25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hob. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have received the following letter from His Excellency the Governor-General: -
Dear Mr. President,
On receipt of the message you signed jointly with the Honorable the Speaker of the House of Representatives on 17th March, I telegraphed a joint address from the members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives to Her Majesty the Queen. I have pleasure in forwarding to you Her Majesty’s telegraphed reply dated 18th March, which reads - i have received with much pleasure the joint address from the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Common- wealth of Australia assembled in Parliament. Please convey to them the sincere thanks of my husband and myself for their congratulations on the birth of our third son and for the assurance of their loyalty.
DEATH OF GENERAL DOUGLAS MacARTHUR.
– by leave - Mr. President, it is a formality, I think, to tell honorable senators of the death of General MacArthur, but I believe it would be appropriate to have something upon the records of the Senate concerning the passing of this great man. I think it may be said, not incorrectly, that General MacArthur was perhaps the greatest single personal link between the Australian nation and the great nation of the United States of America. He was a personality who, in the dark days of the war years, personified and made apparent to us in Australia the spirit of willingness of our allies in that great conflict. Most of us read from day to day in the press of the gallant manner of his passing. Although he had reached the great age of 84 years at the time of his death, he faced the end with all the courage and all the spirit of the service to which he had devoted himself throughout the whole of his life. Some things said by great men live on in history. One recalls the brief statement, “ I shall return “, made by General Douglas MacArthur when he was taken from the Philippines to command the allied forces in Australia. That brief statement will live on in history among the words of famous men expressed in times of grave national crisis.
Like all great service commanders, General MacArthur was a man of marked intellectual maturity. He was a man of vision with a depth of understanding that went beyond military matters. I think General MacArthur would have made his mark nationally in any sphere other than the profession he chose. But in Australia, we remember him as the man who commanded the American and Australian forces in the south-west Pacific. We remember him as the man who organized military elements and movements in Australia and the great allied advance from Australia to the final conquest of Japan. Quite rightly, General MacArthur had the great honour of accepting the formal surrender of the Japanese nation at the close of hostilities.
The Senate has no resolution to pass on this occasion, but we felt it appropriate that the historical records of the Senate of Australia should contain an expression of our regret at the death of General Douglas MacArthur and our sympathy with his family in their bereavement. We express our admiration of the great things that he accomplished during his lifetime.
– by leave - I rise to speak for my colleagues of the Australian Labour Party who constitute the Opposition in the Senate. No doubt, most of us would like to be judged on the height of our endeavours rather than on the strength of our successes or the depths of our failures when we come to the end of our terms. But General Douglas MacArthur was one of the few in the world whose record of constant high endeavour was matched equally by his constant outstanding achievements.
I make no attempt on this occasion to review his brilliant career. I content myself with paying to it the fullest acknowledgement and tribute. I think of General Douglas MacArthur to-day particularly in relation to his association with us in Australia. We know of his magnificent stand in the Bataan Peninsula against the Japanese invaders of the Philippines until he was ordered to Australia by the President of the United States of America in March, 1942. In Australia, General MacArthur mounted the attack against Japan and introduced the novel system of by-passing islands held by the Japanese, leaving them to be mopped up at leisure later. General MacArthur mounted that offensive with the spirit of attack which was his chief characteristic. It carried him on from island to island and from place to place until he reached Tokyo and ultimate victory.
General MacArthur’s arrival in Australia afforded the first element of relief to the anxious parents of young Australian children. Parents were worried about the fate of their children should Australia be invaded and occupied, which seemed likely in the dark days of early 1942. General Douglas MacArthur was accompanied every yard of the way from Australia to Tokyo by the prayers and thanks of Australians who, but for his great generalship, would have known the horrors of military invasion and occupation. He and John Curtin together forged the first intimate links, based upon mutual respect, between Australia and the United States of America. Upon that base has been built the close association between the two countries Chat has developed in succeeding yars - an association which, as we all know, is a vital element of our security for the future.
I am happy to recall that General MacArthur was greeted as a hero in New York upon his return to America after ‘he had left Korea in 1951 and that after that he lived for approximately thirteen years without the distractions, disturbances and horror of war. He knew the place that he had won in the hearts of the peoples not only of America but also of Australia, the Philippines and many other parts of the world. He knew full well the place that he had won in world history. Very many m.n who have made marvellous contributions to world history p ss on without ever knowing those things. It is consoling to think that at the moment of his death he knew that his place in history had been acknowledged during his lifetime and had been eternally sculpted.
General MacArthur made a great contribution not only to victory in World War II but also to the peace and security of the whole world. He will be no more forgotten in Australia than he will be in the United States of America. He led our own Australian troops; he was our Supreme Commander. We in this country regard him as being an integral part of our own history. I join the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) in extending to his sorrowing wife and son, and to the people of the United States of America, deepest sympathy in the loss of such a distinguished and colorful personality.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether the South Australian Government is responsible for controlling the design of and investigations into the Chowilla dam. Have these investigations been concluded? Is the Minister in a position to state whether a design has been accepted and to indicate a likely date for the commencement of the project?
– The arrangement in regard to the Chowilla dam is that it will be operated by the River Murray Commission. The Engineering and Water Supply Department of South Australia, which is administered by Mr. Dridan, will be the constructing authority. That department will prepare designs and specifications which it will submit to the River Murray Commission for approval. Upon approval of the design, the South Australian department will proceed with the work. In other words it is a good, commonsense arrangement. South Australia will do the job in collaboration with the other governments, these other governments, through the River Murray Commission, making their contribution to the cost of the project. I do not think the stage has been reached - it would not have been possible in the time - at which designs and specifications have been completed. My recollection of the last information I received is that overseas consultants were looking at the geological conditions in the bed of the river and that the South Australian department was preparing plans and specifications. I do not think those plans have yet been finished. I do not think tenders have yet been called. This is a very big job. As it it is estimated to cost £13,500,000 it will take some time to do all that is necessary.
– I have not seen the article to which the honorable senator refers, but I can assure him that the problem of crowded skies and congestion over airports is one of which the Department of Civil Aviation is fully aware and which it has, in fact, taken appropriate measures in advance to meet. There is a continuing improvement in our already excellent instrument approach systems and landing systems, and the department is currently working toward further improvements which will enable lower minimum conditions to be observed and which, ultimately, will enable fully automatic approaches. Long-range radar systems are being installed at capital city airports and one is already operating at Sydney. These enable ground controllers to scan an area of 70,000 square miles every twelve seconds, pin-pointing aircraft and their movements precisely and continuously during their climb and descent stages. In addition, we have achieved a remarkably high standard in communications between aircraft and ground stations. Once again, 1 assure the honorable senator that the department will continue to develop ways and means of meeting the problem to which he referred, that has become apparent overseas. As it arises in Australia our own high safety standards will not be reduced in any way.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he has seen a report in this morning’s press to the effect that Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited, a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Limited increased its profit from £12,700 last year to £102,000 foi this year, an increase of 850 per cent. During this time did Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited receive the Government’s subsidy? What amount of subsidy was paid? I ask the Minister also: In view of this increase of 850 per cent, in the profit of the airline does he think that the subsidy is now justified? Will he permit both airlines - Trans- Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. - to have equal opportunity for airline business within New South Wales? Should the Minister agree to both airlines having equal opportunity for business in New South Wales, I am authorized to say that the Government of that State will readily co-operate with him.
– I have not seen the newspaper report referred to. Correspondence reached my table this morning dealing with the matter of the profitability achieved by Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited, but I have not yet had time to look at it. It does not surprise me that there has been an increase in the profitability of this airline. Indeed, statements made by almost all airline operators over recent weeks have indicated that a state of buoyancy has been present within the industry. It is true, of course, that during the period in question Airlines of New South Wales has received a subsidy. I regret that I am not able off-the-cuff to tell the honorable senator the amount of the subsidy. He will know, of course, that the amount of subsidy paid to this airline, and to every other airline is now stated in the annual report of the Department of Civil Aviation. The amount for last year appears in the report. I shall try to obtain for the honorable senator the figures he seeks.
The honorable senator relates this question of subsidy to profitability. I take the opportunity to point out again that the basis of subsidy is payment for the provision of service to isolated communities which, without subsidy, would not have any air service at all. Subsidy is not - paid for the benefit of an airline: It is paid so that the airline concerned will be able to conduct operations to isolated areas and so that the people in those areas may enjoy the benefit of air transport. This is a matter which relates not only to Airlines of New South Wales, but also to very many airlines operating in isolated areas throughout Australia. Trans - Australia Airlines, for example, is the recipient of subsidies for services it conducts on nonpayable air routes, and so are other profitable airlines.
The honorable senator also asked whether, in view of these figures, it would not be opportune to permit T.A.A. to operate in New South Wales. I can only say now what 1 have said on other occasions in respect of this matter. I point out that there are already operating in New South Wales two airlines both of which are in receipt of subsidies. To put a further airline, whatever its name, into this area would create a situation in which the taxpayer would be paying subsidies to three airlines instead of two. The honorable senator also asked about the degree of profitability. I point out that the airline business is one in which the cash position alters very quickly, not only because of the variations in the economic climate but also because of the very large obligations for reequipment which airlines have to undertake from time to time. These re-equipment programmes do not involve the expenditure of amounts comparable with those spent on re-equipment in other industries. These programmes cost millions of pounds. I remind the Senate that this particular airline, and the parent company to which it pays its dividend, will at the end of this year be starting a re-equipment programme which will run into many millions of pounds.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport noted a comment by the Premier of Tasmania, Mr. Reece, to the effect that, as a means of alleviating the acute freight position which has arisen in King Island, the Australian National Line should acquire the interstate trader “ King Islander “? Is the Minister aware of any negotiations taking place between the Australian National Line and Captain Houfe, the owner of “King Islander”?
– Certain Tasmanian press references to this subject were drawn to my notice and I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport to provide me with any information he had. He has told me that his understanding is that the Premier of Tasmania has proposed to the Prime Minister that the Australian National Line should purchase the vessel “ King Islander “ from her present owners, R. H. Houfe and Company Proprietary Limited, and operate her in the service from King Island to Victoria. The views of the owners of the vessel and of the management of the Australian National Line are being sought on the Premier’s proposal.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. When an ex-member of the Australian Imperial Force, whose application for acceptance of an illness as being due to war service has been refused by an appeals tribunal on the ground that the evidence does not support his claim, makes a new application in relation to the same illness, on the ground of new evidence, is his advocate before a new appeals tribunal permitted to refer to medical evidence at the earlier hearing if, upon studying the summary of the case, he discovers that a very significant departmental error was made in transcribing the medical report submitted at the original hearing?
– Under the provisions of the Repatriation Act, as quasijudicial bodies the pensions appeal tribunals themselves are responsible for procedural matters relating to appeals. The Minister for Repatriation has asked me to tell the honorable senator that if he has a particular case in mind it is suggested that he discuss it with the Minister personally.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General a question. Will the Attorney-General consider the question of prosecuting Sir Frank Packer and others who might be involved for conspiracy in trafficking in television company shares? Will he examine the Broadcasting and Television Act in this regard to discover whether there has been a self-admitted breach of the law? In this connexion, I quote Sir Frank Packer’s own words. They were - 1 bought the Brisbane shares. 1 got only 600,000 of the 800,000. Ian Potter will hear about this leakage of 200,000. I have not decided what to do with the shares. My present intention is to raffle them. I refuse to reveal how my Brisbane coup was planned. This is something for the Postmaster-General to find out for himself.
Having regard to this quotation, does the Minister representing the Attorney-General consider that Sir Frank Packer believes he is above the law and is deliberately challenging the Government to move against him?
– I think that is an extraordinary question. In the first place, it relates to policy. In the second place, it asks whether a prosecution will be launched. After that, it asks whether there are any grounds for launching a prosecution. It seems to me to be an odd method of approach. I do not intend to express any personal opinion, as I was asked to do by the honorable senator. I think the best course to follow, if the honorable senator wishes to ask the Attorney-General what he proposes to do in this matter, is for him either to put the question on the notice-paper or to ask the Attorney-General himself.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Whilst congratulating him for paying a personal visit to South Australia last weekend to have a look at the very overcrowded conditions at the Adelaide airport and to see the urgent need to extend the facilities, I ask the Minister whether he can give me some indication of the time when we might expect the alterations to be begun, and the extent of the proposed alterations. I also point out that when I asked him some time ago when we might be able to expect the covered ways from the terminal to the aircraft to be provided - I think they are called fingers in the trade - he pointed out that South Australia did not have a climate which warranted them. While agreeing with his implication that we have quite the best climate in Australia, I ask him whether there is any chance of his changing his mind and considering erecting these covered ways from the terminal out to the aircraft at that airport.
– I hasten to assure the honorable senator that my recent visit to South Australia was not for the purpose of making any sort of assessment of the conditions at the Adelaide airport terminal. As a Western Australian, I know that it is frequently my necessary lot to land at Adelaide and I am well informed of the conditions that prevail there.
As to plans to increase terminal facilities, I point out that the present position is that we are concluding close discussions with the Department of Works in finalizing the layout and estimates for the project. We expect to have them ready in a few weeks’ time. In general terms, the proposal is to approximately double the public lounge space, and to increase the airline company office, and the buffet and dining facilities. This project is included as an item on our draft new works programme for 1964-65. If it is approved, as we expect it will be, construction could start before the end of this year. There will be construction difficulties in enlarging the building while keeping it in operation and these difficulties will prolong the construction time, as I have mentioned on a previous occasion. It is expected that the work will be completed in the latter half of next year. The contractor has started on the apron extension at Adelaide and has a contract completion date for August of this year. I regret that I cannot give anything definitive to the honorable senator about the provision of fingers. This is a question of construction which has not yet been resolved in my department.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister seen a report in this morning’s press that BrigadierGeneral Suadi, the Ambassador for Indonesia in Australia, is alleged to have made certain statements, telling Australia to keep out of the Malaysian situation? If those statements were made by the Ambassador for Indonesia, does the Minister consider that the Indonesians are over-stepping the bounds of diplomatic privilege?
– I did see the press reports published this morning of statements attributed to Brigadier-General Suadi, the Ambassador for Indonesia in Australia. I do not think that, on a proper interpretation of the bounds of diplomatic privilege, it is correct to say that the Ambassador was overstepping those bounds by stating his views in reply to questions that he was asked. I have no doubt whatever that Australia’s views are constantly and firmly made known in the proper way to the country from which Brigadier-General Suadi comes.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of Commonwealth activities in education. In view of the present lively interest in the establishment of a third university in Victoria and of statements by the Victorian Premier, Mr. Bolte, to the effect that no action can be taken until the Australian Universities Commission makes recommendations after receiving the report of the committee on the future of tertiary education in Australia, I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that grants totalling £1,550,000 were authorized for the third university institution in Victoria by act of this Parliament in October, 1963, for capital building and recurrent expenditure for the 1964-66 triennium? Is it necessary for the Victorian Government to wait for the report of the Commonwealth committee on tertiary education before commencing the planning of the third university? The Leader of the Government in the Senate stated on 24th October last that the committee’s report was promised for January of 1964. When is it now expected that the report will be made?
