opposition does not intend to oppose this measure. In fact, we on this side of the chamber want to facilitate its passage through this chamber. We all know that the provision of pension benefits for members of the services is a much more complex matter than is the provision of similar schemes for members of the Public Service, but of course the rights of members of the defence forces are no less important than are those of public servants. This has been a burning question and a matter of concern for the Government over a period of years, as it was for the Labour Government prior to 1949. Before 1949, the Honorable J. J. Dedman, as a Minister in the Labour Government of the day, made a start on analysing the whole position regarding the provision of a pensions scheme for members of the defence forces.
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) stated in his second- reading speech that the object of the bill is to adjust Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act pension entitlements to take account of salary increases which have occurred since 1959, to the extent to which those increases already have been reflected in the pension entitlements of members of the Public Service. He went on to state -
In order to avoid a repetition of the present situation, the bill also provides for automatic adjustments in these service pension entitlements upon new rates of pay being prescribed in the regulations. Thus, for any future general increase in servicemen’s salaries, increased pension entitlements will be applied without any delay.
In other words, they will be applied automatically. It will not be necessary, as it has been in the past, to bring before the Parliament each year legislation for the purpose of adjusting pensions.
I understand that the Allison committee, after a comprehensive survey of the whole matter of defence forces retirement benefits, made a report to the Government in 1959. I believe that that report is the basis of the bill now before the Senate. The measure is aimed at streamlining the provision of these benefits. Obviously, the framing of legislation to provide for retirement benefits for members of the Services is a much more complex matter than is the provision of a superannuation scheme for members of the Public Service, having regard to the different ages at which the various ranks in the Services retire. As we know, in the Public Service male officers retire at 65 years of age and I believe, female officers at 60 years of age. In the defence forces, retirement ages vary. I understand that the retiring age for an officer with the rank of major in the Army is 47 years, for a lieutenant-colonel it is 50 years, for a brigadier, and ordinary ranks at 55 years, and for a major-general, 57 years.
I refer to the following important matter which was covered by the Minister in his second-reading speech. He stated -
The bill also gives effect to two minor changes. The scheme of the act requires contributions on promotion to be paid during the period of service remaining to retirement, which in some cases is short and the contribution is accordingly high. Members will be permitted in certain circumstances to defer until the end of their service some or all of the contributions payable on promotion. At the end of their service most members become entitled to payments such as pay inlieu of furlough from which the deferred contributions, plus interest, may be met. The second minor change is to permit members who have attained the age for retirement applicable to their rank, but have been retained in the service, to contribute for any increases in pension entitlement which may become available within a period of two years after attainment of that age.
While the bill goes a long way towards streamlining the whole scheme of retirement benefits for members of the defence forces, undoubtedly anomalies will occur. I suppose it is impossible to implement a scheme of this nature which is free of anomalies altogether. However, it will be time to deal with the anomalies when they arise. 1 do not see that any great anomaly could arise from the bill that we are now discussing.
Before I conclude my comments, I should like to pay a tribute to the members of the Allison committee for the very comprehensive report which they submitted to the Government, indicating that they had investigated the matter thoroughly. I have heard favorable comments expressed by members of the defence forces regarding the work of the committee in framing the basis for this legislation. As I have said, the Opposition does not intend to oppose the measure.
– What pensions are payable?
– The pensions that are payable are stated in the bill, but not in the Minister’s second-reading speech. The bill is a lengthy one in which rates are shown. I have no criticism of the bill. The Opposition does not oppose the measure.
– in reply - I note with pleasure that the Opposition does not intend to oppose the bill. I also note that Senator Sandford has no critical comment to make of it at this moment. The honorable senator has referred to the possibility of anomalies occurring in the future and has stated that with a scheme of this nature it would seem almost inevitable for anomalies to occur. I think that has been the general experience with this legislation. Nevertheless, a milestone was reached when the Government accepted and gave effect to the report of the Allison committee of 1959, which the honorable senator has mentioned. The committee made a major overhaul of this field. The Government has introduced legislation to reduce the number of anomalies to a minimum, and it has operated successfully ever since the Allison committee made its report. I think it can be said that the Government has displayed its willingness - indeed, its enthusiasm - to correct anomalies as they have been exposed. That will continue to be our policy in the future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I should like the Minister to answer one question, if he can. I referred to the early retiring ages for the various ranks. For the purposes of my question, I refer to a major, who retires at the age of 47 years and becomes eligible for a certain superannuation payment. I should like to know whether such an officer would be entitled to continue to receive payment at the full rate if he accepted other employment particularly employment under the Crown.
– I am informed that in the case mentioned by the honorable senator the pension would be reduced by 50 per cent., or to £500 10s., whichever was the greater.
– Does that apply only to employment under the Crown?
– It applies only to Commonwealth employment. While I am on my feet, I take the opportunity to refer to the statement by Senator Sandford that the retiring ages for male and female public servants were 65 and 60 years respectively. They are not. The retiring age is the same for both sexes. Both males and females have the option of retiring at 60 or 65 years of age.
– That is Commonwealth public servants?
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17th October (vide page 886), on the following papers presented by Senator Wade -
Broadcasting and Television Act - Thirtieth Annual Report and Financial Statement of the Australian Broadcasting Commission together with Financial Statement for year 1961-62; Fourteenth Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for year 1961-62.
And on the motion by Senator Hannan -
That the papers be printed.
– I welcome the opportunity that this debate provides to discuss television services. I think the Senate is well aware of my continuing interest in this subject. I am concerned primarily with the extension of television services to country people just as soon as that is possible. This debate also gives us an opportunity to discuss the very full report presented by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I refer to the following paragraph which appears on page 31 of that report: -
As to future areas, television is a matter which, because of the large expenditure involved, cannot be developed all at once.
I agree with that entirely. The Government has done a remarkable job in providing television services for many people, but I still want to put before it some further facts with respect to people in isolated country areas. The report continues -
The Government has proceeded by stages and is now proceeding to a new stage. The door is not closed for future stages. Indeed, there are a number of other areas of relatively substantial population concerning which it has not been possible to make final decisions at this stage. All these will, however, receive continuing attention and I have asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board-
I take it that this is a statement by the chairman - to make a further report to me as soon as it is possible to reach some firm conclusion as the result of experience with the new stations. Representations will be received by the Board from interests which may desire to provide services in such areas, or for that matter in other areas. The Board after full investigation will make its recommendations to the Government through the Minister.
In a statement made on 4th October last, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) referred to the fact that no applications were made for television licences in the southern agricultural area or the central agricultural area of Western Australia. I think the Minister will agree that the reason why no applications were made is that at this point of time the populations of those areas are not sufficient to support initiating commercial stations. In passing, I mention two other areas in a similar category in Western Australia which have so far received no mention whatever in the Government’s plans. They are the areas around Kalgoorlie and Geraldton. In these areas, private enterprise concerns are willing to give services through translator or repeater stations, but, for very obvious reasons, they are not prepared to do this if the Government persists with its present policy under which such stations would be deemed to be second stations.
I ask the Government to give consideration to some suggestions that I shall make with respect to these isolated areas. The first is that in cases where population density is insufficient to attract initiating commercial stations, the Government gazette the areas as declared areas until such time as the population figures rise to a degree that would warrant the establishment of initiating commercial stations. The Postmaster-General’s Department and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board could set down an arbitrary figure for the population density that they considered would warrant an application from commercial interests to set up a second station. Until such time as the population density reached that arbitrary figure, why not declare these areas as areas that could be served by translators, the translators not to be deemed to be second stations? The board could then call for applications from people desirous of providing translator services to those declared areas. An applicant need not necessarily be an existing commercial station. It could be an association of local shire councils or local business interests who were prepared to provide a translator service, knowing full well that once the population density reached the arbitrary figure set by the Government that translator service would be deemed to be a second station. Unless something like that is done, the areas that I have mentioned will be denied for many years the right to have an alternative station. Admittedly, they will have a national station. As we see from page 31 of the report, the Government has opinions on this matter and so has the board. In the report the chairman says -
As I have said, applications will be invited for the grant of a licence for, at the present time, one commercial station in each of the areas named. Whether or not every one of those areas warrants a commercial station is a matter for decision in the first place by those who may wish to make application for a licence.
Applications were invited, but no applications were forthcoming for two areas in Western Australia and one area in South Australia for the obvious reason that the population density did not warrant the establishment of stations. The report continues -
It will, of course, be necessary for them to present an acceptable case to the Board.
I come now to this important point -
I feel I can say, however, that where population densities are relatively low, arrangements by an applicant with an adjacent licensee for some form of relay or programme sharing, or even financial assistance, might prove acceptable to the Board, every case depending upon its own circumstances.
I was delighted when I read that part of the report because it shows that the Government is at least a little sympathetic with some of the propositions that have been put forward. That all sounds quite well, but I repeat that if this facility were made available under the present policy it would still be classed as a second station. Of course, that means that no one will make an application in respect of those areas of low population density.
At this stage I wish to say something personal about my interest in translators. It has been suggested in Western Australia that the only reason why I am taking an interest in this matter is that I have a financial interest in translators. I wish to say for the benefit of my colleagues in the Senate - we are not on the air so I am not saying it to the public - that I do not hold a share in any company in Australia, other than the twelve shares that I hold in the local farmers’ co-operative where I farm at Babakin. So, I have no axe to grind in this matter. I want country people to receive this amenity.
I should like to bring to the attention of the Minister a couple of statements on page 35 of the report under the heading “ Extension of Television to Additional Areas “. The report states -
It is estimated that when stations are established in the twenty country areas involved in the fourth stage of development of television, the percentage of population in the various States which will be receiving a television service will be-
I know that Western Australia has a very large area, but most of the population is concentrated in certain parts. Yet the percentage of population receiving television will be only 77 per cent. That will leave about 166,000 people, in a State that has not a large population, who will not be receiving this amenity.
Also on page 35 I find a statement which re-inforces my argument. The statement reads -
In some instances it is suggested that particular areas should receive special attention in the form of the immediate establishment of some kind of service,-
This is what I have been asking tha Postmaster-General to consider -
I hope that some information is available. It is quite comforting to know that the board is conscious of the need and the problems that confront this State which has such a colossal area and such a low population density.
I am still at a loss to understand why the Government will not permit private enterprise to give people a television service by way of translators. That would not involve the Treasury or the Government in the expenditure of one penny. The reason why I say that the Government will not permit private enterprise to do this is that the service would be classed as a second station if it were made available and no one with any business sense will put in a translator and preclude himself from getting a licence for an initiating station at a later stage.
These translators are not new. I asked the Postmaster-General some questions about them. He agreed that as at 1st August, 1962, there were 411 ultra high frequency translators and 1,085 very high frequency translators authorized and operating in the United States of America. So nearly 1,600 translators are operating in that country.
– For general reception?
– Yes. These translators are not being used by the defence services. The services use translators, but these translators are for general public reception. I also asked the PostmasterGeneral this question: “ Does the American Federal Communications Commission favour U.H.F. translators? “ The Minister’s reply was “ Yes “. The third question I asked was -
Are 100-watt transmitters authorized for U.H.F. translators as compared with one watt for V.H.F. translators?
The Minister’s answer to that question was -
The maximum power authorized for UH.F. translators in the U.S.A. is 100 watts and for V.H.F. translators one watt. In some other countries higher powered V.H.F. translators are authorized.
I quoted those questions and answers to put on record the fact that these translators are in existence. I know that some difficulties have arisen where ultra high frequency and very high frequency bands are operating and they come in conflict with each other. But the areas about which I am talking are huge areas in which we have not the fringe viewing which raises the same problem. 1 wish to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question about the Advisory Committee on Children’s Television Programmes, which’ is referred to at page 47 of the report. The committee has eight members. Victoria is represented by four members.
– That is normal.
– Yes, it is; but the rest is not quite as normal. New South
Wales is represented by two members, Queensland by one member and South Australia by one member; and Western Australia and Tasmania have no representation on the committee. I can understand that Western Australia might not be represented because of the distance involved in attending meetings. Travelling costs increase the expense. However, I do not think that argument should apply to Tasmania when the committee probably meets in Melbourne. I should like to know why Western Australia and Tasmania are not represented on the committee.
In regard to channel frequencies, I refer to the Report and Recommendations to the Postmaster-General on Applications for Commercial Television Licences in Provincial and Country Areas presented in 1960. At page 193, under the heading “ Use of the V.H.F. Band “, this statement appears -
The majority opinion in technical submissions made to the Board both in written evidence and at the technical conference was that development of the television service should take place in the V.H.F. band-
There is no argument about that, provided there are sufficient V.H.F. channels - and that insufficient VHF channels were available for such development.
I am conscious of the fact that at that time we had only ten channels available and now we have thirteen, but at page 198 of the report in his conclusions, Mr. McDonald, Director of the Technical Services Division, stated -
It would appear that the number of VHF channels at present available is inadequate to provide for both immediate and long term development, but whether the VHF band with possibly additional channels would be adequate depends upon the number of stations to be provided for in the more densely populated areas. As the number of stations to be provided for in the various areas must be determined in the light of economic and sociological aspects in addition to the technical aspects to which this report is limited, no recommendation is made at this stage as to the technical methods to be adopted to meet development.
