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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr JOLLY (Lilley) .- I support the amendment. The report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the year ended the 30th June, 1941, was submitted to Parliament only recently, after I had asked whether it had been made available. The accounts of the Postmaster-General's Department for the last financial year are not yet ready, and that condition of affairs is most unsatisfactory. I realize that an organization like the Australian Broadcasting Commission cannot present a statement of income and expenditure and a balancesheet at the close of the financial year, but it should be able to do so within six months thereafter. I should like to know whether this provision is contained in the existing act.

Mr Blackburn - It is not.

Mr JOLLY - I direct attention to the words " statement of income and expenditure " in sub-clause 1.

Mr Beasley - That is a departure from the act.

Mr JOLLY - Yesterday, I criticized the action of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in covering up losses in items of " other expenditure ". That is a most serious matter. In the year before the launching of the A.B.C. Weekly, " other expenditure " totalled £17,000, and the Australian Broadcasting Commission, in publishing its accounts, set out all the details including the cost of printing, stationery, telephone charges, travelling expenses and postage stamps. In the following year, that item had increased to £60,000, because the A.B.C. Weekly had been founded, and was produced at a substantial loss. All the expenses relating to this journal are not covered in that item. For example, the salaries of the staff engaged on the A. B.C. Weekly have been included among the salaries of the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and the revenue from the journal has been included in "other revenue ". I was not able to glean that information from the accounts of the commission or from the Auditor-General's report; I was obliged to write for detail? to the acting general manager. It is a most serious matter, in public accounts, to cover up such big losses, and if the practice be permitted to continue, it will create suspicion in the minds of honorable members and the public. Regardless of the loss, the commission should set out the information clearly. One of the excuses given to me for the present procedure was that the commission did not wish parties who are interested in the publication of similar radio journals to know the real loss shown on the operations of the A.B.C. Weekly. Thereupon, the rumour spread that the loss was between £60,000 and £70,000, whereas the real figure was approximately £30,000. I support the amendment, because I consider that the accounts should be presented to Parliament within a reasonable period..

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