Parliament on “the Wireless” in Australia
Article first published online: 10 JUN 2014
© 2014 The Author. Australian Journal of Politics and History © 2014 School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland and Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
Australian Journal of Politics & History
Volume 60, Issue 2, pages 157–176, June 2014
How to Cite
Ward, I. (2014), Parliament on “the Wireless” in Australia. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 60: 157–176. doi: 10.1111/ajph.12052
- Issue published online: 10 JUN 2014
- Article first published online: 10 JUN 2014
Australia's parliament allowed the radio broadcast of proceedings in 1946, a decade after New Zealand, but well before the “Mother of all Parliaments” in 1978. In keeping with Australia's reputation as a pioneering democracy, early interest in broadcasting parliamentary debates can be traced to the 1920s. In the formative years of “wireless” it was imagined radio might close the gap between parliaments and the public. Proceedings of the New South Wales parliament were actually broadcast for several weeks during 1932 (and before the New Zealand parliament institutionalised this practice). Tasmania experimented with parliamentary broadcasting in 1934. Australia's embrace of parliamentary broadcasting in 1946 was less carefully planned than has been suggested. It was an opportunistic, caucus-initiated Chifley government measure driven by a long-held ALP concern about newspaper bias. It was however generally justified as reform to bring the people to their Parliament and, remarkably, did have bipartisan support.