However if the number of stations for which provision is to be made, both immediately and in the foreseeable future, is greater than can be accommodated in the VHF band, and it is envisaged that the UHF band will be needed for further development of the existing service, it is important that a decision be made as soon as possible on the method of using the band in order that equipment manufacturers can proceed with the necessary development, and that the difficulties of introducing the new band be minimised.
Has a decision been made on that recommendation by Mr. McDonald? When the Minister is replying to this debate, would he tell us how far Australia is interested in experiments with reflector-type balloons which might be the answer to the problems of the isolated areas? Can we, in Australia, expect to receive programmes through techniques such as Telstar by direct reception? Again, I ask the Government to consider my suggestion that there be declared areas for places such as Kalgoorlie and Geraldton, which are not in phase 4 and are not even mentioned in any phases of television. Will the Government give some thought to making these declared areas until the population density is such that they can be classed as second stations?
– The report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June, 1962, is rather interesting, but I wish it were written in simpler language. I found it a frightful job wading through the report. I do not say that the English is not correct, but it read to me more like a legal document, and the lawyers are paid even more than we are. It is possible to read a report of the Tariff Board in a weekend and grasp the sense of it; but why must the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board be written in such a way that lay people find it difficult to read? 1 hope that my words will be noted, although I think that I will have little chance of achieving a change in style. Apart from the excessive work involved in reading the report, it is an interesting document. The report states at paragraph 4 that one of the principal functions of the board is -
To ensure that adequate and comprehensive programmes are provided by commercial broadcasting stations and commercial television stations to serve the best interests of the general public.
That is one of the functions of the board, and I hope we keep that in mind, as I have some critical observations to make on both radio and television broadcasting. Under the heading of “ Programme Services “ the board’s report states -
Some work on these lines is being done by stations which have been able to find space for programmes designed to give listeners something to think about. But it is a matter for concern that on certain days of the week, and at certain hours of the day, is the capital cities, where the operation of a number of commercial broadcasting stations might pre-suppose a choice of programmes, the choice is too often between programmes of the same type and not between programmes of different types.
Referring to children’s programmes, the report states at page 20 -
It is rather disappointing to find that a quarter of the time devoted to children is occupied by top-tune music, in view of the very considerable amount of music of this type occurring in other programmes. The Board believes that judicious use of progammes concerning current affairs, geography, history and science would be beneficial to children and would stimulate Australian production of programmes.
That could be the subject of a lengthy discussion. I suppose it is cheaper to provide the top-tune programmes, and I shall have something to say on the big profits that are made by television stations, and no doubt by broadcasting stations also. Probably they are like every other form of private enterprise that has the support of the Government. All that honorable senators opposite are concerned about is what profit they can reap. That is why they put their money into private enterprise. Apparently the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has given careful consideration to the supervision of programmes, but I wonder why there is not more evidence of action instead of words. Referring to news broadcasts, the board states -
Reference has been made in previous reports to a tendency towards sensationalism in the presentation of news and in actuality reports obtained by roving reporters equipped with mobile recorders. Although the incidence of this type of reporting appeared to have declined in the latter part of 1961 there was some evidence of it again early in 1962, possibly arising from the keen competition for audience.
I do not think one can read any report in the press that is not more or less sensational. If the press can make it so, it is not altogether concerned about the actual truth of the report. As long as the bosses can sell their papers and get some one to sponsor the news over the two media, I do not think they are very worried about the accuracy of what one hears or sees. The report continues -
Broadcasts of this type were the subject of discussion between the Board and the Federal Council of the Australian Federation of Commercial
Broadcasting Stations. The Board hopes that all stations will appreciate the importance of presenting news objectively, and, with few exceptions, unemotionally.
I should be delighted if the board ensured that the news presented was factual. That is all that I and, I think, the people generally are concerned about. If the reporters stuck to that principle, of course, one would be concerned about their positions, to put it very mildly.
In paragraph 49, the board states -
The number of sponsored religious programmes has increased on many stations. They do not, in some cases, appear to be distributed to best advantage in Sunday programme schedules.
It must be pleasing to every one, irrespective of his religious belief, to note that there has been such an increase. Let us hope that the board will be able to ensure that these programmes are distributed to better advantage. I say quite candidly that the greatest windfall in the world is to receive a broadcasting or television licence. A person who receives such a licence is really in the money, as the figures in the report show. In the interests of the people, the board should see that its wishes are carried out, because people who have been granted licences, including television licences in recent years, have certainly been handed a packet, as the man in the street would say.
In paragraph 62, the report states -
The Board’s Thirteenth Annual Report referred to an amendment following consultation with the Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations which limited to four the number of advertisements that should be broadcast in a single group of spot advertisements. The amendment became effective on 31st December, 1960. More than a year later the Board was still finding that this rule was being disregarded.
I have the greatest respect for the members of the board. The Government has handed to broadcasting licensees a medium from which a tremendous amount of money is to be made. If the provisions of the act or directions of the board have not been complied with, the Government should take up the matter. In view of the period during which there has been non-compliance, it is about time that the Government took this action. It should say to these people, “ Do what you should do under the act and regulations, or else! “ I hope that if I have to wade through the board’s report next -year, as I have done on this occasion, I shall not read that licensees are not carrying out their part of the bargain. All that the board proposes to do is to take the matter up with the federation.
In paragraph 105, in relation to television programme services, the report states -
The Board has observed, with some regret, that seasonal increases in transmission hours seem to reflect a demand by advertisers for more time rather than a desire by licensees to provide a more diversified service to viewers; similarly, requests for reductions in transmission hours seem to reflect a lack of sponsorship rather than the interests of viewers.
With great respect I ask: Would the board expect anything else? I can speak only for Victoria. Does any one think that the average commercial television programmes served up there stem from concern for the desires of the people? The stations, I believe, are concerned only with obtaining the cheapest programme that will provide a good rating. Therefore, I hope that the board will tell those stations that have applied for a reduction in transmission hours that they must provide the people with programmes throughout their transmission hours, even though all these may not be sponsored.
In a comment upon the type of programmes, the board observes, in paragraph 111 -
The tables also show that while one-third of peak time was occupied by crime drama, another 50 per cent, was occupied by other types of drama, leaving rather less than one-sixth of these two-hour periods from 7.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. for all types of programme. The Board does not intend to specify the amounts or proportions of time which should be devoted to any type of programme, but it is obliged to consider whether such concentrations of a limited range of programmes are consistent with the underlying requirement to provide adequate and comprehensive programmes.
Licensees in this medium are making real money, not pennies. Where the board finds that programmes are not to its satisfaction, it should take action. In the main, the press was allotted commercial television licences, no doubt because the press has been very kind over the years to governments of the political colour of the present Government. Well, of course, it is wise to look after your friends. But these people, having made fortunes out of this medium, should not be in a position to say, “ If we break a regulation here, or if we bend it a little, the board will take the matter up with the federation and we shall still get away with it”. The Postmaster-General should tell the board, whose competence I do not for a moment doubt, that it should come down heavily on these television stations, which have a real bonanza.
In paragraph 113 the board states -
While recognizing and welcoming those parts of children’s programmes which have some constructive value, the Board is of the opinion that too much time is still being given to programmes which may entertain children, and may occupy their leisure hours, but are unlikely to leave them the better for their viewing. Some aspects of these programmes are regarded by the Board’s Advisory Committee on Children’s Television Programmes as likely to be damaging to the child’s standards of values, especially in competitive programmes where the prizes are given either regardless of the relation of their retail cost to the degree of skill required of the successful competitor, or for a performance of too little merit.
Quite candidly I think the board should do more than talk about this matter. In these days of sky-high values it is wrong to implant in the minds of children the idea that they can get things easily. Television is the greatest medium with which to create impressions on the minds of children. I am not forgetting that years ago I was young but we should endeavour to give our children a sense of value.
An interesting aspect of the board’s report is that which deals with time occupied by programmes of Australian origin. The board’s report shows that certain Sydney and Melbourne television stations devoted the following hours per week, to the nearest quarter-hour, to Australian programmes in June, 1961: -
Of course, one would expect HSV, Melbourne to want large profits. No doubt it is cheaper to buy rubbish from overseas than to use Australian artists in programmes. I am not a bit surprised that the Melbourne “ Herald “ station devotes fewer hours to Australian programmes than do some of the other stations. The board’s report shows that stations in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth devote even fewer hours to Australian programmes.
In paragraph 137 of its report the board states -
For example, the Australian programmes of the metropolitan commercial television stations are shown to consist of approximately 43 per cent, light entertainment, 23 per cent, family and children’s programmes, 11 per cent, news, 7 per cent, sport, 7 per cent, current affairs and 3 per cent, drama.
In view of the small amount of time given over to drama, the outlook for Australian artists is not very bright. The report continues -
The distribution of Australian programmes throughout the day is also significant: 33 per cent, occurs in the day time periods, 43 per cent, per cent, in family time, 7 per cent, in peak time, and 16 per cent, in adult time.
The figure of 7 per cent, in peak time is interesting. Peak time is very expensive. The stations do not want to use Australian programmes, which probably would cost much more than cheap films from overseas.
In paragraph 138 the board states -
The emphasis in Australian material is still on programmes such as light variety, quiz and informal afternoon sessions.
I do not know how you would classify “ Consider Your Verdict “ but I think it is an awful show. The report continues -
The Board recognizes that there is a place for this type of material but it would like to see a more general interest by stations in the production of programmes with greater intrinsic merit
The board should do more than comment; if these people step out of line it should act. These stations have been handed a bonanza. The board should not allow them to cop the lot. The board should come down heavily on them. It is quite clear that the commercial television stations are not honouring their obligations to Australian artists and Australian culture. They should be forced to honour those obligations. For how long are we to be compelled to buy overseas films? Goodness knows how many people are shot in some of them.
– The films are repeated on some stations.
– Well, it is the old story. The stations will repeat the films.
Dealing with television advertising, the board, in paragraph 139 of its report, states -
It is noticeable in the programmes of all commercial television stations that more advertisers appear to use spot advertisements and fewer use the facilities for sponsorship. It is also apparent that some advertising practices have been developed which were not forseen by the Board, and for which no provision exists in the Standards.
The standards are set out in a publication by the board dated 10th April, 1955. The report continues -
Observations during the year by the Board’s officers revealed an increasing tendency for the televising of advertisements to a greater extent than <.s provided for in the Standards. Extensive use is also made by stations of the practice of televising advertisements “ on contra “ - that is, free advertisements in return for goods received for use as prizes or giveaways. There seems to be no reason why this should not be done if the advertisements comply with the requirements of the Standards. However some stations -
The board has named them - have not regarded advertisements of this kind a? coming within the scope of the advertising time standards. This would defeat the purpose of the Standards, and is not accepted by the Board. These matters are brought under the notice of the station concerned whenever they are seen, but the Board is not yet satisfied that all relevant station personnel fully appreciate the responsibility which devolves on each licensee to ensure that the Board’s Standards are observed.
If licensees continue not to observe the standards laid down by the board, I suggest that, instead of keeping on talking, the board should act and bring the stations into line. The board notes also that the time spent on advertisements is roughly 13 per cent, of the total viewing time each week, and on some days reaches almost 16 per cent. I may say that I take great comfort from the fact that the board is making a critical approach to the programmes, but I think it should do something more. It is dealing with people who have a lot of power In Victoria these people not only own television stations, they publish also 1,000,000 copies of two newspapers each day. They, of course, call them newspapers, but I have always alluded to them as “ viewspapers “. They own the organizations, so I suppose they are entitled to colour the news to suit their views. I repeat that the board is not dealing with little people.
– They have radio stations, too.
– They have the lot. I therefore again ask the board not to keep on talking but to act. Despite the fact that these criticisms are couched in the very cautious and guarded prose with which the board manages to make the reading of its report a fearsome and backbreaking task, it is quite clear that the board is moving to a position where it is insisting on improved standards from commercial radio and television stations. Because of that I can do none other than compliment the board on its report.
One cannot help thinking that many of the points of criticism raise the same issues - this is rather interesting - as the criticisms made by the United Kingdom Committee on Broadcasting in 1960 - the famous Pilkington committee. I have the report of that committee with me and I propose to read extracts from it in a moment in order to show the difference between a conservative government in Great Britain and a conservative government in Australia. Of course, the Government in Australia disguises itself with the name Liberal, but it is still conservative.
The Pilkington committee noted the lack of balance in the whole output of a given channel in three respects. It noted first that the range of subjects dealt with is too narrow; that programmes are far too often designed to create a mass audience; that all the many tastes of the public deserve consideration but disappointingly few are catered for; that there are not enough programmes for minorities of all kinds; and that there is too heavy a reliance on tried, tired and interminable favorites. The second thing that the committee noted was that even within the existing range there is not a sufficient variety of treatment. Each subject could be treated in many ways, and must be so treated if the needs of various audiences are to be satisfied. It would be a mistake to suppose that the whole stretch of programming possibilities is covered because a comprehensive list of subjects is recorded in programme journals. The committee’s third point was that the range presented during peak viewing hours is markedly narrower even than the overall range. Because these are the hours in which nearly everybody is able to watch, they are television’s most valuable hours. During them, television must concentrate most of its service to the public, for effective choice is very largely limited to what is shown when people are free to choose.
