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Thursday, 11 July 1946

Mr FALSTEIN (Watson) .- I had expected the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) to relate his remarks to clause 39. In his discussion of the clause before the committee he said that it had relevancy to clauses 31 and 39.

He then proceeded to relate his remarks to clause 31, but not to clause 39. It seems clear that the object of the Opposition is to make public the business activities of the commission which is to control overseas telecommunications. Honorable members opposite desire to force the Government to reveal the business activities of the . commission to its trading competitors such as Standard Telephones and Cables Proprietary Limited. As we have been informed that the tangible assets to be taken over exceed £1,000,000 in value, a total of £3,000,000 seems reasonable.

Mr Fadden - The tangible assets are valued at only' about £500,000.

Mr FALSTEIN - If I were to cite figures in the way that the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) does, I should be stating figures which are not in accordance with the facts. The right honorable gentleman has persisted in saying that the value of these shares is about 30s. lid. each. He relates that amount to the tangible assets of the company. In reply, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) pointed out that Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and Cable and Wireless Limited have other intangible assets, such as longterm agreements for certain rights which have. a money value. If the right honorable gentleman persists in making statements which are not in accordance with the facts, I must take him to task.

Mr Fadden - The honorable member is a member of tick-tock - a very watchful member.

Mr FALSTEIN - I am tired of these attempts at jokes. It is clear that when members of the Opposition cannot answer the arguments advanced by their opponents they resort to the Aristotelian fallacy of ad hominem. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said that there was no embargo on the commission borrowing ad infinitum to the limit, of the financial resources of the Commonwealth Bank, but a reading of clause 29 would have revealed to him the weakness of his argument. That clause reads -

For the purpose of enabling the Commission to meet such expenditure as is necessary for the purpose of this Act, the Treasurer may advance to the Commission - (ft) 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. . . .

That is clear, but apparently the honorable member for Barker has difficulty in understanding English. The Leader of the Australian Country party said that the sum of £3,000,000 was a faked figure.

Mr Fadden - I did not say that.

Mr FALSTEIN - On the other hand, the honorable member for Warringah was satisfied that the Government had estimates before it when it decided that £3,000,000 was a proper amount to include in the bill.

Mr Spender - I said that the Government either plucked a figure out of the air. or had estimates before it.

Mr FALSTEIN - The honorable member for Warringah has held office as Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and he knows that before any Minister places before the Parliament a figure such as has been done in this clause, estimates have been carefully scrutinized. In my opinion, the sum of £3,000,000 is adequate, having regard to the limitations imposed by clause 29, namely, that the moneys to be expended shall be raised under the authority of any act and shall not exceed in all the sum of £3,000,000. I hope that the Leader of the Australian Country party does not suggest that the whole. of that amount must be expended during this financial year. The meaning of the clause is that sums up to £3,000,- 000 will be expended by the commission as it deems necessary for the proper conduct of its affairs. I consider that any attempt by the Opposition to obtain detailed items making up this amount is an attempt to aid business competitors to obtain information for use by them in their own interests.

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