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Thursday, 11 July 1946

Mr CONELAN (Griffith) .- Once again, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has put up his own " Aunt Sally's ". He said that never before has a government appropriated a specific sum of money for a purpose such as that contemplated in this bill. I remind him it has been done twice in the life of this Parliament - once, when £4,000,000 was appropriated for the purpose of inaugurating the Mortgage Department of the Commonwealth Bank, and again when £3,000,000 was appropriated to establish, the Australian National Airlines Commission. Now, the Government is asking Parliament to appropriate £3,000,000 in order to nationalize telecommunications. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and the honorable member for Barker have taken certain parts of the bill out of their context. The clause providing for the appropriation of money should he read in conjunction with clauses 29 and 32. Clause 29 is as follows : -

For the purposes of enabling the Commission to meet such expenditure as is necessary for the purposes of this Act, the Treasurer may advance to the Commission -

(a)   out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund or out of the proceeds of any loan raised under the authority of any Act, which Fund and which proceeds are hereby appropriated accordingly, such amounts, not exceeding in all the sum of Three million pounds; and

(b)   out of such sums as are from time to time appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose, such further amounts, as are, in the opinion of the Minister, required by the Commission, and the Commission may accept those advances but shall not otherwise borrow moneys.

Honorable members will agree that a person buying a business would not pay down the full amount of the purchase money if that meant leaving himself short of money with which to establish himself. The Government is now asking the Parliament to appropriate £3,000,000, which will be probably more than half of the amount which will eventually have to be paid by way of compensation to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited for the loss of its telecommunication business. That is the side of the company's business which showed such substantial profit during the war. Once that asset is removed the company will be in an entirely different position. The money left after the Government has paid compensation will be put into a fund which will be audited annually by the Auditor-General, who will report to the Government and to the Parliament as to how themoney is disposed of. It seems to me that the honorable member for Barker, in criticizing the provisions of the bill, is merely trying to make political capital out of it.

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