The committee was told that much of the material was trivial; that there was a preoccupation with the superficial and cheaply sensational. Words used to describe many of the mass appeal programmes were vapid, puerile, repetitious, unworthy and lacking in real substance. This British report expresses what must have been in the mind of the Australian board. The report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board does not use the words used by the Pilkington committee, but if one takes the trouble to read the Australian report - and I will admit that it takes some reading - one will come to the conclusion that the Australian board might easily have used the same language in describing much of the material used by our television stations.
The Pilkington committee stressed that triviality resides in the way that the subjectmatter - whatever it might be - is treated. Not only is trivial programming a waste of the medium - and that, as the Pilkington report states, is a sin of omission - but it too often has positive adverse results and therefore becomes a sin of commission. I am not going to explain what is a sin of omission and what is a sin of commission. I leave that to the imagination of the honorable senators present. I mention these matters in passing to stress that the faults found by our board in relation to television in Australia were in many respects similar to those found in private television in the United Kingdom by the inquiry established there by a conservative government.
The Pilkington committee concluded that on the evidence submitted the British Broadcasting Corporation commanded public confidence. Whatever criticisms viewers made of television, they nearly all went on to say that if there was to be an additional television licence it should be given to the corporation. In short, the British Broadcasting Corporation service was judged - though not without qualification - to be a successful realization of the purposes of broadcasting. I only hope that if, at the time of its next report, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board finds that nothing has been done about the matters to which it has directed attention, it will state its opinion in words that will have the effect of bringing the stations into line.
The Pilkington committee examined the concept of whether the broadcaster must choose whether to “ give the people what they want “ or “ what he thinks is good for them “. The committee rejected those alternatives as gross over-simplifications of a complex and continuing problem and as statements which presented unreal extremes as though they were the only choices. The committee recorded that it put the two views to both broadcasting authorities and to all main programme companies. None regarded either alternative as tenable. The report concluded that the broadcasters should present, for viewers and licensees to choose from, the widest possible range of subject-matter, treating as much as possible of the whole scope and variety of human awareness and experience. At the same time, the broadcasters must care about public tastes and attitudes in all their variety in all kinds of programmes. They must be constantly aware of them and must also be aware of their capacity to change and develop.
In case some honorable senators may think I have taken a great deal of time in dealing with passages from the Pilkington report, let me say that it is a most interesting document. With great respect to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, may I say that the Pilkington committee report is much easier to read than is the board’s report, or at least the portions of it that I wanted to read. It shows what the people of Great Britain wanted in the way of television, according to this committee which was appointed by the Conservative Government of that country.
In paragraph 10, at page 7 of the report of the Broadcasting Control Board, reference is made to the new premises of the board in the Argus Building, at 373 Elizabeth-street, Melbourne. I am not imputing motives to anybody, but I say that whoever made the decision to move to those premises made an unwise decision. The building is owned by the “ Herald “ interests, which also own television station HSV7. I am not going to say that the board could be influenced in any way in this respect, but if I had any say in the matter, it would be occupying those premises only for as long as it took to find other premises. I hope that this position may act as a spur to the construction of the second stage of the Commonwealth centre. When that has been done, it may be possible to get the employees of the board out of their present premises and to avoid the possibility of people saying that they may or may not be influenced. My own opinion is that the board will not be influenced, but why should it leave itself open for criticism to be levelled at it?
I am interested in television licence fees. The report shows that if one station makes a loss, there are nine making a profit. The total revenue of the stations is £1 4,600,000. The total net profit is £2,839,227 and the average profit £315,469. Is it any wonder that I say, “ What a bonanza! “? It seems that a licence to run a television station is almost as good as a licence to print money. The licence fees payable by the television stations to the board amount to only £90,284 a year, or 3 per cent. of the profits. What a joke! The board points out that in relation to fees the act does not achieve the result which had been intended when it was passed, namely, that gross earnings for the purposes of the act should be gross earnings from what is usually known in the industry as the sale of station time, and should not include amounts which may be paid to a licensee by an advertiser for the programme with which his advertising is associated. In this matter, at least, the board has acted. It has done all that it could do, and for that I give it great credit. The board points out that amendment of the act will be required. I should have liked the board to state that it had asked the Government to bring down the necessary amendment, because when one reads the report it is obvious that the present position is farcical.
The fee payable for a television licence is a flat £100, plus 1 per cent. of the gross earnings of the station from the televising of advertisements or other matter. In view of the high profits made by stations, the Government should take note of the necessity for amendment of the act so far as licence fees are concerned. I have always been interested in the ownership and control of television stations. As was mentioned in the board’s twelfth annual report, the main purpose of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1960, which amended the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-56, was to amend the provisions of Division 3 of Part IV. of the principal act which relates to the limitation of ownership or control of commercial television stations, in such a way as to ensure the effectiveness of the prohibition previously contained in the act on the ownership or control by any person of more than two television stations. The provisions relating to the ownership or control of commercial television stations are contained in Division 3 of Part IV. of the act. The principal provisions, stated briefly, are as follows: -
A person shall not be in a position to exercise control either directly or indirectly of -
more than one commercial television station within a territory or more than one commercial television station within a radius of thirty miles from the General Post Office in the capital city of a State; or
more than two commercial television stations in Australia.
Section 92a (1) (a) provides that - a person shall be deemed to be in a position to exercise control of a licence if -
Section 92b states that a person is deemed to be in a position to control a company if he is in a position to exercise control over more than 15 per cent, of the total votes that could be cast at a general meeting of that company, or is in a position to exercise control over the operation or management of the station or the selection or provision of the programmes to be televised by the station.
Sub-section (1.) of section 92c provides that a person shall not be a director of more than two companies each of which is in a position to exercise control of a differentlicence.
Section 92 d provides that not less than 80 per cent, of the issued capital of a licensee company shall be beneficially owned by persons, other than companies, resident in Australia or by companies controlled by persons who are Australian residents, and that not more than 15 per cent, of the issued capital shall be beneficially owned by a person, other than a company, who is not a resident of Australia or by a company controlled by persons who are not residents of Australia.
Let me revert to section 92 c, because to me this provision has always been important. It reads -
A person shall not be a director of more than two companies, each of which is in a position to exercise control of a different licence.
It can be seen that no company can control, either directly or indirectly, more than two television stations and, further, that no person can be a director of more than two companies which control television stations. I have always maintained, and I still do, that the Herald and Weekly Times Limited, through its control of HSV7, and its control of Queensland Newspapers Proprietary Limited, and Advertiser Newspaper Limited, in Brisbane, also controls stations BTQ in Brisbane and ADS in Adelaide. I know that spokesmen for the “ Herald “ on the Government side claim that the Herald and Weekly Times Limited does not control Advertiser Newspaper Limited and therefore holds only two television licences in Australia. This, of course, is absurd. But even if that were true, when we come to look at the directorships held by Williams of the “ Herald “ we find that he is a director of Herald and Weekly Times Limited in Melbourne, a director of Queensland Newspapers Proprietary Limited in Brisbane, and a director of Advertiser Newspaper Limited in Adelaide. I hope there is no dispute that these three groups of newspapers do in fact control the television stations I have mentioned.
Let me refer now to the principal shareholders in the television stations. In Melbourne, Herald and Weekly Times Limited holds 637,499 out of a total of 750,000 shares in station HSV. We will not argue about who controls that station. In Brisbane, Queensland Newspapers Proprietary Limited holds 240,000 in station BTQ. The Telegraph Newspaper Company Limited holds 156,000 shares and the Herald and Weekly Times Limited hold 40,000. So that, of the total shareholding, these three newspapers control 436,000 shares. Of the two next largest shareholders in that station, one holds 100,000 shares and the other 50,000 shares. Almost 654,000 shares are held by others holding less than 10,000 shares each, and the total shareholding in that station is 1,450,000. If any one who has read any thing about company holdings and company control - there are some very interesting books on these subjects - says that the figures I have quoted do not prove conclusively who controls the Queensland station, I do not know what will prove it.
I turn now to my friends in Adelaide, the controllers of station ADS. Advertiser Newspaper Limited holds 900,000 shares in this station and Midlands Broadcasting Service, a subsidiary of Advertiser Newspaper Limited, holds 300,000 shares. The next largest shareholder in that station is Associated Newspapers Limited of England, which holds 375,000 shares. A total of 825,000 shares is held by others with less than 100,000 shares each, and the total shareholding in this station is 3,000,000. For the life of me, I cannot see how any one who has read any books on ordinary company affairs can argue that an organization which has that number of shares under its control does not control or cannot control the company concerned. I say that the act has been contravened and, unfortunately, contravened with the connivance of this Administration.
I wish now to refer to directors, because the act provides that a person shall not be a director of more than two companies. Williams is a director of Herald and Weekly Times Limited, of Advertiser Newspaper Limited and of Queensland Newspapers Proprietary Limited. I quote as my authority for that “ Jobson’s Investment Digest 1962 “, page 625. It is clear to my mind and, I think, to the mind of any one who wants to give a fair and impartial judgment, that the Government is not carrying out the terms of its own act. If it wishes the act to be observed, it must tell Williams that he had better give up one of the directorships he now holds.
I ask: Does the Government propose to uphold its own law or, on the other hand, does it propose to buy political support? I have gone to a great deal of trouble in carrying out research in connexion with this matter, and all that I have read supports the argument I am submitting. Some may argue that you cannot control a company unless you hold 51 per cent, of the shares in it. Every qualified person who has written books on company control laughs at that suggestion. I say with great respect that this Government has an obligation to enforce the provisions of its own act rather than to curry favour with the people who control the mass media of propaganda in this nation. How different is the approach by the conservative government in Australia from the approach made to this question by the committee which presented its report to the Rt. Hon, John Reginald Bevins, P.C., M.P., Her Majesty’s Postmaster-General, on 5th June, 1962. That committee stated -
But in no company, however independent television is constituted and organized, should the press interest be dominant. By “ dominant “, we do not mean “ holding more than half the voting shares “; we mean rather that it should not be the largest single interest. Where a press interest is dominant, as in Scottish Television, we recommend that the contract should not be renewed on its expiry in 1964 unless the press interest has been sufficiently reduced.
Here we find that the press is always interested in obtaining new licences that may be offering. The personnel of the Pilkington committee were not influenced as much by the press as we seem to be here. Finally, I say that the Government is responsible for the wording of our act and has an obligation to insist that the provisions of that act be observed. The Government also has an obligation to ensure that in future control of television, broadcasting and the press will not be vested in the hands of only four men. Unfortunately, the Government’s present attitude seems to be that it can do no wrong and that we on this side can do no right.
.- I regret that at the time I was called to take part in this debate I was unavoidably absent from the chamber. I ask for leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Honorable senators will recall that in May of last year the Parliament passed an act to provide for long service leave for waterside workers. It is well to remember that, but for this legislation, waterside workers would not, except in Tasmania, be entitled to long service leave. One objective of the bill was to encourage greater regularity of work on the waterfront and thus speed the turn-round of shipping so vital to our economy. There is no doubt that the scheme was, with some reservations, welcomed by the rank and file of the Waterside Workers Federation and by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. As was explained at the time, the provisions to which objection was taken would not have been included but for the policies the then leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation had been pursuing. More will be said about this later. For the moment I want to confine my attention to the long service leave benefits.
Broadly, what the legislation did was to grant long service leave to those waterside workers whose conditions of employment were similar to regular full-time employees in industry to whom leave is granted under State legislation. The legislation covered roughly 95 per cent, of all waterside workers.
My colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), has informed me that when the A.C.T.U. talked to him at the time of the legislation he admitted that its provisions were complex - naturally so, as this is a highly complex industry - and that it would have been a miracle if all possible contingencies had been foreseen. So he agreed with the A.C.T.U. that in all probability some anomalies would be brought to light and that if the legislation were given a fair trial the Government would be prepared to consider amendments.
Towards the end of last year, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Waterside Workers Federation made a series of suggestions to my colleague about the legislation. Subsequently, there were a number of conferences between the council and the federation on the one hand and the Minister and his department on the other. Each time additional suggestions were made.
By February this year, my colleague’s study of the problems was sufficiently advanced to enable him to inform the council and the federation that he was prepared to agree to a number of changes; that he was sympathetically disposed in principle to others, but desired suitable practical solutions to be evolved between the council and the federation and the Department of Labour and National Service; and that he was continuing his study of other suggested alterations. Despite this, in April a series of stoppages was organized by the Waterside Workers Federation, and a great deal of propaganda was directed against provisions the Minister had already promised to amend. To my colleague this was a saddening and revealing experience; it brought him face to face with this issue, so vital in the conduct of all industrial relationships: How far was it possible to expect fair dealing and the honouring of agreements by the Waterside Workers Federation! The Minister might well, at that stage, have taken the view that until he was certain about this he should defer further consideration of amendments.
