25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alistcr McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Address-in-Reply: Acknowledgment by Her Majesty the Queen.
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General the following communication in connexion with the Address-in-Reply: -
I desire to acquaint you that the substance of the Address-in-Reply which you presented to me on the 18th March, 1964, has been communicated toHer Majesty the Queen.
It is the Queen’s wish thatI convey to you and to honorable senators Her Majesty’s sincere thanks for the loyal message to which your Address gives expression.
Governor-General. 8th April, 1964.
– I address the following questions to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories: First, has the Minister seen a press report that the Minister for Territories has issued an invitation to Northern Territory pastoralists to apply for freehold titles over 150,000,000 acres of cattle country in the Territory? Secondly, is this report correct? Is the Government aware that Mr. Drysdale, a member of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, has stated that absentee ownership has always been a drag on Northern Territory development and that the Barnes plan, if given effect, would give the English company of Vesteys Limited alone a permanent hold over 18,000 square miles, and that Mr. Drysdale, among others, has stated that the proposition would meet with full-scale opposition in the Territory? Thirdly, if the reason advanced for this drastic and un-Australian proposition is that the private banks will not lend money on leasehold land, will the Government see that the Commonwealth Bank makes the necessary financial accommodation available, as it can and should? Fourthly, before taking this action, which is inimical to the best interests of Australia, will the Government obtain the views of the Australian people by way of referendum?
– All I know personally about this matter is that I saw a press reference to the fact that Mr. Drysdale, a member of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, had criticized a statement made by my colleague, the Minister for Territories, in respect of the general subject of land laws in the Territory. I am not aware of anything beyond that. I suggest that in the circumstances the honorable senator should place his question on the notice-paper so that it can be accorded a full and comprehensive answer by the Minister for Territories himself.
– I did see the report to which the honorable senator has referred. One day last week I asked my department to give me some information on it. The article refers to a condition caused by a type of bacillus known as the Battey bacillus. It derives its name from the place in America where it was first identified. Speaking generally, response to the tuberculosis drugs is not satisfactory, but in cases where surgery is indicated the results are more encouraging. The mode of its spread is uncertain, but it seems the majority of sufferers do not give rise to infection by passing it from one person to another. This information is of great interest to all of us because, as is well known, tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease. I am assured that there is no cause for public alarm so far as this type of tuberculosis is concerned.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. Is it a fact that the leases of the Elsey and Tipperary cattle stations in the Northern Territory have been sold to Hong Kong interests? ls it a fact that both cattle stations have an area of more than 2,000 square miles? Is it a fact that the representative of the Hong Kong interests in this deal was Sir William Gunn, the chairman of the Australian Wool Board? Have these companies made any representations whatever to the Minister for Territories for the conversion of their leaseholds into freehold?
– I know nothing of negotiations involved in the disposition of these station properties in the Northern Territory. Indeed I do not know that they have been disposed of. If the honorable senator will put his question on the notice paper, I shall ask the Minister for Territories to give him an answer.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Is any action being taken by the Attorney-General’s Department to prepare legislation under which Australia will agree to adhere to the International Convention for the Protection of Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works as revised at Brussels in 1948 and to die Universal Copyright Convention of 1952? Is the Attorney-General aware of the understandable interest of university professors, authors and other academic people in this matter?
– I am sure that the Attorney-General would appreciate the interest of academic people in this matter. Before these conventions can be adhered to, it will be necessary to alter the existing Australian copyright law. I know that Mr. Justice Spicer had a committee to report on alterations to the copyright law and that it presented a report about 1960. These recommendations raised a great number of very complex points which had to be resolved before any alterations could be made. Consideration has continued since that time in the Attorney-General’s Department and I believe the present AttorneyGeneral has this matter under active consideration now. He wants to introduce alterations to the copyright law as soon as he can do so.
– I preface a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate by saying I understand that the considered policy of the Liberal Party which has been published since 1949 has included the abolition of the means test. This plank in the Liberal Party’s platform has been omitted in recent times. Is the scrapping of the means test from Liberal publications a sign that the Government no longer believes in its abolition, or will the Government, living up to the picture painted by the Treasurer recently to the effect that the Liberal Party did not believe in being dominated by outside bodies, refuse to depart from its original policy? Will it seek to attain its original objective which was the abolition of the means test?
This is not a case of domination by outside bodies. At the last federal council meeting there was a long and friendly debate upon all the implications of this particular matter. Since we have been in office we have consistently reduced the incidence of the means test by, for instance, increasing the permissible amount of income and property. Only a year or so ago this Government brought into operation a completely new approach to this matter. I refer to the merged means test under which income and property holdings are taken into account in the one formula. I think that the present approach of continually ameliorating the means test and extending benefits, as has happened over recent years, is a sound approach. There is a good deal of talk about the abolition of the means test. It is a very difficult practical matter to wave a wand, as it were, and bring about such a great change. What we have been doing has resulted in satisfactory progress being made along the road to that ultimate achievement.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it a fact that in past years taxpayers assessed for provisional tax who found difficulty in meeting their full liability by the due date were able to arrange to pay by instalments without penalty until as late as 15th June? Is it also a fact that in Victoria extensions will not be granted this year without penalty beyond 1st June?
Can the Minister inform the Senate of the reason for this change, particularly in respect of the extension for the provisional tax component?
– The question appears to involve a number of administrative matters with which I am not familiar and which I shall have to refer to the Commissioner of Taxation. For that reason I ask that the question be put on the noticepaper.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Has the Minister seen a report in this morning’s press of the proceedings of the trial in Belgrade of nine Yugoslavs alleged to have trained in Australia for terrorist activities in Yugoslavia, and statements reported to have been made to the Belgrade court by Rade Stogie, one of the men named, who, it was said last year, had come from Geelong, in Victoria? Can the Minister say whether there is any truth in this man’s statements? Can he say particularly whether it is a fact that there is an organization called the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood operating in Sydney and/ or elsewhere in Australia? Is the aim of that organization forcibly to overthrow the State and social order in Yugoslavia? Is this organization recruiting young people to be sent to Europe for that purpose? Did the nine accused men attend so-called diversionary terrorist courses in Sydney before going to Yugoslavia? Can the Minister say further whether any of the nine men travelled from Australia on Australian passports? Were not these allegations made public in Australia in September, 1963? If the allegations are true, what action has the Government taken or does it propose to take to put a stop to this blatant lawlessness?
– I think that a question of that size and complexity should be put on the notice-paper and referred to the Attorney-General for each part of it to be answered seriatim. I have not seen the report of the trial in Belgrade. The matters raised are significant enough to require a considered answer from the Attorney-General.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has the Minister noted that Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited at Burnie has reduced output of paper and also has reduced the number of employees by approximately 90 men? Has he noted also that the company attributes the reason for this action partly to imports of paper into Australia? Will he undertake to examine the possibility of providing increased protection to the Australian paper manufacturing industry?
– Yes, I did note the press statement that the ouput and staff of Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited, Burnie, were being reduced. It was stated that this was partly because stocks in various organizations throughout Australia were being reduced and partly because of imports of paper. We have had recently two or three Tariff Board reports on the paper industry, which has, as a result of the reports, been given additional protection. It is open to the industry to apply to the Department of Trade and Industry at any time that it considers it is being seriously damaged by imports. If the Minister is satisfied that there is a case, he may refer it immediately to a special advisory authority, which can have holding action taken within four weeks, and arrange for further reference to the Tariff Board. I am sure that the company is aware of this procedure, which has been in operation now for some two or three years, and I am sure also that if the incidence of imports were seriously damaging the industry this action would be taken.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Have important gas discoveries been made in Queensland by companies while they have been boring for oil? Does the Minister know the number of gas discoveries made and the total volume of gas available? Has it been possible to ascertain whether the total flow of gas would warrant the laying of a pipeline between Brisbane and the source of the gas, so that the gas could be used for domestic and industrial purposes?
There have been important discoveries of natural gas in Queensland. The extent of the deposits - if that is the right word - is not yet known. A fair amount of additional exploratory work would be required to determine the size of the deposits, but the information that is available indicates that they are large. The questions to be asked are: Where can they be economically used? Would the building of a pipeline from Roma or the other points of discovery to Brisbane be justified? Would it be better to build a pipeline from those points to Gladstone? How does the thermal content of the gas compare with the thermal content of coal? What are the relevant costs? These are matters of economics which are, I understand, currently under examination by the companies that have discovered the gas, by the companies in Brisbane which use gas, and by the company in Gladstone that is building the big alumina plant. They are matters for investigation. The other approach - this is what I hope will eventually happen - is for industries to establish themselves on the gas fields.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether his attention has been drawn to a statement attributed to Mr. J. A. Ferguson, of the New South Wales Milk Board, that school-children are not drinking the milk provided by the Commonwealth Government under the free milk scheme and that, as one of the consequences, the New South Wales Department of Health reports that from 10 per cent, to 30 per cent, of school-children were undernourished, the percentage varying largely in relation to social background. Does the Minister consider that school-children are turning down the free milk made available to them by the Commonwealth? Will he consider the introduction of legislation to permit the supply of citrus juices, claimed to be rich in vitimins, in place of milk where children are reluctant to take part in the free milk scheme? In conclusion, I point out to the Minister that I support with confidence the question of making first-class citrus juices available, knowing that the River Murray area of South Australia would be able to supply, without difficulty, all that is required.
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator refers, and I am rather inclined to have some reservations as to its authenticity, because it has not been brought to my notice that such a high percentage of school-children are not drinking the milk made available to them under the free milk scheme. On occasions, in various parts of the Commonwealth, we have had to make available additional facilities for handling the milk in order to make it attractive to the children. For instance, in some of the colder parts of Tasmania, we have been parties to the installation of heating systems with a view to making the milk acceptable to schoolchildren. In other parts of Australia where the weather has been very hot, we have had to install refrigeration facilities to make the milk palatable. We have had no complaint from the States generally that the children are not drinking the free milk, and I should not like to think that they are not drinking it, because it is being supplied to them for a specific purpose and should be fulfilling that purpose.
The suggestion has often been made to the Government that the milk be replaced with fruit juices, but up to the present time it has been considered, as I think it will be in the foreseeable future, that milk better serves the purpose in this field.
– I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation and inform him, by way of preface, that Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited at Burnie, in Tasmania, has announced that, owing to the high and rising volume of imports of paper, the company finds it necessary to reduce production and dismiss between 60 and 70 employees from the mills. Senator Lillico advises us that the number is 90. In view of that announcement, will the Minister give urgent consideration to creating employment opportunities for those men by proceeding as rapidly as possible with the resealing, installing night landing facilities and other improvements programmed at the Wynyard aerodrome, which is close to Burnie? I understand these works are planned by the Department of Civil Aviation, and they could absorb the men who will lose their employment with Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited.
– T think the honorable senator is aware that the arrangement of and the allotment of priorities to airport works are done months in advance of the actual works being undertaken. Quite frequently, the priority is arranged from twelve to eighteen months and even longer ahead of the actual work being commenced. These priorities are arranged according to the urgency of the need of a particular locality. 1 do not know whether any situation exists at Burnie which could call for a re-assessment of these priorities, but if there is something of an urgent nature with respect to unemployment, I do not doubt that it will come to my notice. I have been informed from an entirely different source that many of the men who have lost employment - I hope temporarily - from the paper mills in this area are currently engaged on a housing project which has been undertaken there.
– Can the Minister for National Development say whether any steps are contemplated to further investigate the off-shore areas of Bass Strait v. bich are stated in the report of the French investigating committee to be likely to contain oil? Is any company interested? Are these areas off-shore from Tasmania or from Victoria?
– I shall let the last part of the honorable senator’s question, in which he asks whether these areas are off-shore from Victoria or from Tasmania, go over my shoulder. The off-shore area as a whole - I speak from memory now - is at present held under tenements by various oil search companies. I do not keep in mind which companies hold the tenements. There are quite good oil search programmes in operation and in contemplation which will attract Commonwealth Government subsidies. In my view, a subsidy is the best encouragement that the Commonwealth can give to oil search in an area such as this.
– T wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs some questions. Is it true that the Department of External Affairs has joined the railways and the tramways authorities in the hunt abroad for men and women to join the Australian public service? Why is it necessary for the Department of External Affairs to recruit non-Australians, even if their great grandparents were deported to Australia a century ago but subsequently sought fresh fields and pastures new? Is it necessary to spend large sums of money on advertising in Britain and other countries for recruits to the diplomatic service when there are many suitable candidates already in Australia in the Public Service - for instance, in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department - who are qualified academically but do not possess an Oxford accent or do not have friends in ministerial positions who can help them politically to obtain posts in this department, which tries to tell everybody that it has such an aristocratic aura? Are not Australians good enough?
– I think this question is based on a complete misunderstanding or, quite possibly, on a misinterpretation of the existing position. To the best of my knowledge - I shall check this and confirm it with the honorable senator - the Department of External Affairs is not advertising abroad for non-Australians to join it. I believe that the department has advertised in one or two countries, asking Australians living abroad to submit their names with a view to joining the department. Quite frankly, I cannot see any reason why Australians living abroad should be denied an opportunity to submit their names to the department. Admission to it, I might say, is not in any way influenced by ministerial approaches. The honorable senator casts an extraordinarily unpleasant aspersion when he suggests that a Minister might use his influence to help a candidate secure a diplomatic post.
– Last Wednesday, when I asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army a question concerning a visit by school cadets to the Royal Military College at Duntroon, he said he would obtain a reply for me. Does he realize that this visit is to take place on Friday next? To my knowledge, there are still only two cadets from Western Australia included, as against 22 from Tasmania and 22 from Victoria.
– I have no further information on this matter. I would have been the first to tell the honorable senator had I received any information. I hope to have it this afternoon.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry seen a statement by Mr. D. Andary of the Riverland Fruit Preserving Co-operative Limited, South Australia, which appeared in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ on Thursday, 9th April, 1964, to the effect that there was an acute shortage of shipping space through South Australian ports and that this was of major concern to his company? Mr. Andary stated that it was imperative to have adequate shipping space if sales by his industry were to be maintained at the present high level. Will the Minister investigate this complaint, with a view to consultation with shipping interests in order to meet the requirements of the industry?
– If the honorable senator puts his question on the notice-paper I shall be pleased to bring it to the notice of the Minister for Trade and have immediate investigations made as to what can be done about obtaining extra shipping space.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister noted a report in the Melbourne “ Age “ of to-day stating that Mr. Bolte had accused the Australian Wool Board of making behindthescenes moves to close down small woolselling centres in Australia and of sabotaging the Australian wool industry? Has the Australian Wool Board the power to close down wool-selling centres? Will the Minister comment on the report? Is the Minister aware that many wool-selling centres were established as the result of strong representations by growers, and then only by the direction of a Labour government in the interest of decentralization, and in the face of strong organized resistance by wool buyers? Will the Minister give an assurance that in the interest of wool growers, no centres for the selling of wool will be closed down, nor will the number of centres be reduced? Will he ascertain also whether the board has any intention of closing down centres in Victoria or in any other State?
– I am sorry to say that I know nothing about this matter as it has not been reported in the Sydney newspapers. I ‘have not heard of the matter previously so 1 must ask that the question be put on notice.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry been directed to the views expressed by Mr. C. R. Grant, a prominent South Australian wine producer, who on his recent return from a visit to South Africa, said that the Australian wine industry should seek the help of the Government in the promotion of the sale of export wines? Mr. Grant said also that the industry should consider founding an exporters’ association to blend and market wines made under one label in the United Kingdom. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the fact that the sale of Australian wine to the United Kingdom has fallen from 3,500,000 gallons a year prior to the war to 1,000,000 gallons a year al the present time? Would the Minister give consideration to calling together the wine producers of Australia to discuss Mr. Grant’s suggestion, and to find ways and means to assist the promotion of Australian wines on overseas markets?
– I would think that if the Australian wine producers were impressed by the statement made by the person to whom the honorable senator has referred the Australian Wine Board itself would take the initiative and approach the Government on this matter. I have not seen the statement referred to but I am of the opinion that the person who made the statement is not fully informed because, as recently as last year, this chamber agreed to legislation which gave added powers to the Australian Wine Board to promote the sale of wine in other parts of the world. I can well remember some very fine speeches that were made on that occasion.
– Hear, hear!
– The speeches of Senator Hannaford and of Senator Cormack are two speeches that come readily to my mind. For this reason I do not think there is any real substance in the general assertion of the gentleman to whom Senator Drury refers. 1 hope I am not doing the gentleman an injustice. I would suggest that if there are reasons for placing some credence on what he says, he should approach the representatives of the industry - the Australian Wine Board.
– My question is directed to the Minister for National Development. Has the National Coal Research Council been constituted? Have the Australian Coal Industry Research Laboratories been established? If not, what has happened since questions were last asked in the Senate about the two recommendations of the Coal Utilization Research Advisory Committee in relation to these matters which were made to the Minister on 20th March, 1962, and approved by the Cabinet?
– A meeting of State ministers responsible for mines has been arranged to be held in Canberra on Friday of this week. I have circulated to the Ministers for Mines the outline of the advisory body that it is proposed to constitute in the terms of the Coal Utilization Research Committee’s report. In the outline, I have given details of how the matter is to be approached and what arrangements are contemplated. That draft, which has been sent to the Ministers for Mines, follows extensive discussions between the secretary of my department and officers of the State departments.
It is not an easy mater to finalize. I have made it clear in the covering letter that these are Commonwealth proposals, and proposals only, and that we are prepared to sit around a table to discuss and to hammer out between us the best set of arrangements. I am hoping that we will go a long way towards reaching finality at next Friday’s conference.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. By way of preface, I point out that it has been reported in the South Australian press that plans are being discussed at State Government level in South Australia for improved facilities for handling passengers by sea from overseas. Has the Minister anything to report to the Senate as to whether facilities for the Department of Customs and Excise at Outer Harbour will be improved thereby?
– I have not yet obtained a report as to what has taken place at Outer Harbour. The honorable senator will recall that with him I visited the area and had a look at the facilities. In view of the fact that the then Minister for Immigration, Mr. Downer, had at that time applied for more ships to come to South Australia from overseas, it appeared that added facilities would be necessary 1 do not know how far the department has gone at present in the matter. I have not had a report recently, but I will get the department to advise me of the position, and I will advise the honorable senator in due course.