– The answer to the first part of the question asked by the honorable senator is that £1,550,000 was made available by the Commonwealth Parliament for expenditure in Victoria on a third university. The answer to the second part of the question is that there was no compulsion on the Victorian Government to wait to expend that money, although there may well have been factors in planning and other matters which led the Victorian Government to take that step. However, there has been no compulsion stemming from this Government or this Parliament. The presentation of the report of the committee on tertiary education set up by the
Australian Universities Commission has been delayed. The chairman, Sir Leslie Martin, has asked on several occasions for further time to reach detailed conclusions. I had hoped that the report would be in last month. I now hope that it will be in this month, and that is all I can say.
There is one point that I should like to make, arising from the honorable senator’s question. I noticed that when discussing the establishment of a third university in Melbourne, and particularly the siting of the university in the metropolitan area, the Leader of the Labour Opposition in that State attacked the Premier for succumbing to Commonwealth pressure as to where the university should be put. I wish to make it quite clear that the Commonwealth Government does not bring and has not brought pressure to bear on the State Governments about the siting of universities.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. In view of the wide publicity that has been given to the case of the child Nancy Prasad, will the Minister make a statement on the case to the Senate? Is it a fact that both the mother and father of this five-year-old child are now living permanently in Suva? Has the Minister noted the reported press statements of Senators Murphy and Ormonde in relation to this case?
– I have noticed the comments of those two honorable senators. Knowing their proclivity for rushing in where angels fear to tread, I was not surprised that, without any information, they made the comments that they did. I noticed that in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 6th April there was a statement by the superintendent of the Kings Cross Methodist Mission, the Reverend T. D. Noffs. It is uninformed statements, rather than anything else, that do damage to Australia. The Reverend Noffs said -
In a world in which the race issue is most explosive, Australia seems bent on striking mashes with incidents of this nature.
All decent people will surely rise up in anger against those who seem more interested in (he application of legal principles, rather than the prevention of personal tragedy.
– There is a lot of truth in that.
– After reading your statement I believe that you think so, but that is because you are so ill-informed. All that the Department of Immigration is seeking to do is to send a five-year-old girl back to her parents. Whose care should she be in but that of her mother and father?
– Depending on the economic circumstances.
– I will deal with that. What is being done is in accordance with the proper processes laid down by law. In commenting on this case the Fijian press has described the action of the Australian authorities as considerate, reasonable and generous.
– Read that again.
– I shall say it again. The Fijian press has described our action as considerate, reasonable and generous. The Fijian press completely debunks the statement that this girl’s parents are living in bad conditions in Fiji, and says that they were property owners in a good position in Fiji. They are the people who should be in charge of their daughter. I shall not traverse the whole history of the case. The parents and family of the girl came to Australia on a four-month visitors’ visa.
– On a holiday.
– On a holiday. At the end of four months the family, after some difficulties, returned to Fiji when they were advised that their visa had run out. The child Nancy had an infection of the throat at this time and was given permission to stay for another two months. Her brother said he would have holidays at Christmas time and would then take his sister back to Fiji. The extension was granted to enable her to get rid of the infection in her throat, but when Christmas time came the brother said that he could not get time off. He asked for an extension until Easter, when he could get four days off from work to enable him to take his sister back.
At Easter, further objection was raised by the brother. He said he would not take the girl back to Fiji. He was advised by the Department of Immigration that Easter was the deadline. The department felt that it had done everything possible. It is interesting to note that the Fijian press agrees that if an Australian were in Fiji under a visa of the same kind, the Fijian Government would have done just as the Australian Government has done with this exception: The Australian Government offered the child a free passage and a free return passage to her brother to take the child back to her parents.
– We were too generous.
– Probably we were too generous. But ill-informed statements such as those which have appeared in the press do the damage. Unfortunately, when the facts are known, they get very little prominence in the press.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is it not a fact that the family of the child, Nalinie Prasad, both in Australia and Fiji considered that the welfare of the child would be best served if she remained in Australia? Should not her family be the best judges of those circumstances? Is it not true that if the child were English or if the colour of her skin were white, the Australian Government would not be doing to the child what it is doing in this case?
– When the honorable senator has been in the Senate a little longer and understands the laws of Australia a little better and when he knows how they are administered, he will know that there is no question of colour in relation to a visitors’ visa. A visa is granted to a visitor for a certain time. When that time has elapsed, the visitor must leave the country. That applies to all visitors. I repeat my previous statement that the Fijian Government has said, itself, that if an Australian visitor were in Fiji in the same circumstances, he would be asked to return to Australia.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the Minister seen an article by Mr. Raymond Kerrison published in the Adelaide “ News “ of 1st April in which Mr. Kerrison expressed concern at the take-over by Japanese export textile houses of Australian textile import agents with a threatened loss of millions of pounds by Australian companies and the monopoly of all textile import quotas by Japanese firms? Will the Minister comment on this alleged take-over by foreign firms?
– I have not read the statement but I understand that complaints were made by an Australian firm which had the agency for certain Japanese textiles. The Japanese notified the Australian agent that they intended setting up their own trade offices to sell their own goods in Australia and that they would terminate the arrangements which had existed. Such a decision is nothing new in the way of trade. I have been in business myself for many years and have had the same experience when a firm employing an agent decided to alter the pattern of its trade and set out to sell its own goods in the area concerned. An orderly marketing control is operated by Japan. I am informed that the Department of Trade and Industry is discussing the position with the agent concerned and the Japanese authorities. But, really, I think it is purely a commercial matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister assisting the Prime Minister in relation to Commonwealth activities in education. Is it a fact that expenditure on education by the six Australian States over the ten-year period from 1952 to 1962 increased from 12.6 per cent, to 17.1 per cent, of State expenditure? Can the Minister also inform the Senate how much or what proportion of expenditure by the Commonwealth Government in addition to this State expenditure was in respect of such matters as university education, technical education and Commonwealth scholarships? Will the Minister also inform the Senate how the total Australian expenditure on education in relation to national income compares with that of countries such as England or the United States of America and other developed countries with high standards of living?
– I am afraid that when we get down to questions of points of percentages, I cannot confirm or deny the statements made by the honorable senator. Undoubtedly, there has been immensely increased expenditure in the field of education by the State governments in the. period from . 1952 to 1962 and that expenditure has increased a good deal since 1962. Whether the increase is from 12.6 per cent, to 17.1 per cent, of State expenditure I do not know but I shall endeavour to find out. Even if that proved to be the case, it would not indicate the full extent of the increase because the rise would not be from 12.6 per cent, to 17.1 per cent, but from1 2.6 per cent, of a sum to 17.1 per cent, of a much greater sum. However, I shall endeavour to get the figures for the honorable senator.
Commonwealth expenditure on education has also increased greatly. Indeed, I would say that Commonwealth expenditure on education has risen from a sum that was virtually nothing compared to the present figures. I shall get those figures also for the honorable senator.
Senator Buttfield posed a difficult question when she asked me to compare the proportion of Australia’s gross national income spent on education with the expenditure in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. It is a difficult question because the basis of. comparison has to be settled first. You have to be sure that you are comparing the same types of expenditure on education. I believe that in this field, for example, the Teachers’ Federation in New South Wales and in other places has been misled and is misleading the people inthe papers it is putting out in that it tends to compare the percentage of the Australian gross national product spent on education with the percentage of expenditure by other countries without making sure that the basis of comparison in each case is the same. I am endeavouring to have these figures brought out because it is important that the Australian people should understand them. I shall get them for the honorable senator as soon as I can.
(Question No. 36)
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
Which are the principal companies or persons and what is the extent of their ownership or control of - (a) proven oil resources, (b) oil search leases,
– Following are the answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1. (a) Search for Oil. - In terms of invested capital, expressed as the total expenditure to the end of 1962 on oil search in Australia, overseas interests contributed £57,000,000 or 57 per cent, out of the grand total of £100,000,000. The contribution from the Government sources amounted to nearly £14,000,000. The expenditure breakdown for the calendar years of 1962 was as follows: -
In terms of the “ acreage “ held at the end of June, 1963, under petroleum exploration rights (authorities, permits, licences) the position was as follows: -
Refineries Proposed or under Construction -
Bulwer Island, Queensland - Amoco Australia Proprietary Limited.
Lytton, Queensland - Ampol Petroleum Limited.
Crib Point, Victoria- B. P. Refinery (Westernport) Proprietary Limited.
Note. - Details of expenditure on oil search by companies in respect of the year 1963 are not yet available.
(Question No. 14.)
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
On his return to New Zealand, Mr. McCallum was reported in the New Zealand press as saying that he had been surprised by the amount of goodwill toward New Zealand shown in Australia and by the widespread acceptance here of the idea of closer economic integration of the economies of the two countries.
(Question No. 21.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies: - 1 and 2. During my visit to Djakarta in September, 1963,I obtained Dr. Subandrio’s concurrence in the placement by Australia of tempo rary markers on Australian territory - on tracks and pathways crossing the border - indicating the approximate position of the border. This was to be done in advance of the completion of a survey and permanent marking of the border. In November, 1963, an Indonesian patrol removed one of these temporary markers, apparently as a result of a misunderstanding on the part of the local Indonesian authorities.
(Question No. 33.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has furnished the following reply: -
(Question No. 34.)
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
Has the Minister any knowledge of the discovery of large quantities of black coal deposits during recent unsuccessful boring for oil? If so, will ho give a report on the commercial possibilities of such deposits?
– The reply is as follows: -
Most wells which have been drilled in the Great Artesian and Bowen basins have found black coal in formations of Cretaceous, Jurassic and Permian age. Most of the coal seams are either too thin, too remote or too deep to be regarded as a commercial proposition at the present time. Very abundant thick black coal was found in Kyogle No. I in the Ipswich-Clarence basin down to 4,000 feet; and apparently promising seams were noted in the Cherwell well in the Maryborough basin. Most wells in the Sydney basin have penetrated coal seams. Some of these could probably be exploited. An oil exploration well was drilled at Killendoo near Hay by Amalgamated Petroleum Exploration Proprietary Limited in January and February last, lt encountered six coal scams at depths between 630 and 970 feet. So far as could be judged, these scams were up to approximately 10 feet thick. Thin coal seams were described between 510 feet and 700 feet at Jerilderie No. 1 well, drilled about 60 miles south-east of Hay in the last half of 1962. Oil exploration wells do not normally produce adequate samples Of individual seams for analysis and a special testing programme would be required to assess commercial possibilities. Abundant black coal has also been proved in the Perth basin, but much of it is at excessive depth. Other coal occurrences found in wells in the Murray, Otway and Laura basins are relatively insignificant. it is as well to remember, however, that by its nature oil well drilling may not indicate precisely the thickness of individual seams, even if their presence is clearly shown.
(Question No. 31.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
As certain members in the Senate appear to be Very sensitive to any reference to Communist influence in Indonesia, can the Minister confirm the report that the leader of the Indonesian Socialist Party is in gaol while the leader of the Communist Party is not only free but is a leading member of the Indonesian Government?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply: -
The Indonesian Socialist Party was dissolved in August, 1960, by order of the Indonesian Government. The former leader of that party, Mr. Sutan Sjahrir, was placed under detention. The leader of the Indonesian Communist Party, Mr. D. N. Aidit, holds a position in some official advisory Indonesian bodies, in particular the People’s Congress, of which he is vice-chairman, the Supreme Advisory Council and the State Leadership Body.
(Question No. 39.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answer: -
(Question No. 45.)
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER__
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 46.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies: -
(Question No. 54.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following information: -
(Question No. 58.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Australia and from foreign sources and specifying the foreign sources of supply?
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the. following answers: -
(Question No. 66.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 70.)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The following answer is now supplied: -
(Question No. 71.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Past practice has been to make available for public distribution printed copies of reports of proceedings at Premiers’ Conferences. Whether this procedure will apply in relation to the conference held in March this year is at present the subject of correspondence between the Commonwealth and State authorities. If the Premiers are agreeable to general distribution, copies of the report will be made available to honorable senators.
(Question No. 76.)
asked the Minister for
Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The following answer is now supplied: - 1. (a) Figures are not available prior to1955. The numbers of passengers handled by the international terminal at Sydney since that time are as follows: -
In brief, the new corporation, to be called Australian Bankers’ Export Re-Finance Corporation Limited, is being established by the eight major trading banks to strengthen their ability to extend medium and long-term export credit. The resources of the corporation will augment funds already available from normal banking channels or from the trading banks’ special term loan funds set up in April, 1962. Initial funds available to the corporation are expected to total £20,000,000 to be provided in the following way: -
Total resources may be increased from time to time as the need arises. The corporation will not deal with exporters directly, but will provide export finance to individual trading banks by re-financing export transactions. There will be no specific restriction on the amount any one bank may re-finance. In replying to specific points raised by the honorable senator, I should emphasize that the new corporation will not be a bank. Participation in the scheme by the Reserve Bank or the Commonwealth Trading Bank will not require legislative approval.
– I ask the Senate for leave to give notice of a motion.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar) - Is leave granted?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Leave is not granted.
– by leave - For the information of Parliament, I wish to advise the Senate of recent air services arrangements negotiated between Australia and the Governments of Malaysia and Italy. On March 19th in Kuala Lumpur I signed an air services agreement with Malaysia on behalf of the Australian Government. Australia thus became the first country to conclude an air services agreement with the Government of Malaysia. The necessity for negotiating this new agreement arose out of the constitutional changes that occurred upon the formation of Malaysia.The text of the agreement follows closely that of our previous agreement of September 1959 with the Federation of Malaya, with the addition of a provision facilitating the transfer of currency, and with some adjustments to the schedule of routes which may be operated. The Malaysian authorities have already, since the beginning of this year, been engaged in similar negotiations with Britain, which is the only other country with which the federation of Malaya had had an air services agreement, and with several other countries.
Singapore is the second most valuable traffic centre in the air network of Qantas and trunk route services through this airport are vital to its round the world jet service. Previously Qantas had obtained its traffic rights in Singapore through the British Government, but now that Singapore is part of Malaysia the grant of these Singapore rights is a matter for the Malaysian Government.
Our negotiations were conducted in the most cordial atmosphere, and the Malaysian delegation, led by the Minister for Transport, Dato Sardon bin Haji Jubir, readily agreed to the renewal of our rights in Singapore and of our traffic rights at Kuala Lumpur which had been granted under the previous agreement with the Federation of Malaya. They also agreed to grant us a new route to Europe through Jesselton in Sabah, the former colony of North Borneo, and Hong Kong. The Jesselton routing cannot be operated by Qantas Boeing 707 aircraft until further improvements are made at that airport, the aerodrome having been only recently improved to a stage enabling Comet jet services to be scheduled to commence during this month. I believe, however, that this route could develop into an important one for the future.
The agreement also provides for an Australian routing for Malaysian Airways Limited. The points in Australia which can be served on such a route are Darwin, Sydney and Perth. However, it is my understanding that Malaysian Airways Limited has no present intention to operate services to Australia. I believe that the signing of this agreement should do much to maintain and improve air communications between Malaysia and Australia and also to cement the good relations which already exist between the two countries.