Two considerations persuaded my colleague to go on. First, he was convinced that the A.C.T.U. had no sympathy with the behaviour of the federation though one wished it would have said so publicly and in clear terms. Secondly, he thought that it would be wrong not to correct the anomalies because not to do so would have been unfair to the individual waterside workers themselves, particularly those waterside workers in ports other than Sydney and Melbourne.
In mid-June, the Minister had a further conference with the council and the federation. At that conference there was a long discussion about industrial lawlessness on the waterfront; what could be done to avoid port stoppages; and about changes in thelong service leave legislation. During that discussion with the council and federation, they said they recognized the importance to the Australian economy of avoiding port stoppages and consequently would do their utmost to try to settle disputes by negotiation between the parties which, given goodwill on both sides, would render port stoppages unnecessary. For his part, the Minister indicated what the Government was prepared to do about amendments to the long service leave scheme. I shall refer later to events on the waterfront since that statement.
Let me deal first with the changes relating to anomalies which my colleague informed the A.C.T.U. he was prepared to submit to Parliament for approval -
It is now proposed that men at such ports will be entitled to take their leave generally in conformity with the rules that apply to others.
This is to be corrected.
These movements are in the overall interests of the industry.
In future, time spent in direct travel between ports where the transfer is judged by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to be to the advantage of the industry will count as qualifying service.
I said earlier that the 1961 legislation covered about 95 per cent, of waterside workers. Less than 1,000 men of a total work force of about 22,000 were not provided for. They are the men at B class ports and some irregulars at A class ports.
When the position of these men was considered last year, the disposition was to regard them as being casuals in the literal sense of that word and therefore, like casuals under State legislation, not eligible for leave. Closer examination has shown that this analogy is imperfect. The fact is that no other group of workers in Australia can be compared with these men. They are subject to the whole system of regimentation and regulation that is of the essence of the stevedoring industry scheme. If, for example, men at B class ports do not attend when they are required, they can be deregistered. If they misbehave on the job they may be disciplined and lose their attendance money. Now the idea behind long service leave is that of a reward for long and continued service. It would be difficult to deny that any of these men had given long and continuous service if they had continuously served the stevedoring industry sufficiently long to accrue twenty years’ qualifying service, the basic period of service for three months long service leave entitlement.
Moreover, irregulars in the continuous ports may now count the days they work towards qualifying service for long service leave if they have already had eight years’ qualifying service as a regular. The truth is that regulars only become irregulars because of medical unfitness and age, and it seems unfair that because a man becomes unfit, the more so if he became unfit through injury on the waterfront, and, on this account was transferred to the irregulars, he should not be entitled to count the days he works towards qualifying service without the need for having accrued eight years’ qualifying service as a regular.
Also relevant is the fact that these men at B class ports and irregulars get annual leave and sick pay and public holiday pay benefits. In addition, they can be deprived of attendance money. Viewed from the employers’ side - they pay the stevedoring industry charge in respect of the men.
In all these circumstances, the Government felt that these men should not be distinguished from those already covered by the long service leave legislation. So it has decided to extend the long service leave scheme to men at B class ports, the days on which they work or receive attendance money or are on paid leave counting as qualifying service, and to remove the present requirement of 8 years’ qualifying service as a regular before irregulars can accumulate qualifying service.
The Government is satisfied that for the reasons already briefly explained its decision does not depart from the principle that long service leave has no place in the case of purely casual employment.
Following the introduction of the measure in the other House, further consideration of its provisions, including some points raised by the A.C.T.U. and the federation has led the Government to decide on some further changes to the leave scheme which are now included in the bill before the Senate. These are -
A waterside worker who has had ten years or more qualifying service for long service leave is, if he ceases to be registered under certain circumstances - on account of ill health, urgent pressing necessity, over 65 years or on redundancy - eligible for what is known as a “ pro-rata entitlement “. The bill has been amended to extend the categories of waterside workers eligible for a pro-rata entitlement on ceasing to be registered. The new categories are -
Besides these provisions relating to the existing leave scheme the bill proposes some other amendments to last year’s legislation. The present legislation provides for appeals from decisions of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on medical grounds, e.g., transfer from the regular to the irregular register, to be to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It is now proposed to substitute an appeal to medical boards.
Last year the commission was empowered to direct the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to pay compensation to a waterside worker whose appeal against suspension succeeds. It is now proposed to extend this to successful appeals against cancellation of registration where the appellant establishes that he should be compensated. Provision is also being made for compensation where an appeal is upheld against transfer on medical grounds from the regular to the irregular register. Compensation is, moreover, being extended to cover not only loss of wages and attendance money, but also to public holiday pay.
Prior to 1958, the authority and its predecessors assumed they had power to revoke or vary a suspension order by a delegate, e.g. the local representative, but in December of that year the High Court decided that it had no such power. Occasionally circumstances do arise where the authority recognizes that the decision reached by its local representative was in error and what happens now is that a formal appeal has to be made to the commission, which the authority does not oppose. This is a rather cumbersome process and it is proposed to restore to the authority the power which it formerly exercised - it will, of course, be exercised only in unusual circumstances - and to give the authority the same power to award compensation as the commission has now when it allows an appeal.
The bill contains a number of provisions of detail which need not be traversed except to mention one. The extension of the scheme to B class ports and irregulars presents administration difficulties in relation to the calculation of qualifying service, in that in those ports there are not always complete records of the service of waterside workers. After all, when the stevedoring industry scheme was introduced it was expected to be for the duration of the war - records were not kept beyond those required for immediate needs.
From records available and other records in the hands of various authorities, like harbour boards and employers, it will be possible to piece together much useful information from which to calculate qualifying service for periods before detailed records were kept. The data varies from port to port. So it is not possible to describe any definitive uniform formula for the calculation of qualifying service. It is therefore proposed that subject to principles the Minister may determine, having regard to the data that is available from port to port, the authority will determine the qualifying service. In general, what is in mind is that regard will be paid to the experience of employment in times when detailed records are available and then apply this to earlier periods, corrected as necessary by the information that can be collected.
It is a matter of common knowledge that from the outset two provisions which the 1961 legislation introduced attracted a deal of attention. The first allowed suspension of attendance money as an alternative to suspension of registration. It was explained last year that suspension of registration was useless when there was a labour shortage; in these circumstances to suspend registration merely destroyed the main purpose of the stevedoring scheme, to achieve expeditious turn-round of shipping.
The second provided that where there was a port stoppage, that is to say, a stoppage involving more than 250 or one-third of the men at a port, the men involved would forfeit four days’ attendance money and their qualifying service for long service leave could be deferred by that day and such further period not exceeding thirty days as the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission determined, unless the commission decided that the stoppage was excusable.
It was emphasized last year that this double-barrelled penalty was severe. It would never have become necessary - I quote the Minister’s words - “ were it not for the tactics - the deliberate tactics and objectives - of some of the leaders of the federation to continually disrupt and disorganize working on the waterfront “. What has happened since the legislation was passed has completely vindicated the expressed opinion that stoppages are deliberately organized, and all too frequently without any industrial purpose.
Look at the record! The average monthly man-hour loss on the waterfront in the two years 1959-60 and 1960-61 was 83,296. The 1961 legislation became operative on 6th June, 1961. From July, 1961, to March, 1962, inclusive, the average monthly man-hours lost were 4,765. Except for the legislation, no mysterious change had come over the waterfront. The employer’s were the same, the men were the same. The authority was the same. True, a change in the general secretaryship of the Waterside Workers Federation had occurred. Yet in April, despite the fact that it was well known that the Minister was in process of reviewing the legislation and that a further conference with his department had been arranged for 9th May, a series of organized stoppages was commenced. In April, 149,125 man-hours were lost. In the first ten days of May, another 94,129 man-hours were lost.
On 9th and 10th May the permanent head of the Department of Labour and National Service conferred with the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Waterside Workers Federation. He then pointed out that useful discussions could not proceed without satisfactory assurances that port stoppages and other protest stoppages against the legislation would stop. Assurances were given, the protests stopped, and man-hours lost for all industrial disputes fell dramatically.
Then came the Minister’s conference on 15th June, when the statement about the importance of avoiding port stoppages was made. True, there were no more port stoppages about the legislation but instead at the end of June in Sydney and from mid-July in Melbourne, a series of new stoppages of work commenced, a number involving port stoppages.
The waterside workers elsewhere are no different from their fellow workers in Sydney and Melbourne. Nor are the employers. Yet if you take the three months, June to August, the time lost in all Western Australian ports, in Tasmania, in South Australia and in Queensland together was just over 3,000 man-hours. Set against this the 183,000 man-hours lost in Sydney and 51,000 in Melbourne in the same period! Why would there be such differences in behaviour at different ports? It is not to be explained by the numbers of men in the various ports. On the other hand, the Melbourne and Sydney branches are under the control of members of the Communist Party and they have been using their offices in the federation in a personal struggle for power and for political purposes.
Honorable senators might ask: Why in these circumstances is a bill being introduced to vary the provisions which deal with port stoppages? In the first place, the Government has been much influenced by the representations of the Australian Council of Trade Unions that it was unjust to attach strings to the grant of long service leave, and particularly by the fact that while it has constantly pressed its views in relation to this matter it has given no support to the campaign of direct action by the Waterside Workers Federation. In keeping with this, following the June conference with the A.C.T.U. and the federation, the A.C.T.U. demanded of the federation that it adhere to the assurances given my colleague at the conference.
The Government has also felt that in the light of experience of the legislation, given any sort of reasonable behaviour on the waterfront, the double-barrelled penalty was unfair. And, finally, it was considered, against the background of the good performances in most ports, that what was thought right should be done in the hope that some sanity might be obtained in this industry.
This bill therefore provides for the elimination of the provisions in section 52a dealing with the deferment of long service leave. At the June discussions the A.C.T.U. and the federation asked that the whole of section 52a should be repealed, that is to say not only the part dealing with the deferment of long service leave but also the provisions dealing with automatic forfeiture of four days’ attendance money in the event of a port stoppage. Failing that, they asked that having regard to the increased value of attendance money three days should be substituted for four. The Minister informed the meeting that he would take to Cabinet their request for substitution of three days’ for four days’ forfeiture of attendance money.
The Government considered this request carefully. It took into account the conduct of the federation to which I have referred. Its conclusion was that this bill should not go further than 1 have described.
The stevedoring industry need not inevitably be subject to industrial turmoil. There can be peace on the waterfront - honorable peace - not peace procured by appeasement or peace procured by duress, coersion, or direct action. In New Zealand in the last ten years, the average loss through industrial disputes has been three hours per man per year. In Australia for the three years to June, 1961, the loss was twelve times that. In Australia itself the loss between July, 1961 and March, 1962, was at the rate of 2.6 hours per man per year. For the three months June to August this year, leaving Sydney and Melbourne out, the loss was at the rate of 1.5 hours per man per year.
Peace in the stevedoring industry in Australia is possible! A continuance of senseless stoppages must inevitably result in less work and less men being required. Does any one imagine that the designing of new ships and equipment to avoid the use of labour has not been given a powerful impetus by the stoppages that have plagued this industry, or that the same stoppages have not encouraged resort to alternative methods of transport?
More and more we must find ourselves dependent on building up our export trade. “Our waterside workers have a stake in this. But if they do not pull their weight, Australia’s future will be prejudiced and it will not be only waterside workers who suffer but trade unionists up and down the country and the community as a whole.
The problem of our waterfront transcends party politics. If all concerned play their part in exposing and defeating those elements in the Waterside Workers Federation whose purpose is unchanged - to create industrial trouble and chaos whenever they can and to stir up hatred between employer and employee - a mighty change would come over our ports. This is as much in the interests of the Opposition as it is of the Government.
The opinion has not been challenged that the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the federation welcomed the Govern- ment’s decision to remove anomalies, extend the long service leave scheme to the remaining waterside workers and cancel the so-called strings on long service leave. The rank and file, too, have expressed their satisfaction. It is hoped that this measure may prove to be but an instalment towards more settled working conditions on the waterfront. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the raising of loan moneys totalling £45,900,000 for financial assistance to the States for housing. In accordance with the requests of the States, and approval of the Australian Loan Council, the amount of £45,900,000 will be allocated as follows: -
The provision of this amount in 1962-63, for which approval is now being sought, represents an increase of £3,000,000 over the amount originally approved by the Australian Loan Council in 1961-62.
Advances to the States of the moneys referred to in this bill will be made under the authority of the Housing Agreement Act 1961, which provides that the Treasurer may advance moneys in accordance with the new Housing Agreement with each of the six States. The new agreement come into operation as the result of an amendment to the previous agreement of 1956.
During the five years of its operation, the 1956 agreement, which terminated on 30th June, 1961, allowed the provision of £180,000,000 in Commonwealth advances to the six States for the construction of dwellings. Of this sum £128,600,000 was made available to the State housing authorities for the purpose of their housing programmes, under which 47,000 dwellings were built during the five years. £45,800,000 was advanced through the Home Builders’ Account for the finance of private home ownership, mainly through building societies, and this allowed the construction of over 18,000 dwellings. Lastly, a further sum of £5,600,000 was advanced to the States for the construction of dwellings for serving members of the defence forces to match a like amount from the funds which were available to the State housing authorities.