– I direct my question to the Minister for National Development. I ask him whether the arrangements made for the retailing of Moonie oil through the pumps of the Shell Company of Australia Limited will mean that Australian oil will lose its separate identity? Could the Minister arrange with the Shell company to sell Moonie oil from separate and well-marked bowsers, in the interests of the Australian industry?
– I remind Senator Ormonde that the Shell company is not the only purchaser. All of the refining companies are purchasing a proportion of Moonie oil related to their share of the market, so that it is going, not to one purchaser only, but to four or five purchasers. In total, Moonie oil will represent about 2 per cent, only of the refinery output. I should think there might well be a disposition on the part of the marketing companies to run the branch separately in order to get the benefit of the publicity about it being Australian crude oil, but I doubt the practicability of that, it being such a relatively small proportion spread over so many purchasers.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy a question without notice. Is the delay in obtaining a reply to my question No. 67 placed on the notice-paper on 18th March, seeking assurances of elementary safety precautions on naval vessels, due to the Minister finding some difficulty in assuring the public that such elementary safety precautions cannot be assured?
– I should not think that the Minister for the Navy would have the slightest difficulty in answering the question, but I do not know the reason for the delay. I do not know whether the matter is sub judice because of the inquiry that is at present being conducted, but I shall ask the Minister for the Navy to give me a reply.
-Is the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that dissatisfaction has been expressed in Western Australia by people who desire to travel interstate by the Commonwealth Railways? Is he aware that antiquated and inadequate rolling-stock is being called into service and that the demand for travel is such that very often persons who wish to book a return passage to the eastern States cannot be assured of accommodation until shortly before their date of return? Is this state of affairs the fault of the Commonwealth Railways because of the provision of insufficient accommodation arising from a breakdown in the delivery of new rollingstock which was ordered some time ago and which should have been in commission prior to last Christmas? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether this state of affairs can be overcome and better travel facilities provided?
-It has not been brought to my notice that intending passengers on the trans-continental railway are suffering any inconvenience. I am interested to learn that such is the case. I shall certainly take advantage of the first opportunity to bring the matter to the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport, who is always interested in the provision of adequate transport facilities, particularly for Western Australia.
I wish to make another comment by way of an interim reply. Senator Cooke has said that the rolling-stock is antiquated. I point out to him that much of the rollingstock on the trans-continental line is very modern indeed and that it constantly draws praise from passengers.
(Question No. 35.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answers: -
Of these States, the following 37 have ratified the treaty at the present time: - Afghanistan, Australia, Bulgaria, Burma, Canada, Ceylon, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, Gabon, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia,
Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Rumania, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanganyika, Thailand, Turkey, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Arab Republic, United Kingdom, United States of America, Yugoslavia.
South Africa acceded to the treaty after its entry into force.
(Question No. 44.)
Senator WRIGHT (through Senator
What benefits accrue to (a) the parent or (b) the child by reason of Commonwealth legislation in respect of a child between the ages of 16 and 21 years with reference to (i) child endowment, (ii) Commonwealth scholarships, (iii) repatriation, (iv) widows’ pensions, (v) hospital and medical benefits, (vi) income tax, or any other subject?
What are the terms and conditions of entitlement in each case?
As the result of recent amending legislation, endowment is now payable at the rate of15s. a week in respect of children between the ages of 16 and 21 years who are receiving full-time education at a school, college or university and who are not in employment or engaged in work on their own account.
The payment of endowment in these circumstances is made to the person, usually the mother, who has the custody, care and control of the student child. In the case of student children who are inmates of institutions approved for endowment purposes, . payment is made to the authorities controlling the institution.
Students awarded Commonwealth scholarships are entitled without any means test to all compulsory fees at the institution attended. They also receive certain travelling allowances at the beginning and end of a course and for travel home during the long vacation where the fare exceeds a specified amount.
Students undertaking full-time courses may also apply for a living allowance which is paid subject to a means test applied to their parents’ income. The maximum allowances are £247 per annum, in the case of a scholar living with his parents, and £383 10s. in the case of a scholar living away from his parents. The means test is applied to students up to the age of 25 years, but a special means test is applied in the case of married scholars, other independent scholars and scholars over the age of 25 years.
Benefits accruing to parent -
War widow’s domestic allowance. - This allowance - £3 10s. per week - is payable, in addition to war widow’s pension, to a widow whose husband’s death has been accepted as due to war service, and who has a child sixteen years of age or older who is undergoing a course of education or training approved for the purpose by the commission and is not in receipt of or entitled to be paid a wage that in the opinion of the commission is an adequate living wage.
Service pension. - Where the ex-serviceman’s pension is payable because of permanent unemployability, there is an addition of 15s. per week to the ex-serviceman’s own pension in relation to each child under 16 years other than the first. For this purpose a child is deemed to be under the age of sixteen years if he -
has attained the age of sixteen years but is under the age of eighteen years;
is receiving full-time education at a school, college or university,
is wholly or substantially dependent on the claimant or pensioner; and
is not in receipt of an invalid pension.
For the above purpose a person who attains the age of eighteen years on a day other than the thirtyfirst of December is deemed to be under that age until the expiration of the thirty-first of December next following the day on which he attains that age. An ex-serviceman may not receive at the one time service pension on grounds of permanent unemployability or age and at the same time receive a social service pension.
Benefits accruing to child -
War pension. - The war pension payable to the child of an incapacitated or deceased exserviceman normally ceases when the child reaches sixteen years of age. However, the pension may be regranted if the Repatriation Commission is satisfied that the child was, at the time at which the pension terminated, unable to earn a livelihood and has continued from that time to be unable to earn a livelihood. The rate of pension is as assessed by the Repatriation Commission having regard to the means of the pensioner but may not exceed the rate specified in Column 2 of the scale in the First Schedule to the Repatriation Act.
Medical benefits. - Medical benefits are available at the expense of the Repatriation Department to the eligible child of a deceased ex-serviceman as described in (a) above.
Education Allowance. - Those eligible are children of an ex-serviceman -
whose deathhas been accepted as due to war service;
who died from causes not due to war service but was receiving at the date of death, a war pension -
ata special rate for blindness, total and permanent incapacity or for pulmonary tuberculosis, or
for amputation of two or more limbs; or
who, as the result of war service, is blinded, is totally and permanently incapacitated, or is receiving the special rate pension for pulmonary tuberculosis and is likely to receive such pension for a period of three years.
Benefits, which vary according to the stage of education or training reached, are as follows for those sixteen years and over: -
For a child sixteen-eighteen years living at home, an allowance of £3 3s. 3d. per week is payable; and
for a child sixteen-eighteen years who is required to live away from home solely for the purpose of obtaining appropriate education, the allowance in an approved case is £4 17s. 9d. per week.
Career Education or Training.
On completion of general education, further assistance may be given if a child wishes to continue with a course of specialized education or training to fit him for a career. Benefits may be provided for professional courses, or for cadet, industrial or agricultural training. If a child shows the aptitude and ability to undertake a specialized course and is considered to be a suitable candidate, the following benefits may be provided for the course undertaken: -
an education allowance at the appropriate rate as follows: -
For this purpose the meaning of child in relation to a member of the forces includes a son, daughter, step-son, step-daughter or adopted child of the member who -
Under the Social Services Act, a child’s allowance of15s. a week is payable to a widow pensioner who has the custody, care and control of one or more children under sixteen years. In addition, the rate of her pension is increased by 15s. a week for each child after the first. The act provides for these payments, child’s allowance and additional pension, to be continued up to the end of the year in which the child reaches the age of eighteen years where the child is wholly or substantially dependent on the widow, is receiving full-time education at a school, college or university and is not in receipt of an invalid pension.
This latter provision also enables the continuation of widow’s pension at the Class A rate, that is, the rate applicable to a widow with one or more children, beyond the date on which it would otherwise cease to be payable and gives the widow the benefit of the more generous means test which applies to that pension.
In addition, provision has been made for the payment of child’s allowance and additional pension in respect of children to invalid and permanently incapacitated age pensioners with one or more children. As in the case of widows’ pensions, these payments are continued up to the end of the year in which a child attains eighteen years where the child is wholly or substantally dependent on the pensioner, is receiving full-time education at a school, college or university and is not in receipt of an invalid pension.
Hospital benefits. - If a child receives treatment in a public or private hospital approved under the National Health Act, the following benefits are payable: -
In most States, organizations regard children under seventeen years of age as “ dependants “; in other cases the age limit is sixteen. Full-time student children arc usually accepted as dependants up to 24 years of age.
If a child is not a contributor or a dependant of such a contributor, a Commonwealth benefit of 8s. per day is payable. This benefit is paid by the Commonwealth direct to the approved hospital on condition that the patient’s hospital account is reduced by a corresponding amount.
For income tax purposes a “ student child “ means a child between the ages of sixteen and 21 years who is receiving full-time education at a school, college or university. The income tax law provides for a deduction from income of £91 in respect of each such child wholly maintained by a taxpayer. This deduction is reduced by the amount, if any, by which the child’s separate net income for a year of income exceeds £65. Child endowment is not treated as separate net income and cannot affect the deduction available. Income by way of a scholarship, bursary, exhibition or prize is also excluded from separate net income except to the extent that it consists of an amount provided by the Commonwealth or a State for maintenance or accommodation of a child in connexion with the child’s education.
Other income tax deductions are available for expenses paid by a taxpayer in respect of his children or dependants including children in the 16-21 years age group. These are -
No special income tax provisions apply exclusively to taxpayers between the ages of sixteen and 21 years. However, income derived by way of a scholarship, bursary or other educational allowance by a student receiving full-time education at a school, college or university is exempt from income tax unless the income is received on condition that the student render services to the person or authority who provides it. Moreover, child endowment received in respect of any child is exempt from income tax.
(Question No. 55.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Has Malaysia, the United States of America or Australia made any move to ensure that the United Nations takes cognizance of the rather grave situation that seems to be developing as between Indonesia and Malaysia?
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply: -
Neither Malaysia, the United States nor Australia has asked any organ of the United Nations to take action in respect of the presently adverse state ofMalaysian-Indonesian relations. As I said in reply to a question without notice on 17th March, it is for Malaysia rather than for its friends to judge whether any form of intervention by the United Nations is called for. It is, however, perfectly proper for other countries to express their concern in the United Nations as in other circles and Australia, like Malaysia, has not been inactive. As recently as 17th March, the Australian ambassador to the United Nations personally called on the Secretary-General to bring to his attention the statement of Australian policy which I made in Parliament on 11th March and to express to him the profound disquiet which Australia feels at the course of events in Borneo. The Malaysian Government has been informing the Secretary-General of Indonesian breaches of the cease-fire and I understand that the question of a possible reference to the Security Council is being kept under constant review.
(Question No. 56.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
During 1961 or 1962, did Commonwealth security officers on several occasions, as reported in the “ Adelaide Advertiser “ of 14th March, 1964, interview Mr. Ivan Michailov, a migrant who returned to Russia with complaints about Australian conditions? If so, could the Senate be informed of the purpose of the interviews, and would the Attorney-General make a statement on this case?
– I have been advised by my colleague, the Attorney-General, that the article referred to by the honorable senator was based upon a rather amateur attempt at anti-Australian propaganda which appeared in the Soviet newspaper “ Komsomolskaya Pravda “. It is full of mis-statements. The allegation that Michailov was interviewed by officers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization on many occasions is untrue.
(Question No. 69.)
Senator WRIGHT (through Senator Dame
Annabelle Rankin) asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the amount of statutory reserve deposits from trading banks required by the Reserve Bank as at 30th June, 1963?
What is the present amount?
In what accounts or investments are the deposits held? What interest do they earn and what interest is paid to the trading banks?
– The Treasurer has furnished the following information: -
(Question No. 81.)
Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 and 2. The problems associated with mentally retarded children, whether they be of an educational or health nature, are the responsibility of the respective State governments. Accordingly, no action will be taken by the Commonwealth to establish a federal committee of inquiry into all problems of mentally retarded children. All States have departments charged with the responsibility to deal with the various problems of the mentally retarded, and the Commonwealth should not attempt to direct, dictate or interfere with any State administration.
– On 4th March, Senator Wright asked in a question without notice for information relating to the operation of the statutory reserve deposit system. The Treasurer has now furnished the following reply: -
The statutory reserve deposit system is one of the instruments of the monetary and banking policy administered by the Reserve Bank, designed to contribute to stability of the currency, to the maintenance of full employment and to the economic, prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia. By varying the statutory reserve deposit ratio, the Reserve Bank is able to alter the liquidity of the trading banks and so influence their ability and willingness to expand credit.
The situation this year is that payments into Australia have been exceeding outward payments, so that Australia’s holdings of gold and foreign exchange have been increasing. Most of these funds are held by the Reserve Bank. The increase in Reserve Bank assets overseas is accompanied at the same time by corresponding increases in the deposits of the public with the trading banks and in the liquid assets of the trading banks.
When the Reserve Bank requires the trading banks to transfer funds to their statutory reserve deposit Accounts, what it is doing is to segregate in these accounts, and so neutralise, some of the increase in the banks’ liquid assets in Australia on which they could otherwise base an increase in assets such as advances or Government securities. In short, the purpose of the transfers is to put the funds on one side, as it were, so that they will not be available to support additional lending or spending. In particular, the amounts in the accounts are not available for use by the Government.
The transfers to statutory reserve deposit accounts havenot left the trading banks short of funds. Between June, 1963, and February, 1964, the latest month for which published figures are available, trading bank holdings of liquid assets and’ Government securities increased by £208,100,000, from £459,000,000 to £667,100,000. Deposits with them increased over this same period by £261,100,000, from £1,923,400,000 to £2,184,500,000. The commonly accepted measure of bank liquidity, the ratio of holdings of liquid assets plus Government securities to total deposits (l.G.S. ratio), rose from 23.9 per cent. in June to 30.5 per cent. in February.
Following the transfer to statutory reserve deposit accounts required on 4th March, the trading banks’ l.G.S. ratio exceeded 28 per cent., which gave them a 10 per cent. margin of “free” liquidity above the conventional minimum ratio of 18 per cent.
Between June, 1963 and February, 1964, the total assets in Australia of the trading banks apart from their statutory reserve deposits increased by £183,400,000 to £1,943,900,000. The bulk of this increase would be in the form of income-earning assets.
– by leave - I wish to make a statement regarding an incident involving an aircraft in Melbourne this afternoon. An Ansett-A.N.A. DC-6B aircraft took off at 1.23 p.m. to-day on a regular flight from Melbourne to Adelaide and Perth with 65 persons on board. It departed on the north-south runway in a southerly direction. At a point about 500 yards beyond the end of the runway, the propeller of the starboard inner engine became separated from the engine. The engine dropped in its mountings so the pilot circled south of the airfield and dumped all but 50 minutes of the fuel in the aircraft. The propeller fell on to Keilor-road, Essendon, without causing damage.
The engine finally fell from its mounts when the aircraft was circling and it fell safely into the sea. While the aircraft was circling, it was escorted by a Canberra bomber of the Royal Australian Air Force and an Ansett-A.N.A. DC-3. All emergency and medical services were alerted. After the engine fell off, the aircraft returned to Essendon airfield and landed safely at 2.55 p.m. The pilot of the aircraft was Captain Hants who undoubtedly performed superbly in a difficult situation.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National
Development). - by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) departed for overseas on 12th April on Government business. He will be absent until 17th April when he will return briefly and will then be away until early June. During his absence, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) will act as Minister for External Affairs.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to industry proposals for a plan of meat market development and diversification and to reconstitute the membership of the Australian Meat Board. The classes of meat covered by the legislation are beef and veal, and mutton and lamb. Pigmeats have not been included as the main pig producer organizations have advised that they do not wish to be included in an integrated meat scheme and they are now currently considering a separate plan for pig research.
The increasing importance of the meat industry in our economy is well known. Sheep and cattle numbers have been increasing and rising private investment in the industry coupled with Government development projects now being undertaken all point to a continuation of the rapid development which has been achieved in the post-war period in this industry. Australian beef and mutton exports have risen considerably in recent years. In 1957-58 exports of these classes of meat totalled 144,800 tons shipped weight compared with 321,800 tons in 1962-63.” However, a true appreciation of the position requires a comparison of the figures on the basis of the bone-in-weight equivalent as Australian beef and mutton exports are now shipped mainly in the boneless form, whereas in 1957-58 they were shipped mainly in the bone-in form. The bone-in-weight equivalent of our beef and mutton exports in 1962-63 totalled 498,000 tons compared with 164,000 tons in 1957-58. This is truly a remarkable increase. In 1962-63 beef exports represented 44 per cent, of total beef production and mutton exports 31 per cent, of mutton production. While lamb production has increased from 152,000 tons in 1957-58 to 228,000 tons in 1962-63 it has declined in importance as an export item as the per capita consumption of lamb in Australia has shown a substantial increase.
Coupled with the substantial increase in exports that has occurred in recent years there has also been a marked change in the pattern of our trade. Whereas previously the United Kingdom was traditionally our major market for beef, mutton and Iamb, the bulk of our beef and mutton exports have recently been concentrated on the American market. In 1962-63 81 per cent, of our beef exports and over 50 per cent, of our mutton exports were shipped to the American market. The high level of our exports, the rapidity of their increase and the fear of Australia’s future export potential has been a matter for considerable apprehension amongst United States producers. This apprehension has led to the meat agreement recently concluded between Australia and the United States. While this agreement now assures us of stable market opportunities for an important proportion of our meat export surplus, there are factors associated with the world meat market situation which, coupled with our rising meat production potential, point to the need for the introduction of a market development scheme on the lines proposed in order to safeguard and advance the welfare of the Australian meat industry.
Most of the world trade in meat consists of supply by surplus countries in the southern hemisphere - Australia, Argentina and New Zealand - to the established deficit areas of the northern hemisphere - the United States of America, Europe and the United Kingdom. In Europe the policies being followed by most countries extend encouragement to expanded domestic meat production. Whilst some policies are frankly protectionist there is a strong body of opinion that production will not meet future demand due to an improvement in European living standards.
