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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) . - Up to the present time, the commission has not owned any extensive property upon which it could pay rates. Over a number of years it has been building up a fund with which it proposes eventually to erect studios in all capital cities. However, the outbreak of war and the action of the previous Government, prevented the expenditure of this money, and the commission was obliged to invest it in government securities. Therefore, the commission has not had the opportunity to establish a practice in regard to payments to local governing authorities. So far, it has erected only a portion of a studio in Melbourne. In Sydney, it rents premises which are scattered all over the city, and in Hobart and Adelaide also it occupies rented property. I am afraid that the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) will have to trust to the discretion of the commission in deciding whether ex gratia payments should be made to municipal authorities when ths commission eventually becomes the owner of property. There is nothing in the bill to prevent it from making such payments. I point out, however, that the commission, has probably contributed much more to municipalities, by way of rates and taxes, than most other tenants of buildings, because it has been paying very high rents. Many municipalities would welcome the establishment by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of regional stations within their districts. A regional station costs the postmaster-General's Department about £70,000, and there is the cost of erecting the building, so the expenditure helps to raise the rates of the municipality. Local governing authorities really should not worry about ex gratia payments in view of the advantages which they receive from the expenditure of such large sums of public money.

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