The new agreement embodied in the Housing Agreement Act, 1961, extended the 1956 Housing Agreement for a further term of five years, subject to certain amendments which I discussed in my second-reading speech on the Housing Agreement Bill. These amendments are relatively minor in nature. They do not change the basic nature of the earlier agreement and were introduced with the object of making the agreement more useful and workable.
In 1961-62, the first year of operation of the amended agreement, the Commonwealth advanced £50,400,000 to the States for housing. Of this amount £33,300,000 was made available for the programmes of the State housing authorities, under which 11,019 dwellings were built. £17,100,000 was advanced through the Home Builders’ Account and this allowed the provision of 6,404 dwellings. The supplementary advances from revenue for service housing amounted to £1,300,000.
Altogether, the Housing Agreement has made a considerable contribution to the financing of dwelling construction in Australia. Construction of homes under the agreement has provided a relatively stable component in the national housing programme. It is aimed, moreover, at the construction by the State housing authorities of dwellings for families of low or moderate means. The home building which has been financed under the home builders’ arrangement has also been relatively low in cost.
The provision of finance by the Commonwealth under the 1956-1961 Housing Agreement has been most beneficial to State housing schemes and to the development of building societies. The passage of the bill now before the Senate is necessary to ensure that these beneficial arrangements will continue.
It is expected that of the total Commonwealth advances of £45,900,000, £30,730,000 will be allotted to the State housing authorities compared with £33,304,600 during 1961-62. In that year the housing authorities commenced 10,776 homes and completed 11,019 homes.
Under the agreement the States will be required to set aside an amount estimated at £1,148,100 for the housing of members of the defence forces during 1962-63. Supplementary advances will be made by the Commonwealth from revenue funds to match these allocations and, in addition, the Commonwealth and any State may agree, under the terms of the agreement, that either, or both, should make further allocations for the same purpose. In 1961-62 the total of these further allocations was £110,000. The State allocation for service housing, plus the Commonwealth matching funds, together with the additional funds which are expected to be contributed, should allow the construction of 698 houses, compared with 778 houses built from the moneys provided in this way during
The total allocation of Commonwealth advances to building societies and other institutions for home ownership during 1962- 63 is estimated at £15,170,000, as compared with £17,095,000 last year. In 1961-62, 457 institutions received home builders’ funds under the agreement. During the year 4,876 new houses were commenced and 6,404 houses were completed and purchased from home builders’ funds.
The amended agreement will continue to provide a useful measure of Commonwealth support to the building society movement which, by the encouragement of private savings for home ownership, increases the additional funds which are available for housing because of the housing agreement.
Also, a particular feature arising in the provision of finance to building societies is the operation of the revolving fund principle in the home builders’ account. The advances by the Commonwealth are repaid by the States over a term of 53 years, whereas the building societies repay the States over 31 years or less. Therefore, the repayments to the home builders* account in any one year exceed the charge on that account to finance repayments to the Commonwealth, the surplus thus arising being available to increase the level of new advances to the societies. The amount accumulating in the account and thus available for relending was slightly over £1,000,000 in 1959-60; during 1961-62 it was £1,700,000 and should continue to increase during the life of the agreement.
Because of the increased private savings which are made available for housing as a result of the home builders’ arrangement, and the operation of the revolving fund principle, the allocation of portion of the Commonwealth advances to building societies has the effect of increasing the number of dwellings that are provided under the agreement. Australian building societies already make a sizable contribution towards the provision of finance for dwelling construction. I hope that these societies will play a larger and larger part in the solution of the Australian housing problem. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1342).
.- In opening my remarks on the reports of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, I think it only fair to congratulate Dr. Darling, the new chairman of the commission and his colleagues upon the presentation of the thirtieth report of the commission, and also to congratulate Mr. Osborne and the other members of the board on the fourteenth report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I think both documents are well set out. There may be some substance in Senator Kennelly’s suggestion that there is some legal prolixity in some aspects of the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, but I do not think that criticism applies to the report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I think the latter report is prettier, more nicely got up and more attractively presented.
– I do not agree with theidea that it is prettier.
– I think it is attractively presented. The schedules are well prepared and contain a mine of information for people who are prepared to delve into them.
I have been most impressed by the statements appearing on pages 4 and 5 of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s report, relating to Australian programming. At the bottom of page 4, the commission says -
Having completed nearly six years of television programming, our senior programme officers have made a major assessment of future possibilities, which has led to important policy decisions by the Commission for television planning in the next five years. This plan is comprehensive and detailed. The full development of the scheme will depend on funds being made available and on the speed at which physical production facilities can be built. Two broad principles are involved. The first is the fact we consider the function of an Australian National Service is, inter alia to increase the proportion and improve the standard of the locally produced material . . .
I emphasize those last few words - in order to ensure that our programme is essentially Australian in character whilst still using the best of the high quality productions from overseas.
Might I break off there to say that that strikes me as showing an entirely commendable state of mind on the part of the commission I look forward to seeing that programme put into effect. The report continues -
Our second objective is aimed at ensuring that our stations will be transmitting programmes continuously once the stations are opened, thus giving a sustained choice of programme to the viewer.
Such a policy as is mentioned above cannot be achieved within the normal budget, and it is therefore hoped that, with the help of the Government, the Australian film industry will be encouraged to meet the special needs of television.
Experience in the television medium has shown there is considerable scope for the use of filmed programmes of documentary and informative character, but because of the shortage of trained personnel and with the restricted sale overseas, some additional financial help will be needed to make any substantial contribution in this field.
The report suggests that the commission hopes to achieve its objectives with the help of the Government. I put the view to the Senate that those objectives should receive the support of all honorable senators in this chamber, irrespective of their political allegiance. Notice has been given of a proposal to set up a select committee to inquire into some of the matters which are referred to in the portion of the report which I have read.
I note that, on page 5 of the report, the commission says that all States have been equipped with videotape recording facilities, which enable the commission to present local programme material to the viewers in a shorter time and with better technical quality than with the earlier process in use. Tapes depicting items of topical interest are now available for simultaneous release in all capital cities. The only comment I have to make on that is that it seems strange that it took eight years for the national stations to be equipped with videotape machines, having regard to their much better performance and their speed of operation compared with other types of recording instruments.
On page 9 of the report the commission outlines the comprehensive cover of music which it has given to its listeners during the year, lt is almost impossible to criticize the vast variety which has been presented. My only comment is that it is a great pity that in most of the capital cities of this country these programmes were very greatly interfered with by man-made noises - heterodyne whistles, frame oscillator whistles and all the other noises and disturbances to which amplitude modulation is heir. It is a pity that the musical transmissions were not made on frequency modulation. Dealing with the question of interference and coverage, the late Sir Richard Boyer once said - and I know that my friend, the Minister for Health (Senator Wade), will be vastly interested in this -
The requirements of the country dweller alone justify the installation in Australia of a full-scale frequency modulation system.
The present manager of the commission has made public statements in which he has supported the use of frequency modulation transmission. However, for the moment I do not want to be diverted to discuss frequency modulation as there are other matters in the report to which reference should be made before frequency modulation is covered, perhaps at some length.
If I may say so, there is a tendency in the community to underestimate the importance of radio in our national life. The commission, at page 11 of its report, gives a factual reminder that the importance of radio should not be underrated. It states -
In radio, the A.B.C. maintained most of its pre-television drama output, with a total of 235 productions, excluding serials. Producers, technical staff and actors in every State contributed to the weekly broadcasting of from three to seven plays. There was evidence that the play which is heard but not seen - which calls for imaginative effort in the listener - not only held its own against television but actually increased its audience. Research figures show that the A.B.C.’s Monday Night Theatre series maintained a national audience of about 100,000.
On the score of local productions, I think the commission should get a medal for the work it has done in producing Australian drama and programmes of quality and interest. One has only to recite some of the names of the programmes that have been on our television screens in the last twelve months or so to agree that that is so. I think of programmes such as “ Stormy Petrel “, which dealt with Governor Bligh, “The Outcasts” and “The Patriots “. Those were serial plays dealing with the early days of Australia. They were made intelligently and in such a manner as to capture the interest of the Australian viewer. They stimulated the interest of the average Australian in the history of his country in a way which has not been possible before. After viewing “ The Outcasts”, I recall going to the Parliamentary Library and demanding Dr. Evatt’s book on the rum rebellion in order to learn more of the incidents depicted in the play. It is common knowledge that factual plays of this nature have given rise to great demands on Australian libraries for works of a non-fiction nature. I believe that they make a very good impact on the community.
The commission, at page 12 of the report, refers to the most discussed programme project for the year, which was called “The Candidates”. There was an offer by the commission to televise free of charge all candidates at the last general election. I thought that the arrangements for the telecasts were somewhat gauche. They were put forward poorly and in such a fashion as to make it difficult for the Government to accept them.
– Your candidates were a bit camera-shy.
– I shall come to that in a moment. Although the scheme was put forward poorly, I think the Liberal Party was wrong in not accepting it. However poor the programme arrangements may have been, I believe that Liberal candidates should have appeared and done something to rebut the constant stream of Labour propaganda which was put before the viewers night after night.
– Would you have appeared on a platform with the Corns?
– That does not seem to me to be the entire issue.
– Would you ride on a bus with them?
– We will get around to that in a moment. At page 13 of the report the commission deals with its news service which, I think, has been greatly appreciated by all in Australia for its factual reporting and for the unemotional way, which Senator Kennelly insists is the right way, in which the news is presented. I regret I cannot say the same thing about the educational programmes, particularly the programme entitled “ University of the Air “. I refer especially to the sessions which dealt with political science, for want of a better expression, before the writs went out for the last general election. I could not help but think that the choice of so much pro-Labour matter was purely fortuitous. I know it was entirely accidental and that the commission would not have done so on purpose. It was just one of those accidents which happened to mar, shall I say, the integrity of the programme.
The commission’s sporting sessions are excellent and are in great favour with most Australian listeners and viewers. I wish to refer to an exasperating habit, however, which the Minister might bring to the notice of the commission. When Harvey, O’Neill, Dexter or some other well known batsman has reached a score of 99 runs, the programme is switched off in order to give the horses and riders for the Bandiwallop Cup. If we are to have the starters and riders, let them be announced after the crisis has passed for the potential centurymaker.
– After he has got his 100.
– Yes. That is only a small matter, but it can be quite exasperating.
In more serious vein, I think the commission deserves the thanks of all Australians for the magnificent success it has made of its short-wave broadcasts. For the last nine years, Radio Australia has been chosen by the International Short-wave Club as the world’s most popular short-wave broadcasting service. The vote is taken every three years. Australia first won the award in 1956. For a country of our size, that speaks volumes for the initiative and ability of those who direct Radio Australia and the programmes which it broadcasts. I do not say that the programmes are entirely perfect, but by and large, the impact made by Radio Australia, especially on our neighbours, has been extremely good. Rather modestly, the commission gives the reasons for its success at page 18 of the report, where the following statement appears: -
Radio Australia’s mail indicated the reasons for its popularity - entertaining and informative programmes, accurate and objective news and commentaries and the friendly informality of its announcers.
That may or may not be so. The proof of a pudding is in the eating. Radio Australia has been one of the most successful means of publicizing this nation in a favorable way abroad. Turning to the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, we must recall that this authority is vested with great technical and administrative functions. It is, I think, almost the Australian equivalent of the American Federal Communications Commission, although it has but a pale shadow of the authority which that American statutory body possesses. I notice from page 18 of the report that the board went to a great deal of trouble to avoid interference with a New Zealand transmitter. Dealing with the development of the broadcasting services, the board says that a variation was made of station 7ZR in Tasmania in order to avoid interference with station 2ZA, Palmerston, New Zealand, which occupies the same frequency as station 7ZR. This will reduce radiation in the direction of the New Zealand station and hence reduce the night-time interference which has caused difficulties in reception of the station in that country. I think that is a good example of international cooperation.
Further down the same page we see that the night-time power of station 4KQ, Brisbane, is being increased from 1,000 to 2,000 watts. That, to me, appears to be a step in the wrong direction. One of the great difficulties experienced, because of the cluttered state of the air in Australia, is that station powers at night in the medium wave band are far too high for interference-free reception. One of the results of increasing night-time power is that the interference about which so many people have been complaining for years becomes worse. If power has to be increased, surely the time for increasing it is during the day, when, even though the listening public may not be so great, the amount of damage will certainly be less.
I notice from paragraph 35 of the report that the board’s technical officers are going to investigate the compatible singlesideband system for broadcasting. This is a method which might remove half of the interference to which amplitude modulation transmitters are subject, but I regret very much to note that, instead of making the definite statement that the work is in hand, paragraph 35 rather suggests that it is going to be postponed or put off. Paragraph 35 reads -
Due to more urgent work associated with the expansion of television services in country areas, no further progress has been made in a study of complex modulation requirements for the compatible single-sideband system of sound broadcasting.
The results so far available of the work of the study group are being examined by the experimental investigators of the board, but I feel that if we are to have a system of priorities we must not put everything on one side in order to have television services. I would be the Lst one in this chamber to underestimate the power, the influence and the value of television, but it must not be allowed to take over all our technical services, to the exclusion of the tremendously important radio transmission field, especially when it looks as though this nation must be resigned to being without a modern transmission service, since we are not going to have any frequency modulation transmitters.