In the United Kingdom there are problems which have been created for overseas suppliers by the operation of the price support arrangements for domestic producers in that country. These arrangements have increasingly restricted the size of the market for overseas suppliers. Under present trading conditions the scope for expanding our meat trade with other countries is limited by factors such as exchange restrictions, quantitative restrictions for protective reasons, or by the low purchasing power of the less-developed countries. Nevertheless there are some markets, particularly the Japanese market, which appear to have considerable potential if developed on the right lines. In this situation, close and urgent attention to ways and means of preserving existing markets and developing new markets is clearly called for to enable a continued expansion of the Australian meat export trade. The scheme will ensure a balanced approach to the whole meat marketing position as it also includes provision for the preservation and expansion of the domestic meat market which, as is well known, is the sheet anchor of the Australian meat industry.
The meat market development provisions of this bill are based on joint proposals which were submitted by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. The general principles of the plan have also been approved by the Australian Agricultural Council and the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. The basic element of the industry proposals is the establishment of a fund by way of a levy on cattle, sheep and lamb slaughterings to provide the necessary finance to undertake additional measures to develop new markets. Provision has therefore been made in the accompanying legislation for the finance to be collected by way of a statutory levy which will be imposed on all cattle over 200 lb. dressed weight, sheep and Iambs slaughtered within Australia for human consumption. The current charge which is imposed on meat exports will be repealed and the new slaughter levy will subsume the existing beef research levy. As with the beef research levy the incidence of the levy will be borne by the producer and provision has been made in the legislation for meat operators and selling agents to have the legal right to pass back the incidence of the levy at the time the stock are purchased for slaughter. The levy will apply from a date to be proclaimed and the operative rate will be prescribed on the recommendation of the Australian Meat Board after consultation with the main industry organizations concerned and the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee.
The funds which are collected for purposes other than beef research will be administered by the Australian Meat Board. In a normal year a levy of Ss. per head on cattle and 6d. per head on sheep and lambs would provide an industry contribution of about £1,700,000. For the purposes of comparison, it is mentioned that in 1962-63 the amounts collected from the meat export charge and the beef research levy were £219,000 and £406,000 respectively.
The board will be permitted to use the funds collected for purposes other then research to undertake additional measures to develop overseas markets for Australian meat. In addition the funds shall be used by the board in accordance wilh its present powers to undertake additional meat promotion in Australia and overseas. There is also power for the board to purchase and sell meat in its own right after consultation with the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. The intention is that this power should be exercised only where there are special marketing problems or market circumstances which preclude the effective participation of private traders. To provide a forum for consultation on this matter provision has been made at the expressed wish of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council, for a consultative committee comprising four members from each of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council and the Australian Meat Board plus the chairman of the Australian Meat Board. The Meat Board. however, shall on receipt of the report of the consultative committee, have the final decision in determining whether it shall exercise its trading powers for the purpose of market development in the circumstances referred to above.
The Government has decided to extend the industry proposals which were limited to the provision of trading powers for meat market development by also providing for the Australian Meat Board to purchase and sell meat with the approval of the Minister for the purpose of administering any international undertakings to which Australia may be a party. This will ensure that the Commonwealth will be in a position to undertake certain commitments on meat, for example, the observance of minimum import prices, if a commodity arrangement for meat is formulated out of the current Kennedy round or other international negotiations. At present the Australian Meat Board has power, subject to the direction of the Minister, to purchase and sell meat on behalf of the Commonwealth. The new provisions for board trading powers will, of course, replace this particular section of the existing legislation. To enable the Australian Meat Board to obtain working funds for the exercise of its powers the board will be empowered to obtain advances from the Reserve Bank under guarantee from the Government.
One element of the joint industry prosals contained provision for a research scheme for beef, mutton and lamb under the administration of the Australian Meat Board. However, the Australian Agricultural Council has expressed certain reservations on the matter and the Government has decided in the circumstances to defer this aspect of the proposals. The current arrangements for beef research will be continued. However, it is the intention of the Government eventually to introduce a research scheme for mutton and lamb along with the current beef research scheme and, whilst the question of its direction and administration will be pursued further with all interested bodies, it is the Government’s policy that marketing, promotion and research will be all brought under the administration of the reconstituted meat board.
It is also proposed to reconstitute the membership of the Australian Meat Board to provide for a more compact and workable board, as the present board is considered to be too large and diverse in its representation for efficient operation and as a result has had to resort to a committee system to process its major issues. The existing legislation provides for a board of 12 members comprising a chairman and Government representative, 2 beef producer representatives, 3 lamb producer representatives, 1 mutton producer representative, 1 pig producer representative, 2 meat exporter representatives, 1 public utilities representative and 1 meat industry employees representative. The Australian Meat Board, which will be established under this bill will consist of 9 members, comprising a chairman, 5 meat producer representatives, 2 meat exporter representatives and a representative of the Commonwealth.
A new feature of the proposed legislation provides for the chairman of the Board to be appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee and for the five meat producer representatives to be appointed by the Minister from a panel of names submitted by the selection committee. The two meat exporter representatives will be appointed by the Minister from a panel of names submitted by the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council.
The Australian Meat Board Selection Committee referred to above is not a statutory authority and was constituted jointly by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation on the 27th February, 1964, for the purpose of this legislation. The main function of the selection committee will be the nomination of the meat producer representatives for appointment to the Australian Meat Board. It consists at present of 9 members comprising 4 each from the council and the federation and an independent chairman. Provision has been made, however, in the constitution of the selection committee for the admission of new member organizations. Members of the board will be appointed for a period of three years. However, the initial appointments of the five meat producer representatives and the two meat exporter representatives will be made for varying periods - one, two and three years - which will enable members to retire in rotation.
The membership proposals will mean a reduction in the producer representation from 7 to 5 members and the existing specific representation for beef, mutton, lamb and pigs will be replaced by “ meat “ producer representation. It will also exclude the representation from public utilities and the meat employees union.
On the question of exporter representation proposals were received from the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council for a reconstituted board of nine members comprising a chairman, four producer representatives and four exporter representatives. The importance of having commercial representation has been recognized in the proposed legislation but it was considered that the federation’s request for equal producer-exporter representation could not be justified in a situation where the costs of the board’s operations will be met entirely from funds provided by producers.
The Government has also received representations for membership of the board for representatives of public utilities and of producer organizations such as the Australian Primary Producers Union and the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation. In the case of public utilities, while recognizing the importance of works such as Cannon Hill, Homebush, Flemington, Victoria, and Gepps Cross as killing centres, the Government has felt that the essential point is that these works are not associated with the actual marketing of meat and has decided not to provide for their representation on the board.
The requests for membership on the Board by the A.P.P.U. and the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation have received full consideration by the Government but it is the Government’s policy that the meat board should not be an organizational board. It is therefore not prepared to agree to direct representation for the A.P.P.U. or any other organization on the board. This would be contrary to the principle that it has induced the two main producer organizations to adopt, namely that the producer representation should be selected on the basis of the best men available. The main qualification for the selection of members is that they should be nominated for their ability and experience rather than their organizational affiliation.
Insofar as the selection committee is concerned, the Government accepts the approach whereby the producer organizations decide the composition of their selection body. However, it considered that it would be appropriate - and indeed urges - that other representative organizations should also be included in the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee. A similar procedure to this was followed in the case of the Wool Industry Conference and I confidently expect that shortly the A.P.P.U. will receive membership of that industry body. Similarly in the case of the Meat Board Selection Committee, the Government feels that the matter should be resolved by negotiation between the A.P.P.U. and the other two organizations.
Without doubt, the continued prosperity of the Australian meat industry is bound up with the necessity of ensuring that satisfactory arrangements are made for the development and diversification of Australia’s meat export markets. This is related particularly to the current strong pressures which are being exerted on the United States Government to introduce legislation to restrict United States meat imports to the average of imports over the last five years.
At present there are developments in the overseas meat market situation which will result, at least in the short term, in a considerable alteration in the Australian meat export pattern and involve a considerable reduction in beef and mutton shipments to the American market. The factor which has caused this is a strengthening in demand from the United Kingdom, especially for quality meat, and from some European markets, in particular Greece and Italy. The situation reflects to a large extent the shortage of Argentine marketings.
On the basis of estimates which have been supplied by representatives of meat exporters and shipowners, it is expected that meat shipments to the United Kingdom and European destinations for the period January to June, 1964, will be in the vicinity of 59,000 tons, compared with 18,600 tons for the same period last year. Shipments to North America for the first six months of 1964 have been estimated at 70,400 tons, compared with 126,500 tons last year. This is a very considerable reduction and should be recognized as such by American producers.
On the basis of these estimates arrangements have now been made by shipowners to divert five vessels from the American run and elsewhere to handle the added tonnages for the United Kingdom and European destinations concerned. The reduced supplies from Australia is also having a considerable effect on United States prices for Australian boneless manufacturing meat. Prices have risen considerably over the last fourteen weeks and are now at their highest level since May, 1961. This movement of prices which is contrary to the movement in prices for domestic fed cattle clearly illustrates that there is a separate and unfilled market in the United States for the boneless, lean frozen meat which is imported from Australia. The major part of these imports do not compete directly with United States domestic fed beef, the over production of which has been recognized by official sources as being mainly responsible for the current market situation in the United States.
Finally, I should mention that while one of the basic objectives of the industry proposals is to avoid wherever possible the use of export quotas, it is pointed out that if such measures were required a number of meatworks in the northern areas heavily dependent on exports could be seriously affected should quotas be applied on a percentage basis over a base period. It is the policy of the Government that if quantitative restrictions should be required on Australian meat exports the basis for fixing the quotas should be subject to the approval of the Minister in consultation with the Australian Meat Board. An appropriate provision has been made in the legislation to provide for this.
The present act has been in force since 1935 and has been amended from time to time. In view of the extensive amendments necessary to the existing legislation, it has been decided to repeal the act in its entirety and to introduce new legislation.
The Government believes that this bill will provide the Australian meat industry with the most effective means of furthering its interests in the long term.
I commend the bill to honorable senators. Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended. Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to impose a levy upon the slaughter of certain live-stock for human consumption. The money so collected will be used to finance the meat market development plan which I have outlined in my second-reading speech on the Meat Industry Bill 1964 and also the existing cattle and beef research scheme. The levy will replace the current charge imposed on meat exports from the Commonwealth and it will subsume the existing cattle and beef research levy.
The rate of levy to be imposed will be prescribed by regulation on the recommendation of the Australian Meat Board after consultation with the main industry organizations concerned, and the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee. It will be payable on all cattle, over 200 lb. dressed weight and on sheep and lambs slaughtered within Australia for human consumption.
The levy will be payable by the person who owns the live-stock at the time when the slaughter takes place. As with the beef research levy, provision has been made in the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Collection Bill for meat operators and selling agents to have the legal right to pass back the incidence of the levy at the time the stock are purchased. I commend the bill to honorable senators as a necessary complement to the Meat Industry Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) 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 [4.25].- I moveThat the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide the machinery necessary for the collection of the levy imposed by the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill 1 964. It extends the present provisions for the collection of the slaughter levy on cattle for the purposes of beef research to include sheep and lambs.
Both this bill and the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill need to be read in conjuction with the Meat Industry Bill 1964. I have already referred in more detail to the meat market development proposals with which they are concerned in my second-reading speech on the Meat Industry Bill. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) 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) [4.26].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to repeal the Meat Export Charge Act 1935-1954 which is the act that provides for the imposition of the existing charges on meat exports from the Commonwealth. The money so collected has been used to finance the operations of the existing Australian Meat Board.
As mentioned in my second-reading speech on the Meat Industry Bill it is now proposed that the reconstituted Meat Board shall derive its revenue from the live-stock slaughter levy proposed in the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill 1964. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
4.28.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to repeal the Cattle Slaughter Levy Act 1960 which is the act that provides for the existing cattle slaughter levy used to finance the cattle and beef research scheme.
As mentioned in my second-reading speech on the Meat Industry Bill, the present cattle slaughter levy will be subsumed by the live-stock slaughter levy proposed in the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill 1964 and the money so collected will be used to finance the meat market development plan and the existing cattle and beef research scheme. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make two amendments to the Cattle and Beef Research Act 1960-1961, which is the act that establishes the Cattle and Beef Research Trust Account. The first of the proposed amendments provides that the portion of the amounts received under the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Collection Bill to be paid into the trust account is to be prescribed. This is a machinery amendment as the proposed levy under the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill 1964 will also be used for purposes other than cattle and beef research.
The second of the proposed amendments provides that the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee will make recommendations to the Australian Meat Board, instead of to the Minister as at present, on the rate of the levy to be prescribed from time to time on cattle under the Live-stock Levy Bill 1964. This is a consequential amendment to the provisions contained in the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill for the method of prescribing the rate of the levy proposed under that bill. I have already referred to these provisions in my second-reading speech on that bill.
I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make minor amendments to the provisions of the Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Act 1955- 1956, which is the act relating to the distribution of deficiency payments received under the 15 Years’ Meat Agreement.
The amendments include appropriate references to the relevant provisions in the Meat Industry Bill 1964. The opportunity has also been taken to repeal a section of the Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Act which is no longer necessary by reason of the passage of time. The bill also provides for the substitution of the name of the Reserve Bank of Australia for the Commonwealth Bank.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for the repeal of two sections of the Meat Export (Additional Charge) Act as the operation of these sections has ceased by the passage of time. The opportunity has been taken to make these amendments and the bill has no policy significance.
Debate (on motion by Senator Willesee) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 7th April (vide page 475), 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 -
At end of motion add the following words - “ and the Senate requests that the Government implement the recommendations of the Select Committee as soon as possible “.
– When this debate was adjourned I had made a protest against the failure of the Australian press to give the Australian public reasonable coverage of the matters being discussed by the Senate. Since then I have seen no reason to mitigate in any way the protest that I expressed on that occasion.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with what is said in the report of the Senate select committee, whether or not one approves of the recommendations of the committee, one must pay tribute to the sincerity of its approach to the problems covered and to the vast amount of painstaking work that it did in hearing evidence and in presenting the report which we are now discussing. I feel sure that the excellence of the report is due largely to the enthusiastic energy of the chairman of the committee. I think this inquiry was a valuable - one could almost say historic - investigation of television and its impact upon the Australian public. It is very regrettable that the chairman of the select committee, owing to ill health, is unable to participate in this discussion. I am sure that, had he been here, he would have added much to the debate from his profound knowledge of the subject.
Whatever the outcome as far as implementation of the recommendations is concerned, I feel that this inquiry has been well worth while. The Senate has been presented with the results of the committee’s examination of the matters which it considered and the Australian public have been given an opportunity to express their opinion of television as seen by them. I feel sure that one of the very valuable features of the committee’s work is that the Australian public have been given an opportunity to express their opinion on this very important subject. It may be that the committee’s report has already had some impact upon the television industry. So far as the presentation of programmes to conform with the standards determined by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is concerned, I think the report has already had some effect.
I noted with satisfaction that in Western Australia there is some interesting work afoot to improve the educational value of television. Considerable work is in progress in this regard. I feel that, in some measure, the thinking that has been directed to education through television is bearing fruit.
– Is that development taking place on the national stations?
– Yes, on the national stations. It may be too early yet to evaluate fully the importance of television as a modern medium of communication. There were some who feared the advent of television. I still remember a speech by a former senator from Western Australia, the late Harrie Seward. He was completely opposed to the introduction of television into Australia. Some, at least, of his fears were well-founded, and the report we are discussing points to some of the undesirable aspects of television, notably the failure to fulfil the recommendation of the royal commission into the introduction of television in 1953, which stated -
The objective of all stations must bc from the outset to provide programmes which will have the effect of raising the standards of public taste.
After hearing evidence the committee stated that too many programmes were having the reverse effect. That is, in general terms, the basis, or the summary, of much of the criticism presented in the report. We have a responsibility to examine the impact of this new media of communication upon the people - an impact that has not yet been fully determined. The report submits a strong case for combined and expansive research into these matters, and I hope sincerely that we will see something more done.
It is important to know what effect television is having upon the social habits of people and the social structure of our society, and it is equally important to know what effect it is having upon the individual lives of members of our society. Most of us here to-day were as mature as we will be when we were first subjected to the effects of television on our way of life and upon our thinking. But we should realize that the great majority of young people have been subjected from their very earliest days to what appears on television screens. Many members of the Senate may have heard of the three-year old who, when informed of his grandmother’s death, exclaimed: “ Who shot her?” This is no joke, for any one watching what is commonly dished up by many commercial stations would be justified in concluding that to be shot was the normal end of most people these days.
When one views the unending succession of American pictures on television the theme of which is crime and murder one may be led to wonder whether there is not some connexion between this panorama of horror and the words of the Chief Justice of the United States of America, Earl Warren, in a speech delivered at the rotunda of the Capitol where President Kennedy’s body lay in state. He said -
What moved some misguided wretch to do this horrible deed may never be known to us, but wc do know that such acts are commonly stimulated by forces of hatred and malevolence, such as to-day are eating their way into the blood-stream of American life. 1 do hot know whether that statement has any implication for, or application to, the type and quality of pictures available to the American public, but I would not be surprised that these pictures have an influence tending in this direction. To-day, in so many ways - and especially on television - the sensational, the abnormal and the decadent is being displayed as the normal way of life, and I am sure that the great weight of evidence given before this committee shows that the Australian public is not happy about it. 1 understand that 152 witnesses gave evidence before the committee. The significance is not in the number of people who gave evidence but in the quality of the evidence given and the many sections of people represented. Most of the people who gave evidence spoke for organizations rather than as individuals. The evidence came from the thoughtful people and the responsible people in the community. I am sure that wc cannot disregard the thinking that was expressed by them. The report studies in commendable thoroughness most aspects of the primary purpose of the committee, namely that of determining ways to assist the television industry to increase and improve the local content of Australian dramatic material. To my mind it presents a convincing case for assistance in meeting competition from what are virtually surplus American productions that have already made a profit in their country of origin. The report presented a case that showed the very great problems involved in overcoming the economic effect of this competition.