I would like to take this opportunity to inform honorable senators also of recent arrangements which the Government has made with the Italian Government for increasing the frequency of air services between Australia and Italy. For some time both governments have been aware of the steadily increasing growth in the number of passengers travelling between the two countries and I am happy to say there is every indication that the traffic demand will continue to rise. To a large degree this is attributable to the increasing number of Australian tourists travelling abroad who include Rome in their travel itinerary. The increasing use of the regular Australian and Italian airline air services for transporting Italian migrants to Australia is also making a significant contribution.
Under the new arrangements agreed between the Australian and Italian authorities the Italian airline, Alitalia, is authorized to operate a second weekly service to Australia. This service started this week. In October this year Qantas will commence to operate an additional service to and through Rome making in total four weekly return services to and through this centre. The’se’ additional services will greatly benefit the travelling public and 1 am satisfied that the manner in which the additional capacity has been apportioned between the designated airlines of Australia and Italy is equitable and to their mutual advantage. The Government attaches great importance to Australia’s air links with Italy and it is most gratifying that this latest understanding with the Italian Government has been reached in the spirit of accord that has long marked our civil aviation relations with Italy.
In conclusion, Mr. President, I now table a copy of the Air Services Agreement between the Government of Malaysia and the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia about which I have just been speaking.
Debate resumed from 18th March (vide page 386), on motion by Senator Hannan -
That the Senate take note of the Report of the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, presented to the Senate on the 29th of October, 1963.
Upon which Senator McClelland had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to I he motion - “ and the Senate requests thai the Government implement the recommendations of the Select Committee as soon as possible “.
Senator CORMACK (Victoria) [4.3 lj. Honorable senators will recollect that the debate in which we are engaged is an examination of the report of the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television. 1 refer honorable senators to the first paragraph of the introduction to the report which sets out the motion for the establishment of this committee, to which the Senate agreed. It reads -
That a Select Committee of the Senate be appointed to inquire into and report upon the encouragement of the production in Australia of films and programmes suitable for television, and matters incidental thereto.
In general, Sir, the committee has outlined, in paragraph 3 of its report, its major criticisms of television programmes. The paragraph reads -
The great weight of evidence which was not adequately answered can be summarized as follows: -
In subsequent parts of the report, the committee goes on to indicate that these are matters of grave importance to the Australian mind, to the Australian community, to Australian viewers, and to the educational level of the Australian viewing public generally, and to report that some means by which this state of affairs can be corrected have to be found. There are several references to proposals by which the committee seeks to correct the situation. I have spent some time in going through a great number of volumes of the transcript of evidence given before the committee in Hobart, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra. Even to go through part of the evidence is a feat of some order. It must have been a feat of considerable order for the honorable senators who were doing this work for the Senate to examine the whole situation.
It is obviously impossible in the short time for which I intend to occupy the attention of honorable senators to examine even in the most cursory way all of the matters that were adduced in evidence and reported on by the committee, but I am interested to note that whereas the Broadcasting and Television Act specifies the content of Australian matter that must be presented through the television channels of Australia, very few dramatic productions have an Australian origin or an Australian content, and most of the dramatic matter that is presented is imported. Honorable senators will notice constant reiteration by the committee on the question of dramatic content of the matter that should be available to the Australian viewer. I notice from the transcript of evidence that dramatic presentations of one sort and another amount to only 3 per cent, of programmes. This is a matter which the committee regards with grave displeasure, mainly for the various reasons which I read from its report earlier. The committee considers that Australian television companies which operate channels under licences from the Government and which pay rent from the Postmaster-General’s Department have a responsibility to present in their programmes a greater percentage of Australian drama not only for the reason that I have mentioned but also in order to provide some employment for Australian actors and actresses.
In parts of its report, which is based on the evidence adduced, the committee states that Australia is quite capable of producing actors, actresses, singers, variety artists and so on in great numbers. But in Australia the rate of remuneration is not commensurate with the technical capacity and professional qualities of these young Australians. For that reason they go to the great capitals of the world, such as New York and London, where they can find an outlet for their energies, their capacities and their skills and at the same time be adequately remunerated. On that question, I just want to make the observation that this is not altogether a new or singular state of affairs. Even in the nineteenth century, London, as the great capital in the world, attracted many young American actors, actresses, painters and musicians. In the same way to-day, London, for example, produces a gravitational pull for young Australian artists and artistes of one sort and another.
So it is difficult to formulate, as it were, a law or rule, or create economic conditions that will re-attract into the Australian environment the young people who seek to find a fuller life and fuller expression overseas. When I was reading the transcript of evidence taken by the committee, I was reminded of a book, “ So Great a Man “, that I read some 30 or 40 years ago. It contained a selection of letters written or dictated by the Emperor Napoleon. On one occasion, Napoleon was journeying in his carriage across northern France to one of his campaigns in central Europe, and as was his habit, he occupied the slow process of travel in those days by dictating correspondence relating to the administration of France. One of the letters which, curiously enough, has always remained in my mind, was addressed to Fouché, his Minister for Information. Not having looked it up in the Library, and relying on my memory, I may have paraphrased it slightly, but it was in these terms -
We- he was using the royal plural - have noticed that the poets of France are not writing poetry. It is necessary for the maintenance of our imperial regime that the poets write poetry. The Minister for Information is directed to see that all poets in France now write poetry in praise of our imperial regime.
I quote this letter only to illustrate that there always seems to exist in the minds of members of a parliament and many people outside it the idea that you can force people to do things in a climate that does not encourage them so to do. The poets of France would not write poetry in praise of the imperial regime of Napoleon Bonaparte; and I sometimes think it is an almost impossible task to contrive a situation in which you can artificially fertilize the field of artistic talent and quality :n Australia. Nevertheless, the committee has turned its attention to this matter. I was particularly interested in the evidence given by one of the most prominent entrepreneurs in television - Sir Frank Packer.
– Then, I shall refer to him as one of the more prominent enterpreneurs in television. He probably is an entrepreneur of many other forms of activity but I am referring to him particularly as an entrepreneur in television. In his evidence he presented a very cogent argument in regard to these matters, because under the most searching examination, he referred to the problem of the costs in which television station proprietors and their managements are involved in producing programmes of Australian origin and total Australian content.
To show how difficult - how nearly impossible - it is to deal with the problem of doing what the Emperor Napoleon wished to do, I point out that the witness quoted certain figures, which, it seemed to me, were not challenged. His figures disclosed that it cost from £300 to £350 to present a half-hour programme consisting of imported dramatic film at the key hours of television viewing, and that to produce a local dramatic incident of nothing like the quality of the imported article would cost ten times as much. In other words, the programme would cost from £3,000 to £5,000 to produce. This means that if we force the proprietors of television channels or their managements to show a drama with a prescribed Australian content, it is inevitable that the cost of presentation of matter for the viewers in Australia will rise by an enormous amount of money.
But this question of cost is even more dramatic than that. In 1962, the total amount of money spent by Australian television stations on the importation of programmes with a dramatic content in the main was about £4,000,000. The total capital cost of producing those films which were obtained, mainly from American and British sources, was £90,000,000. In other words, cost is one of the factors in the presentation of programmes with a dramatic content. In this instance, the Australian viewer receives at a cost of £4,000,000 viewing material which originally cost £90,000,000 to produce. And that evidence was not rebutted, either.
Sir Frank Packer went on the make the point, which was not rebutted, that Australian stations required some time in order to get to the situation where they could produce indigenous material. He pointed out that it would take time to do so. In addition to the problem of cost involved, there was the difficulty of getting people who could write dramatic scripts for television. There was also the problem of training actors for particular roles in a television programme. He then went on to state that his own station in Sydney - and I think this would be common to all commercial television stations in Australia - spent £188,000 in 1957, which was the first year of its operation in New South Wales, for programmes with an Australian content, and six years later the amount spent by that station on programmes with an Australian content was £700,000.
Although the select committee’s report contains the criticism that, in its opinion, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has not carried out the direction embodied in the act under which it is constituted, I think it is fair to say that at least there is evidence that some of the Australian stations are beginning to try to develop native art and native quality. Whether they are doing so rapidly enough is, of course, another matter.
We know that in terms of economics (here is an old law known as Gresham’s Law - which postulates that bad money drives out good money. I have the disturbing feeling that in television bad dramatic content tends to drive out good dramatic content. What I mean by that statement is that bad material on television, notwithstanding whether the public admires it or is alleged to require it, eventually debases public quality, the public mind and the public appreciation of sound and effective television.
I think it is at this stage that I begin to rejoin the stream of the report of the Senate select committee. Here if I may, I should like to quote from “ Television, A Critical Review “ by Gerald Beadle who was until recently director of television for the British Broadcasting Corporation. This book first brought to my attention the mention of the fact that Gresham’s Law is applicable to television. With the permission of honorable senators I should like to read this because I think it expresses the matter in fairly cogent terms. He said -
In this belief we parted company with those who had always claimed Gresham’s Law as inevitably applicable to television. The so-called law asserts that bad coinage always drives out good coinage, which is probably true, but it does not follow that in all circumstances bad television drives out good. In a situation of unbridged commercial television competition Gresham’s Law does apply: you can see it happening in America, and it would happen here-
He is referring to Great Britain - if we had two or more competing, commercial networks. But if the only element of competition is between one commercial network and one network which does not . depend on advertisers’ money, and therefore does not have to lower its standards, it is not inconceivable that the good might eventually drive out the bad.
What he is arguing is that Great Britain should not fall into the situation into which, I am afraid it may be said, our Government has fallen in the past. In our intense desire to have a multiplicity of independent television stations we are creating the very conditions that we are seeking to avoid. The stations do not have the financial capacity to employ artists, and we are in fact forcing them to lower their standards. They must try to get the programmes they require at a cost commensurate with their means. I think that is a point that must be carefully examined by the Senate in discussing this report of the select committee. I feel that the select committee has not made the point as clear as it might have done. 1 move on to another matter which I feel the committee did not examine as thoroughly as it might have done. At page 31 of the report the committee mentions what may be regarded as the amount of money available from advertising sources to sustain the television stations in their earning capacity and to enable them to present entertainment for the viewers. That amount is £10,000,000 a year. It is this revenue that excites the interest of people who are competing for television shares and for television licences. It appears that the entrepreneurs - whom I believe it is necessary to have because I believe in a double system - think that the amount of revenue that can be derived from advertising can be substantially increased. If, as I hope I have demonstrated, commercial television depends on advertising for its revenue, it is important to try to discover the influence that advertisers have on the presentation of television material to the Australian viewer. From my examination of the transcript of evidence given to the select committee it seems that we are trying to point the bone of dislike or criticism at the operators of the television stations, but I have an uneasy feeling that in reality the television station proprietors are the victims or prisoners of those in possession of advertising appropriations.
– They suggest the programmes.
– In essence, as Senator Mattner has said, they suggest the programmes. For the benefit of honorable senators, I shall refer again to the critical review in which Mr. Gerald Beadle deals wilh this subject. He mentions that advertising is necessary in a modern society because it keeps the wheels of industry turning. If you did not have advertising that constantly drew the attention of the consumers to the fact that goods were available for sale, inevitably the wheels of industry would tend to slow down. If that happened, the problem of employment would become of paramount interest. So the television industry is not unrelated to full employment. Mr. Beadle states -
Advertising does this for them … by stimulating demand. . . . We all depend on it directly or indirectly. The problem of advertising is that it has practically no medium of its own; so it sticks itself on to other things and all too often defaces them.
He does not mean advertising by pasting bills on walls. He is saying that the huckster tends to deface all that he touches, and that the advertising huckster tends to deface even more. If, as I believe, the advertiser tends to deface all that he touches, then, as he touches television, it is not illogical to argue that advertising plays a major role in the lowering of the standards of Australian television. Mr. Beadle continues - but I must confess that I see no way of avoiding this state of affairs, lt could be belter regulated perhaps; the worst excesses could be mitigated, but the phenomenon must remain with us, and it is essentially a parasitic phenomenon.
I would have been happier if the Senate committee in ils report had turned its attention more vehemently to the effect that the advertising agencies have on the presentation of, for example, dramatic material in television. I believe that the Senate could, without any affront, suggest that this report be referred back to the committee and that the committee have a very good look at the extent of the influence that the advertising trade has on Australian television stations. From what I have been able to read in the transcript of evidence I believe that the television stations, within the limits of their capacity are making a reasonable attempt to raise the level of television presentation in Australia, and, although perhaps not fast enough, are trying to bring the highest possible level of Australian content into dramatic presentations on television. But I have the horrid feeling, which deeply disturbs me, that they have become the prisoners of the advertis ing trade. The Senate committee should seek further and try to find whether something can be done to curb the parasitic and defiling influence of the advertising trade.
The committee suggested that a tax should be placed on advertising. I am not prepared to accept that at the moment, nor am I prepared to accept this report as it stands. I think that, within its terms of reference, the committee has not gone far enough. My suggestion is that the committee could well fill in some of its time by re-examining the impact of advertising on the television industry in Australia. Not having the vast experience of those honorable senators who sat on the select committee, I put that suggestion forward without too much vehemence. The members of the committee have far more experience than I have. They had the opportunity of placing under the closest scrutiny and examination the witnesses who appeared before them. I am content to leave the matter there for the moment and to listen to honorable senators who had the advantage of examining the witnesses.
– I disagree with the statements of my friend, Senator Cormack. After reading the report and considering the time that was at the disposal of the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, I believe the report does it great credit. I am not going to shed crocodile tears over Sir Frank Packer. I do not know whether Senator Cormack reads the stock exchange quotations in the daily press. Possibly he would have more interest in them than I have and on that point I have no quarrel with him at all. But I remind the Senate that 10s. shares in television companies are now worth 53s. The report of the select committee shows that some companies are paying 20 per cent, dividend per year on shares. I am sorry that Senator Cormack has taken the attitude he adopted and I do not agree with him.
It is not easy to get seven senators - four from the Government side and three from the Opposition - to produce a report such as that before us in such a short time. I think the committee did an excellent job. At the outset, I wish to say that I greatly regret the absence of Senator Vincent who was chairman of the committee. From conversations with him, I know the great interest he took in this work. His colleagues on the select committee who have spoken in this debate have rightly paid high tributes to Senator Vincent and we all regret his absence. If he does nothing else in public life, his work as chairman of this committee will remain a monument to him.
I am pleased that with a few exceptions there was unanimity among the members of the select committee on matters before them. If I have time, I shall refer to one or two matters where there was a difference of opinion but that also is all to the good. It shows that honorable senators from both sides of the House, having their own political opinions and possibly certain peculiarities, can still get together and bring forth a report with very little difference of opinion between them as to its content, lt is a tribute to them that they were able to set aside political differences when dealing with this important matter.
The report shows that members of the committee were deeply concerned with the matters into which they inquired because television affects a great number of Australians. One feature of television that has always worried me is the great strength of this medium in forming opinions. Unfortunately, the principal television stations in Australia are virtually in the hands of three or four men who also control the press and the principal radio broadcasting stations. Therefore, the media of communications of Australia are in the hands of a few people. That is bad from a national point of view irrespective of whom the people may be. Melbourne has an evening newspaper, the “ Herald “, which impresses me. Considered alongside overseas publications, it is a wonderful production because of the range of its coverage and the techniques of its presentation. It is as good a newspaper as one could expect.
– It is the best evening newspaper in the world.