That brings me to page 19 of the . report, on which the board deals with interference to the reception of broadcasting programmes. I am not going to analyse the items given in detail; I simply say that, looking at those items, it seems to me that the vast bulk of that interference would not have arisen with frequency modulation transmitters. Going further, the board refers to programme services, and, in paragraph 39, says -
It is obviously in any station’s interest to hold its audience as the years go by, while building a new audience in the younger generation. The sudden change of programme practices following the introduction of television has given rise to many complaints from listeners, and the Board feels that many licencees could with advantage give more thought to the provision of programmes which will be attractive to older listeners, and especially to listeners who are still wholly dependent on broadcasting stations for programme services in the home.
It is good to see that in that paragraph the board seems to contradict what it says in paragraph 35 and that it is fully alive to the importance of sound broadcasting as compared with television.
On page 22 of the report there is an interesting table dealing with the times allocated to the various political parties and their candidates at election times. Honorable senators opposite claim that they are the representatives of the downtrodden and oppressed workers, that they have no money and that they are unable to present their points of view. They say that the party to which I belong represents wealthy vested interests and has great advantages in the presentation of its political message. Yet they had 58.6 per cent, of the metropolitan station time in Victoria.
– That is on the radio?
– Yes. But wait till we come to television. We are dealing now with radio. The Australian Labour Party had 58.6 per cent, of the broadcasting time.
It led all the other parties by streets. The Liberal Party was next with 21.7 per cent.
– That shows it pays to advertise.
– Admittedly the Liberal Party did very well in holding seats in Victoria. I think that 58.6 per cent, is sufficient to dispose of the myth that the Australian Labour Party is short of funds. If we go from the important medium of radio to’ television, we find that in Victoria 72 per cent, of the television time was bought by the Labour Party and that the poor unfinancial Liberals had to be content with 9 per cent. In other words, the Labour Party had eight times as much money to spend on political telecasting as we had.
– Where did it get the money from?
– I know where it- got some money in 1958. I do not know whether it got money from the same source in 1961. I think it was judiciously cut off. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) said something this afternoon about this party currying favour with the newspapers and licence-holders. Surely those figures do not support his contention. After all, we are dealing with facts put coldly before the country in the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
On page 25 of its report, the board makes reference to advertising. Personally, I think the monitors who are given to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board do a pretty good job and very little directly offensive advertising or other matter comes before either listeners or viewers. It is impossible to stop everything but the commission itself and the Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations have assisted in policing this evil, and I think our loud speakers and our screens are free from much of the offensive matter which might pollute them in other places. At page 24 of the report the board refers to the employment of Australians. It quotes section 114 of the Broadcasting and Television Act which reads - (1.) The Commission and licensees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of broadcasting and television programmes. (2.) Not less than 5 per centum of the time occupied by the programmes of the Commission, and not less than 5 per centum of the time occupied by the programmes of a commercial broadcasting station, in the broadcasting of music shall be devoted to the broadcasting of works of composers who are Australians.
I concede that sometimes there may be difficulties in getting sufficient works by Australian composers. Despite that, both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial stations seem to scrape by the statutory requirements.
I come to another part of the section of the report dealing with the employment of Australians. In my view, the board has been rather mealy-mouthed on this subject for the last six or seven years. Paragraph 59 of the report reads -
For several years the Board has been in some doubt whether licensees of commercial broadcasting stations were, in fact, using the services of Australians as far as possible in the production and presentation of their programmes, as required by sub-section (1.) of this section of the Act.
If the board has had that doubt for several years, why on earth has it not done something about the matter before this? Why has it waited until this report has been presented in 1962 and said, in effect, “ For several years we have been in some doubt and we are making inquiries from the federal council of the Australian Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations “?
There has been a fairly substantial change in the type of programme material presented over radio in the last few years. Two years ago in my home city, Melbourne, about 50 commercial quarter-hour serials were transcribed every week. Currently, not one is being produced. That means that a large number of Australian actors, actresses and technicians are without employment. The reason for that is that there has been a very substantial increase in the quantity of music played over radio stations. I refer to popular music, most of which is imported; most of which gives no employment at all to Australians, and most of which is-
– My friend says that most of it is horrible. I will not deny the appeal of some of it, but most of it does very little to enable the station to comply with the requirements of section 114 of the act. I should like the Postmaster-General, in his wisdom, to have a look at that aspect of radio programming and to see whether anything can be done to further the employment of Australians in this industry.
– I hope there will be no more of those disc jockeys.
– I agree completely that people who say “ record “ with an American accent, and do that sort of thing, are not doing anything to build up Australian characteristics in our listeners or viewers.
Most of our Australian television transmitting stations put on programmes with an Australian content of between 30 and 40 per cent. When that is said, having regard to the smallness of the production industry in this country one might well think that it is very good because it is giving employment to many Australian technicians, scriptwriters and so on. But that just is not true. What happens is that the large percentage of Australian content is built up by cooking demonstrations, news-readings, sporting telecasts and any one of 101 other activities which are telecast and which could not be imported anyway. I can remember one transmitting station - as a matter of decency 1 shall not mention its name - importing sporting telecasts of games and sportsmen who were unknown in Australia, whose actions were of no interest and whose sport had few if any followers.
– We in Sydney imported a telecast of the Melbourne Cup.
– That is a different matter. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition singled me out to some extent this afternoon, I think I should make passing reference to his speech. I regret his attack on the commercial stations because of the vigour in which it was couched. During his one-hour speech he made a number of valid criticisms, but I believe it is unfair to make a wholly unjustified attack on the entire management of commercial stations in relation to their programmes. I think it is true that I have spoken probably more often than has any other member of this chamber in criticism of the quantity and quality of programmes presented by both the A.B.C. and commercial stations; but I hope that my criticism was constructive and was not designed merely to destroy.
Senator Kennelly’s criticism was wholly destructive. It had no constructive suggestions in it at all.
I believe that his criticism of the Melbourne station HSV7 was not based so much on its programmes, as he said it was, as on the fact that - certainly, in my view, with just cause - from time to time the Melbourne “ Herald “ has been highly critical of some of the honorable senator’s political and extra-political activities. The honorable senator claimed to be interested in Australian-produced programmes. He then went out of his way to deliver a blast at that very distinguished programme “ Consider Your Verdict”. All I say about that programme - obviously, modesty precludes me from saying much about it - is that it is the only Australian drama to run on television for eighteen months. It is in hot and active competition with the slick imported American article. Above all, it is produced by a private producer, Hector Crawford Productions Proprietary Limited, in conjunction with the much-maligned HSV7.
– And the Actors Equity.
– I will get around to the Actors Equity in a minute if the honorable senator will allow me to. It is silly to praise a programme simply because it is Australian. Our material has to stand on its own feet. However, I believe it should be given a fair trial. I will not praise this programme simply because I have some connexion with it. It is made in Australia by Australian producers, Australian actors and actresses, Australian technicians and, above all, Australian script writers. If we intend to put on the television screens of this country a reasonable image of our national life and habits and, if we want to be dramatic about it, our national heritage, we must use Australian script writers. For good or ill - I express no view on that - this programme has held its own with the imported product in the ratings. I can tell Senator Kennelly that it would not be televised if it were not holding its own.
Of course, the honorable senator’s real grievance against this programme is that he belongs to a party which actively supports the nationalization of television - the abolition of all commercial stations - and the nationalization of banking, insurance companies, shipping and a whole host of other activities. He probably wants to nationalize any activity which is earning a profit. 1 feel that the reports of both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board are in a sense more notable for what they omit than for what they contain. 1 have made passing reference in this chamber from time to time to the fact that we have no modern broadcasting service in Australia, no frequency modulation transmitters, and that our frequency spectrum is jammed by improperly allocated frequency users. In my view, all of this stems from the fact that in Australia we have three or four different authorities allocating radio frequencies. We have first, and perhaps most importantly, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. Then there is the strong influence of the Postmaster-General and the defence services. We have the lowest frequency allocation review committee, the Huxley committee, which I suppose could be described as an ad hoc committee
We are never going to sort out the terrible tangle in frequency allocation until we have one independent statutory body staffed with the appropriate personnel and able to devote its full time and energies to the allocation of channels and the development of our radio frequencies. Such a system operates extremely well in the home of free enterprise, the United States of America, and has done so since 1934. For example, whereas the United States of America, with an area approximately the same as that of Australia, has 3,700 broadcasting stations, we have trouble fitting in 168. The Americans have 960 commercial frequency modulation transmitters, and we have none. The Americans have 460 very high frequency stations and in the same physical area we have 42 and will ultimately wind up with 114.
– They also have 116 translators.
– As Senator Branson has reminded me, they have a large number of translators also. The trouble over frequency modulation is an example of the lack of proper advance planning. I go further and say that the allocation of Channel 0 to Melbourne for the third commercial station is another example of ad hoc planning. In scientific matters of this nature, a reasonable programme must be mapped out, and it cannot be done by bodies working part time and by ad hoc committees set up to resolve particular difficulties. The Huxley committee was an excellent committee both in personnel and in the way it overcame difficulties but it was an example of slamming the door after the horse had bolted. Most people interested would agree with most of the report of the Huxley committee, with the exception of the statements set out at page 89, I think it was, where the committee said that it had to abandon frequency modulation because of the possibility - and I emphasize that word - of the extension of taxi services. It did not say in its report that it had to abandon frequency modulation because there were not enough frequencies for the police, the fire brigades or other essential services. It referred only to the possible extension of taxi services. Every time I ride in a Commonwealth car and hear the beautiful frequency modulation signals coming over the radio, I think what a dreadful waste it is for these priceless frequencies to be used for communication between the base and a car or between one car and another.
On the matter of the mistake in allocating Channel 0 to Melbourne, which is to be followed by a further mistake in allocating Channel 5A, the cost to Melbourne viewers will be considerable. No substantial reason has emerged why Melbourne should not have had Channel 3 instead of Channel 0. The board adverted to this matter at some length, devoting two or three pages of the report to it, but despite all the print no substantial reason was given. The proposition that there might be delay in establishing a national station at Ballarat has no substance compared with the gross economic disadvantage that will flow to roughly 400,000 viewers in the metropolitan area. One of the other reasons given for failure to use Channel 3 in Melbourne is interference from taxis. That is an example of using one mistake to justify another. The taxis should not have been allotted the frequency in the first instance.
In the lower frequency of Channel 0, man-made interference will be much more serious. I say to my Queensland friends that since Queensland is also to have Channel 0 on what is called the 6-metre band, the skip distance between Melbourne and Brisbane is almost ideal for interference between Melbourne and Brisbane transmitters, especially in the three warmer months of summer. I do not expect the interference to be serious during the remainder of the year. I believe that all these are matters which a federal communications commission would have examined at full length and perhaps, if given full statutory power, satisfactorily dealt with.
As Senator Branson said to-day, the question arises of when we in Australia are to receive direct telecasts from the American satellite Telstar. It has already been extensively used in Europe. 1 am not quite sure of the frequencies at which these transmissions operate. The nation should be advised as to what prospects there are, if any, of obtaining these international programmes. I look forward to the Minister making some statement as to when it is expected that we will be able to obtain direct telecasts from Telstar.
– I thought you wanted more Australian content in the programmes?
– The point is well made. All I want is a higher proportion of Australian programmes while at the same time keeping the best of the imported ones. I think it would be foolish to say we are not going to have any imported material because we would be denying ourselves a tremendous amount of instruction and valuable information.
In looking at the frequency modulation picture, we should realize the fact that South Africa, which is not noted for its good treatment of its natives, has established special frequency modulation services for the Hottentots, the Matabeles and the Basutolanders.
– Perhaps they have no taxis.
– Perhaps that is so. At all events, if South Africa can do this for its native population, perhaps the same service might be provided for the people here. In Rangoon, where, as Noel Coward says, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun, there are 22 frequency modulation transmitters. I suppose it is pointless to refer to the American system of the past fourteen months in which frequency modulation stereo broadcasting by the multiplex system has been used. It is a wonderful technical development of which I hope we shall hear more in this country in future times.
Reverting to what is, perhaps, the main burthen of my soul - if I may put it in that way - this country needs and must have a federal communications commission if electronics are to play in our life the important part that they should play. In 1960, a distinguished member of the present Government, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) gave this question the benefit of his inquiring mind. On 13th October, 1960, in discussing the Estimates in another place, he had this to say -
I have pointed out in this House times out of number, until I am tired of hearing myself bring it forward, that in the same area in which we can operate, technically, ISO or so stations in Australia, about 2,500 or 3,000 broadcasting stations are operated in the United States of America. I refuse to believe that we are so lacking in capacity or in imagination that, after having managed to provide 150 broadcasting stations in Australia, our best technical men have to sit down, wring their hands and say, “ We cannot have any more because we have run out of frequencies “.