It pointed out, also, the very large amount of money that the television industry provides, not only to companies engaged in the television industry, but also as a source of revenue to the Government. About £8,000,000 a year, or £54,000,000 altogether during the period under review has been collected in customs and excise. I feel sure that this large amount of money does, in fact, constitute a fund from which some source of assistance to the Australian industry can be given. To many of us, the economic arguments are most convincing, and the recommendation made for the establishment of a soundly-based television and film industry, stemming from the foundation of a healthy Australian theatre, are worthy of most careful consideration by the Government. The report did bring out in very clear terms the importance of the Australian theatre as the nursery from which television talent has to be drawn. Although the economic considerations are of very great importance, I am convinced that the real importance of the case for an Australian theatre, that can be used as the training ground and the inspiration for Australian drama, centres upon the need for developing a distinctive Australian quality in our cultural life. This point was well brought out - the need to have something that we can identify as really Australian which will make some Australian contribution to this new media. That, I think, was one of the strong points of the committee’s report. Surely we should not be content to live upon the cast-offs of another country? If we had some reasonable balance between the productions of many countries it would not be so bad, but we seldom see good British or European productions. Why must we become Americanized? We must, of course, learn from other people, but surely we have something of our own to contribute.
Reference has been made already to that portion of the evidence that was given to the committee in the form of a separate publication from the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations. It contained some figures which showed that 25 per cent, of Australians watched national programmes and some 75 per cent, watch commercial programmes. I personally cannot understand why that proportion of Australians prefers to watch the programmes of the commercial stations. When they appear on the screen I generally turn them off; but everybody to his or her taste. In my opinion something was lacking on this point in the evidence, and in some searchings that I made on my own account to try to find the reason for the great proportion of Australians watching commercial stations I found that the technical quality of the picture shown on the screens had considerable influence. I believe that the national stations have not as good a wave length as the commercial stations, particularly when meteorological conditions are not satisfactory for television reception. At such times the national stations seem to suffer worse than the commercial stations with the production of their pictures. This aspect of television needs further investigation.
There is another aspect of the television industry which, so far as I can see is not mentioned in the committee’s report. Why is it that of all the media of entertainment, television alone should seek to pour out changing programmes in an endless stream? In the motion picture industry a film is shown every two hours at a theatre. A person can come and go as he pleases to see that picture which may run for a week or fortnight depending on its popularity. The same situation applies with dramatic productions. A theatre does not attempt to put on a never-ending production. It will run a production for a week or more depending on the size of the city and the audiences that are being attracted.
– “Blue Hills” has been on for seven years.
– Yes, but that is a changing story. The point I am getting at is whether it is possible in Australia, under Australian conditions, for the Australian television industry to be able to pour out from, say, three commercial and one national station in a city, changing programmes in a never-ending stream. I think that if it is achieved, it will be at the expense of the quality of the programmes presented. There is some merit in a suggestion that the programmes from several stations could be repeated in an orderly manner so that a person wanting to see the different programmes originally presented at the same time could do so. It frequently happens that because of the great competition for the peak viewing period, two programmes that a person would like to see are offering on different channels simultaneously. A person cannot see them both because he cannot very well watch two pictures even if he has two television sets. I believe that something could be done about repeating programmes in an orderly manner so that one could have an evening’s entertainment watching high quality productions rather than a succession of programmes of inferior material.
-in-Reply speech, spoke of Australia’s great contribution to the world of painting, music and literature. I thought it was a very timely contribution to the thinking of this Senate on the importance of things that are not entirely material. I appreciated what Senator Kendall had to say, but surely we can contribute something of value in this new medium as we have done in the other fields of art. Australia has not been lacking in its contributions in these other fields, or in the field of science. Its contribution to medicine and to physics has been of great importance and value to the world. I think that we must try to contribute in this new field of endeavour.
Many recommendations are contained in the committee’s report. Some people think there are too many. I hope that much will be done by this Government to achieve the desired objectives, but the recommendation that I think most vitally concerns this Senate is the suggestion for setting up a standing committee of the Senate so that a continuous examination of the industry can be made, and Parliament regularly informed of developments as they arise, to ensure that the standards already adopted are maintained. I believe that in this way the people will have some more direct and satisfactory way of making their wishes known on this most important influence on their lives. I strongly support the recommendations and commend the members of the committee on their work. I trust that the committee’s constructive criticisms will not go unheeded, and that we will see that television is developed on the right lines. - Senator CANT (Western Australia) [4.57]. - Mr. Deputy President, I rise to support the amendment moved by Senator McClelland earlier in this debate. Before commencing to discuss the report of the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television I must express my gratitude to the Senate for the honour it has bestowed upon me in electing me to this committee, and to my party colleagues for allowing my name to be put before the Senate for appointment. I congratulate the chairman of the committee, Senator Vincent, who, unfortunately, is not here. Without his help and hard work, this report could not have been put before this chamber at this time. We all know that when the committee was hearing evidence and formulating its report Senator Vincent was not a well man; nevertheless he worked long hours and, in fact, compiled the report. It was from the cross-arguments in committee that Senator Vincent was able to compromise between the different points of view and to put before us material on which we could argue and come to terms. I must also congratulate my colleagues because whilst on several occasions there were differences of opinion between us, and in the final analysis some differences between Senator Wright and the rest of the committee, harmony always existed within the committee, and each member always made an effort to meet the point of view of other members.
I cannot let the opportunity pass, Mr. Deputy President, without paying my tributes to the staff, all of whom worked well and for long hours, particularly towards the finish when it was found that there would be an early election and that a report had to be presented to the Parliament before it was dissolved.
The committee took evidence from a very wide cross-section of organizations in the community. In the main, the witnesses were not expressing their personal views. Many of them sent questionnaires to mem bers of the groups to which they belonged, seeking the views of those people about Australian television, and the answers formed the basis of the evidence placed before the committee. So, whilst comparatively few people appeared before the committee, the evidence given represented the views of a very wide cross-section of the public. For that reason, the Senate and the Government must pay due regard to the committee’s report.
The committee met in every capital city, and as it travelled throughout Australia it discovered a very disturbing state of affairs. The committee advertised well the fact that it would meet in those cities and people had an opportunity to appear before it. I believe that the amendment moved by Senator McClelland was the more appropriate proposal to put to the Senate. Senator Hannan’s motion merely asked the Senate to take note of the report. When reports are noted they usually finish up in a pigeon hole. But the amendment, if agreed to, would have the effect of asking the Government to implement the committee’s recommendations.
I do not say that the Australian Broadcasting Commission escaped criticism, but the evidence given largely was condemnatory of the commercial television stations. It was stated that too much horror and crime were depicted on the programmes and that there was a constant repetition of those themes. It was said that the material presented was like a boarding house menu - it was the same every day. Witnesses believed that this could have only an adverse effect upon young people in that it would teach them the ways in which crimes were committed. Whilst it is true that in every programme the wrong-doer is eventually caught - an aspect of the film on which the censor would insist - it was stated that detailed features of the crimes commited were placed before young people in their formative years, when they could be persuaded to do things which they might not do in other circumstances. Horror films were very much criticized because of the disturbance they created in the minds of young people and, in many cases in the minds of elderly people and people living alone. The view was expressed that the number of such films should be reduced and that commercial television stations had a greater responsibility than that of constantly showing those films.
A further criticism was offered. It was stated that the people of Australia were being subjected to a constant repetition of films depicting the history of other countries, particularly the United States of America, and even then not a true picture was being given. I do not look at television programmes very often, but if one does so one gains the impression when looking at westerns that there is nothing but desert in America and that there is nothing but crime gangs in Chicago. Whilst I would prefer Australian history to be portrayed on television, if the history of America is to be presented let it be factual. “ Bonanza “ is a western that is supposed to have a very high rating. Almost everybody in this chamber would have seen that programme. It depicts the only cattle ranch that I have seen depicted without any cattle on it. The western theme is employed just to glamorize certain film stars and, of course, to enable the film to be sold. I think the young people of Australia would want to know why a cattle ranch did not carry any cattle. Such films lead to brainwashing and give viewers an impression that such conditions would be found if they went to the United States.
There was a considerable body of criticism about repeat programmes. I suppose that, because television is being introduced in Australia gradually, one must have to view repeat programmes. People moving backwards and forwards in Australia are bound to see programmes that they have seen previously elsewhere. However, the Mickey Mouse series has been presented in New South Wales on four occasions. Surely that is going beyond reasonable bounds.
Despite all this criticism, the commercial television interests insisted that they were giving the viewers what they wanted. No survey has been conducted to ascertain what the people want, yet the commercial interests presume to say what the people do want. They have adopted as the basis for their comments the findings of the McNair and Anderson ratings systems. When representatives of those two organizations came before the committee to give evidence, they frankly admitted that their analyses did not reveal that the people were receiving what they wanted, but merely that the people were turning on alternatively Australian Broadcasting Commission programmes and commercial programmes to obtain programmes to their liking. Nowhere could we find evidence to support the assertion that the people were in fact getting what they wanted. I am not saying that they do not want what is presented to them, but it is rather arrogant for the commercial television interests to say that they are giving the people what they want without ascertaining their wishes by means of a survey.
The fact of the matter is that the commercial television stations buy programmes on the cheapest market. It is said that if the people do not want to watch certain programmes, all they have to do is turn the knobs of their receiving sets. That attitude does not provide a solution to the problem. If people wanted to act in that way, they would not buy television sets in the first place. First they would view programmes at the homes of their friends and then decide, perhaps, that those programmes were not what they wanted to see and therefore they would decide not to buy sets. They do buy a set in the hope that they will get some entertainment and education and be informed as a result of viewing television. But that does not happen.
The statement of the television stations that they are giving the people what they want rather reminds me of a story of a man who was brought before the Old Bailey in London charged with having distributed pornographic literature. The basis of his defence was that he was giving the people what they wanted. That seems to me to be the criteria of commercial television stations. They play down to the lowest common denominator. They present programmes that will attract certain audiences because of sensationalism. They are quite correct in thinking that this will be all right with the audiences because in the main the television stations are owned by the press and it is very difficult to find a decent newspaper in Australia.
Most of the Australian press to-day operates on the publication of sensational news under sensational headlines. So one might have expected that when the newspapers got control of television, they would
Import that type of sensationalism into television. In fact, in reports in other countries, the statement, “ We are giving’ the people what they want “ has been described as a patronizing and arrogant approach to the subject. The select committee refers to this in paragraph 38 of its report in the following words -
None of the subjects, in the four categories enumerated in the Standards, is included by many stations in “ regular sessions for children “, and the neglect thereof on the part of the commercial stations and the lack of supervision on the part of the Board is equally unsatisfactory.
I think Sir Frank Packer outlined the attitude of the commercial television stations. The select committee published some of his remarks in paragraph 39 of its report, and it commented -
Indeed, Sir Frank Packer went so far as to say that he did not think the Committee was “ dealing with a real problem “. And again, on the question of the meaning of the expression “ adequate and comprehensive “ programmes in section 16 of the Act, the same witness said: “This is an instruction to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and not to mc. This docs not say what 1 have to do “.
Wc were dealing at that stage with three responsibilities of commercial television which are set out in paragraph 32 of the select committee’s report. The select committee stated -
The commercial television station has a threefold function. It has a national responsibility because of its monopolistic and privileged position; it has statutory obligation to conform to the requirements of the Board; and it also has an obligation to its shareholders which necessitates the sale of its programmes at a profit.
The only one of these conditions for which the commercial television stations accept responsibility is profits. Sir Frank Packer went very much further than that when, in my view, he threatened the members of the committee. Honorable senators will remember that in 1953 a royal commission was set up to determine whether television should be introduced into Australia. The royal commission reported that it should be introduced and that satisfactory programmes should be presented; otherwise the people would raise a protest. This matter was raised by the select committee when Sir Frank Packer was giving evidence. The relevant section of the transcript of questions and answers reads as follows: -
The concensus was that the people would protest if the correct type of programme were not given to them. Have you any recollection of that? - I think the people will protest if they are not given the programmes they like, but that is your own risk, as politicians.
By what means would they protest? In the ballot box.
You say they would protest through the ballot box? - If you interfere and take away from the viewing public of Australia programmes they are enjoying, any reaction that will come will be only financial so far as we are concerned, but politically it will rebound on the people that do it.
The. context of those questions was this: Sir Frank Packer was being asked whether he thought the programmes that were being presented by commercial television stations were the types of programmes that the Australian viewing public should be seeing. Sir Frank Packer was firmly of the opinion that the people were getting what they wanted and that if the select committee attempted to give them some other types of programmes, there would be repercussions throughout the electorate. No doubt Sir Frank Packer, with his control of the media of public information, would have seen that adverse publicity was given at least to the members of the select committee so that they would suffer some consequences from their actions. The select committee’s view is largely summed up in paragraph 61 of the report as follows: -
The committee, in emphasizing the present position as very serious, is confirmed in its attitude by the weight of informed public opinion from wide sections of the community. The undesirable sociological and cultural consequences that can be expected from a continuance of this state of affairs are apparent to many Australians and should need no emphasis by this Committee. Perhaps the greatest danger lies in its effect upon the rising generation (the adult population having grown up without television), who, day after day, are not only receiving anything but the most inadequate picture of Australia, her national traditions, culture and way of life, but in its place are recipients of a highly coloured and exaggerated picture of the way of life and morals of other countries (mainly the U.S.A.).
Then the select committee set out in a schedule details of films imported for television. The schedule shows that in 1959 and 1960, 88 per cent, of films shown on television were imported from the United States of America. Nine per cent, and 10 per cent, in 1959 and 1960 repectively were from Great Britain and 3 per cent, and 2 per cent, from other sources. Even as late as 1963, 83 per cent, of films imported for television came from the United States. 17 per cent, from Great Britain and none at ali from other sources.
Australia ls a very good market for the American film industry. Many millions of pounds are being spent on the importation of these films.
I am not one to say that the importation of films could be cut off to-morrow, but I do say that Australia, which was once at the head of the film production industry in the world, should be doing something to encourage that industry here. The recommendations of the committee are directed towards that end. The stranglehold that commercial television has on the industry must be broken in some way. It can only be broken by legislative action. That is why there will be found in the committee’s report recommendations that legislative action be taken to establish quotas. The committee realizes that these things cannot be done in five minutes. They require a period of time. The committee asks for an approximate trebling of the present amount of Australian film being shown over a period of three years. The committee feels that this is something with which the endustry should be able to cope.
The holders of television station licences are in a privileged position. Most of them, after their initial stages of operation, make large profits. It would not be too much to ask them to plough back some of those profits into the Australian film industry. Having accepted licences which place them in a privileged position, the companies should accept their responsibility to act in the interests of the people of Australia. If they continue with the policies that they have had over the past years, then they will betray that responsibility. Theirs is a position of public trust. It is a position that is exclusive to those who are granted licences. It, in fact, creates a class within our social system because they are the people, and the only people, who are permitted to televise programmes anywhere in Australia. They have an enormous responsibility to the 90 per cent, of the Australian people who are able to receive television. It is my hope that the Minister will be able in the near future to extend television services to people who do not at the moment enjoy such services. Sir Frank Packer says that the responsibility to cater for all interests does not rest upon him. He says it is for the Australian Broadcasting Commission and not the commercial stations to cater for the minority interests and class interests. The committee suggests that, in order that the responsibility shall be properly shared by the commercial interests, the act be amended to put them in the same position in relation to the public as is the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
This monopoly position of the commercial stations does not stop at the granting of a licence, because they then set out to purchase shares in other companies which have obtained licences. If the share registers of the various companies to which licences have been issued are examined, it will be found that there is a cross shareholding which gives these people control not only over the stations for which they have been granted licences but also over other stations as well. We must be very mindful of what happened in Brisbane only a few days ago. It is not known what the outcome of the inquiry there will be. The Minister has said that the inquiry will not be a public one. If press reports are to be any guide, the position is that some, one who has been denied the licence in Brisbane has set out to seize control of the licence which was granted. That state of affairs is found throughout the registers of shareholders in the various commercial television companies. They are interlocked. It would be difficult to know where control started and finished. When one considers that the control of this most powerful medium of public information is exercised mainly by the Australian press, one obtains some idea of how the people of Australia are being subjected to a constant stream of entertainment and information which some one thinks they want or should learn. The only other source of information from this medium for the Australian people is the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
It is true that, if one looks at the rating system, the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s news sessions on television do not command a high rating. There are many reasons why this is so. The main reason, to my mind, is that the commercial stations show their news some half hour before the commission’s news sessions. It is only fanatics for news who will look at two news sessions. Having seen the news on a commercial television station, it is unlikely that the majority of people would turn the knob to the Australian Broadcasting Commission news session. I believe that that is the main reason why the commission’s news sessions do not command a higher rating. I look at the commission’s news sessions. I think that they are very well presented. There could perhaps be more of them, but they are well presented.
The presentation of the news in a clear and unbiased fashion is another responsibility that devolves upon commercial television stations. It is their responsibility to see that they present all of the news and not only some of it. If one looks at the news sessions on television one notices at times quite a difference between the news that is presented on the same night by commercial television and the Australian Broadcasting Commission stations. I do not say that commercial stations smother the news, or anything of that nature, but it is true that they present different news. That is not true to a large extent of newspapers, because what you read in one newspaper you can generally read in another. On television, the news just comes over and you memorize or forget it. You cannot go back and refer to it. A very heavy responsibility is therefore placed upon television licensees. This attitude ties in with the’ attitude of Sir Frank Packer before the committee. In fact, 1 believe that he was saying to the committee, “ If you interfere with us, we will use our power of dissemination of information against you. “
We have recommended that the Government, by the loan-subsidy scheme, support Australian film producers. We have suggested that that support be limited to £1,0»0,000. Looking at the cost of producing films in America, we see that £1,000,000 would not go very far. Nevertheless, it would be of some assistance to the industry and would help it along the road. The money might help to produce film or videotape for Australian consumption, perhaps not for export consumption. It is true that the industry will not flourish and make its way unless it is able to get into the export market. We in this country are able to buy for £80 one-hour shows that cost 150,000 dollars to produce in America. The reason is that the makers of the films have already recovered their cost of production and perhaps some profit on the very large heme market in America. With our small population, we are not able to recover cost of production on the home market. Much of it must be recovered on the export market, which means that Australian films, if we are to break in, must be of very good quality.