– Yes. But it is not good for the people of Victoria, and particularly those in the great city of Melbourne with a population of nearly 2,000,000, to have no choice of evening newspapers. I think that is wrong. No doubt it is good business for those who control the newspaper but that is the sort of thing that frightens me. The average person’s mind is centred on improving his standard of living or possibly on getting a new motor car. When it comes to matters that really affect the nation, one often hears the statement, “ I read it in the paper Those of us who have been in politic.il life for a number of years - and particularly we on the Opposition side - know that you can never be sure how long you have the people with you. Before the general elections for the House of Representatives last year, I often smiled when certain ministers were annoyed with a newspaper of a big New South Wales city. I thought then that we should wait and see how much it counted.
As I have said, my greatest complaint about television is that it is centred in so few hands. On broad issues, I do not agree that the Government should have overridden the Australian Broadcasting Control Board some years ago when the board stated that, for the time being, there should be only one commercial television licence each for Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. Some honorable senators may think I have contradicted myself in making the statement but I believe that the people should have the best. If they are in a position to judge, they will soon tell us whether we are right or wrong. The ratings of the various television stations will soon drop if we suggest something which the people do not approve. I do not think television operators can be made to give the right material if they are forced into a position where economically they are in danger.
The report we are discussing falls into three broad categories. First, it establishes the record of the commercial ar.d national television stations in relation to the absence of programmes of Australian content, and the reasons for that record. Secondly, it makes a detailed examination of and suggests how the situation can be improved. Thirdly, it examines the record of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in the fulfilment of its statutory obligations. May I digress for a moment to say that if I were a member of the board I would be somewhat concerned about the committee’s suggestions.
I do not propose to discuss those three aspects of t’he report in detail. That has been done already by members of the committee who have spoken and no doubt those who have yet to speak will deal with them further. 1 intend merely to summarize the matters that have particularly interested me. The first finding of the committee which impressed me was that which related to the low overall Australian content of programmes televised by commercial stations. Of programmes telecast in the four weeks ended on 30th June, 1963, only 39 per cent, originated in Australia. I was tremendously interested in Senator McClelland’s reference to the evidence given by various applicants for television licences. The owners of station ATN7 in Sydney said that the Australian content of their programmes would be 67 per cent. Station TCN9 said that its Australian content would be 50 per cent., station HSV7 in Victoria promised 7S per cent., and station GTV9 said it would provide an Australian content of 62 per cent. Let us see what their performance has been. Last year only 37.7 per cent, of the programmes telecast by station ATN7 were of Australian content. Only 35.3 per cent, of the programmes screened by TCN9 were of Australian content. For station HSV7 the proportion was 42.7 per cent. Station GTV9 is now linked up with Sir Frank Packer’s station in Sydney. I do not know whether that gentleman owns more than 51 per cent, of the shares in GTV9; but if he does not, he certainly controls the station. Only 43.3 per cent, of the programmes screened by that station were of Australian content.
When considering applications for licences, was the Broadcasting Control Board influenced by the fact that applicants said they would screen a certain percentage of films of Australian content, or was it influenced by the fact that one applicant controlled the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ and another controlled the “ Daily Telegraph “? Was the board influenced by the fact that in Victoria the Melbourne “ Herald “ and the “ Sun “ were under certain control? I am amazed that applicants for licences should be able to make such promises and then more or less calmly forget about them. I agree that the board would be acting within its power in saying to the government of the day, “ A. said he would do this and that had some impact on our minds when, recommending the granting of the licence “. When applications for television licences were being considered I thought that those who controlled the press would be successful. As I said some time ago, the introduction of television has provided us with the greatest bonanza that this nation has seen. To get a licence is worth a cool £1,000,000 to the successful applicant. I repeat that the successful applicants ought to be expected to live up to their obligations. I do not suppose 1 will get many marks for that statement in certain outside quarters. But that docs not worry me, because what I have said is factual.
The second thing that amazes me is the almost total absence of Australian drama from commercial television programmes. As I said earlier, 39 per cent, of the total number of programmes screened are of Australian content, but that includes programmes covering the news, the weather, discussions, variety shows, sport and drama. Only 1 per cent, of the drama that is televised in Australia is of Australian origin. Most of the remainder originates in the United States of America. I have no great quarrel about that, but nonetheless television is a medium which we should employ to establish our own traditions and, as I heard somebody else say, to immortalize our own culture. We should use this medium to portray our own way of life. Every person says at some stage in his life, “ If you elect so-and-so you will change the Australian way of life “. Television stations should give the public a fair proportion of drama depicting the way we live and the way we desire our children to live. I do not think there can be any argument whatever that we are not getting anywhere near a fair proportion of Australian drama. The select committee gave a number of reasons why it is not so. It referred to the shortage of scriptwriters. Senator Cormack said - I shall deal later with other of his remarks - that the cost factor comes into this.
The select committee made a number of vital recommendations in relation to the Australian content of drama. I shall mention a few of them. In paragraph 84 the committee recommended -
That section 114 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1962 be amended so as to provide that -
I am sorry that Senator Cormack had other duties to perform and is not now in the chamber. He amazed me when he spoke about the money angle. I am not suggesting that he was out of bounds in anything that he said, but surely the committee is not asking too much when it wants this increase spread over three years. The recommendation, if implemented, would mean that the Australian content would increase by 3 per cent, in 1964, go up to 6 per cent, in 1965 and to 9 per cent, in 1966. We must remember that at present the percentage is one per cent. The increase in the first year would amount to only 2 per cent. The select committee recommended further -
When all is said and done, how can any one object to that? If the people who have been fortunate enough to obtain these licences object to it, to my mind they are only being avaricious. I mentioned this matter broadly in a few words earlier, but later I shall refer to the profits these stations have made in such a short time.
The next matter I wish to discuss is the committee’s consideration of the reasons why there are not sufficient Australian programmes. Many reasons were given. One was that the plays were not well written and another that actors of sufficiently high quality were not available with the result that the public would not watch Australian drama but preferred overseas imports. That just does not add up. Let me refer to Senator Hannan who introduced this debate. By way of interjection some time ago he told the Senate that one Australian drama had a very good rating. I was interested in it but I forget its name.
– It was “ Consider Your Verdict “.
– Yes. I look at it sometimes.
– There was splendid acting in that.
– I will not comment on the acting. It may be considered good by one person and not good by others. The programme must have had a fair rating or it would not have run for as long as it did. Surely if we can produce dramas of that quality we should be able to go a bit further. I do not think that the reasons I have mentioned are the main ones. They may form a pattern but they are by no means the main reasons. The main reason is the cost factor, as mentioned by Senator Cormack. These top-ranking American shows which cost £60,000 to £70,000 to produce can be obtained, I understand, for production in Australia for £400. Senator Cormack said the amount was £300. The cost of producing a half-hour programme on video tape is between £2,250 and £4,000 and on film the cost is between £15,000 and £250,000. If I were interested in a television licence certainly I would be like those who are interested in these stations. My main concern would be the profit angle. I do not think there is any argument about that. When these companies can buy a product of the United States - old as it may be - for a matter of £400 they will do so. I do not think that their advertisers are enticed to advertise on a programme that is listed at a particular time. While it is true that some of these programmes are sponsored for a particular time, it is the profit motive that counts.
Let me refer to some figures set out on page 31 of the report of the select committee. Television stations in Australia have been in operation since 1956-57. The total revenue and total expenditure for each year is set out and also the net loss or profit. In the first year the stations lost £551,214. In the second year they lost £56,000, making a total loss in round figures of £600,000. Then they got into the profit era. Without going right through the various years, we notice that in the year 1961-62 - these figures concern only four stations, two in Melbourne and two in Sydney - the total profit amounted to £2,065,422. I noticed in to-day’s “Age” that the 10s. shares of one company, the name of which I cannot mention, are worth 53s. It is interesting to note that station HSV7 shows a dividend of 17i per cent, and the others 20 per cent. It cannot be said the four metropolitan stations I have mentioned are not in a very lucrative business.
As commercial television licences are so profitable and, I might say, are granted to favoured individuals on trust by the community, it is not unreasonable to demand that the licensee meet the requirements of the comunity. The select committee has made most modest recommendations in regard to the Australian content. I have mentioned that it wants the Australian content to be increased to 9 per cent, over a threeyear period. The evidence shows that the Australian content has increased by only 1 per cent. One of the main recommendations of the select committee is that a body be set up with power to grant what in fact would be subsidies for the production of drama programmes. Here I agree with Senator Wright: I want to know who is to pay. Surely the taxpayer cannot be expected to pay subsidies unless he gets something in return from the people who are making the profits. We should say to the proprietors of the commercial television stations, “ You promised to do certain things. “ I would not expect them to honour their undertakings in full immediately, but I do say that they are obliged ultimately to do so and to provide, as the committee has recommended, an Australian content of 9 per cent, over a three-year period.
Perhaps the money that is required could be provided from increased licence fees. I recognize that the committee has recommended that certain steps be taken. One aspect of the committee’s report which concerns me is the suggestion that a board be set up and that £1,000,000 should be provided from Consolidated Revenue. I believe that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board ought to deal with this matter either by way of increased licence fees or by imposing a levy on volume of production or rate of profit. A great many programmes are coming into this country, and we have to pay for them. Imports must be balanced by exports. It would be interesting to ascertain the amount of sales tax paid by the importers of television programmes. The select committee has stated in its report the amount paid in sales tax and excise duty on television sets and tubes in 1962-63. The committee points out that, from 1956-57 to 1962-63, sales tax on television sets, excluding tubes, amounted to £42,000,000, while excise duty on television tubes amounted to £12,500,000, or a total of £54,500,000. That money came from the pockets of the ordinary viewers. I have not been able to ascertain - I hope that a member of the select committee will be able to inform me on this matter - the cost to the people who have been making a very fair thing out of television in Australia. I could not support a proposal that millions of pounds should come from the pockets of the Australian people to promote television productions, in view of the fact that they have already paid £54,500,000 in sales tax and excise duty in bringing this great medium into their homes.
– Does that include licence fees?
– That is sales tax from 1956-57 to the present time.
– That figure does not include licence fees?
– No. I should say that the people of Australia are providing a fair measure of financial support for television. The money that is needed should be provided by the industry. Those who are making profits from television should put up their share.
– Have you directed your attention to the recommendation that licence fees be increased?
– I noted that recommendation. If sufficient money can be obtained by increasing licence fees I do not mind, but I do not think that the money should be obtained the way that some people have suggested.
The final matter I want to deal with is the operation of the Australian Broadcasting
Control Board. This board plays a very important role in the regulation of commercial television and in ensuring that the obligations accepted by the licensee in return for the granting of a highly lucrative television licence are carried out. The duties arid the powers of the board are set out in sections 1 6, 1 7 and 99 of the Broadcasting and Television Act. Section 16 imposes an obligation on the board to ensure that adequate and comprehensive programmes are provided by commercial stations to serve the best interests of the people. Section 17 empowers the board to make orders and give directions which have the force of law. Section 99 imposes an obligation on licensees to conform to the standards determined by the board. Mr. Osborne, the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, appeared before the select committee. From my reading of the report of the committee, I do not think he satisfied it that the board had carried out its obligations properly. The committee points out in paragraph 23 -
In the opinion of the Committee, the Board has not only the power but an obligation to make orders and give directions in a positive sense, under section 17, with respect to such matters as quality of programmes, subject-matter of programmes, variety of programmes, overall balance of programmes and the Australian content of programmes. Mr. Osborne, in giving evidence, gave the distinct impression that the Board derives no power and consequently was under no obligation to perform these functions except under the broad heading of “ qualitative content ‘’ of programmes under the authority of and pursuant to section 99(1.). As to the other important aspects of programme requirements (within the context of section 16 (1.) (c)), Mr. Osborne appears to be under the impression that the responsibility for these should be accepted by the Minister. The Committee entirely rejects this interpretation of the Board’s functions and obligations. Very wide powers are given to the Board in addition to power to regulate the quality of programmes and these powers are intended to be exercised by it quite independently of ministerial control.
The committee states in paragraph 24 that it is proper to draw the inference that the board has ignored its obligations, under section 16 (1.), to provide adequate and comprehensive programmes. These are strong words, but if the board has not done as it should it ought to be told without any equivocation.
A reading of the board’s annual report does lend support to the committee’s view. First, the board tries to act not by laying down directives or orders but by drawing up programme standards in consultation with the licensees. Where the board believes its standards are not complied with, it raises the matter with the station concerned, either by letter or by telephone. In its annual reports each year some reference appears to matters raised. This procedure may be of use occasionally, when some programme compere has told a joke which, in the board’s language, “ is in doubtful taste “, but it is hardly enough when a fundamental re-orientation of programming is required.
I do not want to make this debate a party-political one, but I cannot help reflecting that to some extent the board’s timidity is due to the failure of the government to support it when it has raised issues of fundamental importance. The board must take cognizance of the fact that most of the television stations are owned by newspapers which support the Government. I can imagine what would happen if the board directed TCN Sydney to comply. I think I would be right in saying that the wires would burn hot between Sydney and Canberra. At one end we would find the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and at the other end Sir Frank Packer. I am not inferring that the Prime Minister would do anything other than what he should do, but I think th-t nothing very much would happen so far as Sir Frank Packer was concerned. We have only to see what happened when the board recommended that only one commercial station be established in Adelaide and Brisbane in 1957, and what happened when it proposed to give the original Perth licence to Western T.V. Ltd. rather than to the company which controlled both the morning and afternoon newspapers.
Nevertheless, I agree that, even granting these circumstances, the board has not done what it should have done. For example, it has a completely wrong conception of the roles of the commercial stations and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In effect, it regards the role of the commercial stations as being to cater for majority tastes, with the catering for minority tastes being a matter to be attended to by the A.B.C. Commercial stations are in television for what they can get out of it, and I do not think the board worries very much about the Australian content of programmes they wanted to show. If 1 remember correctly, Mr. Osborne more or less inferred that if a viewer wanted something different he could turn to the A.B.C. station. I do not think that that is the right attitude. I refer to page 99 of the record, which reads -
– Relating to the question of programmes and whether the public should be given what it wants or what the commission and the commercial stations think it wants, the Pilkington Report in England stated that these matters were not the real alternatives to be taken into consideration but that a wider range of interests should be provided at peak times as well as non-peak times. What do you say to that?
Mr. R. G. Osborne. ; I personally agree with that. A great many people in television believe it. It is a question of whether there is any incompatability between attracting an audience and presenting good materia]. I do not believe there is, but you must first persuade advertisers.
– Do you have any idea how licensees could be induced to provide a wider variety of programmes to meet all tastes at times when people mainly are interested in watching television or do you think that their needs are adequately catered for now?
Mr. R. G. Osborne. ; I think their needs are adequately catered for because of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s services. There is usually, but not always, a real alternative programme available.
– In your opinion the alternative is satisfactory.
Mr. R. G. Osborne. ; The commission’s programmes are probably likely to be suited to the minority, lt is a different type of programme. There will bc additional television stations in the capitals next year and more variety then, I hope.
I think that that attitude encourages commercial stations to neglect their obligations to provide adequate and comprehensive programmes and is quite opposed to the spirit of the act and the undertakings of applicants applying for licences.
I do not want to say more. The committee, in the main, did an excellent job.