The time has long since passed when this country ought to have some telecommunications administration which will get to work on this problem and will use its imagination and its ability. If the necessary ability does not reside in the Postmaster-General’s Department, the Minister and the Government should give the job away and set up an independent authority which is liberally endowed with the brains, capacity and power to deal with this problem. If we do not do something along these lines, we shall find that at a time when we should be doing our best to encourage people to go to and stay in the country areas,-
I stress that, Mr. Minister - we are denying country people the best radio and television services. I leave the matter at that. As I have said in this chamber on other occasions, my view is that the control of telecommunications in Australia should be taken away from an operative department like the Postmaster-General’s Department, and vested in a completely independent telecommunications commission or some similar body.
On two subsequent occasions, Mr. Fairhall directed his mind to this problem. On
Grievance Day, 17th November, 1960, in the House of Representatives, he said -
For many years I have been urging a divorce of the Postmaster-General’s Department from control of telecommunication in Australia, and the establishment of an independent authority to handle this very difficult problem. . . . When we reached the point of issuing licences it suddenly dawned on the powers that be that all of this is bound up with our inability to settle the technical problems of the industry. So perforce the applications had to be put on one side while we set up a half-baked technical inquiry conducted, in this case, by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The technical committee, which it was fondly hoped would produce a solution to this problem, submitted a report which did two things. First, it illustrated in great detail the enormous technical difficulties involved in television and, secondly, it suggested that the problem be referred to another committee.
Finally, I refer to Mr. Fairhall’s speech on 23rd August, 1961, during last year’s Budget debate in which he said -
There I want to leave the Budget. I shall leave the easy task of defending it to my colleagues, and I shall move on to a problem which the forms of the House permit me to discuss at this stage, and which is urgent enough to demand attention.
I refer to the recent suspension by the Government, through the Postmaster-General’s Department, of frequency modulation broadcasting in the capitals of the four eastern States.
He went on to say that the committee of the House would realize that he had long been a critic of this matter for the reasons that he had given in earlier addresses.
I put this matter myself to the Minister more in sorrow than in anger, and hope that in the fullness of time, when wiser counsels may prevail, the Government will see its way clear to do what a number of us in this chamber and in another place have suggested for some couple of years now. I remind the Government that these suggestions are coming from its friends, the people who believe that it has more to offer Australia than has any alternative administration. I ask the Minister to discuss with his colleague the prospect of setting up in this country a federal communications commission based largely upon that which is operating in the United States of America, with one or two minor differences which our different Constitution would require, with similar powers, similar authority, with similar money - pro rata, of course - and similar personnel.
I recall that when the present chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission, Mr. Newton Minnow, took office after he was appointed by President Kennedy, he called all the television and broadcasting licensees together and addressed them in a speech which for strict criticism and as an indication of a new broom applying itself - I cannot say to the Augean stables, as that would not be right, but to a mess that wanted cleaning out - was really a model of precision, English prose composition and administrative determination. Mr. Newton Minnow met some resistance after his appointment by President Kennedy, but within three to four months of his powerful inaugural address all the radio and electronics authorities in the nation were willing to work with him and his commission with research and preparation which have made the telecommunications facilities of the United States the envy of the world.
I ask the Minister to apply his great powers of persuasion and his great intellectual appreciation of this difficult problem to a conference with his colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, to ensure that in the very near future this country may receive the inestimable benefit of a federal communications commission.
– I do not want to appear as a critic of the vast radio and television industry. It is an extraordinary undertaking, employing thousands of Australians. Despite the talk about Australian content, it is probably one of our greatest industries. We are very inexpert in the way we discuss these things. After all, great authorities are employed in this industry and it is a mammoth organization. The cost of advertising alone in Australia is about £115,000,000, which is a tremendous amount of money.
– Yes, annually. The test of a radio or television station always is whether it provides the goods, whether the content be Australian or foreign. I think that the most delicate reaction is the advertising reaction. If a show is no good, the people will not look at it. If, for example, the Sydney stadium puts on a run of four bad fights, the people do not turn up for the fifth. The position is the same with radio and television. The radio or television station that puts on the best programme gets the best results, the highest revenue, the most advertising. So all we can do is to be critical in an amateurish way. 1 want to say a few things now about the Australian Broadcasting Commission. This is a marvellous organization. Catering as it does largely for intellectual entertainment, it probably has fewer listeners than have the commercial radio stations, but there are reasons for that. The national stations, however, make some grievous errors. I am making these comments only to be helpful to the A.B.C. Saturday afternoon is an important time from the point of view of broadcasting. For example, members of the public who have been betting on the races cannot get starting prices from the A.B.C. stations until 7 o’clock. The commercial stations broadcast starting prices much earlier than 7 o’clock. Consequently, listeners have no option but to tune in to the commercial stations for their race results and starting prices.
The A.B..C- seems to be lethargic in these matters. 1 want to see the commission succeed. If you are broadcasting and talking of sporting events you must speak in the vernacular of the sport, if possible. Sporting commentators on the A.B.C. stations use very correct and proper English. They sound as if they are giving a commentary on foreign affairs rather than a sporting commentary. I concede that we do not want too much of the vernacular but in order to retain listener interest we must breathe something of the spirit of the topic we are discussing. The commission’s commentators do not seem to do that. Commentators with most cultured voices call the races and other sporting events. That is the wrong approach if you want to retain the interest of the listening public. You cannot get through to the average person that way. If the wage-earner does not support the national stations, that is the commission’s loss. The A.B.C. should not adopt this sophisticated approach. Its commentators and announcers must use the language of the people, particularly when giving sporting broadcasts.
Let me now pay a tribute to “ Four Corners “, a programme televised by the A.B.C. That programme, presented by Michael Charlton, is one of the world’s best television features, lt is an extra ordinary feature, but 1 continually get the impression that production of the feature is not all that it should be - that not enough money is being spent on production. Possibly the A.B.C. is wasting in other directions money that could be well spent on the production of “ Four Corners “, which already has a vast viewing audience. It is possible that on Saturday night at 8.30 as many people watch “ Four Corners “ as watch any other television programme. I congratulate the commission on this session.
I now propose to offer some criticism of some aspects of the programmes of the A.B.C. At times the national television stations interview men and women in the streets. On one occasion recently an interviewer operating in Kings Cross rushed up to a busy woman in the street and said: “ It has just been announced that the Queen will arrive in Australia in February. What dc you think of that? “ The woman replied, “ I could not care less “. The announcer almost put those words into the woman’s mouth. The woman had a handful of parcels. She was busy. She probably was not disloyal at all. I would say that of eighteen people interviewed on the occasion to which I am referring, fifteen said that the Queen’s visit was a waste of money or that they could not care less about it. They did not quite say, “Who is she?” It certainly was not a campaign in favour of the Queen’s visit. I do not for a moment think that those people were disloyal, but you cannot expect them to be overburdened with loyalty at 7 o’clock in the evening in Kings Cross. That is not a good time to moralize on television about the Empire. That is one criticism that I make. This is all bound up with the art of interviewing. Interviewers, I suppose, must get statements of news value. There is more news value in a woman saying that she could not care less about the Queen’s visit than if she said, “ It will be lovely “. The interviewers are seeking items of news value, and that is how they get them. I do not agree with the A.B.C.’s attitude on these matters.
A feature that I am not happy about has crept into radio programmes. Senator Hannan referred to religious programmes, I think.
– Then your friend, Senator Kennelly, must have mentioned them. A type of religious programme that I do not like is creeping into radio broadcasts. I describe them as American hot momma stuff. At 10.45 one night I was tuned to a commercial station waiting to hear the dog prices when on came a religious session. I was treated to five minutes of the hottest religion I have ever heard.
– It may have converted you from the evils of gambling.
– It had nothing to do with gambling. It costs a lot of money to put these programmes on the air. They are high-pressure religious appeals. You get three or four of them each night on the commercial stations, and that is not very good. I do not think they are broadcast by the A.B.C. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board should look into this matter. The board discusses religious sessions in its report. In my opinion religious sessions should be restricted to broadcasts from St. Andrew’s or St. Mary’s or by the Salvation Army or some other established church. I do not think every ratbag organization willing to do so should be allowed to buy time on a radio station to put across a crank religious message.
Senator Hannan referred to the number of small stations in the United States of America. He talked about the immensity of the industry in that country. Our difficulty in Australia is lack of population. You cannot have an industry here on the American scale because we have not got the population and the purchasing power.
– A kilocycle measures the same in America as it does here.
– I am not denying that, but television development is a more difficult proposition in Western Australia than it is in New South Wales because there are fewer people in Western Australia than there are in New South Wales. If I might digress for a moment, let us consider the position in a country town. There might be £100,000 a year being paid in advertising to the local radio station and the local newspaper. Just because a tele vision station is established, that does not mean that the advertising revenue in the town will jump to £200,000, or even £150,000. It might jump to £110,000, and that amount would be divided amongst the three media. That would be total advertising revenue available in that town. My deputy leader, Senator Kennelly, spoke about monopolies. There is a monopoly in television, but, of course, it is not half the size it will be in about three or four years’ time when all these country stations find that they cannot carry on. They are tied to city programmes, and eventually there will be a great take-over because the country stations will not have the revenue to carry on by themselves.
Senator Hannan spoke about publicity and the political value of radio and television and, of course, we have to include the newspapers. Any one can produce figures to support all sorts of arguments, but the fact is, I think, that the political influence of these media is completely overrated. If you want evidence of that, surely it is to be found in New South Wales, where a Labour government has been in office for almost 25 years. At the end of its present term Labour will have been 25 years in office, notwithstanding the combined opposition of television, radio and the newspapers. Whether the television, radio and newspapers have been fair or unfair in New South Wales to Labour, it has not made any difference to the electoral result. Labour has been in office during the whole period, so there must be reasons other than the influence of publicity.
I do not think Senator Hannan ought to complain too much about the Liberal Party’s lack of publicity on television. It was offered an important session but did not take it. The Liberal Party was asked to take part in “ The Candidates “ session of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I think it was a very good idea. Senator Hannan said that he was opposed to the decision of his party in that matter. I think he was right. The absence of the Liberal Party disjointed the whole programme. It would have been much better if all of the major parties had appeared. I do not blame the Prime Minister, because it would have meant that he would have been appearing with other candidates in the Kooyong electorate. He is a busy man. . ~4
However, 1 think arrangements could have been made for the leaders to have been excluded. A dozen good reasons could have been shown why they need not have appeared. I think that if the right approach had been made to the commission the Liberal Party could have had its candidates on that session in a way that would have been agreeable to it.
Senator Branson interjected to Senator Hannan that the Liberal Party would not appear with Communists. I do not think that is a valid argument. If anybody hates the Communists more than the Liberal Party, it probably is the Australian Democratic Labour Party, and that party went on to the session. It did not feel consciencestricken about appearing with Communists. I think that the Liberal Party was the loser and the public took notice of the fact that it did not appear. I think its absence from the session had a fair bit to do with the losses it sustained. However, I think that we should not place too much political value on advertising in the newspapers, on television or on the radio. The fact is, unfortunately, that very few people are interested in politics, even at election time.
People are interested in the entertainment value of television and radio. Political news is not read or listened to as much as it should be. I remember that the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, which is generally referred to as the Labour Party’s official organ, about two years ago had a double spread in the middle of its newspaper in which it gave this Senate and the other place a wonderful run. I am just giving this as an example. It was not long before that service to the Parliament was withdrawn. It was a wonderful service because the newspaper reported members of all parties and gave the Parliament a really good run. But finally the advertising revenue dropped out of that section of the newspaper because it did not have a reader value. Politics is not a good medium for selling advertising. That is why I think it would have the lowest rating on radio and television stations, and that is probably one of the reasons why the Labour Party has remained in office despite the opposition of the newspapers, the radio and television. I repeat that at the end of this term the Labour
Party will have been 25 years in office in New South Wales despite the adverse publicity it has received.
I wish now to refer to the subject of Australian content of programmes. Most speakers regard this as most important from the point of view of entertainment. We have to consider entertainment because it is that which keeps radio and television stations going. Education programmes do not keep them going. They are very important and good, but it is entertainment that really counts. I want to see a high Australian content in programmes, but there is already an Australian content in the industry. Thousands of Australian workers are employed, and £15,000,000 is spent on advertising. The production of advertising involves the employment of a large number of people, including artists, cartoonists, musicians, singers and many others. All these people are potential producers in a modern picture industry. That is what we are trying to achieve by an Australian content in our programmes.
If, for example, you were to have an all-Australian content on a radio station, I do not think the station would hold its listeners for very long. In the field of variety entertainment Australians can match anyone in the world. Our teenage shows on television and radio are of world standard, but our drama is not of world standard. With all due respect to Senator Hannan, I think the show he appears in is most amateurish. I am not referring to the actors but to the production. Highquality technique is absent. Why is this? It is because the producers have not the money that it is necessary to spend on a first-class production. For instance, let us consider the Desilu organization in America which produces “The Untouchables “ and dozens of other popular pictures which are on television.
– And “Naked City”.