I see no reason why that should not be possible if we are prepared to follow the recommendations of the committee, first, by fostering the live theatre. It may be said that the live theatre did not come within the bounds of the committee’s inquiry, but it cannot be denied that the live theatre is the training ground for the artists who will eventually make television films. There is a school in Sydney known as the National Institute of Dramatic Art, but it is inadequate for training the number of people who want training, and only those persons who are able .to support themselves while they go to the school are able to take advantage of it. Most of our actors and actresses are forced to take other work, as they are unable to earn sufficient on the stage or on films to support themselves. The result is that those who are of high quality leave Australia to go overseas, where a not inconsiderable number are successful. Without the live theatre we shall never have very good actors, actresses, dramatists and writers, because we will be without a training ground for them. The committee therefore recommended that the live theatre should receive assistance. We subsidize the Elizabethan Theatre Trust. There is no reason why, through this organization and others that we recommended, the Commonwealth should not assist the live theatre.
We suggest - this raised some disagreement in the committee - that producers and employees in the industry should get together and negotiate reasonable conditions and rates of pay. A lady from Melbourne, who did not give evidence but who was interviewed by the committee, told us that she had appeared in the leading roles in five half-hour plays for the A.B.C. for the magnificent sum of £200. She received £40 for each half-hour appearance, without taking into consideration the time for rehearsals or anything else. Fortunately, acting was a hobby with her. She was of independent means, and the low remuneration did not mean so very much to her. But if that is the way we treat out leading players, we can expect to get only films of the lowest quality. We believe that the producers and the unions should get together and negotiate decent rates of pay and conditions. I am not saying that some of the conditions are not good now, but it is unsatisfactory that performers should have to seek other employment in order to support themselves and their families.
Commercial television interests and the A. B.C. are violently opposed to what is known as the star system amongst actors and actresses. T suspect that the reason is that stars command higher fees, and that if a star system is developed costs will be greater than will be the case if performers are not graded as stars. Nevertheless, the American film industry has been developed largely around the star element. Not all of the stars have been good actors or actresses, but they have had some sort of public or box-office appeal. Whether they were good, bad or indifferent, they were capable of drawing in profits for the producers. I believe that we must have some sort of star system. We must have some attraction in the films that I hope will be produced in Australia. Some of the stars who are performing overseas to-day are Australians. One of the best shows produced on television is that called “ Hong Kong “, and it stars an Australian actor. Unless .we are able to do this, we have not much option other than to bring stars here from overseas.
The committee is aware that even if, in the final analysis, we do develop the star complex in film production we will probably have to import both stars and directors in the initial stages. In order to encourage these people to come to Australia, we suggest that they be granted certain tax exemptions. Such a concession could not be said to be an expense to the Treasury because it would represent money that the Treasury had never had. If the Australian producers are prepared to pay overseas people high salaries to come out here, the Treasury would not be paying out any money by granting them certain tax exemptions; it would merely be foregoing something that it would otherwise have received. But such a concession would be an encouragement to bring these people out here for very short terms. We could not possibly get stars, directors, actors or actresses to come to this country for any length of time unless we could guarantee them long periods of work. If they left the film industry in America for a protracted period of time they would lose touch with it. For instance, if they were away from Hollywood for, say, twelve months, they would find themselves in the limbo of the lost. So we could bring them here for only short periods.
Even if we do not bring out actors and actresses, we should engage directors, because we have no directors now. If we are to have Australian directors, we will have to train them. The committee has recommended that suitable people be granted scholarships to enable them to travel overseas to be educated in this fine art. Of course, the scholarships would be hedged round with conditions regarding return to Australia, and so on. We think that the granting of scholarships over a period may assist us to get the quality that is necessary and desirable to the film industry.
We also recommend that the producer who brings out high salaried stars and directors also be granted tax remissions on the expenditure he incurs thereby. If the Government agreed to this suggestion, I believe that it would be doing something concrete to assist the industry. It is of no use saying that this cannot be done, because it is being done now. For instance, certain sportsmen who come to Australia and earn big money here are not taxed on their earnings. If that can be done for sportsmen, surely it can be done for the fine arts.
I believe that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has been lacking in its duty with respect to commercial television stations. It is laid down in the act that the regulations issued by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board shall have the force of law, and, over a period of time, the board has set out a list of standards to which it expects the television industry of Australia to conform.
Sitting suspended from 5.4S to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was discussing the standards for television laid down by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. They are very good standards if they are complied wilh but, unfortunately, commercial television interests have not seen fit to comply with them and the board has taken no action to enforce its orders. The result is that we had the complaints from witnesses which came before the committee.
In the few minutes remaining to me 1 want to deal with some more of the recommendations of the committee. The act at present provides that licences, after being granted, are renewable every twelve months.
– After the first five years.
– They are renewable. We recommend that, in view of the fact that we are imposing upon the industry quotas which will necessitate some reorganization, licences should be renewable every three years. When applying for a licence, those seeking it put to the board all sorts of promises in an endeavour to persuade the board to grant the licence, but we have found that, having got the licence, the licensee does not live up to those promises. The committee recommends that conditions in accordance with promises made be imposed upon a licensee at the time the licence is granted, that a public hearing be held on an application for renewal of the licence and that any conditions put forward by the licensee in support of the application for renewal be imposed upon the renewed licence. We say that there should be a public inquiry at the time when a licence is sought to be renewed in order to give the public an opportunity to come before the board and give evidence as to how the licensee has been conducting his business over the years, thus giving an outlet through which people may protest about the way in which they think television is being conducted in Australia. I think that this is an admirable thing to do.
We go further and suggest that there should be an annual television conference to allow the public to express their views. As far as I can see, there is no other avenue of protest available to the people. The only medium that can really be used at present by the people to protest - or to commend, if they wish to commend - is the columns of the newspapers, but as the commercial television stations are owned substantially by newspapers it is unlikely that criticism would get into the columns of the press. I think that is borne out by the very few letters or articles of protest that we see in the press, despite what one might say was the almost violent criticism of commercial television by the witnesses who came before your committee.
We then recommend that the PostmasterGeneral or the board, when granting licences, should see that there is a channel reserved for educational television. There is no doubt that television could be a powerful medium in the field of education throughout Australia, and all the channels should not be taken up without reserving one for educational purposes.
Whether or not honorable senators on both sides of the chamber are in agreement with the report that is before the Senate, I think it will be conceded that the committee worked very hard and that it brought down a very good report, but we do not feel that such agreement goes quite far enough. We recommend that a standing committee of the Senate be set up to keep the industry constantly under review. A standing committee of this nature could sit periodically to take evidence from the general public and could make periodical reports to the Senate on how it thought television, both through the commercial stations and the Australian Broadcasting Commission stations, was being operated in Australia. In that way we could police a medium that can be so powerful for good in this country.
I will now refer to some of the programmes that are being televised. At one time there was being televised a programme known as “ Anzac “, which, in a minor way, depicted the Australian soldier at war, but predominantly such programmes deal with the American soldier at war. In Perth at present there is being shown a series of war pictures called “ Combat “, depicting the American soldier at war. There is no doubt that if some one sat down to write articles about the Australian soldier quite good films could be made of his outstanding feats. In that way our sons and daughters would be given an opportunity to learn what the Australian soldier did, instead of being indoctrinated with the “America won the war “ policy all the time.
There must be a very high degree of dissatisfaction with this medium as it is at present, and I think that if applicants for licences come before the board and say that they will put on a series of Australian productions, that should be endorsed on the licence and the licensee should be bound to carry out the promises made to the board. Among the promises extracted from an applicant should be a promise in respect of drama. At the present time, the Australian quota is not being entirely filled by the commercial television stations, and that part of it which is being filled is being filled mostly by cooking demonstrations, sports programmes and news. I know that in Western Australia very much of the time is made up by a sporting round-up on Saturday afternoons and a preview of the race meetings in the evening. This seems to be the way in which the channels are attempting to fulfil the Australian quota. The committee thought that that was not good enough and that something better should be done. That is why it concluded that the Australian material shown on teilevision should contain a high percentage of drama. The overall recommendations of the committee are made to encourage that end.
.- We are engaged in a discussion upon the report of the select committee of this chamber that was constituted to consider the subject of the development of the Australian content in television programmes. To be a member of that committee was to add to one’s experience. It afforded an opportunity to join in work that became very interesting. I say at the outset that I think I was drafted on to the committee having no artistic attainments nor experience in matters pertaining to drama, neither as an artist nor an actor, that would qualify me to occupy that position. I worked with colleagues whose enthusiasm and interest in the subject was most engaging. In particular I wish to say that the interest, energy and keen zeal of the chairman of the committee inspired one with genuine affection for him throughout the whole of the proceedings.
It is to be understood, of course, that that affection was not expressed in meek acquiescence. My presence on the committee, as well as the views of other individual members, led to a very rugged discussion on more than one occasion. The interchange was at all times most challenging. A point about it was that rarely did you find the views determined by party shibboleths. The chairman’s unbounded interest and zeal for the subject of this inquiry was a matter that will redound to his credit for many years. I regret that the Senate is proceeding to consider this report without the advantage of having him expound the conclusions to which the committee came.
After a very earnest discussion and, as some members have said, with all the spirit in the world to meet and mould each other’s point of view, I found myself bound to dissent from the committee’s report. I want to mention the reasons why I did that. The subject-matter of television was very appropriately examined by the Senate select committee some ten or eleven years after a royal commission had considered the introduction of television into Australia and some six or seven years after the advent of the first television stations. In 1957 we had two national stations, four commercial stations and 73,000 viewers of television. At the end of 1963 we had ten national stations, 22 commercial stations and 1,600,000 listeners. Those figures demonstrate the growth within Australia of the industry. It was most timely that one chamber of the national legislature should address its attention to the subject and assess and consider whether the development of the industry should be corrected or improved in any respect.
I have noticed that, during the course of this debate, the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations has taken the trouble to have the evidence given on its behalf printed and circulated to each member of the Senate. If those submissions are read it will be seen that the federation claimed that 75 per cent, of the homes of Australia are served already with television sets, and that Australia occupies the sixth position among the most frequently served countries of the world. The federation claims that that indicates that the television services of Australia command a great deal of public acceptance. I mention that simply to show the progress of the industry throughout Australia. I dispute the contention that is made in the submissions to which I have just referred but T shall have more to say about that a little later.
I do not join in any wholesale condemnation of commercial television. In a matter of this sort, the system on which we have established the industry needs to be kept in proper perspective. Following the experience we had with radio, we determined to establish television on the basis of a system which comprised national and commercial stations. I, for my part, deplore that in the major cities we have granted as many as three commercial television licences. I think that two commercial licences would be absolutely sufficient in any of these metropolitan centres. 1 believe that we will run into economic mediocrity by disintegrating the economic control of commercial television throughout the country into little stations because I do not believe that this is a little man’s business. I think that it is a big business inasmuch as the essence of efficient service is control by government regulation.
I have listened to the wizardry of my friend, Senator Hannan, who seems to know this science of electronics with an intimacy which simply leaves me amazed. Suffice it to say that I gather that to get the requisite transmission through the atmosphere - that is the waves that produce the television picture - you must have some central body regulating who can go on the air at certain times and who can use certain channels. So the resources and raw material of this industry are not due to the energy and ingenuity of any particular individual. We start off from the basis that the central government must regulate the opportunities that the atmosphere provide. Then if we decide on a national service on one hand and a commercial service on the other we say to certain commercial entrepreneurs, “ You may have a licence “. What for? To transmit television pictures to those of the public who will watch the pictures. That is a very much different proposition from regulating the meat or wheat industries, or one of the other resources that the ordinary man has a common right to deal in at his will. We have authorized the Australian Broadcasting Commission to operate the national stations, and we have granted licences to the commercial companies, not according to the individual whim of any Minister but according to plans laid down and on recommendations made after public hearings by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, an independent body constituted for the special purpose of assessing the need for a television station in a particular position, then assessing the merits of the applicants for the licence to operate the station and making a recommendation in favour of X, Y, or Z.
One of the senators who preceded me in this debate said that the grant of a licence of that sort was worth £1,000,000. An examination of the amounts earned by commercial companies that have been granted licences shows that the licences are capable of earning great profits. The metropolitan companies have been shown to be earning, within two or three years of beginning operations, 174 per cent, to 20 per cent, on capital. That is an important factor because it should be a consideration when we come to examine these rights and how they should be governed. That is our chief function as a part of the legislature. I shall abstain, as much as I can, from any expression of individual appreciation or criticism of particular types of programmes, except in one or two respects later. Our function is to consider how we can apply the processes of government to this special industry.
I do not join in any wholesale criticism of the television companies. On an examination of page 4 of the submission prepared and circulated by Mr. Cowan, it appears that current viewing hours of stations in Sydney total 240 a week whereas in the United Kingdom the total is 132 hours, in France 81 and in Belgium 66. That merely shows the degree to which the public of Australia are having their minds directed to the televison services of Australia. I believe that the technical production of our Australian services is credited with being equal to anything in the world and that the technical performance of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial stations alike should attract some commendation from us. In the same submission, Mr. Cowan says that commercial companies stand or fall on their ability to captivate an audience, unlike the A.B.C. which depends upon the provision of public money by this Parliament for it. That is a factor that has to be recognized, because the very essence of a commercial television company is that it must pay its way. My experience of these commercial enterprises is that the better they pay their way on a proper profit-making level, the better the service they give. However, when they argue that the Australian Broadcasting Commission attracts 15 per cent, of the viewing public’s attention, claim for themselves 85 per cent, and suggest that that is an acceptance by the public of their standards, we can dispute their conclusions. Wc are in the early stages of television in Australia at present and have no other standards with which to compare our television. lt is natural that we all get interesting information from such films as are shown, and we get exhilaration from westerns and other films that are designed to distract the mind from Senate debates, law court arguments, the ploughing of the field and the carting of goods through a busy street. But the acceptance of that as a rating does not mean that the commercial television stations can be complacent about their standards. 1 join with other members of the committee in deploring the disproportionate part of the programmes of the commercial stations that are filled with crime, horror and violence. When one sees that and joins with the chairman and Senator Hannan and others who are competent to speak as to the values of culture and art to be transmitted across this medium, one is not adopting a highbrow attitude and despising the western. One is saying only that there is a disproportionate part of the programme of the commercial stations filled with horror, crime, psychiatric contortions and sex discussions that are simply pandering to some pseudo intellectuals who think a public exhibition on the television screen regarding genes is educative whereas it is only a matter of the excitement of the lower instincts.
The commercial stations have to understand that people who bring a critical assessment to their performance on this subject - and the Senate I believe is a unit in that performance - are going to require an improvement in that part of their content, not arbitrarily but according to the processes that we have laid down. However, the committee was in no way minded to brand commercial stations as stations that are to be disparaged. I ask the Senate to notice one matter with respect to a renewal of licences. A company is given a licence for a five-year term, and after it has to be renewed annually. The committee thought that the public should have the right to be heard by any body that hears the application for, and recommends, the renewal. This would be a very salutory process in a true democracy. Often there would be no representations by the public where good service was being supplied; but if a station’s programmes were falling short, a tribunal could hear responsible criticism for, say, a day on the occasion of application for renewal. The committee recommended that the licences should not be renewed annually after the first five-year period. The committee wanted to give a licensee the satisfaction of security and recommended that the term of renewal should be for a period of three years. We members of the committee recognized that the stations have to make a work programme, and have to plan the investment of their capital, and they should not be subjected to, perhaps, pinpricking decisions every year. Let them have the security of a three-year tenure.
But it is laid down that the licences should be subject to conditions that are considered appropriate. Considered appropriate by whom? Not by the Minister - although the decision is made by him finally - but on conditions that are recommended by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It is not a matter of restriction on the company but of regulation on the company. At the same time, the company has secured to it a knowledge of the conditions under which it is expected to work. If the board is to recommend that the licence should be subject to conditions (a), (b), (c) or (d); if there has to be so much Australian content of a programme and that is a condition on which a company is granted a licence; or if a company has to televise at certain hours and must comply with certain standards, those conditions should be enforced.
– Not too much advertising though.
– We have to recognize that their only means of income is advertising; but the standard of their advertising and the quota of advertising that should be Australian-produced would be a proper subject of conditions. The select committee learned with consternation that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has not imposed any conditions on any licence- issued. To make myself clear, I say again that it is only by informing the prospective licensee by the written word what conditions the company is expected to observe that we can be sure that the licensees know in advance what they have to do. Then it is just that if they have not observed those conditions, there should be some review of the licence for the purposes of a variation when the licence comes up for renewal.
The select committee heard with a great deal of regret from the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, Mr. Osborne, that not on any occasion had the board issued a direction or an order - as the board is authorized to do under its legislation - to any of these companies. I do not disparage Mr. Osborne’s approach when he said that the board’s approach was of a co-operative nature or, as he said in one phrase, “ of sweet reasonableness “. I do not disparage that at all; having so little of the commodity myself, I applaud it in others. But there is a limit to this approach, especially with great companies that get the benefit of government monopolies in the form of television licences. So I would like to see a more vigilant supervision of the standards of these companies by the body that we have set up.
I have said all that to make it clear to the Senate that a select committee - I think unanimously - wished to recognize that the licensees had rights. If these rights were defined in a proper way, they should be enforced and observed. But I mention one matter that will show a contrast: The other day we had an illustration of an unfair and unjust, instead of a law-abiding system such as I have recommended. This shows that where there is a loose and indefinite system, you may get something that none of us wish. The issue of a licence to a company in Brisbane was recommended and transactions in shares became particularly active on the share market. I am not in the position of some others to know who bought or sold the shares, but I rather gather that before the market was punctured by a communication from the Minister to the company - and a copy of it was sent to the stock and share market - there were a few private people who bought in the course of the swim.