In my opinion, the Government has an obligation to declare its attitude to the report. I do not think the prestige of the Senate is enhanced - certainly the prestige of the Government is not enhanced - if it agrees to the appointment of a committee on which it has a majority of the members and then forgets it or does no more than make it the means of providing a nice little exercise for those who are prepared to serve on it. Service on a committee such as this one is not an easy task. It entails a great deal of work and travel. If the Government is not prepared to adopt the recommendations, it has a duty to make a clear statement of its intentions regarding the report. Having served on one committee for a lengthy period, I know that the task is not easy. One gets tired of travelling great distances to hear evidence. I sincerely hope that the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) - I am grateful to him for being in the chamber to hear my speech - will give serious consideration to the last two thoughts that I have expressed.
Sitting suspended from 5.46 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. President, I support the motion moved by Senator Hannan. In doing so I would like to say that on subjects such as television and television programmes there is bound to be considerable divergence in the views of honorable senators. I think it is true to say that the subject of television programmes is one that every person in the street feels that he is competent to discuss. In fact, I could go so far as to say that the man in the street generally thinks he is an expert on what should be happening on television. So it is only natural that when the report of the select committee comes before the Senate there should be expressed views that do not agree with this or that recommendation. I feel that the members of the committee quite understand this attitude and welcome any new criticism of the report.
I want to mention one or two points raised by previous speakers. I refer first to the speech made this afternoon by Senator Cormack, who said that he thought the commercial television channels were making a reasonable attempt to use Australian talent, but were the victims of the power of the advertiser. The honorable senator may be right in what he said; the television stations may be making use of the available talent. However, I point out that it was the committee’s view that television stations in Australia could go much further in using the talent that is available. So far as I am concerned, the honorable senator is wrong in his statement about the power of the advertisers. A number of witnesses gave evidence about advertising, and in fact representatives from two federal advertising organizations appeared before the committee. Time and time again when interviewing witnesses from the television stations we brought up the point about advertising and who had the final say about programmes. The evidence disclosed that the television channels buy and own the programmes and they sell them and the time slots. They are quite arbitrary, in my view, about allocating a programme and a time slot. In effect, a television station says to an advertiser: “We have The Untouchables’ on at 8 o’clock. It is for sale at a certain price “. If the advertiser, through his agents, thinks that the price is too high he has to look for another programme in another time slot. So I believe that it is the television stations themselves which dictate what programmes shall go on at certain times.
I turn now to a point made by Senator Kennelly, who referred to the way in which subsidies will be allocated. Perhaps the committee did not make itself clear on this point. I direct the honorable senator’s attention to page 28 of the report, where the committee recommended -
If the honorable senator looks at the policy operating in Great Britain he will find that loans are made available to people who have not the opportunity to raise the finance elsewhere. Consequently, there is no substance in the suggestion advanced by Senator Kennelly that Sir Frank Packer would be eligible for a loan of this kind.
– I did not say that. I was not questioning how the loan would be used. I was questioning where the money would come from.
– I know, but I think that some of the listeners may have gained a different impression. In a case such as the one I have mentioned, I think it would be found that the television council, after looking into the application, would say that this person could get the money from somewhere else.
It will be recalled that on 29th November, 1962, Senator Hannan moved in this chamber -
That a Select Committee of the Senate be appointed to inquire into and report upon the encouragement of the production in Australia of films and programmes suitable for television, and matters incidental thereto.
If we recall the honorable senator’s speech at that time we will remember that he mentioned that if the film industry of Australia was to be healthy we would have to do something about it. He said that it was in the interests of this country to have a healthy film industry, and he gave a number of reasons for that contention. His first reason was that it would publicize Australia’s culture and way of life. He said also that it would help to improve Australia’s export trade. As a third reason he said that a healthy film industry would provide work and income for Australian actors, actresses and technicians, who, he said, were finding it very difficult to find continuity of work at that time. The honorable senator made a very good speech at times and he made things look very easy, but after serving as a member of the committee he perhaps has changed some of the views that he had held.
The committee was appointed on 7 th December, 1962. I am very grateful to the Senate and particularly to my own party for giving me the opportunity to be a member of this very interesting and, 1 believe, important committee. Under the chairmanship of Senator Vincent, the committee visited every State and took evidence or received written submissions from about 150 witnesses. It will be realized that, as Senator Kennelly said, a great deal of work was involved, not only for the committee but also for the staff of the committee. This was especially so because the bulk of the work was done when the Parliament was not sitting or between sessions. It must be appreciated also that this work was done within about ten months, which was the time from the first meeting until the report was tabled in this House.
The committee made certain recommendations, some of which were big, some small, some directly concerned with television and some not. It was the view of the committee that all recommendations that were made were necessary if we were to have better television programmes in this country, and if those programmes were to include a greater content of Australian drama than they do now. I know that many honorable senators and people outside think that the committee made far too many recommendations and perhaps should have confined itself to a much narrower field. Having listened to all the witnesses and studied the various submissions, I believe the select committee had a duty to the people of Australia and was bound to make the recommendations that it made.
Before going further, I want to take this opportunity of saying how sorry I am that, because of illness, the chairman of the committee, Senator Vincent, is not present to take part in this debate. I join with other members of the committee in saying how much we appreciate the work he put into the committee’s inquiries. I pay tribute to the drive he gave to it and the zeal, tact and diplomacy with which he carried out the task. I do not think there is anybody else in Australia with a better all-round working knowledge of the subject of the inquiry than Senator Vincent. If there are any, they are very few. I take this opportunity, also, to pay a tribute to the work done by the secretary of the select committee, Mr. K. O. Bradshaw, the assistant secretary, Mr. H. C. Nicholls and those members of the staff of the Senate and the “ Hansard “ staff -who worked so tirelessly with the committee.
Our thanks are due also to all those people who so willingly came forward as witnesses and to those who made written submissions. I am only sorry that time did not permit us to have the opportunity of hearing many other witnesses who wanted to give information to the select committee and particularly to those people who wanted to give evidence from the viewers’ point of view only. It was quite evident to the members of the committee that, of all the witnesses who appeared before us, only a few gave the viewers’ angle. Most of the others represented some organization. The Senate will be interested to know, also, that some witnesses who appeared before the committee and said that this or that was wrong with a programme and who suggested some other programme were persons who did not have television sets or, if they had them, did not look at them.
I want to make the point that this report was presented in the dying hours of the last Parliament and I think it is fair to say that it was made in the midst of election fever. Therefore, I do not think it received the publicity it deserved. Perhaps there were reasons for this. Perhaps one of the reasons was that some persons who were vitally interested in this matter and had the opportunity of doing so wanted to play down the report. They wanted to do so for a particular reason - so that the general public would not clamour for some of the recommendations made by the committee to be put into effect through pressure on the Government. As I said earlier, the committee believes that the action recommended, in the main, is badly needed if something is to be done with television.
It is rather interesting to note that, among those who gave evidence as persons closely associated with the running of television stations, there were some who, years ago, were members of a royal commission which inquired into the setting up of television in Australia. They took a far different attitude to-day. I want to quote some of the findings of the Royal Commission on Television made in 1953. The members of the royal commission included Robert Gumley Osborne, chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and Colin Blore Bednall, who at that time was an editor in Queensland. It is rather interesting to note that in making submissions to the Government as to how television should be implemented and operated, they had this to say in the report: -
It is often replied that regulation is absurd as the public really sets the standard and gets what it deserves. That has never been entirely true, whether in books, art, drama or the film. There is no doubt that radio has already played a significant part in raising the standard of musical appreciation in Australia. This was not achieved by finding out the average level of taste and concentrating on that.
The endeavour was to pitch the programme a little higher than public taste and thus gradually create a new standard. It is important that this should be the policy of television as the compulsive period gives an opportunity to widen the interests of the viewer.
I believe the select committee has tried to make those points. The report of the Royal Commission on Television then continued -
But the argument that the public gets what it deserves emphasizes the undoubted truth that no administrative set of regulations can succeed in raising quality unless there is a wide public interest which will create the atmosphere necessary to success. This point is the basis of our conclusion that the most effective method of raising standards is through the licensing system, with provision for a public hearing where the Australian Broadcasting Control Board does not think that it is in the public interest that a licence should be renewed. If the public puts up with inferior television, it will only have itself to blame if it fails to take advantage of the means provided for the expression of its dissatisfaction. What is needed is a vocal public which will offer constructive criticism and refuse to be satisfied with inferior programmes.
Those comments are contained in paragraph 162 of the report of the royal commission. It is rather interesting to note that in paragraph 163, the royal commission reported -
Programmes must appeal to the public, but it is untrue to say that the public cannot be made to appreciate programmes of quality.
Then the royal commission went on to cite the solution by stating -
The real solution is along the line of what Professor G. V. Portus, in his book “Happy Highways “, calls “ entertainment plus “.
At that time, evidence had been given before the Royal Commission on Television by Professor F. Alexander and he is quoted in the report at paragraph 163 as having said -
If effective use is to be made of the new medium of TV, those who would use it to raise instead of lower standards will need official recognition and greater Government assistance than they have been given in the development of broadcasting. The successful development of television in Australia will no doubt make many demands on the technical side. One may feel confident that such technical demands will be met by the combined skills of public and private enterprise: If the resulting service of public entertainment is to make a really constructive contribution to Australian life, it must make equally heavy demands c i the foresight of Government and Parliament,-
– Is that taken from the report of the royal commission?
– It is evidence submitted to the royal commission and re-stated in its report. Professor Alexander continued in his evidence - on the imagination and courage of those who control and direct the several TV services, and on the active co-operation as well as the constructive criticism of interested individuals and organizations outside. It will demand faith from all concerned - faith, above all, in the artistic potentialities of the Australian people, in their native shrewdness and in their proved capacity for discriminating between the first grade artist or production and the second rate.
That is what the Senate select committee was trying to say. Yet two of the men who were responsible for the report of the royal commission told the recent Senate committee that they believed that the television stations were giving the people what they wanted.
I think it is necessary for us to look at the television set-up in Australia and to gain a working knowledge of the early history of television. I remind honorable senators that as early as 1948 the government of the day considered the introduction of television in Australia. In 1949 it was decided that television services should be introduced as soon as possible. That government envisaged the establishment of one station in every capital city and decided that programmes would be provided by a national television authority to be established by the Government. Following that decision a general election was held and the government of the country changed hands. The incoming government considered the establishment of a television service and in June, 1950, decided that such a service should be introduced gradually. It decided that initially there should be a national station in Sydney and that applications should be called for licences to operate commercial stations in Sydney and Melbourne and in any other city where an applicant’s capacity to provide a service seemed to justify the granting of a licence.
Following that announcement, preliminary steps were taken to introduce television. However in 1952 the Government decided that because of economic circumstances the introduction of television should be held in abeyance. In January, 1953, the Government announced its decision to appoint a royal commission to investigate the various aspects of the use of television. On 12th February, 1953, it was announced that letters patent had been issued for the appointment of a royal commission under the chairmanship of Professor George Paton. The terms of reference of the commission are rather interesting. They provided that the commission was to have the power to examine, inquire into and report upon the following matters: -
Any conditions which may be considered desirable to apply to the television broadcasting of-
The report of the royal commission was presented on 29th February, 1954, and was ordered to be printed on 11th November, 1954.
Later the Government announced that it had accepted the broad findings of the commission and it had decided to introduce television gradually, beginning with the establishment of a national station in Sydney and Melbourne, and that applications should be called for licences to operate two commercial stations in Sydney and two in Melbourne. The first commercial station commenced to provide a service in September, 1956, and by January, 1957, two commercial stations were operating in each of the two cities I have mentioned. In September, 1957, the Government decided to proceed with the next stage. It stated that national stations were to be established in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart, and that applications were to be invited for a commercial television licence in each city.
Between August, 1959, and June, 1960, one national station and two commercial stations were established in Brisbane and Adelaide and one national and one commercial station were established in Perth and Hobart. Further announcements were made by the Government in relation to the third and fourth stages which provided for the introduction of television to country areas. For the purpose of this exercise I want to proceed only as far as August, 1960, when for the first time in Australia’s history we had a national and a commercial service operating in all State capitals. In other words, although television was first introduced in 1956 it was not until 1960 that we had an Australia-wide television service. I believe it is fair to say that, although we have had an Australia-wide service for only a short time, our service is second to none in the world.
In spite of what I have just said, the Senate select committee found during its inquiry that there was widespread disquiet about the programme material that was being made available. The general criticism was to the effect that far too much imported material was being televised night after night and that as most people spent most of their viewing time in watching entertainment programmes they were not watching themselves in action but were watching the actions of people in other countries - in the main in England and America, but particularly America. It was claimed that the continual viewing of American people, American family life, American teenagers, hoodlums and so forth, confused our national character and hampered our development. It was claimed that it was very difficult to live one’s own life during the day and view another nation at play during leisure hours without being affected. Another criticism offered was that stations were telecasting far too much drama which involved crime, violence and horror and that the monotony of such themes led to far too many programmes which were unsuitable for children being presented.
When representatives of the television stations were questioned about such matters, they said they believed that in the main they were giving viewers the programmes they wanted, and that viewers did not really mind whether programmes were produced in Australia, America, Spain, Italy or elsewhere provided they were good entertainment. Those representatives said they were well aware of their public responsibility and believed they were discharging that responsibility. The committee, having heard both sides of the story, had to decide what was wrong or right, as the case may be, in relation to television programmes. Believing that I was an average Australian with average Australian tastes, I found it necessary to consider why the average Australian viewer watched television programmes. Having established that reason, I then had to ascertain what I believed to be the main functions of a television programme. Why do we watch television? People watch television for different reasons. Perhaps no two of us watch it for the same reason.
– I like it. That is why I watch it.
– That is a point. Perhaps some people watch television to be entertained and to relax. Other people might put some other reason first.
– I go to sleep.
– That is relaxing. Many housewives who are confined to the house all day like to watch television to get away from the normal drudgery of housework. The worker who comes home tired from the responsibility of his job likes to sit down in front of the television set, watch the moving scene and gradually unwind and relax. Perhaps other people watch television to stimulate the desire they might have for culture and education. Programmes featuring literary discussions or a science series can be classified in that category. We watch television, also, to be informed on certain subjects and some like to watch sporting programmes. Then, of course, another function of television programmes is to entertain and educate little children. Those are the reasons why we watch television.
The committee found that, irrespective of people’s likes or dislikes, commercial stations felt that they had to get for their advertisers the largest viewing audience possible for the particular programme that the client had selected. To do this a station has to know the likes and dislikes of the people. It depends on specialist organizations for information as to how many viewers a certain programme will attract. In Australia we have two prominent organizations that make it their job to provide information as to what viewers think of certain programmes. I refer to Anderson Analysis Proprietary Limited and McNair Survey Proprietary Limited. The McNair organization obtains from the Bureau of Census and Statistics the distribution of population in various locations. For example, for Sydney separate information is available from the bureau on the characteristics of the population of some 2,000 separate collector’s districts. The McNair organization obtains the views of a cross-section of the population at calculated intervals in the collectors’ districts. It draws its information from a sample of 1,000 to 1,200 homes scattered throughout the various districts. This cross-section is in turn divided into seven separate categories. Each day a representative from the organization visits a particular private home and asks the person who opens the door what programmes the family watched during the previous evening. If the housewife who opens the door cannot remember the programmes, the representative reads out the stations and the programmes available in that area and the lady answers “ Yes “, or “ No “ as the case may be. She supplies information as to how many quarter hours the programmes were watched and the number of people who watched them. The association draws its information from that source.