– Yes, “ Naked City “. That is produced in Hollywood. We cannot compete with Hollywood. No station could afford to support an amateur Australian industry in competition with such American organizations. I do not think the Parliament or the Senate should consider such a thing. We in Australia i are small and inefficient as far as production is concerned because we have not the people to pay the money to make the industry a competing success. I am speaking about the production side. I am not saying anything about our artists. Our artists can go overseas and they are as good as any other artists, but we fail on the score of production. When people talk about the Australian content of our programmes they are talking about the Australian content in drama and crime pictures. In America the best brains in the industry are engaged in that type of work. It would be necessary for us to import the know-how, and there would be a great deal of work to do before wc could compete successfully with the American film industry. We would not be competing with spare-time actors. We would be taking on the American film industry, and there is nothing amateurish about that industry. The programme called “The Outcasts”, produced by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, was, I think, the best ever produced in Australia, but generally speaking, Australian programmes are not to be compared with American programmes, not because the artists are not good enough, but because we have not the know-how, the organization and the capital to back the productions.
Another mistake which I think the com- - mission is making is that it is inclined to treat radio as a poor relation. I have an idea that the commission, in concentrating on television, is doing so at the cost of its radio productions. I think that is wrong. As a matter of fact, it is misjudging the trends in radio and television entertainment. Although the overall expenditure on advertising of £115,000,000 last year was less than in the year before, the radio broadcasting share went up by about £2,000,000. I think that television accounted for something like £8,000,000 and that radio’s share went up to nearly £11,000,000. A greater percentage of radio sets has been manufactured this year than last year, and there has been a general increase all round in the radio field. Radio has an advertising rating greater than ever it had.
In my opinion, the Australian Broadcasting Commission should study this matter. I think that radio is coming back into its own, to a very large extent. As I have said on previous occasions, it is about time that somebody made an attempt to amend the law under which the commission is governed in order to allow it to earn advertising revenue. I have referred tonight to the £115,000,000 a year which is spent on advertising with the newspapers, radio stations and television stations in Australia. I cannot see anything at all wrong with the Australian Broadcasting Commission being able to acquire some of that finance, instead of its having to be financed from the fees paid by listeners, or from Government funds. In my view, if the commission were able to do that, it would improve its listening and viewing appeal. Although we hear criticism of advertising on the radio and on television, advertising is a big draw-card in the industry. Hundreds of people watch television in order to see the advertisements, because they are works of art also. There is a lot of Australian content in the advertising that appears on the television screens. In that respect, we have an Australian industry that we could build up.
I know that the Broadcasting Act provides that the commission may not receive revenue from advertising and from certain other sources, but in fact it does receive revenue, such as from concerts. I have not the figures before me, but I have noticed that quite a sizeable sum is received by the commission for services rendered. If it is possible for it to receive money in that way it ought to be possible to allow it to receive a share of the vast amount that is spent on advertising in Australia, all of which at present goes to the commercial interests. It is about time that the advertising industry paid a part of its revenue to the commisison. I do not think the commission always should have the responsibility to present the educational and cultural programmes, those that do not pay and which do not attract a great number of listeners and viewers. If Australian advertisers could advertise their products on the commission’s radio and television stations they would be making their contribution to the wonderful work that the commission is doing.
– I support the motion for the printing of the papers. I wish to confine my remarks mainly to a particular topic which has been referred to in the reports of the Australian Broadcasting Commission over the years and which is stressed again this year. It is the inadequacy of the studios and offices of the commission. 1 shall refer particularly to the commission’s premises in South Australia and shall endeavour to explain why I think the buildings and equipment are inadequate. I shall make a plea for this matter to be submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. I hope to show that such a submission was made in respect of the commission’s premises in Western Australia five years ago. From discussions I have had with my colleagues from Western Australia, it appears that a vast improvement resulted from the activities of the Public Works Committee.
On page 5 of the annual report of the commission for 1961-62, it is stated that the development of programmes is dependent upon finance being available and also on the provision of suitable studios and offices. The commission directs attention to the way in which its activities have grown over the years and states that the undesirable makeshift arrangements should be accepted for no longer than is necessary. It is interesting to consider the statistics in this connexion. In Sydney, the staff of the commission is working in 22 separate buildings, the majority of which were not planned for broadcasting. The report points out that this situation has created very serious problems which the commission is anxious to overcome as soon as possible. It is clear that the smooth functioning of the organization is seriously affected by these deficiencies in accommodation.
I am pleased to note that the commission has permanent building sites in each State capital and that steps are being taken to build on those sites. In Western Australia, apparently the situation in 1957 was so indescribably bad that the Public Works Committee saw fit to go there. The committee, in its report, referred to the congestion and to the difficulties under which the staff was then operating. It stated that the whole organization was labouring under extreme difficulties which must certainly impair the efficiency of the work and result in very great discomfort and problems for the staff. Apart from that, the conditions were a poor commentary on the government responsible for the provision of the facilities. Wherever one looks in the report one sees reference to the great progress being made, to the increased working hours and to the increased number of hours on the air, yet there seems to be no marked improvement in either the buildings or the facilities available to the commission.
I should like to take a minute to describe the situation in South Australia. Apparently, twenty or 30 years ago, a disused famous old church in Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide, was purchased by the commission together with some adjacent buildings. Under some rough arrangement, the old church and the buildings were merged, and, on the eastern side of Hindmarsh Square, there appears to me to be a series of rabbit-warren-like buildings in which the Australian Broadcasting Commission is functioning. Then, after crossing four or five roadways through the square, one finds another section of the commission’s staff working in a building that rejoices in the name of Football House. I understand that the members of the staff there suffer great inconvenience, especially during wet weather when there is a great accumulation of water on the lower floor of the building. To me, it is most remarkable that the Australian Broadcasting Commission can function at all satisfactorily in South Australia under such poor conditions. I put it to the Minister that it is of the utmost importance that the buildings in which the commission is housed in Adelaide be looked at immediately, and I respectfully submit that, as was done in connexion with the buildings in Western Australia in 1957, the whole question be submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for examination and report. I was interested to read of the method of approach of the Public Works Committee to the Western Australian project and the care with which it dealt with the plan for that building. I was also impressed by the wisdom that committee showed in making provision for accommodation to meet television requirements. At that time, there was no television service in Western Australia, but the committee made adequate provision for future television requirements. For instance, it made provision for engineering services and even for such amenities as a cafeteria. I emphasize that the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in South Australia is very seriously handicapped by the conditions under which it is accommodated. Although it is not spread over 22 separate buildings it is certainly spread over far too large a number of buildings.
I pay tribute to the general work of Radio Australia. I have been wondering whether another feature of the work of Radio Australia could be broadcasts to New Zealand. I think that at this stage in the affairs of the British Commonwealth it is most appropriate that Australia should get closer to New Zealand than ever before because our plight is somewhat similar to that of New Zealand. Radio Australia could be used as a medium of communication between Australia and New Zealand. I believe that the news broadcasts of the Australian Broadcasting Commission could, with advantage, be regularly sent in the direction of New Zealand by the same token the news sessions of the New Zealand national stations could be sent to us for dissemination in this country by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. As we have so much in common with New Zealand this link with our sister dominion would appear to me to be of paramount importance not only now but in the years to come. 1 have always been a great admirer of the work done by Radio Australia in its broadcasts to Indonesia. That the English lessons broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission to Indonesia through Radio Australia have an amazing audience in Indonesia is evidenced by the following statement on page 19 of the commission’s report -
Broadcast English lessons continue to hold the interest of Indonesian listeners. The fourth broadcast in this series began in October, 1961. More than 1,000,000 booklets for use with the broadcasts have been issued since this project began in October, 1959.
It is interesting to note, too, that the report also states -
Listeners’ mail during the year amounted to 217,144 letters.
It will be seen, therefore, that Radio Australia plays a most significant part in the lives of the people in the areas to the north of this continent. The report also points out that Radio Australia is recognized in Asia as a source of information and that hundreds of letters of inquiry are received each week as a result of its broadcasts. Some of the questions asked in the letters are quite amusing. For instance, one was, “ How is Australian Rules played? “ Others were, “ Please explain the system of technical education in Australia “ and “ Who invented algebra - and why? “ It is most gratifying to know that, through this medium, interest is taken in Australian sport by the people in such places as Indonesia, which now has a common land boundary with Australian territory.
Senator Ormonde suggested that advertising should be included in the programmes of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I think a number of us can say, quite seriously, that the reason why we tune in to the national stations is because the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s programmes do not include any advertising. I think it would be a great pity if Senator Ormonde’s suggestion were adopted, because the national stations are a refuge for listeners who do not want to listen to advertising.
I join with other honorable senators in complimenting the national television stations upon the programme “Four Corners “. I believe that “ Four Corners “ has been the means of bringing not only entertainment but also education to the hundreds of thousands of people who view it regularly each week.
The report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is one of great scholarship and importance. As both of the reports under consideration have been dealt with very fully this evening by Senator Hannan and Senator Kennelly, I conclude my remarks by complimenting the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board upon their work during the year. I hope that the Minister in charge of the debate will mention to his colleague the unsatisfactory conditions under which the members of the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission work in South Australia. I believe that the Government should move quickly to provide for them conditions similar to those which were provided for the commission’s employees in Western Australia five years ago.
.- Mr. President, as the Australian Broadcasting Control Board said in paragraph 105 of its fourteenth annual report, public acceptance of the television services now in operation in Australia has established that television must be regarded as an important part of Australian daily life. The report points out that the opening of eleven country television stations during the latter part of the year ended 30th June, 1962, has meant a considerable widening of the sphere of influence of television on the Australian way of life. The advent of television has meant much to the mother of young children in that by turning a knob and putting her children in front of a television set in the evening she is able to prepare the family dinner whilst the kiddies are enjoying watching television. In addition, her husband has time to have another drink with his mates in the hotel on his way home from work, knowing that his children will be entertained and that the burden of his wife in the home is relieved to some degree.
Television is also provided for young children in orphanages, sick people in homes, and people in hospitals for the chronically ill and homes for the aged. This additional amenity makes their lives more enjoyable and more attractive. People in the outback are having, or will have in the future, a new way of life opened up to them. I believe it is fair to say that every Australian family that has a television set would not part with it and every family that has not a television set would like to acquire one. Obviously, television has come to be accepted as part of the Australian way of life. But, because it is accepted by the vast majority of the Australian community, that does not mean that viewers as a whole are satisfied with the standard of the programmes that are presented to them. I shall refer to that matter at a later stage, having regard to paragraphs in the report.
When television was introduced into Australia one could go around the factories, offices and workshops and speculate on what programme would be discussed at lunchtime. It might be a revived film presented for the interests of viewers. It might be a film showing the way the famous American lawyer, Perry Mason, handles his brief in opposition to the district attorney. The discussion might be on whether or not the Untouchables railroaded Al Capone or whether or not Marshal Dillon really was the hero of Dodge City. Another serial presented by one of the commercial television stations was called “Maverick “. At lunch-time in factories and offices I have listened to discussions on whether the portrayal of Maverick on the screen depicted the real Maverick as he lived.
The conversations that developed over the lunch tables in factories, offices and shops might have been responsible for the board’s statement in paragraph 106 of the report that television viewers’ licences have increased in number. However, the report goes on to say -
This fact cannot, however, be taken in isolation, for the evidence of audience-measurement surveys suggests that the amount of time each viewer spends watching television is declining. This trend has to some extent been masked by the continuing increase in the total number of viewers.
The board’s statements in paragraph 106 are amplified in paragraphs 146 and 147. In paragraph 146 we find a table showing that the principal variations in the types of programmes presented in Melbourne between 1958 and 1960 showed an increase of 92 per cent, on the 1958 figure in the quantity of crime and suspense films shown to viewers and an increase of 41 per cent, on the 1958 figure in the quantity of western films.
Television has been in operation in the large metropolises of Australia for about six years. Bearing in mind that fact, the increase of 92 per cent, in crime and suspense films and the increase of 41 per cent, in western films, it is interesting to note that young Australian children seem to be familiar with the names that I mentioned earlier, such as Marshal Matt Dillon, Perry Mason, Maverick, Ben Casey - I suppose the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) would like to be known throughout Australia as well as Ben Casey is known - Superman and others. Yet very few Australian children know anything at all about the deeds of famous Australians such as Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and Lawrence Hargrave, who were pioneers in
Australian aviation; bushrangers such as Ned Kelly, Thunderbolt and Govett; George Loveless, one of the Tolpuddle martyrs; Lasseter and his famous, perhaps mythical, gold reef; the Australian soldier familiarly known as Scotty; the Australian stretcherbearer scaling the cliffs of Gallipoli and bringing some comfort to the hearts and minds of wounded soldiers; and the great Australian explorers such as Sturt, Burke and Wills, Kennedy and Jacky Jacky. Coming closer to the present, there are the deeds of great Australians in the Second World War in areas close to our shores, such as New Guinea and the Coral Sea, where the great battle that kept Australia free was fought.
Those are some of the things that are not being shown to the younger generation of Australians. They could well be shown - I go so far as to say that they should be shown - to the ordinary Australian child.
What a wealth of material is available - that is obvious even from a cursory examination of the subject - to educate the younger generation of Australians. What wonderful stories about the Australian way of life, deeds of bravery and resourcefulness, and actions of famous Australians are available but comparatively unknown to the younger generation.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn. ‘
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 November 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1962/19621113_senate_24_s22/>.