One must not interfere with ordinary commercial processes except according to law. Otherwise great injustice can be done to people who trade on the expectation that the stock exchange is being run on a fair basis. If the Minister intervened in that case on the basis that there was a prima facie contravention of the provisions of the act in order to prevent that company from having more than a certain amount of newspaper control, or because one person from Melbourne or Sydney was endeavouring to get a greater percentage of control than he was authorized to have under the act, then the Minister should have instructed the company to show cause. But he should not interfere as a Minister who has the power to grant a television licence and make an announcement to the stock exchange that simply shocks the trading. If legitimate trading has taken place on the part of a great number of people such action by the Minister, in my book, is wrong. It is not according to the conditions of the licence which provides that the station must show cause before the Australian Broadcasting Control Board why its licence should not be cancelled if there has been a contravention of the law. But I need not stay too long on that point.
– That was a handicap in the rat race.
– That is one of the unfortunate remarks that Senator O’Byrne makes from time to time and which lead me to despair of ever getting his adherence to a fair and unprejudiced point of view.
Before I leave the commercial stations, let me refer to an argument that was made by Senator Cormack recently when he suggested that this report should go back to the select committee for reconsideration because he thought the committee had neglected a consideration that the commercial companies were really the prisoners of their advertisers. That is one of Senator Cormack’s graphic phrases that convey an understanding. Of course, Senator Cormack only meant us to understand that commercial companies have to satisfy their advertisers or they will go out of business. Everybody recognizes that. They have to stand or fall by the degree of advertising they attract. But one of the first steps in which improvement in television was made applied to the standard of advertising. By a Ministerial suggestion or by a direction to the Australian Boardcasting Control Board and communicated by the board to the licensees, it was laid down that they had to produce a certain percentage of their advertising material within Australia. This was not a regularly fixed quota but a quota that was indicated as one that was expected. They complied and I think there was unanimity among the witnesses who appeared before the select committee that the standard of advertising on television was very good.
So I do not think that the television companies can be excused from the complaint regarding a disproportionate share of horror, violence and crime on the basis that they are the prisoners of their advertisers. In addition to the extraordinary checks on ratings to which my colleagues have referred, the advertisers also have their sales order books and their cash books. They know whether a programme on television is stimulating their business. If it is not, their sales advertising manager will be sacked in the next quarter. They know whether or not their business is being improved by television advertising. If we could get our commercial drama episodes - which are the basis on which the advertising is set - rid of this large proportion of horror, crime and violence and could substitute a better type of programme that would still amuse, entertain, excite, and perhaps indirectly, inform, I guarantee it would serve not only the public interest, but also the pockets of the advertisers.
Passing from commercial television exclusively to television generally, the committee was told that the chief deficiency of Australian content was in the category of television productions that were called drama. I learnt that there were various forms of drama. I, with other members of the committee, found that whereas 85 hours of every 100 hours of peak viewing time were taken up by drama and, as a general overall average, 50 per cent, to 60 per cent., the proportion of the drama that was of Australian origin was negligible - between 1 per cent, and 2 per cent. There is a great tendency to jump right off the wall and say, “ We want Australian drama “. I, for my part, yielding to no one in my appreciation of the values that make the Australian character, want to see the Euro pean way of life, the British way of life and, perhaps, the Japanese way of life.
I want to see programmes from other countries of the world that will indicate to us the contribution that we might engraft upon our Australian way of life. The committee recognized that outlook. Every member of the committee took that point of view when the final recommendation was made as to the amount of drama which should be required from commercial stations. In recommendation 84 (2), the committee said that it should be not less than 9 per cent, of the time devoted to programmes of Australian origin, but it should be developed over a period of three years. That does not of course indicate that there is any attempt to displace foreign material. It is only a gesture to those interested in developing Australian drama to see that progressively over the next three years the television licensees of Australia will make provision for drama, but not all sorts of drama. It was carefully pointed out by the committee in paragraph 81 that that aim should be reached progressively; that it should be related to the potential supply of programmes of good quality that are available at a reasonable price; that it should not include drama of poor quality; and that it should make special allowances for drama of high quality. Filmed programmes of high purpose which fell short of the requirement would not be disqualified.
Let me hasten to point out that I subscribed to a recommendation that first this quota should stem from a positive duty imposed upon the Australian Broadcasting Commission and licensees and, secondly, it should be achieved by the Minister making regulations under which he would have power to fix quotas in respect of the drama content of Australian programmes, provided that the Minister, upon the recommendation of the board in any particular case, might grant exemptions or impose special conditions in cases where it was necessary to exempt from quota. It is a difficult position to apply a system of equity to that particular situation. The committee adopted the recommendation because either House of the Parliament has the Tight to disallow a regulation. We would not have it that the Minister, by written notice, could fix a quota when he proposed to create an exemption or a special condition. That could only be done upon the recommendation of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in each particular case. This is a safeguard that the committee has recommended on every occasion, not because it is hostile to the idea that Ministers are fair and responsible, but because it regards it as a valuable adjunct to the Minister’s power that he should be required by law, where he is making a special exemption in a particular case or imposing a special condition on a licensee by exempting him from a quota, to have the recommendation of an independent body to strengthen his viewpoint. Such a provision would assure every one that the decision was based not upon political considerations but upon meritorious considerations. So, after grave deliberation, the committee was unanimous that there should be established by law, to be operated by the Minister by means of regulations and with provision for exemptions on the recommendation of the board, a quota requiring a particular content of Australian drama in television programmes.
With the great experience of Senator Vincent in these matters to assist us, we went on to consider the film industry and its relation to the television problem. In regard to that matter, very interesting material was put before us. Senator Vincent has written it into the report. It shows the early history of the Australian film industry at a time when Australia was capable of making a contribution in this respect. But for my part, after dealing with the film industry, 1 could not advocate the establishment, with government subsidy, of a theatre as an adjunct to television. Although 1 agreed with the view that the live theatre was the reservoir from which the skill of Australian actors would be developed, it seemed to me to be another subject which was not within the field of the television reference. Let me confess, because “ confess “ is the word, that I am persuaded, after considering the statements to be found on pages 28 and 29 of the report, that on the terms there suggested a loan subsidy scheme could be considered. Great Britain has such a scheme. The accumulated deficit to 31st March, 1963, on the British operations was £4,250,000. The committee took great care to bring that point to the notice of the Senate. An Aus tralian scheme should be on the basis that a television council would consider applications for assistance and make recommendations in connexion with any project that it thought should be recommended. The complete script of every project should be approved. No loan to the entrepreneur should exceed 50 per cent, of the production budget. Upon approval half of the loan should be paid, and upon completion the balance should be paid. Then, from all net sales the first amount should be applied to recoup the proportion of the budget not covered by the loan. Thereafter, proceeds from all net sales should be applied £1 for £1 in redemption of the loan and repayment of expenses to the company.
If that scheme is to operate in Australia, there is, within the terms upon which the loans are applicable, sufficient provision to enable any television council to be responsible in granting subsidies. I am of the view that it is fundamental to this industry that one principle should be maintained, namely, that the industry must pay for itself. At page 67 of the latest report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board it will be seen that expenditure on the operation of the national broadcasting service and the national television service under the Australian Broadcasting Commission is now of the order of £13,500,000 a year. With the addition of another £3,800,000 expenditure on capital works, the total expenditure upon those functions last year was £17,300,000. Television viewers’ licence-fees returned £7,700,000 and broadcast listeners’ licencefees returned £5,400,000. With miscellaneous revenue of £102,000, the total cash revenue received from these various sources was £13,300,000. These returns were based upon a broadcast listener’s licence-fee of £2 15s. and a television licence-fee of £5 a year. It is my view that on licence-fees should be based the whole of the expenditure upon national television.
T believe that commercial television should pay its way. In paragraph 118 of its report, the committee pointed out that at present the turn-over tax that we impose upon the advertising revenue of the television licensees is minimal, and it recommended an increase. We suggested that after the first three years of operation there be no charge in respect of the first £100,000 of the gross earnings of a station from the televising of advertisements or other matter; that there be a charge of 2 per cent, in respect of the next £400,000 of those earnings; and that there be a charge of 4 per cent, in respect of the amount by which those earnings exceed £500,000. The comment that follows should be of interest to the Senate. It states that this would be a very small charge compared with the rates introduced in Britain as a result of the Pilkington report, which were brought into legislative effect in 1963. These provided for no charge in respect of the first £1,250,000 of gross advertising receipts, 224 per cent, in respect of the next £8,000,000, and 40 per cent, in respect of the amount by which the gross advertising receipts exceeded the aggregate of th”* sums of £1,250,000 and £8,000,000.
May I interpolate that when I intruded myself into the House of Lords last July 1 was interested to find that there was quite a spirited debate that afternoon on this very subject. Some of the noble lords, who were accused by the Opposition of lending themselves as a face to commercial companies and of having a direct interest in opposing such high rates, asked for forbearance whilst they denied the charge. That is just by the way.
I want to say that, when this industry for national purposes can get out of radio and television licences an amount of £13,300,000, if we want another £3,000,000 we have only to increase the licence-fee a little. I believe that that is a much more satisfactory way of getting the revenue that is required for any assistance in that direction than getting it from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. If we want to improve the facilities that commercial television should bestow upon the industry, we must impose an additional charge on the service rather than levy yet another impost upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
I am bound to say that I still am jealous to defend my attitude on those matters upon, which I felt bound to dissent, and which I might just take a moment to mention. They are referred to on page 23 of the report. I dissented from the recommendation in paragraph 91 (2), which is -
Also in that paragraph is a recommendation that those persons who employ visiting artists of world reputation should get taxation deductions for a period not exceeding one year of up to 150 per cent, of the salaries paid. We were told that these artists would command a fee of £10,000 a week, and that they themselves should get a like subsidy.
That is the general line of the matters in relation to which I dissented, and only because I believe that at this stage we have an opporunity to lay down a policy upon which this industry should be developed. Should we stick to the idea that this is a service that everybody will regard as completely cheap, and that we can have all the entertainment and information that it brings for a television viewer’s licence of £5 a year and a broadcast listener’s licence of £2 15s.? If we lay down the principle that the industry should pay for its own development, I believe that we shall then establish it on a sound foundation, lt is from the advertising revenue of the television companies that we should draw the money we require for the encouragement of the Australian drama for which we should be responsible, and it is from the licence-fees that we should get the money to promote the improvement of the A. B.C. services.
I turn to a subject which has been noticed in particular by Senator Cohen and just notified by Senator Cant. That is Part XII. of the report which deals with the particular subject of educational television. I hope I make it clear that I am one of those who like a little relaxation. When I sit back in my armchair with my slippers on and watch a television programme, 1 like to see a bit of fun; but, at the same time, I am one of those fellows who did not have the opportunity to go to Oxford and who did not have long to spend in the educative channels which would give to many of us, particularly the men of adult years in the country, and their womenfolk, the delights of literature’s acquaintance, history’s stimulation andother educational pleasures. 1 believe that there is a great proportion of our population whose thirst for knowledge would derive tremendous satisfaction, whose souls would be stimulated and whose lives would be entertained if educational purposes were in the minds of those who are developing this new and terrifically exciting medium by which knowledge, entertainment and information can be conveyed.
– You could not sell it to advertisers.
– For myself, I do not share that viewpoint. Advertisers are not interested in education as such but if they embedded their advertisements in a most attractive dramatic episode which does not have a stodgy sort of John Bunyan didactic purpose, something that is of an appealing dramatic content such as, say, episodes from Cromwell’s life, they would find that Rexona soap would sell the better.
There are some words in this chapter on educational television which are worth repeating. The committee takes the occasion to say -
American experience shows that television can make an important contribution to solve any crisis arising in education. These crises provide a unique opportunity for State and Federal cooperation. It is a matter of satisfaction that the authorities in both fields- the State education authorities and those in charge of television licences, as well as the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in the television field - arc concentrating attention on the problems which have to be managed.
In the early use of television for -
indirect education by enrichment programmes,
direct television instruction at the university, secondary and primary level, and
adult educational programmes, probably lies the chief field for producing Australian programmes. The rewards are perhaps beyond our present conception.
Having quoted that as the assessment of your committee, Mr. President, let me remind you that we make quotations from educational authorities no less eminent than Sir Mark Oliphant, Sir Keith Murray and Dr. J. R. Darling. Sir Mark Oliphant makes a statement that should encourage every one of us to find opportunities for this television medium in the field of education. Sir Keith Murray, to whom we owe so much for putting university development in this country on a sound basis - says that the earliest conclusion of the University Grants Committee of Great Britain in 1961 has been that the uses of new techniques in teaching, including audio-visual aids, are likely to have a very significant contribution to make to university teaching methods of the future.
IfI heard correctly the other night - I was glad beyond expression to visualize this piece of news coming out of the smoke and mists of depressed Glasgow that I saw last year - the committee suggested the establishment of an educational service that would, by means of one station, supply the services that were formerly supplied by a number of schools. 1 do not know how many of them. This service was suggested, not for the purpose of displacing the teachers but to provide a hard core of qualitative material upon which the teachers could mould their subsequent instruction. But it is chiefly to the following statement of Dr. Darling, contained in paragraph 182 of the report, that 1 wish to call attention. -
Educational television can mean either enrichment and enlightenment of the ordinary programmes by the inclusion in them of 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.
He goes on to say -
The Pilkington Report, without specifically doing so, does virtually announce its English preferences for the first types rather than for the last. I take the opposite view; I 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.
It is upon that statement that the committee fastened to recommend to the educational authorities of Australia that they co-operate and build in this way.
I take the opportunity to put that matter before the committee with somewhat unaccustomed energy because I believe that, if we have enough government vision to see the opportunity, we may be credited in 20 or 25 years’ time with having recognized the service in education that television can give to the country. But I do not finish there. Dr. Darling went on to say -
We must learn how to do it in our own country- that is to say, take it as a common responsibility of both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial stations to integrate into all their programmes enrichment material - that is, historical, scientific and philosophical subjects - and to mould as a fourth objective a direct instructional service - and then pass it on and use it in South East Asia. Personally, I believe that this is one of the most important things that we have to do, and we have to do it very quickly indeed.
That is just a recognition of a pre-eminent educationist’s viewpoint.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
[9. 1 l j. - 1 support both the motion which is before the Senate and the amendment moved by Senator McClelland. I have studied the report of the committee, I have listened to most of the debate and 1 have read those portions of it which I did not hear. I have been greatly advantaged by the fact that all the available members of the committee have now spoken. They have supplemented their report in a fashion which I think leaves us all a great deal better informed. I feci that the thanks of the Senate are due to the seven senators who constituted the committee. They gave generously of their time and their talents and sacrificed a great deal of their own domesticity to produce the report which is before us. I am certain that the tributes that each member of the committee has paid to Senator Vincent are exceedingly well deserved. I hope that those tributes, expressed in most generous terms, will be some kind of consolation to him in the illness that he is undergoing.
The committee’s report is most comprehensive. One has only to glance at it and see the fourteen heads and 97 sub-heads into which it is divided in order to realize that the committee made a most comprehensive approach to the subject-matter of its inquiry. The committee comprised three members of the Liberal Party, one member of the Australian Country Party and three members of the Australian Labour Party. It was unanimous in its report and resolutions, except for the dissent, in whole or in part, expressed by Senator Wright to eleven of the 213 paragraphs of the report. Senator Wright has already indicated that his dissent was directed mainly at the question of financing from Commonwealth revenue some of the recommendations of the committee. That dissent - I think I am right in saying this - did not deviate in any way from the criticisms to general comments on television made by the committee. The fact that such a very high degree of unanimity was obtained shows clearly the earnestness and objectivity of the members of the committee, and I have no doubt that a great deal of common-sense compromise went into the achievement of that degree of unanimity. It is probable that the very element of compromise needed to reconcile conflicting ideas gave the report its restrained and balanced presentation, without subtracting from the power of its thoughts and the recommendations that it makes.
The scope of the inquiry was limited by the terms on which the committee was appointed - namely, to inquire into and report upon the encouragement of the production in Australia of films and programmes suitable for television, and matters incidental thereto. But even that relatively limited authority led the committee into a most comprehensive examination of the aspects of television that are embodied in its report and recommendations. I think the committee did well to present its report in October of 1963, in view of the fact that its members were appointed on 7th November, 1962. I thought that was an exceedingly remarkable achievement. 1 noted with pleasure the tribute that was paid by the committee to the officers of the Senate who assisted. The secretary, Mr. K. O. Bradshaw, and the assistant secretary, Mr. H. C. Nicholls, were ably supported by other Senate officers, particularly in the final stages of the presentation of the report. I say - not for the first time by any means - how fortunate the Senate is to have available to it so many young men of ability and enthusiasm.
Coming directly to the report, I say at once that I think the best service I can render the Senate and the committee will be to concentrate my thinking and talking upon the recommendations and comments of the committee. I turn to part I, paragraph 3, of the report, where the committee found that the major criticisms of television - which it lists in part III of the report at the bottom of page 1, running over into page 2 - were both fair and well founded. The committee also indicated that they were unanswered. I start where it started. Let us see what those major criticisms were. They add up to a most powerful indictment of television, despite the restraint with which they are voiced. They are that there arc insufficient Australian-produced programmes, particularly drama; that there is not enough Australian indigenous drama, or drama both written and produced in Australia; that there is too much imported drama from the United States of America; that there is too much drama involving crime, violence and horror; in regard to imported drama, that there is a monotony of themes of crime, violence, horror and domestic comedy - in other words, a lack of variety and originality in theme; that there is an inadequacy of news, particularly international news, in the news bulletins; that there is an absence of a controversial or critical element and, in many cases, no maturity and a dullness and lack of polish in panel and discussion programmes; that educative programmes are unattractively presented and dull; that religious programmes are inadequate and unattractive and are generally presented at inappropriate times; that there is a serious lack of programmes of special interest to our migrant population; that there are far too many children’s programmes which are unsuitable for children; that no serious attempt is being made to present programmes for the adolescent child; and that there are insuffi cient programmes for minority tastes or special interests. In other words, television programmes are almost entirely designed to cater exclusively for what is regarded as the majority.