Anderson Analysis Proprietary Limited adopts a different method. It distributes small diaries, one of which I have here. These diaries are left at homes to be filled in by a member of the household who has watched television. This person fills in the times at which television was watched, the stations watched and the age groups and sexes of the viewers. A representative collects the diaries at a later date. The people in the household are asked to keep the diary up to date quarter hour by quarter hour. If they do not watch television during the afternoon or evening they make a note to that effect in the diary. That is how the information is obtained.
These surveys have a number of drawbacks. In the case of the McNair organization where, perhaps, a wife is asked to say what programmes the family watched the previous night she might not recall correctly and, unintentionally, she could paint the wrong picture. However, whatever may be the disadvantages of these methods they do give to the stations an idea of the relative popularity of one programme against another at a given point of time. The television stations claim that from these surveys they are able to give the people what they want.
I turn now to another problem which confronts television stations, namely the cost of television programmes. We heard Senator Cormack discuss this earlier this afternoon. A number of representatives of stations gave evidence before the committee. I recall the representative of one station in Sydney claiming that his station was providing thirteen one-hour programmes each week. He. told us that the cost of producing these programmes was about 100,000 dollars. He said also that his station was presenting seven half-hour programmes which, on the average, cost about 50,000 dollars to produce. He claimed that although these twenty programmes for the week cost something like 1,650,000 dollars or about £750,000 to produce he could buy them for about 22,000 dollars or £10,000. Multiplying his figures by 52 we find that he was buying programmes that cost £39,000,000 to produce for £520,000 a year. That is the problem with which we were faced. When the select committee came to the Australian side, it found that one station said that it was trying to produce Australian musical or variety shows. These shows were of an hour’s duration. They were shows in which local talent was used. The select committee was given the costs of them, and I would like to refer to them because I think they are interesting. One particular programme mentioned was called “ Startime “. It cost something like £4,500 an hour to produce. Another programme was “ Music Time “ which cost £3,500 to produce. A programme called “ Sing Sing Sing “ cost £1,800 an hour.
– Does that include viewing time?
– No. It does not include viewing time. It is just the cost of producing the programme. When these programmes were sold to television stations, “ Startime “ was sold for £850, “ Music Time “ for £850, and “ Sing Sing Sing “ for £450.
– They were variety programmes, not dramatic programmes?
– I said they were variety and musical programmes. Those figures give some indication of the difficulties with programme costs.
The committee found that this problem of cost of production of a programme when spread over the small Australian home market rendered the price to the exhibitor so much higher than the sale price of the imported film of a similar type. This position can hardly be regarded as providing any incentive to Australian film producers. Perhaps I could cite the case of “ Whiplash “ which was another Australian produced film. It had a leading star from overseas. Thirty-nine episodes of half an hour duration were produced in Sydney. The select committee found that the production cost approximately £770,000. When the programme was sold on the Australian market it returned to the producers about £55,000; in other words, the producers were nearly £720,000 out of pocket by the time “ Whiplash “ had been shown on the Australian circuit. That shows how necessary it is for a local production to have a market overseas. “ Whiplash “ has been sold in America, but it will be some years before the production costs are recouped. I believe we have to pay a tribute to the film producers, artists and technicians in this country for coping with this problem as they have. At the moment, the film industry is unprotected and is entirely at the mercy of the powerful overseas competitors.
Perhaps the greatest problem confronting the industry is one of insufficient capital, particularly working capital, and the cost of production of films. The select committee has made recommendations in an endeavour to overcome some of the problems with which the industry is confronted. I conclude by saying that I recommend this report to the Senate for its earnest consideration. There will be much in it with which honorable senators will not agree; but it is an honest attempt to pinpoint some of the many problems involved, with suggestions as to what might be done to overcome some of them. I hope that appropriate action will be taken on the important recommendations, if not on all of them.
.- Mr. Acting Deputy President, I had the honour to be a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television. At the outset I would like to say that I valued very highly the privilege of serving on the committee. The select committee tackled seriously the job that was entrusted to it by the Senate and the report which is now the subject of this debate is deserving of very close attention. I speak in support of the amendment moved by my colleague, Senator McClelland, that there be added to the words of the motion moved by Senator Hannan the following words: -
And the Senate requests that the Government implement the recommendations of the select committee as soon as possible.
This means that we who speak for the amendment believe that the recommendations of the select committee should not be put into a pigeon hole but should be implemented by the Government, accepted as the proper way of approaching this very difficult and complicated problem, and made the subject of appropriate action at a very, early date.
As Senator McClelland said in the course of his interesting address, members of the select committee have had the experience of seeing other reports by select committees put into pigeon-holes and left there to gather dust. One need only refer to the report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review to appreciate that it is not of much use to ask a number of senators to apply themselves seriously to a problem and then to do nothing with the results of their efforts. In this case, the actual setting up of the committee arose from what might be called a prima facie case put to the Senate by Senator Hannan. He sought the approval of the Senate for the establishment of a select committee. He made out a case for the appointment of a select committee to inquire into a very serious problem in relation to television, this most important medium of mass communication. He documented the sparsity of Australian material in drama presented on television, and he sketched the outlines of the problem which made it obvious that there was public disquiet regarding the type of programme material presented on television, and especially on commercial television. So, this committee did not meet without some kind of formal go-ahead signal from the Senate. That did not mean that the problems were prejudged; but it did mean that an appropriate basis had been formulated upon which the committee could start work.
I venture to say that, as the inquiry proceeded, with a careful investigation of the problems and with a multiplicity of sittings in every State involving the examination of many scores of witnesses, it was soon established that the case which had been sketched in a formal way by Senator Hannan had been proved to the hilt. These recommendations which come to the Senate are the result of many months of work by the committee. They come to the Senate almost unanimously. With the exception of the limited reservations made by Senator Wright, the conclusions of the committee were unanimous. I think that it is the responsibility of the Government, which approved the setting up of the committee, which voted for the establishment of it, and which had four of the seven senators represented on it, to act upon the recommendations and not adopt the ostrichlike policy of pretending that the problems do not exist. One of the earliest problems that we encountered on the committee was to ascertain what was the area of conflict in the matter, what were the problems we had to solve, and what were the controversies that were likely to arise in the course of the hearing.
Very early in the piece it appeared that representative, serious-minded citizens from all walks of life approached the committee with a desire to indicate their dissatisfaction with the level and quality of programmes presented on television and with the paucity of Australian material. The questions were: Where is the authentic Australian ingredient in Australian television? We have only some synthetic conglomeration of material, much of it showing the less desirable features, for example, of the American way of life, not even presenting a rational and balanced picture of the United States of - America, from which most of the material comes. We had these people coming to the committee and saying: “We would like to see some elevation in the quality and standard of material, and we would like to see development of the Australian content. 1 We want Australian television to be directed to Australian people, and as so much of it is directed to young people let it be material which in a balanced way, without being dowdy or dull, and without being highbrow at all points, nevertheless gives a mature presentation of an Australian way of life to the Australian audience. Balance it, of course, so that you have a proper proportion between Australian material and imported material, but do not let us have a surfeit of rubbishy-type material, a great deal of it imported, without any particular attention being given to the educative, informative function of television.”
We were met with an answer. Curiously enough, although the sittings of the committee were widely advertised in newspapers in every capital city, we were met with a response from one section only, that is, the commercial television interests and their advertisers. To some extent they were encouraged or protected, one might say, by the attitude taken by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The substance of the case that was put against the public anxiety was: “ Our job is not to seek to emulate the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Our job is to entertain. Our job is to seek the lowest common denominator, in effect, of public taste, to give the people what they want. We have no function imposed upon us, either in reason or by statute, to seek some high-minded standard of entertainment or of information or of education which will have the effect of making people turn off their television sets.”
That is the consistent case that was made by the commerical television interests. It was put quite plainly by Sir Frank Packer, the chairman of directors of Channel 9 in Sydney and the substantial proprietor of Channel 9 in Melbourne. He went so far as to say, notwithstanding the prima facie weight of the opinion of this Senate, that he did not think that the committee had a real problem to deal with. He was asked specifically: “ Do you think that what we are dealing with is an important problem, a real problem? Do you- think that there is this problem of increasing the Australian content in television material? “ He said, “ No, I do not think so “. He said, in effect: “ You are’ wasting your time, you are not doing a real job. You are not tackling anything that is worth tackling, because there is not any problem.” He put it in another way, and even more strongly in one sense, when he was asked some questions about the meaning of section 16 of the Broadcasting and Television Act, which was, of course, the basis of the, statutory provisions with ‘ which the committee was concerned. Section 16 (1.) (c) states that one of the 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.
Even if not a lawyer, one would have thought that in layman’s language that meant two things, namely, that the commercial television stations had a responsibility to present adequate and comprehensive programmes to serve the best interests of the general public, and that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board had a responsibility to ensure that the requirements of the section were carried out - in other words, that the board was a watch dog over the commercial television stations to see that adequate and comprehensive programmes to serve the best interests of the Australian public were presented.
– What are the best interests?
– This is a sophisticated question and I hope in the course of my remarks, either explicitly or implicitly, to spell out roy own view about that. Sir Frank Packer had something to say on the question of the meaning of the expression in section 16, “ adequate and comprehensive programmes “. He said: “ This is an instruction to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and not to me. This does not say what I have to do.” He meant: “ It is the board’s problem; it is not mine. There is nothing in the act which specifically directs me to present adequate and comprehensive programmes to serve the best interests of the public. It may be a problem for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board; but do not put it onto me. lt is not my problem.”
I suggest that, in a nutshell, those two answers by a man very prominent in television and newspaper interests in this country gave the game away. They indicated the type of attitude that was. to be taken by those. who were resisting this inquiry. Let us be under no misapprehension. The commercial television interests have resented this inquiry. They have sought either to criticize the committee unfairly or to bury the report and not to make it a subject of lively public discussion and interest. There can be no two ways of describing it. That is what they have done. They do not like the report and they are doing their best to ‘ belittle it or not to mention it at all. Even to-night I found in my letter box a communication - and I dare say similar letters were in the boxes of other honorable senators - from Mr. Cowan, general manager of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations, enclosing a copy of the submission that was made by this organization, which is called F.A.C.T.S. for short.
– Fiction for preference.
– I am indebted to Senator Hannan for his interjection. There is an introductory letter to this booklet which puts the position this way -
The report of the select committee was so critical of television as to ignore any of its achievements.
Surely that is a complete misstatement and a glaring exaggeration of what the select committee spoke about. You have only to read the pages of the report carefully to realize that it expresses a good deal of sympathy for and a good deal of understanding of the position of the commercial television stations. It is quite wrong and quite misleading to suggest that the committee was so critical of television as to ignore any of its achievements.
Incidentally, it was not until the last week or two of the select committee’s inquiry that this organization asked to give evidence. Mr. Cowan was, I think, one of the last witnesses. The committee sat in Canberra and heard his evidence because, somehow or other, it was apparently felt that the case had not been adequately presented on behalf of the commercial television interests. That is the area of controversy in which the committee found itself. We heard many witnesses. A great deal of the ground has been covered ably by Senators Hannan, McClelland and Drake-Brockman, who were members of the committee, and I do not propose to examine in specific detail any more than a few of the recommendations that were made by it.
I would like, if I may, to take this opportunity to join in the expressions of regret that Senator Vincent, the chairman of the committee, is not able to be present at this stage of the debate. The committee is very much indebted to him for the vigorous and devoted leadership that he gave to the group, and I join in what has been said of him by those members of the committee who have preceded me in this debate. I cannot speak too highly of the integrity of Senator Vincent’s approach to the matter or of the sterling qualities of initiative and leadership that he displayed during the course of the inquiry.
The committee’s report poses a broad question that goes right to the heart of Australia’s future. Television has a great potential for good or evil. On the one hand, it has the possibility of being trivial, banal and harmful. On the other hand, it has the possibility of being positive and educative. Nobody wants dull programmes, but we mem’bers of the committee believe that there is a serious inclination on the part of those who present programmes to rate the average person too low. That is what underlies this notion that you give the public what they want. It is really not very flattering to the public to approach the question in that way.
We have, essentially, a three-tiered level of responsibility. I leave on one side for the moment the Australian Broadcasting Commission which has a rather special place as an Australian institution and which, although subject to a good deal of candid criticism in the committee’s report, nevertheless emerged as a body which was trying with some success to do a very difficult job in all the circumstances in this country. The committee has made certain suggestions for broadening some of the commission’s functions, for giving it new avenues of work and for enlarging its personnel; but the commission does not concern me in this connexion as part of the essential problem that I believe the committee had to deal with.
We had this problem of the sub-structure of the commercial television interests having a little bit each way, saying on the one hand that they were doing as much as they possibly could to encourage Australian content and on the other hand that really this was not their responsibility anyway, that they had a commercial responsibility and they had a responsibility to entertain and to retain a very large viewing audience. The committee said to the commercial television interests: “ Look, you have a three-fold responsibility. The first is a national responsibility because, in the view of the committee, the licensee of a television station is not entitled to treat himself as just another commercial interest with a commercial motive in the entertainment or public information fields. He has in effect a public responsibility because he has gained a licence which has given him the right to operate and, by getting that licence, he has excluded other applicants for the same licence from operating. It is rather a privileged position in the nature of a monopoly because, whereas, if you have a spare £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 you can always start your own newspaper the fact that you have got a spare £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 if you think that is enough, does not en.itle you to get a television licence. You get the licence, in competition with others, from the Government on the recommendation of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and you effectively exclude from competing with you in the field all those who have applied for the same licence.” So there is a public responsibility there.
There is, of course, a further responsibility. It is the responsibility to conform to those reasonable standards set out by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board which, though not always obeyed, though not perfect and though subject to criticism in a number of respects, are nevertheless fair standards, looked at as a whole, if they are reasonably carried out. The committee’s criticism was that, not wholly and not cynically all the time, but in large measure, the commercial interests had failed to measure up to that responsibility.
The committee made the further charge that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board had failed in its duty to enforce its own standards on the commercial television interests. The committee found that the board had exercised inadequate control over the licensees, that it had, in effect, ignored its full obligation under the act, and that its complacency was reflected in a correspondingly complacent attitude on the part of commercial television which was becoming increasingly difficult to change as time went on.