That certainly represents a very severe indictment of television in this country. The committee, in addressing its mind to these problems, said that these were defects which both could and should be corrected. Again I point out that the committee was unanimous in presenting this part of its report. There was no dissentient in this regard. 1 put it very strongly to the Senate that the findings of this part of the report make it the duty of the Government and, indeed, the duty of every member of the Commonwealth Parliament to correct the position and to give the most earnest consideration to the remedies proposed by the committee. One cannot but see television as a most powerful medium of communication, going into almost every home, with a wide spread of matter reaching people of all degrees of maturity, with a fascinating attraction and an entertainment value. I feel that there is a tremendous duty on every one of us, having read and studied this report, to see that some action is taken. The committee points out that television and the defects to which it adverts have a most serious psychological and sociological effect in the community and have a most disadvantageous and pronounced effect on the development of Australian culture. The report is highly critical of bodies in the field. It is really highly critical of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It traverses criticism both of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial television stations and in particular criticizes even the Postmaster-General himself.
I had hoped that the Government might have traversed this report and considered the recommendations and determinations of the committee before honorable senators addressed their minds to it. It would be most helpful if at this stage - or certainly some time before the debate concludes - we were to hear from a Minister of the Crown. I say that for two reasons. First, it would let us know that these recommendations have been considered. There have been four or five months in which to do that. Above all it would discharge a duty to the bodies that have been criticized. I certainly would be in a happier position to-night if I had the answer of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to some of the findings made in this report, and also had some case been presented by the Australian Broadcasting Commission - the national body. We would all have been very much better able to judge the report of the committee had some kind of answer from both those bodies been available to us and had we some knowledge of what the Government was thinking in relation to these recommendations.
In almost the final paragraph of its report the committee recommended that there should be a standing Senate committee to observe the phenomena of television.It had already said enough in its report to justify the setting up of such a body. It must have a very salutary effect on all the bodies in the field to know that they were under the scrutiny of a competent, interested and active committee of this chamber. I would hope that the Government would give most earnest consideration to that recommendation.
There is the aspect, too, that newspapers play a controlling or, if not a controlling, certainly a dominant part in television in Australia. There ought to be an inquiry, in the view of the Opposition, into the relations of press, radio and television - three great media of communication whose directorates and shareholdings are so closely interwoven. I instance that merely as one field from which the committee was debarred. We have heard the suggestion tonight from senators who were members of the committee that one reason for the absence of criticism upholding what the committee has found in relation to television is the very fact that newspapers themselves are so financially interested. I think it is true to say that this report of the committee has not been given by the press of Australia the publicity and the prominence that it deserves, having regard to the findings of the committee.
I pass now to parts II. and III. of the report. Here the committee had the advantage of three eminent lawyers amongst its membership in Senators Cohen, Wright and Vincent. The committee, in my view, really went to the grass roots of the administration, particularly the parliamentary administration of television, in addressing its mind to how the bodies set up by this Parliament function. The committee, particularly in these two parts, rejected the board’s interpretation - I am speaking now of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board - of its functions and obligations under the Broadcasting and Television Act, and claimed that the board had exercised inadequate control of television and of the licensees. That is a serious, as well as a unanimous, finding of the committee, and it goes to the very roots of the control of television in this country. In pressing the claim the committee referred to various sections of the act, and this is where - I think led by the lawyers on the committee - it rendered a most distinct service to the nation. The committee pointed out that section 16 (I.) (c) imposes upon the Australian Broadcasting Control Board an obligation “ to ensure that adequate and comprehensive programmes are provided by . . . stations to serve the best interest of the general public “.
Then the committee addressed its mind to where the obligation lay. It said, quite properly, that the obligation to ensure that the commercial television licensees presented programmes of that type lay upon the board. It directed attention to the fact that the section does not directly impose the obligation on the licensees. When considering a later section the committee suggested that that direct obligation should now be imposed as well on the licensees themselves. I think it is worthwhile to direct the attention of the Senate to how the committee viewed the obligation of the licensees. It said that the meaning of the section is clear, and it put it in this way -
The recommendation of the committee is that that interpretation should appear in the act itself so that there shall be no misunderstanding about it. lt is a recommendation that 1 most cordially support.
I pass on, then, to the consideration of section 17 which gives to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board the power to issue directions, having the force of law, to licensees. It was with some surprise and shock that I learned, as the committee reported, that the board has never availed itself of that particular provision. It has written letters to licensees and sought their co-operation, but it has given no directions at all. The committee reported that clearly the plain duty of leadership lay upon the board and called upon it to give clear directions to the licensees in the terms of section 17 (1) whenever the board considered that the need arose. The committee pointed out that that particular section provided the teeth of the board in carrying out ils responsibilities.
The committee then pointed to section 99 of the Broadcasting and Television Act which gives to the board the power to lay down standards. That section is expressed to refer to standards of quality only, not to variety, content and theme and the 101 other things that were the subjectmatter of the committee’s criticism in the early paragraphs to which I have referred. It asked with justification that the Government address its mind to amending that particular act so that the same obligation cast upon the board under section 16, to which I referred will be placed directly on the licensees - that is, to provide adequate and comprehensive programmes to serve the best interests of the general public.
That is properly a duty to be cast upon commercial licensees because, as the committee points out several times in the course of its report, there is a threefold duty upon the licensee. The first is the national duty arising from the fact that the licensee, in being granted a television licence, is given a most valuable monopoly. Some body assessed it at £1 ,000,000. 1 would assess it at very much more. We had the spectacle in Brisbane the other day of shares which had been quoted at 6d. being sold at ten times that value before the company had even secured its licence and before it had done anything. We have seen £1 shares in the television companies of Sydney and Melbourne sold on the stock exchanges at £6. There is a vast capita] accretion to the lucky shareholders and the lucky licensees, so I support what the committee says. The licensees have a national duty arising from the fact that they have a virtual monopoly which is conferred by the nation and which gives them an enormous opportunity for profitability. It is one of the most colossal opportunities for capital accretion that this country could confer.
Their second obligation, as the committee points out. is to provide the highest standards of quality in their programmes, and their third duty is to make a reasonable profit for their shareholders. They are certainly doing so, having regard to the information that the commitee has published and to which Senator Wright recently adverted. I support the committee’s recommendation very strongly and agree with every word that Senator Wright uttered indicating that the board should recommend that conditions be written on to a licence so that the licensee will know he has to carry out the promises he made when making his application. If he wins the licence on a promise that he will give a 50 per cent. Australian content to his programmes, that should be a condition upon the licence.
– Irrespective of quality?
– No. I have already indicated as the second great obligation upon them -
– You would express that as a first condition on the licence?
– I would express it, but I also had in mind that section 99 (1.) imposes the highest obligations in the matter of standards and that the question of standards is under the control of the board as well.
– Of course it is true, too, that these undertakings are given on oath.
– They are given on oath. They are given solemnly, and there should be no question when they are given in those terms about their endorsement as a firm condition. If a company gets a prize of the type I have described on such an assurance, how can the licensee object to it being written on to the licence as a condition? How can anybody object, if the licensee breaches it, as the vast majority of them have done, if the licence is reviewed and suspended or even taken away? What is wrong with some elements of penalty and sanction upon breach of an honorable undertaking? After all, we are dealing, as I have said, with a most potent influence that goes into almost every home in the nation, so I support that recommendation very strongly.
The committee next adverts to section 114 which imposes on the Broadcasting Commission and the licensees the obligation to use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of programmes. The board has sought to enforce that provision by asking the Minister to write letters to the licensees, but the letters are completely disregarded and neither the board nor the Minister does anything about it. The committee says of that procedure that it is quite wrong, that it abrogates from the board the power of control that Parliament intended should be used by the board without ministerial intervention, and also that it makes use of a ministerial power in an indirect way which, again, Parliament did not intend. That is the point of criticism - and a well-justified criticism - that the committee makes of this practice, which is completely wrong from every viewpoint, that has grown up in the administration of television.
I refer now to paragraph 78 on page 6. I will not detail it, but examples are given one by one in a lengthy list of the inadequacy of the control exercised by the Broadcasting Control Board over the television licences. The committee makes an additional recommendation in paragraph 31. It asks that the board’s establishment be varied so as to have a chairman, two full-time members and five part-time members. The variation on the present situation is that it proposes that there be five parttime members instead of two. It says that the board should hold public hearings when applications are determined and when applications for renewal are made. There is great virtue in that request because it certainly does give all those interested bodies which gave evidence to the committee an opportunity to put a viewpoint in public and to utter their criticisms. It is proposed that at least one of the new members should be a married woman.
– Why married?
– For the reason that under normal circumstances I should1 say that she would be representative of more people than the single lady. One would anticipate, in the case of a married lady, at least a family. I think it is most important that a person who has the care of young and adolescent children should have a viewpoint to express in relation to this fascinating but dangerous medium of television. On page 7 the committee says that it has no hesitation in concluding that commercial stations provide far too many programmes which not only do not have the effect of raising the standard of public taste but actually have the reverse effect. The answer on behalf of commercial television to this allegation is to the effect that commercial television is giving the public what it wants.
The committee then passes on to consider the interpretation and discharge of the statutory obligations by commercial television. It sets out its recommendations on the earlier portion in paragraphs 29, 30 and 31. I should like now to pass to paragraph 32 of the report where, in particular, the question of the threefold function of commercial television companies is raised. On page 9 there is the interesting information that of the total time used in peak viewing, hours, 85 per cent, is drama and 21.83 per cent, is crime. The comment is made here that the type of programmes depicting crime, horror and violence shown to the Australian family during peak time is, in the opinion of the committee, an undoubted breach of the provisions of the standards.
At page 10 of its report, the select committee has directed attention to children’s programmes and has stated that though they are well defined in the standards -
None of the subjects, in the four categories enumerated in the Standards, is included by many stations in “ regular sessions for children “ and the neglect thereof on the part of the commercial stations and the lack of supervision on the part of the Board is equally unsatisfactory.
This criticism runs right through the whole of the report. The select committee recommended -
Then the committee recommended that there should be an annual television convention organized by the Australian television council suggested by the select committee, at which organized public debates and discussion between the public and the industry shall be held. That, of course, would be most salutary. The select committee pointed out that many of the changes and’ obligations that it proposed should be cast on licensees would take time to develop, particularly the provision of more Australian drama. For that reason, the select committee recommends that the renewal period of a licence be extended from one year to three years. One cannot but accept that particular provision.
In Part V. of the report, the select committee passes to a consideration of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and it directs attention to the fact that one of the great hampering factors is the lack of finance for that body. In Part II., the select committee recommends that sections 59 and 67 of the Broadcasting and1 Television Act be amended to enable live drama to be presented by the A.B.C. as public entertainment which is intended to be televised later from the studio. Senator Wright was critical of that, claiming that it was too remote from the functions for which the commission was appointed.
– Not the establishment of the theatre.
– Not the theatre?
– No. Dramatic schools are all right.
– This particular recommendation goes further than that. It is a provision that the A.B.C. be authorized 1o do in relation to live drama what it is authorized to do with musical presentations.
– I have no objection to that.
– That is good. I am mistaken in saying that Senator Wright dissented from that particular pro posal. In Part I., the select committee stated that there was public disquiet with the programmes from both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial television, adding -
The committee stated that there was this difference - that while the Australian Broadcasting Commission was trying to provide programmes that were adequate, comprehensive and in the public interest, commercial television was making an inadequate attempt to do this.
In Part V. of the report, the select committee referred to eight factors affecting more successful attainment of its objectives by the A.B.C. I am not proposing to run through all of these in any detail but I shall advert to them. The select committee pointed out that it took the Australian Broadcasting Commission anything from three to five years to effect the completion of the planning and construction of a new studio. It does not lay the blame on the A.B.C. for that. It refers to the lack of adequate finance and points to the tendency on the part of the A.B.C. to compete with commercial television in the type of programme it presents. We have already had sufficient criticism on that point in the course of this debate.
The committee considers there is a failure by the A.B.C. to cater adequately for minority and special interests. It states that there is an inadequacy of Australian drama and at this point the select committee points out that the A.B.C. spends about six times as much upon music as it does upon drama. It points out that the A.B.C. has given great help in setting up symphony orchestras and in music generally has attained world standard, but we have attained through the A.B.C. only a very poor standard in drama.
There is a concentration by the A.B.C. on dramatic productions in Melbourne and Sydney, according to the select committee. It deals also with the relationship of the A.B.C. to the film industry and describes it as not being co-operative. It points to the weakness of participation by the A.B.C. in Australian programmes of Australian origin of a non-dramatic nature. There is a recommendation - on which I think I am right in saying that Senator Wright dissents - that the members of the A.B.C. should be increased from seven to ten. This is one of the few matters, apart f.om finance, on which Senator Wright records dissent. in paragraph 57 at page 14 of the select committee’s report, the committee sets out ils recommendations in relation to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. It asks that the inadequacies of programmes to which it has referred be considered by the commission. The committee asks that the A.B.C. give consideration to the greater utilization of Australian professional theatrical productions in its television programme and that it adopt a more extensive policy of decentralization in regard to dramatic productions. Other recommendations are -
That the Commission place more emphasis, qualitatively and quantitatively, upon dramatic productions and ensure that progressively the existing imbalance in the apportionment of financial resources between music and drama be rectified.
That the Commission give immediate consideration to extending an invitation to stage artists of world repute including directors to visit Australia from lime to lime.
The committee did point out that the A.B.C. brought artists of international repute in music in great profusion from abroad to their great advantage and to the advantage of the people of Australia. The committee asked that that practice be extended to drama.
I pass now to the question of Australian drama with which the select committee deals in Part VI of its report. I think it was this aspect of the matter which initially prompted Senator Hannan to move for the establishment of the select committee. In paragraph 59 of its report, the committee stated -
Drama is recognized as having the greatest psychological and emotional impact upon the audience of all types of television programmes.
I have already dealt with that point. The select committee recorded that 54.5 per cent, of all time occupied by commercial television stations is devoted to drama. In peak time, 85.26 per cent, is devoted to drama and 13.21 per cent, to light entertainment. The select committee put it in this way -
More than- half the total transmission time of each station throughout Australia is taken up by drama and drama comprises 85 of every 100 hours of “ peak “ viewing time.
The committee commented that the Australian content of televised dramatic programmes is insignificant. In 1963, it represented less than 1 per cent, of the total time occupied as against 51.02 per cent, occupied by imported drama. Indigenous Australian drama is almost completely non-existent. The select committee reported that the. Australian Broadcasting Control Board had no plans for reversing this situation and that the A.B.C. had very little more.
The committee pointed out that of the films imported for television in 1963, 83 per cent, came from the United States of America and 17 per cent, from Great Britain. The committee pointed out that this has had the effect of inducing a general acceptance of American values in Australia. I do not think the committee was being critical of American values when it said that, but was pointing to the need to develop our own particular type of culture. We have developed it in sport. We have quite distinct characteristics which are worthy of development. I am sure it is the view of the committee that we should set out not to denigrate American standards but to assert our own Australian outlook.
The committee pointed out that in the postwar years radio drama had achieved pre-eminence. I can recall looking forward to the hourly programmes at 8 p.m. on Sunday nights that were developed very extensively and very artistically, and which technically were as good as anything in the world. But with the advent of television this activity declined and has now almost disappeared. Television, with its heavy reliance upon imported drama, has done nothing to help Australian drama. The result is that Australian actors are leaving Australia for overseas, as also are our dramatists. Australian dramatists living in Australia are selling their scripts to Britain and the United States of America. Those countries send back films produced from the scripts. The committee, in paragraph 66, summarizes its views interestingly as follows: -
We are virtually subsidizing the American television film industry; neglecting our own; importing large quantities of television programmes and exporting that precious and irreplaceable article, our Australian artist.
Looking at the reasons for this the committee found, first, that drama generally speaking is the most expensive of the television programmes to present. From the viewpoint of the commercial television companies, that is one reason why they have not hitherto been really interested in this field. The committee, after investigation, points out that whilst we in this country have an advantage in the production costs of drama and film presentations over both the United States of America and Great Britain, we lose that advantage altogether when it comes to the sales department. Great Britain and the United States have huge home markets in which they can recover their production costs and, no doubt, to a fair degree, make a profit. We in Australia have both a limited market and no overseas contacts at all, whereas both the United States and Britain make large sales of their film products outside their own countries. This is a matter that has to be cured. It is exceedingly difficult without some government direction and leadership lo expect television companies, despite the great profitability of their assets, to buy local productions when they can buy productions that are suitable to them, if not to the public, for about one-fifth of what they would have to pay for Australian productions.
The committee points out that the Minister, in one of those letters that he was not authorized to write, had asked the television stations to come up to a quota of 40 per cent. Australian content. This has not been achieved. Commencing on 1st January of next year, he has imposed a new quota of 45 per cent. Of course, if the television stations take no notice of him, as in the past, that request will be quite futile and will be disregarded. The committee recommends that the approach to the production of more Australian drama should be by two methods. The first is, in the short term, to produce drama for sale and dissemination in Australia only. The committee knows this will cost money. For that reason and others, the committee proposes that the term of a licence after the first five years should be extended by a three-year period. Then, the committee says, if we really want to develop the film industry it has to be done on the basis that we not only have sales for our films and our drama in this country but also that we have well-established opportunities overseas. Nothing has been done to exploit that particular avenue at all.
As a remedy for the neglect of drama in this country the committee recommends, mainly in paragraph 84, that quotas should be established for drama produced in Australia. However, the committee suggests that 3 per cent, of the 9 per cent, should be indigenous drama - that is, drama both written and produced in this country. It allows time for that to be developed. The committee points to the difficulty of obtaining good actors in Australia, with our best actors going overseas. It also points out that, having regard to certain relevent factors, the Australian actor, even if continuously engaged in successive productions, cannot earn as much per week as the unskilled labourer. It points to the fact that the live theatre is the Teal home of the actor and the producer, and also the training ground for those artists.
– Should not the conditions of employment of artists be in accordance with the terms of an award?
– Yes. I say to the honorable senator that I did not think there was any real disagreement between himself and the members of the committee.
– Except that I did not think we were competent to say what was a reasonable figure. It had to be fixed by people whom we regarded as competent.