When it came to the question of Australian content in television programmes, we found that the position was in substance as stated by Senator Kennelly earlier to-day. Each of the major stations, in Sydney and Melbourne particularly, had undertaken specific things in relation to Australian content of programmes when it was granted a television licence. I do not want to repeat the figures in detail, but the essential point is this: We said that although Channel 7, for example, had promised that 67 per cent, of its programme material would be live production and . therefore Australian, in fact some 37 per cent, only had been reached. The attitude of the Government’ and of the Australian. Broadcasting Control Board was not to say, “ Yes, it is perfectly true that there has been failure to comply with that undertaking “, but to seek excuses, to seek to shield those who had flouted its own requirements. The
Broadcasting Control Board prescribed 40 per cent, as the required or desirable Australian content. Instead of saying that these stations have failed to measure up to that 40 per cent., the board has been concerned to draw attention to the fact that the actual overall viewing time devoted to Australian production has increased. In this chamber I asked a question on notice of lbc the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral and on 24th October last I received an answer dealing with this very question of the Australian content of television programmes. The Minister’s reply may be seen in “ Hansard “. Instead of saying that the stations had fallen down on the job the Minister by imputation excused their non-compliance by not even referring to it. I had asked as a direct question whether the stations had failed to live up to their undertakings but the Minister found it advisable to say that the overall time devoted to Australian productions was slightly greater than had been promised at the time when the stations applied for television licences. The position about this is perfectly clear to anybody who cares to examine it and it was perfectly clear to members of the select committee. In the original application lodged by Channel 7 in Sydney the station promised to devote 67 per cent, of its transmission time to programmes with Australian content. Later the licencees were given permission to extend their transmission hours and in some cases they were virtually doubled. The actual time given to Australian productions showed an absolute increase but it represented a decline as a percentage of the total viewing time. I say quite. deliberately that it is not good enough for the Government, through the Minister - I do - not know about the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme), but certainly his predecessor did this - to give me an answer which can be described as doing no more than shielding those who were in flagrant disobedience of the board’s requirements as to minimum Australian content.
– But you do not mind them shielding their friends, do you? With 24th October so close to 30th November, what other answer would you expect?
- Mr. Ansett, I think, managed to get up to”68 per cent., or thereabouts, when he was granted the licence for
Channel O in Melbourne. It will be very interesting to see how the Minister deals with this undertaking once Channel O is floated in Melbourne.
– I think his undertaking was 58 per cent.
– I stand corrected. If he undertook to provide 58 per cent, of Australian content, that is still a great deal higher than that provided by the best of the present operators.
– What will you say when he gets to 68 per cent.?
– I do not know what he would promise next.
– But if he achieved 68 per cent., I suppose you would give him all the compliments in the world.
– I think we would all bc delighted and surprised.
– Irrespective of the quality of production?
– I am not promising 58 per cent., Mr. Ansett is doing that. What I am saying is that if these standards are to be taken seriously they have to be enforced seriously. It is no use whatever for the Broadcasting Control Board to lay down a requirement of 40 per cent., which it has now increased to 45 per cent., and then allow the operators to get away with 35 per cent, and to talk about an overall increase in the amount of time devoted to Australian productions. That is nonsense and hypocrisy.
– But you would not advocate 58 per cent, if the quality of production were not good enough?
– -I think we are all concerned to ensure that we do not get quota quickies as they were called in England. We do not want a deterioration in standards. But we do expect some kind of integrity in public commitments and in commercial dealings.
– How about answering Senator Branson’s question?
– I think I have done it as well as-
– As well as you want to.
– The Minister for Works interjects. He, for one, does not like this report. He made that very clear in this chamber on the day that it was presented to the Senate. All I am saying is that I do not believe that this kind of hanky-panky should be indulged in publicly by presumably responsible people when they apply for licences, by the board which has the responsibility of administering and enforcing standards and requirements, and by Ministers who are less concerned to concede that there has been a breach than they are to shield and find excuses for those who have the licences.
I think it is clear from the way in which the committee approached its task that it believed it is important that Australians should take their cultural heritage and their cultural future seriously. The committee set about making some positive suggestions as to how we could tackle this problem. It is not enough, of course, merely to say that the standards are unsatisfactory and that the television interests are falling down on their job and so on. Some kind of concrete proposals must emerge to guide those who have the responsibility to improve the situation. That is why honorable senators will find in the report of the select committee a very large number of recommendations covering a very wide area of Australia’s life. For example, it was plain to the committee that there was a connexion between the presentation of drama and the film industry and that there was a connexion between the presentation of drama and the live theatre. It was realized that there was some difference as to the kind of expenditures that were justified, or as to the source from which the funds might come. Senator Wright expressed certain reservations about those matters. But on the broad question the committee felt that in order to build up a reservior of talent and in order to have a pool of films we needed a loan subsidy scheme to assist potential film producers. This scheme would have to be properly administered. Loans would not be given to everybody who cared to hold out their hands for them. The scheme would be administered by a television advisory council, set up to deal, on behalf of the Minister, with such a fund and with a number of other matters. I do not want to canvass the details of the loan subsidy scheme recommended by the committee.
The committee suggested also that the television advisory council should be responsible for encouraging the development of the live theatre by scholarships to actors, by prizes for annual plays and by a dozen or more forms of assistance. Although not expensive in terms of public expenditure this would represent a very real contribution and encouragement to Australian actors, writers and producers, whose remuneration, the committee felt, was far too low and who needed some stimulus to present and to perform work which would ultimately, once there was a distillation of the good from the bad, be suitable for presentation on television. They are positive steps and they are necessary if the problem is to be tackled seriously.
It is all very well to submit some pious report about the problem and the difficulties, but unless tangible and practical results flow from it in the form of adoption of those recommendations or a large part of them, then the interest that has been created in this subject-matter will dissipate. These are practical proposals for legislators and governments to consider. Those who feel that the setting up of this committee was an important manifestation of public interest in a very critical problem will have become discouraged and will slink back to their tents and look elsewhere for the inspiration to go ahead with their work.
I am bound to say that, in my experience, since the presentation of this report, there has been a great deal of interest in and approval of the work of the select committee. This report has been read by large numbers of thoughtful people in the universities, and in the world of culture and entertainment. I and other members of the select committee have had strong indications that the select committee was working on the right lines. This does not mean, as Senator Drake-Brockman said, that there will not be arguments about this or that recommendation. There might be many arguments; but some kind of concrete view of the situation has emerged from the work of the select committee and that is finding its own reaction and level of appreciation in the public mind through people who are interested and who take this question of television seriously.
The select committee dealt with many other questions. One was the question of quotas. This is one matter in which it seems to me that timing is important. Years have gone by and yet the matter has not been tackled with a full sense of responsibility. The figures show that of the 56 per cent, of programme time occupied by drama, only 1 per cent, is Australian drama. How are we going to improve that situation? Are we going to leave it like that or are we to take some positive steps to remedy it?
The select committee recommended that there should be a quota. We are conscious of the dangers of quotas and their shortcomings but we believe that we should have a modest quota which is capable of fulfilment. We do not mean 50 per cent. Australian content, because that is a dream of the future. The ideal balance ultimately might be 50 per cent. Australian and 50 per cent, imported content, but it is not possible to have this yet. The select committee has said, in effect, “ Let us make it 9 per cent, over three years - 3 per cent., 6 per cent, and then 9 per cent.” That is modest enough in my opinion.
But if we are to leave this report to lie in the pigeon holes for six months, twelve months, three years or five years, where are we going to get when we want progressive reforms? Are we going to start at some date in the distant future with a three-year programme for a 9 per cent, quota? These are matters which lead me to suggest that it is important that the Government take the recommendations seriously, consider them, and decide to implement all of them or as many of them as commend themselves as soon as possible.
The problem has many aspects. I do not think anybody should rise in this chamber or in any other place and try to pretend that it is simple. We are dealing with an important medium of public communication, public enlightenment and public education. Nobody wants to force on the people programmes that they do not want. We are not living in some kind of cultural dictatorship. All of us would favour some moderation in the way in which public influence and public authority are exercised in relation to these matters of public education and public enlightenment. But to state these reservations and to regard them as closing the problem is to misunderstand the nature of the challenge and the nature of the opportunity. To state the difficulties is only to be realistic; but to allow the difficulties to overwhelm us is to be unrealistic.
What we say about the whole approach to this matter is that we have to know something more than we do know now about the effects of television. The select committee took the view that it was not a legitimate attitude to do what the commercial stations and others were doing, and that was to say, “We are not convinced that television is harmful and therefore we have no responsibility. Until it is shown that television has harmful effects, especially on young people, there is no problem. It is not our responsibility to change it until you can prove that it is harmful.”
The select committee took the view that the onus of proof, as it were, was rather on the other foot - that there being a serious question as to the effects of television on viewers and especially on young people, it is the responsibility of all connected with the medium to do some research into it. ] want to refer to some important evidence on this matter that was given by Professor Walker of the University of Western Australia when he dealt with the question of research. The select committee quoted some of this evidence in paragraph 124 at page 32 of its report. Professor Walker had this to say -
Two unfortunate results follow from the fact that researchers have as yet been unable to provide many definite answers to the kind of practical questions which various responsible people in the community ask about the psychological and social effects of television. One is that the industry and those concerned with the provision of television services heave sighs of relief and take refuge from some of the awkward issues involved with comforting statements that their programmes have not been proved to have any of the ill-effects which have been feared. The other unfortunate result is that, in the absence of established fact, we have only a confusion of personal opinion and prejudice which can easily be exploited by the commercial interests who pursue their own objectives . . . It seems clear that much of the research on the effects of television, particularly the earlier work, has failed to produce clear-cut results because of the influence of other factors, which have not been adequately taken into account. It is also clear that public opinion has sometimes made television a scapegoat for many other forces at work in our society. On the other hand, one cannot help but be struck by the fact that television can be an important contributory factor. This has been shown by the researches which have demonstrated that under certain conditions and wilh certain groups of people, particular kinds of television programmes do have a definite effect on their outlook and behaviour . . . In my opinion, there is evidence both from the research studies and from our own experience of the power of television, to make it essential that the community resist the temptation to adopt an ostrich-like attitude and actively seek to put this medium to the best possible uses for the community . . . The first essential is to increase the amount of research which is being done on the effects of television in Australia. I do not know the precise amount that has been spent on such research to date, but I am sure that it is minute compared with the investment which commercial interests have put into television and with the expenditure on other aspects of television by the Government. Five or ten times as much research would not be too much in the next five years, and, personally, I see no reason whatever why the industry itself should not contribute to the cost of this research. Many other industries contribute to research which will increase their efficiency and benefit the community. . . . Since televison does not operate in a social vacuum, we can only estimate its effects accurately when we have a fuller appreciation of (he other forces active in the community.
The professor continued to the same effect, but I do not propose to delay the Senate by citing further from his evidence.
I wish to direct attention to another important aspect of this problem of the effects of television on the community, especially on young people. It is one thing to speak of the harmful effects of crime, violence and horror. What is perhaps even more dangerous in the long run is the effect on young minds of what was described by Dr. Thomson, a professional witness, as the stereotyping of outlook in adolescent viewers, caused by the degree of monotony of crime, violence and similar programmes presented in endless series throughout the year. We do not want that stereotype of outlook to be characteristic of our Australian democracy. We want a healthy diversity of opinion and outlook. We do not need the monotonous and predictable reactions of youth to an endless series of presentations of horror, crime and violence. I lay stress not only on the socially harmful effects of this kind of programme but also on the deadening, and devitalizing process of the stereotyped presentation.
I should like to have had time to deal with many other aspects of the committee’s report. Let me mention an extremely important matter with which the committee dealt at some length - educational television. The broad problem might be put in this way: There is some doubt about whether ultimately we would want to have a separate educational channel or could assume that between the national channel operated by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial channels there would be a level of collective responsibility so high that the function of education through televsion could be performed through the existing channels. Of course. that is a very big thing to ask. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has its way of presenting programmes which appeal to people with high levels of culture and academic interest. We certainly should not expect from the commercial television channels the same attention to those aspects of programming. It would be unrealistic and unfair to expect that the educative process should always be paramount and exclusive of other interests in the complex of commercial television. We should not expect that approach. But we should expect to have much higher standards than we have at the moment. Ultimately there will be posed the question as to whether we will not need a separate channel for education.
Dr. Darling, the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, had some important comments to make to the committee on this subject. I take leave to refer to portion of his evidence which is quoted in paragraph 182 at page 43 of the committee’s report. He said -
Educational television can mean either enrichment and enlightenment of the ordinary programmes by the inclusion in them ot serious philosophical, historical, scientific and aesthetic content (that is to say, something like the Third Programme on radio of the B.B.C.); it may mean something like live plays, opera, drama or debates introduced with the idea of educating the public rather than merely entertaining them. Or, again, you can mean adult education of a more deliberate sort - courses and series of courses designed for the instruction of adults, to continue their education, but without specific university courses behind them or any credits attached to them. This is slightly more serious and more academic than the first. Or it can mean school and university programmes designed to be used in connexion with ordinary school and university courses, not as a substitute for but as an enrichment of those courses. Finally, it can mean straight-out university and school courses, either designed as a preparation for existing university examinations, or for credits which will at least be recognized by the universities . . .
The Pilkington report-
He was referring to the report of the English royal commission on television - without specifically doing so, does virtually announce its English preferences for the first types rather than for the last. I take the opposite view; 1 take the first three for granted as the common responsibility of both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and of the commercial stations, and believe that it is the fourth, that is, the direct instructional television, which is the important subject to study.
The committee heard a good deal of evidence on the ways in which we could approach the problem of educational television. Some witnesses of high standing thought that the next development would be direct instruction at schools and universities by means of television. It was argued - one could have a lot of sympathy with this point of view - that one superbly good lecturer in, say, physics could be seen on television in 500 schools and that that would do away not with the need for teachers at those 500 places but with a certain amount of inferior teaching. In other words, you could have the best for your primary lesson over the television network and then have the discussion with your own teacher. That has been tried in America, where there has been a lot of development already in educational television.
The significant aspect of the report of the Senate select committee is not that the committee took a firm view that an educational channel should be established immediately or that it should never be established but that it said that in no circumstances should all channels be allotted without making provision for a special channel for educational instruction. I suppose the last thing that the Government or anybody in a position of responsibility to-day would think of would be the granting of a fourth television licence in any of our capital cities, having regard to recent events.
– The rat race.
– Yes, having regard to the rat race. At the moment nobody could envisage the need for further channels being allotted to commercial licensees. The select committee has said that educational television is so important that it must be regarded as being a central problem for decision in the future. It is important not to tie up the final television channel where it is available for commercial television interests. That is a very important recommendation. Although it is expressed negatively it does require, if acted upon by the Government, that the Government abstain from granting any further commercial television licences until the problem of educational television has been resolved.
On these matters of research and education the committee could do no more than scratch the surface of the problem, lt was not an educational body deciding finally the appropriate method of educating young people. The members felt, as a committee, that that was the province primarily of State or Commonwealth education authorities. We could not presume, as a committee appointed to deal with the specific problem of the Australian content of television programmes, to move so far into an area which was the province of other experts, but we would have be:n failing in our duty had we not taken under our advisement the general question of educational television because here we have an area of television in which we want a peculiarly Australian contribution when the right time conies. We do not want synthetic educational sessions from abroad. We want educational sessions directed to the Australian child or the Australian student in the Australian environment for effective use later in the practice of professions or other occupations in the Australia of the future. I am anxious to make the limits of our inquiry clear on this point because what 1 have said may be capable of being misunderstood as an intrusion finally into the field of education.