– I point out to the honorable senator that the committee, in paragraph 88, said -
Whilst the Committee appreciates the fact that the matter of basic rates of payment is a matter for arbitration, it feels obliged to express the view that Australia can. never hope to build up a highly qualified body of competent actors unless their remuneration bears some proper relationship to the high degree of skill and artistry that is required of this profession.
– Did the committee not say that the rates are altogether too low?
– It did express that view. I do not know whether the honorable senator regards that as being correct or not. The recommendation of the committee was that the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, commercial television, the professional theatre and Actors Equity should confer upon the matter of improved rates and conditions of employment for actors. In other words, the committee suggested conciliation as a precedent to arbitration. I felt in actual fact that the honorable senator’s own view was in strict accord with that of the other committee members.
– Yes, but I was not prepared to subscribe to the statement that the rates already fixed were too low. I thought that would only cause dissatisfaction in the industry and that it was an opinion that we were not competent to give.
– I notice the honorable senator did not dissent from the sentence that I read out.
– That sentence indicated that, although the ordinary actor was in continuous employment from one commission to another, he did not earn as much as the unskilled labourer. If the honorable senator subscribes to that particular proposition, I am amazed that he did not also subscribe to the proposition that the earnings of the actor were too low. lt was just one element in the honorable senator’s dissent for which I did not see a reason. That is why I am dwelling on it. 1 understand the view that there ought to be arbitration, discussion and agreement, but if he accepts the proposition that the actor gets less than an unskilled labourer I do not think he will balk at the proposition that the actors earnings are to low.
The committee recommended that the commission should take the initiative in setting up a theatre devoted to the production of indigenous drama. Senator Wright dissents from the proposition, not that it be set up, but that the funds should be jointly provided by the A.B.C, the Elizabethan Theatre Trust and the proposed television council. Senator Wright’s concern - he has made his position perfectly clear - is mainly that the users of television should find the round £1,000,000 that the committee thinks will be required to implement all of its recommendations. That position is completely understandable and defensible. The committee looked at that proposition and apparently did not accept it. I have no doubt that the committee was influenced by the fact that last year, in sales tax and excise duty, the Government collected over £8,000,000 from the industry.
– But this industry, along with all others, has to make its contribution to defence and social services.
– -That is so, but I should say that the Government must take cognizance of the fact that this brand-new industry, conceded this vast monopoly, is another great source of revenue to the Government from pay-roll tax, income tax, and the general run of taxes in the community. The excise duties on cathode ray tubes and that type of thing are not the beginning and the end of the revenue that the Commonwealth collects annually. The sales tax is very heavy. The committee itself gave full particulars of the amount collected from: sales tax.
– We do not return to the baking industry, for instance, the sales tax that we take from’ it. It is for the general purposes of running the country.
– It is for general purposes, but here is a vast revenue arising from a new activity, a new industry, the proprietors of which have been given a terrific concession by the nation.
The committee’s whole report is most interesting. It points out that we have at least the genesis of a film industry in the 41 commercial concerns that are in the field, mainly engaged in the preparation of commercials and documentaries. There is a nucleus. I am happy to learn that Senator Wright supports the recommendation for a loan-subsidy or subsidy set out in paragraph 111.
– Putting full faith and trust in the responsibility of the people who will administer it.
– That is right - in the proposed television council under the Minister. 1 regret that the honorable senator saw fit to dissent from the recommendation for helping the industry by allowing it a faster write-off of capital assets, and that he was not prepared to support the proposition that the Australian investor in that type of company should be allowed special concessions by means of tax-free deductions and matters of that nature.
I thought that the committee made a vastly important contribution on the question of research, lt has made a recommendation that there be a determintion, first, on what is to be the subject-matter of research. It is suggested that research should be administered through the proposed television council. I skip the important and comprehensive discussions of children’s programmes. I dwell on the proposals for the establishment of a television council, which I support, only to say that the committee points out that the Minister is without advice which is disinterested. He is advised on technical matters by the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs and on other matters by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The committee proposes the establishment of a television council, which, in addition to advising the Minister generally, will deal with research and various other activities.
I should like to refer to the committee’s recommendations in relation to education, lt has not had the opportunity of investigating this matter very fully but it has made a very firm recommendation that not all television channels be allocated without reserving one for educational purposes. I should like to direct the attention of the committee to an article in the Launceston “ Examiner “ on 28th March last by one Graeme Foster, deputy headmaster of Brookside school, Launceston, who at the moment is studying television teaching in American schools on a Ford Foundation scholarship. He points out that there was an experiment in the schools of Hagerstown, which is near Washington, D.C., seven years ago. These grew from small beginnings to very great things. The system has now spread throughout the whole country and has had quite dramatic results in improving the advancement of children who have had its advantage over those who have not. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate the article in “ Hansard “.
Lessons were first televised to schools in Hagerstown, Maryland, seven years ago.
Since then this has developed into one of the most ambitious projects in the use of television for school education and has now acquired world renown.
Hagerstown, 60 miles north-east of Washington (D.C.), a civil war battlefield, is a small town in a county of some 90,000 people.
In this school system of 21,000 students, teachers in primary schools were once called upon to teach all subjects.
Notable among the neglected areas in primary schools were subjects like arithmetic, art, science and music.
Although subject supervisors existed in these fields they were never able to visit all schools frequently enough to make a sufficient impact.
In high schools increased student population complicated a genuine desire to upgrade instruction.
So it was that with assistance from the Ford Foundation and other industries provision was made by the Board of Education to provide televised lessons on selected subjects to all schools in Washington County for a five-year period and to evaluate the result.
Teachers were selected from the regular teaching staff. These studio teachers were relieved of all classroom responsibilities and given an office in the Television Centre-.
The studio teacher had to be an outstanding, professionally trained teacher who could meet the demanding tasks of teaching on television.
He teaches only one 20-minute lesson each school day but he usually spends from eight to twelve hours a day in preparation.
This involves planning content and the sequence in which concepts are presented, selecting film clips, slides, models, and charts, working with staff artists on original models, .specimens or charts required and finally preparing study sheets for distribution to the several thousand students who watch the lesson.
Thus, the preparation of lessons becomes a work-a-day effort and not an evening assignment.
In planning their work, the educators at Hagerstown decided first of all that television must not be given undue importance in the curriculum. All classroom teachers were to be closely associated with the planning of courses.
During the summer vacation lengthy meetings were held when studio and class teachers reviewed the courses, their content and presentation.
Here, too, an effort was made to ensure a sound balance between functions assumed by television teachers and classroom teachers.
A complete closed circuit television system was installed.
The television centre was equipped with six studios including a film chain for the presentation of movie film, slides and film strips, and a video tape machine.
By means of the 115 miles of coaxial cable it was possible to present six television lessons simultaneously on six different channels of the 800 television receivers in the 45 schools serving 21,000 students.
In Hagerstown the classroom teacher may be one of the many teachers in the 45 schools who are preparing to watch an identical 20-minute telecast which at a scheduled hour will be viewed by a thousand or more pupils.
He is deeply involved in the telecast because he has helped plan ils content and has suggested which part of the learning problem it should deal wilh and because he prepares his pupils for the telecast so that it will lose none of its impact. They usually anticipate the lesson by reading, discussion and pupil-teacher planning.
An average of 25 lessons are telecast daily. These are integrated with the regular instruction and make up about 10 per cent, of the total teaching.
Primary school telecasts are planned for 15 to 25 minutes each and high school telecasts are planned for 25 or 50 minutes depending upon the nature of the course and the number of times it is laught a week.
The list of subjects taught is wide and includes arithmetic, art, reading skills, music, science, French, social studies, Spanish, biology and chemistry.
In addition to these regular courses, “ advanced mathematics”, a university-level course for senior high school students, is presented before school each morning and during the lunch hour.
What has been the result of this experiment? There are two major ones. Firstly, the local Education Department is continuing the programme indefinitely.
Secondly, similar systems have been installed all over the country.
Why has this been so? The answer is simple - careful measurement of achievements in most instances has shown a decided improvement.
In 1960, tests showed that 42 per cent, of the grade VI. math, students had achieved a level comparable to second-year high school students or higher.
Before television, only 12 per cent, of the pupils in grade VI. achieved first year high school level or higher. 1-low does this figure compare with achievements in other schools? The grade V arithmetic classes were tested by means of a universally used Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
After one year of television, they recorded 12 per cent, higher scores than the nation’s school average.
The next year these same grade V. classes topped 49 per cent, of the nation’s schools and the following year they did better than the pupils in SI per cent, of the schools in the United States.
No longer is it a question of whether television has a role to play in education but by what means thai role can be most effectively carried out.
Not only has Washington County, Maryland, shown the way, it has demonstrated its willingness to help others along the path to better quality education. 1 conclude by expressing my thanks to the committee for its great work and the great thought that it has given to this matter of national importance. I say again that I I shall be disappointed if we do not hear from the Government as to its outlook on this matter. I hope that everybody in the Senate will combine in pursuing this matter to ensure that the work and the recommendations of the committee are not wasted and that the report is not put away in some pigeon hole, never to be looked at again. There is a duty upon us to do that. I express to every member of the committee my deep sense of obligation for the work that has been done, for directing my mind to the shortcomings of television, and for pointing out so clearly the remedial action that ought to be taken.
– 1 wish to congratulate the committee upon its report, which is introduced at a period of crisis in the history of entertainment in Australia. All over the world this is a problem. In America, Great Britain, Europe, and even in the Soviet Union, authorities are very concerned about the effect of television. The committee’s report is an historic document and I hope that it is not left in a pigeon hole. I am rather concerned that no Minister has expressed any views on the report, and I hope that before finality is reached the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) or his deputy will say where the Government stands on the vital issues raised in it. I picked up at random just a few clippings out of last week’s press. One headline in the “Bulletin” reads, “A Radio Revolution “. Everybody is concerned about what is going on. Another headline reads, “ Government Disturbing T.V. Licence Plan “. Still another reads, “ Nationalization of T.V. would be Suicide “. The newspaper fears nationalization in this instance. A heading in “ Broadcasting and Television News” reads, “United States Television Faces up to its Greatest Trial “. This is current criticism. Yet another heading reads, “ United States Religious Imports Slated “. That reference is to the influence of religious broadcasts and television programmes in America. The new hotgospellers have taken over. Some of them are coming into this country and buying radio and television space in order to preach new gospels. That is another aspect of television which causes concern. Another caption reads, “ Mr. Bennett, one of the big men in the industry, discusses radio before a television audience “. Again concern is being expressed.
The select committee was appointed in a period of great moment and great responsibility, and I congratulate it upon its report. It had a difficult subject. For example, it was required to discuss what is quality in television, what moral issues are involved in television, whether the Australian content of programmes is sufficient and whether Australian drama measures up to required standards. All of them are subjects on which nobody can get strong views. Millions of pounds have been lost by people trying to entertain the public in the field of the theatre.
What is quality? The other night Channel 9 televised a programme called the “ Glittering Mile “. I was horrified when 1 saw the film, and I was even more horrified when 1 discovered that I was the only one in the area who was horrified at it.
– What was wrong wilh ii?
– For at least twenty minutes of the hour, the film dealt with night scenes at King’s Cross. When I first raised the matter in the Senate by way of question I did so because I had been informed that the film was to be exported from Australia. I had heard it said in the circles in which I move that this film would be a good show for the tourist traffic. There were those who thought that possibly it would be, but I disagreed wilh them. In 20 to 25 minutes it crowded together a series of incidents to be seen and experiences to be gained in King’s Cross if one goes there and stays there long enough. The film gave the impression that this was King’s Cross as it really is. I do not suggest that there are not technical difficulties for photographers and the television people in eliminating those things, but one aspect that did worry me was the picture of the women of the street picking up sailors on the street. When I saw that. I though that there would be a lot of mothers all over Australia who would be feeling a bit worried on Saturday night, if they saw this film, about what was happening to their sons at King’s Cross. It was suggested to me that in a seaboard town you must have this sort of thing, that when the sailors come in they have to be looked after. And you do hear that expression of view in most unexpected places.
– Would it not be just as logical for many of the mothers to be worrying about what was happening to their daughters?
Senator ORMONDE__ That is right.
The film also dealt with a form of witchery practised in King’s Cross. It referred to only an isolated incident. It referred to a certain woman who claims that she has certain powers of witchery, whatever they might be. She was given five minutes in the film.
– She certainly looked the part.
– You are quite right. You probably have seen the picture. The film went on to depict males who were impersonating females. I suppose that if one were viewing the film merely for purposes of entertainment, that could be called interesting. I am told that some people thought it was quite all right, but my objection to it was based on the fact that I understood that the film was to be sent outside Australia. I understand now that the possibilities are that it will not be exported; but at the time I thought it was being exported as an example of the life in King’s Cross and that the purpose of exporting it was to depict those things as tourist attractions.
– What did you think of the export of the “ Summer of the Seventeenth Doll “?
– I have no ideas about that. I am referring only to the film that we have under review now. What I have said gets back to the committee’s problems, and that is my reason for mentioning this matter. As honorable senators have probably read in the press, this programme has had quite a bit of publicity. The picture has been re-screened and on the Sunday following the re-screening I was surprised when seventeen or eighteen poeple called me on the telephone to disagree with my point of view. Very few others agreed with me although many of them showed toleration of what I had said. As I said in the press yesterday, I am no square, but I see certain dangers in glamorizing vice. And this is vice, is it not?
– Largely, yes.
– And if you televise it you are glamorizing and advertising it. I would say by doing so you are inviting other youths to join in getting this easy £1 that the people depicted in the film seemed to get. It was said during the screening of the film that the males who were impersonating females worked as dressmakers or hairdressers, l hold the view that this sort of programme is not quality, yet I have heard other people say that it is topquality production, and is a true documentary film of what life in Sydney actually is. That might be correct. I know this sort of thing goes on; I do not deny that it goes on. But my feeling is that the television station, or the company that produced the film, had some moral obligation to the community - the select committee points out it should have - to see that the right types of films are screened on television. I am surprised at the public’s toleration of this form of entertainment, but there is nothing that I can do about it. I do not suppose that I will live long enough to reform the world, and I do not intend to try to reform it, but I think there should be a more conscious effort on the part of the television companies and those who deal in the theatre to give the people a better standard of entertainment.
I completely agree with the committee’s report wilh regard to documentaries. All honorable senators were interested when the programme “ Four Corners “ went off the Australian Broadcasting Commission stations. It will be remembered that at that stage there was a lot of propaganda and all sorts of clap-trap and attacks in this chamber. The matter was under public inquiry and review for a long time but, to cut a long story short, the Australian Broadcasting Commission went out of documentaries. I think I am right in saying that before it did so, the commercial television stations did not handle documentaries. 1 think it can be said truthfully that the Australian Broadcasting Commission had almost a monopoly of documentary audiences with its “ Four Corners “ programme. But something happened to Michael Charlton. People with money have all sorts of ways of doing things, and Mr. Charlton went overseas to engage in the industry there. When he went away the Australian Broadcasting
Commission wound up that programme and the commercial stations went into the documentary field.
– The Australian Broadcasting Commission only suspended the programme. For how long was it off? lt was off for only about seven weeks, I think.
– That does not affect the point I am making. The commercial stations are now in documentaries, but previously they were not.
I have a few other views to express on this matter. The provision of entertainment for the people is a very difficult task, and the committee had a very difficult job to do in trying to find a solution to an almost perpetual problem. If honorable senators throw their minds back over the years they will remember that in the 1930’s there were something like 26 or 27 live theatres in Sydney. Then the depression came along. The live theatres continued to operate but the price of entry was low and the artists’ wages were low. Theatre people were picked up on the corner of Park-street and Pitt-street. They called it Poverty Point. Each city had its Poverty Point, where the artists of the community - the stage people - went to get jobs, working for very low pay. Then the war came along, with nearly full employment, and the artists went to work in other jobs, so the live theatres closed down everywhere. Then the picture shows came into their own. They made their millions and now they, in turn, are going out of business. They have gone out of business all over the world. They are going out of business in every town in New South Wales. Every time a television station opens in a big country town, the picture show closes down.
That is the case in all our cities and towns, because the people finally determine what entertainment they want. I think Senator Wright expressed the view that the people determine and finally get what they want in the form of entertainment. Now, of course, television has taken over, but I do not think that we should lose hope altogether. Although the position seems pretty hopeless for the Australian artist, the American industry has been through all this. It will be remembered that Hollywood went through its period of crime productions and that the public reaction against them was such that Hollywood then went into the production of religious films.
– And what a mess they made of it.
– That is beside the point. I am pointing out that this committee examined a problem which has baffled the best brains in the world, and which, in particular, has baffled the entrepreneurs of entertainment, who for that reason, have not made fortunes. If you cast your mind back over the theatre in Australia you will realize that the J. C. Williamson organization to-day is only a shadow of what it used to be. Where the Criterion Theatre once was there is now a hotel. All over our cities you find that the hotels have moved in where the theatres used to be, and that television has taken over the field of entertainment. This problem has been experienced in America, where those concerned are beginning to realize their moral and social responsibilities.
I have here a note from one of the latest television and radio magazines, which shows a return to the sponsorship of controversial programmes on television networks. The sponsors see an advantage in that, All over America programmes introducing political controversy have been sponsored by major advertisers. I have in mind the last programme of this kind we had in the political sphere, where the viewer met the candidate, and that sort of thing. It may be possible to get revenue and audiences by sponsoring that sort of programme on television if we cannot give the people the sort of culture we want to give them in the form of Australian drama. The people will have Australian drama only if they want it.
I am in favour of doing everything possible to build up Australian drama, and I think that can be done by assisting the people who are helping to develop drama in this country. The other night a relative of mine was playing the lead in a performance by the Workers Educational Association Little Theatre Movement. The play ran for a week in the A.M.P. theatre in Sydney.It had an audience of 40 people on the first night, 50 on the second night and so on throughout the week. The artists all had great talent and they loved drama. I think the Government could help by sponsoring works of education and drama. It ought to be able to find some way of helping these people. Most of the amateur theatrical groups, whose members hope finally to become professionals, are operating on a shoe-string all the time.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 April 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640414_senate_25_s25/>.