I hope that the select committee will have done some service to the understanding of a very complex problem. As I said before, sometimes in a debate one puts a point of view that cannot always be explored in depth. In the calm of a committee deliberation, or where there is opportunity for testing evidence by examination and crossexamination, many fine points of argument and many aspects of a problem emerge that it is not possible to deal with in the course of a speech on a report such as this. 1 commend the report to the consideration of honorable senators. I suggest that the worst thing that could happen to this report would be to leave it as a matter undecided for some indefinite period. The report has dealt with a problem and has made a series of specific recommendations. The report is to the Senate but the series of recommendations should be acted upon by the Government and should not be left discarded, unwept, unhonoured or unsung like the very important and constructive report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. On the result of positive steps to go ahead with the results of this inquiry depends much of Australia’s future. I do not exaggerate when I say that no single influence in the life of the community is as potentially good or bad as the medium of television which has been the subject of this inquiry by the select committee.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I am delighted to join in this discussion in order that I may add my congratulations to the committee which has presented this very excellent report for the consideration of the Senate. 1, too, join in expressions of regret that Senator Vincent, owing to illness, is unable to be present. I think that we should congratulate Senator Hannan, who introduced the discussion originally to the Senate and who opened the debate on this report. I congratulate, also, all members of the committee. It is obvious from the contents of the report that they have, throughout the months, worked extremely hard. The report has been presented in a very sound and interesting manner, and I am sure that if a decision is made to print the paper it will be in great demand throughout Australia.
The subject of television has been of tremendous interest. In my own State of Victoria it was of interest before the advent of television and has been of interest ever since. The thirteen criticisms listed on the first page of the report are criticisms that I have heard made from time to time by people who have studied the question of television and its impact upon society. It is interesting to read the committee’s definition of the word “ adequate “ as used in section 16(1.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act. The section imposes an obligation upon the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to ensure that adequate and comprehensive programmes are provided by stations to serve the best interests of the general public. The committee defined the word “ adequate “ in regard to programmes as meaning programmes that have a high standard of quality - technical and artistic. Of course, the word “ adequate “ could be taken to mean mediocre. I am glad that the committee defined the word as meaning a high standard.
The committee also defined the phrase “ to serve the best interests of the general public “ as meaning to utilize the tremendous power of television to influence and enrich both the emotional and intellectual values of the people and to improve moral standards in society. It was very wise of the committee to set out early in its report that it realized that in a free society there is a grave danger in endeavouring to prescribe in detail the constituents of programmes that are or are not. in the best interests of the public. The committee was referring to what people will see when they switch on their television sets. This, of course, is consistent with our democratic way of life.
Whenever a discussion takes place on improving the standard of any form of mass media, the statement is always made that the particular form of mass media being discussed is what the people require. It has been said often that the programmes of television stations reflect what the people want. That leads me to query whether programmes do reflect the understanding and the demand of the majority of people. I suppose that the ratings system - which seems to be the system by which commercial television stations judge the success of the various programmes they present - would indicate, as has been said by other speakers, that at the end of the day the tired man or woman is very glad to relax and to watch a western or some other light programme. But I believe there are many more people than might be thought who desire a programme of a higher standard. I think we must endorse the finding of the 1953 royal commission on the introduction of television into Australia that -
The objective of all television stations, from the outset, must be to provide programmes that will have the effect of raising the standards of public taste.
Surely the managers and directors of commercial television stations must recognize that they have a national responsibility to observe the standards that have been set down. It seems obvious from the number of criticisms and the mass of evidence given to the select committee that the standards have not been observed. Therefore, the committee has made various recommendations to strengthen the powers of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
It is interesting to note that one of the recommendations of the committee seeks to bring the Broadcasting Control Board into line with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in that it suggests that at least one of the new members should be a woman.
In the case of the board, the woman should be married. The Australian Broadcasting Commission merely requires the appointment of a woman. I think it is extremely important that there should be a woman on both these bodies because of the very important effect which broadcasting and television has on children, a matter on which I shall touch later.
– What is your opinion on that particular aspect?
– You would settle for a woman of experience, would you?
– Yes, a woman of experience. On the subject of setting up committees and altering those which are in existence, I have been interested in the establishment of the Australian Television Council and in the suggestion that, when a commercial television company applies for a renewal of its licence, the application should be heard in public. Members of the public who were critical of the programmes presented by the station concerned could then voice their objections and attempt to justify them. I have been interested also in the suggestion that the Australian Television Council should hold an annual television convention. Discussion of the content of programmes, whether they are dramatic or light entertainment, and whether they are imported or Australian productions, would form an important part of such a convention.
It is most interesting to note on page 15 of the report that of every 100 hours of peak-viewing time 85 hours are devoted to drama, and that the Australian content is almost negligible. On page 9 there is an analysis of the type of drama which is presented. Crime programmes account for 21.83 per cent., which is the highest percentage. Adventure accounts for 13.71 per cent., which is good. Serious drama has the very low percentage of .18. Domestic drama, which is for family viewing, accounts for 15.98 per cent., and western for 17.05 per cent. Light entertainment during the peak period accounts for 13.21 per cent. In dealing with this question of drama, the report properly points to the close connexion between the film industry, the live theatre, and the number of artists and scriptwriters available in Australia. It also points to the difficulties caused by the lack of experienced scriptwriters and artists.
It ls a difficult thing indeed to produce anything in the nature of Australian drama or films. This question of Australian films is most interesting when one realizes that in 1901 the Australian film industry was flourishing and leading the world, lt seems deplorable that we have not maintained that position. We have slipped back, while countries which have not the same cultural standards as Australia are encouraging the film industry to the greatest possible extent. We must do all in our power to encourage the Australian film industry and the production of Australian drama. It is important not only for Australians but also for the people living to our near north, And our neighbours in South-East Asia, that we should present an Australian image by means of films and drama and also, of course, by means of music. We should not i have to rely upon the importation of overteas productions or films to show to these people. It is particularly important from the point of view of our children that we should project an Australian image.
I Mention has been made of quotas. It seems to me that, because of the difficulty of financing any of the excellent suggestions that have been made, there should be two levels of increase in the Australian content. The first would be an interim stage involving increased production based primarily upon programmes for exhibition within Australia, while the second would be increased production based upon prospective overseas sales. The first stage could possibly be put into operation within 0 relatively short time. By means of the interim stage we would be able in a space of three years to increase the present percentage from 3.1 per cent, to 9 per cent, in 1966. That might not be a very rapid increase but, at least, it would be a beginning. If such a beginning were made, the second stage could perhaps be put into operation.
I turn now to an aspect of television in which I have been extremely interested for some considerable time. I refer to the section of the report which deals with programmes shown to children. I note with great interest that the third recommendation of the committee is that the family viewing period should be extended by half an hour and that the time for the commencing of programmes classified “ AO “ should be postponed for half an hour in an effort to reduce the number of children viewing programmes of crime, violence and horror. There is no doubt that many of the programmes for children shown on both the national stations and the commercial stations are of excellent quality. A number of them may be instanced: The Disney nature series, “ Children’s Magazine “, “ True Adventure “, “ Wonders of the Sea “, and “ The Terrible Ten “. Such programmes are extremely good for children to view. They entertain the children and educate them as well.
The criticisms of children’s programmes should receive very careful attention. I agree wholeheartedly with the committee’s view that children are the most important section of the viewing public, in that they are most likely to be affected by the impact of television. These programmes should receive careful attention not only because children are most likely to be affected but also because the habits of viewing and the standards that they will require as they grow older are developed at a very early age. It is therefore most important that the programmes that they view should be of the highest possible standard. It seems that at present, according to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the programmes between 5 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. are the only ones which really concern the family. No responsibility is taken for what children see outside those hours. I should like to cite a few facts from a paper that was prepared for a group with which I was associated in Victoria by Mrs. F. Shann, a member of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board’s Advisory Committee on Children’s Television. It was most alarming and disappointing to read in the select committee’s report that that advisory committee had met only on three occasions since it was formed. If the figure is correct, that is deplorable. Mrs. Shann referred to the effect of crime films on children in the six to sixteen age group - if one can call a sixteen-year-old a child. She went on -
Just as disturbing are adult plays which convey too much of an anxiety-laden view of life, for which the teenager ls not emotionally ready.
Adolescent girl viewers proved more concerned than their controls about growing up and marrying, and were made to feel insecure at a stage when they needed reassurance.
Other research pointed to the effect upon children of crime films that showed a very poor type of woman and led to an almost total devaluation of womanhood. It was considered that these would have a very poor effect not only upon teenage girls but also upon boys. Mrs. Shann also stated -
So much of what children view is not meant for children at all. An American voiced the danger when he said, “Too many programmes are a type to make a world of ‘ adultized children and childish adults ‘ “.
I applaud the select committee’s recommendation that the Australian Broadcasting Commission and licensees provide programmes which will cater specifically for three large groups of children, namely, those of five years and under, those from six years to eleven years, and those from twelve years to sixteen years. The paper to which I have referred was circulated throughout Victoria and in the other States, in an endeavour to alert parents to their responsibility in regard to children’s viewing. Not all of the responsibility can be placed on the television stations. Parents, too, must realize that they are responsible for viewing the programmes which the children see, and selecting for them the best possible type of programme for their age group. This paper was written in 1962. I should like to cite from it figures which I imagine would also reflect, the position in this year, 1964. Mrs. Shann stated -
After 8.30 p.m. “ adult only “ films may be shown, and these are not suitable for any one under twenty. Just how few parents accept the responsibility for protecting their children is shown by the following facts; Between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. there are as many children between nine and fourteen viewing as there are between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. About 10 per cent, of the evening audience are children in this age group which, in actual numbers, is over 100,000 throughout Australia. Even between 10 p.m. and midnight, for every 30 adults viewing there is one child. And on a Saturday night 10 per cent, of these children are under eight years and another 64 per cent are under fourteen years.
Of course, it is not the concern of the stations if the parents are not wise enough to control the viewing hours of their children This leads me to make a last point. I was very interested to read Part VIII. of the committee’s report, which deals with research. I should hope that such facts as Mrs. Shann listed would be brought to light by research, and that the findings would be made available to the public by means of the television council, which I sincerely hope will be established to play a part in educating parents and assisting persons responsible for programmes on either national stations or commercial stations to present suitable material for children in the various age groups. I sincerely hope that education by means of television undertaken by the various State education departments, will assist children to develop a true appreciation of what is not only entertaining but is also educational.
The question of how these things are to be financed will need to receive very careful consideration by those who undertake the responsibility for carrying out the excellent suggestions made in this report. I am certain that there is a great deal of interest in and appreciation of what has been done and what is suggested, and I feel sure that Senator Cohen’s fears that the report will be pigeon-holed are quite ill-founded. I conclude by again congratulating the committee.
.- On 18th March last, Senator Hannan introduced the subject that we are now discussing, namely, the report of the Select Committee on trie Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television. With due regard for Senator Hannan’s modesty, I should like to say that on that occasion the Senate heard one of the ablest addresses delivered in this chamber for quite a long time. Senator Hannan, on the motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), had the honour of being granted an extension of time, and he made a brilliant contribution to the debate on this subject which is of tremendous national importance. His contribution was followed by another excellent speech, that delivered by Senator McClelland. One would think that such excellent contributions to the debate in the Senate would attract the attenion of, and receive some publicity in, the Press of Australia, but we looked in vain for any reasonable coverage of either the subject or the speeches that were delivered on that occasion. In newspapers in Western Australia I failed to find one word in reference to the subject.
Recently, we have read much in the Press about censorship. I think the treatment that both the Senate and the report of this select committee received from the Press represented the application of a complete ban, a conspiracy of silence, the ultimate in censor ship. Senator Cohen referred to this matter, and Senator Drake-Brockman, when quoting from evidence in the report of the 1953 royal commission, said that what was needed was a vocal public. How can we have a vocal public when the Press denies the public any knowledge of discussion of matters connected with television? We all know of the affiliation between the Press and those television stations which received some measure of criticism in the report. Apparently they are afraid of that criticism. Evidently their desire is to kill any public reaction to the select committee’s report, and I feel that we should register a strong protest at the manner in which the report has been received by the Press.
Senator Cohen said that television has a great potential for good or evil. All thoughtful people recognize the truth of that statement. In this medium we do have a great potential for good or evil. The Senate, indeed the Parliament as a whole, has an obligation to the people to watch carefully the manner in which this new medium is treated. We accepted that responsibility when we legislated to set up an organization to control and regulate it. Whether or not we agree that Parliament has that responsibility and irrespective of whether our ideas of freedom are such that we think there should be no control over this new medium, I am sure that the great majority of the people agree with the suggestions made by their representatives in this Parliament that there should be some control over television. Mr. President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
Senator WADE (Victoria - Minister for
Health) [10.16].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
I present this measure to the Senate on behalf of the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner). The purpose of this bill is to obtain the approval of the Parliament for a grant of up to £2,500,000 to the State of Tasmania to assist the State in financing construction of a developmental road into the Gordon River region of south-west Tasmania, primarily for the purpose of enabling a detailed investigation to be undertaken of a further stage of the Tasmanian hydro-electric system. Honorable senators will recall that the Government announced its decision to provide financial assistance to Tasmania for this purpose in October of last year. The decision arose out of a request by the Tasmanian Government, which was faced with the need for implementing a further stage of its hydro-electric undertaking. The Tasmanian Government pointed out that current hydro-electric power developments in the State are scheduled for completion in 1973 and that, to cater for expected increases in electricity requirements, it will be necessary to have a new power development ready for commissioning shortly after completion of the last of the projects now under construction. The Gordon River region is the area in which the new development is to be located.
The experience of the Tasmanian Hydroelectric Commission is that it requires a period of about seven years to construct a major stage of a power development. Construction must, of course, be preceded by a comprehensive investigation of the site, and the drawing-up of detailed plans. In the case of the Gordon River project, preliminary investigation will be a major task because the region is particularly rugged and virtually unexplored. Thus the construction of a road of access into the region is an urgent requirement.
The Tasmanian Government informed us that the estimated cost of the road was £2,500,000, and that it was not financially practicable for the State to undertake, from its own resources, construction of the road within the necessary time. Against this background, the Commonwealth Government decided to grant the State’s request for assistance in financing the cost of the road, in doing so, we had regard to the potential for development that would be unlocked by the road. The available evidence of water resources in the general region of the Gordon River is most impressive, and there is little doubt that these resources will provide scope for a very large hydro-electric development. The Government was also conscious of the need to ensure adequate power supplies for the important exportearning industries of Tasmania, apart from the importance of the more general development that construction of the road could be expected to promote.
The measure before the Senate will authorize payment of a grant to the State of up to £2,500,000 over the four years ending 30th June, 1967, by way of reimbursing the State the cost of constructing the road. Preliminary planning work for this construction is already well advanced, and it is expected that payments to Tasmania under the bill this financial year will amount to about £250,000. The route of the road is defined in the bill in terms suggested by the State Government. The general plan of the bill is that the Commonwealth will reimburse the State for the full amount of its expenditure, up to the stated limit, in constructing the road to standards of construction acceptable to the Commonwealth. There is, however, provision in the bill for payments by the Commonwealth in advance of expenditure by the State. There are also other provisions of a machinery nature similar to those in other comparable legislation for assistance to special developmental projects in the States.
I should like to say in conclusion that the Commonwealth Government regards this grant as an opportunity to promote economic development on a national scale of the resources of a region which might otherwise remain isolated and virtually unexplored for a long time to come. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.22 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 April 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640407_senate_25_s25/>.