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Wednesday, 7 August 1946

Mr Holloway y. - On the 19th July, the right honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Fadden) asked the following questions, upon notice -

1.   What account or accounts, fund or funds, special or otherwise, have been established or have existed since the 7th October, 1941, to date, in - (i) the Security Branch, (ii) the Crown Solicitor's Branch, (iii) the Commonwealth Investigation Branch, and (iv) any other branch of his department, from which (a) the Auditor-General has not been allowed to audit the disbursements in detail, and/or to which there is no Auditor-General's certification in detail, and/or (b) receipts for money disbursed are not either (i) kept and/or (ii) demanded from recipients of moneys therefrom, and/or (c) the disbursements were audited by a special auditor and not in the ordinary way by the Auditor-General ?

2.   What amounts of public money have been (a) paid into and (b) disbursed from each of the above accounts or funds, seriatim, which have been kept secret from the AuditorGeneral or his officers in the manner mentioned in paragraph (1)(a), and paragraph (1) (b) . and paragraph (1) (c), respectively?

3.   What are the names, if any, of all accounts mentioned in (1) (a), (1) (b) and (1) (c), respectively?

4.   Have moneys from any of the abovementioned accounts and/or funds been used either directly or through any Commonwealth instrumentality or otherwise to control, police and/or investigate communism or communistic activities, and/or any persons, matters or things associated in any way whatsoever with the Communist party of Australia?

I am now in a position to furnish the right honorable member with" the following answers: - 1 to 4. Three funds of the category referred to by the right honorable member have been in existence during the whole or portion of the period since the 7th October, 1941, namely - (i) Security Service Special Fund, established in March. 1942, and closed on the 31st December. 1945: (ii) Australian Democratic Front Fund, established in 1940 by the then AttorneyGeneral (the right honorable member for North Sydney) and closed in 1942. after its operations' had been the subject of a royal commission; (iii) Investigation Branch Special Fund, established over 30 years ago and still in existence. As to (i), during its existence, £8.66211s. 4d. was paid out of the

Security Service Special Fund. These moneys were expended in securing information in all States on all matters affecting the security of the Commonwealth, including subversive activities. As to (ii), during its existence £4,903 6s. Id. was paid out of the Australian Democratic Front. Fund which, was ordered, to be closed by the present Attorney-General as soon as he knew of. the purposes for which the moneys \yere being used. As to ( iii ) , when the present Government took office £646 . was standing to the credit of the fund and £9,000 has since been paid into the fund and £9,185 has been expended. Since the Government took office payments out of this fund have been as follows: -


Portion of these moneys has been used in investigating subversive activities in all States. This Government takes no responsibility for. the manner in which the moneys made available through the Australian Democratic Front Fund were expended, but the disbursements from the Security Service Special Fund were,* and the disbursements from the Investigation Branch Special Fund are, at all times subject to audit by the Chief Audit Inspector.

Common-wealth Services fob Newspapers.

Mr Bryson asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

1.   What services and facilities, by way of supply of Government publications and documents and the transmission of cablegrams and telegrams, are rendered to newspaper proprietors at rates less than those charged to the general public?

2.   What are the differences in the rates charged to those proprietors and those charged to the general public on such publications, documents, cablegrams and telegrams?

3.   What is the justification for the differ'ential rates?

4.   What accommodation is provided for representatives of those proprietors in .Parliament House and in Commonwealth departments?

5.   What charges are made for such accommodation ?

0.   Is the accommodation used for the purpose of facilitating the acquisition of news items by press representatives in order to maintain or increase circulation, and, consequently, the profits of- the newspaper proprietors?

7.   Do ' newspaper proprietors render any reciprocal services for those provided by the Commonwealth at public expense or at cheaper rates than those charged to the general public; if so, what is the nature of these reciprocal services?

S.   What is the estimated amount per annum saved to the newspaper proprietors through provision by the Commonwealth of services and .facilities including accommodation, (a) . wholly at public expense; and (b) at lower rates than those charged to the general public ;

Mr Calwell - The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : -

1.   No publications or documents are issued by the Post Office to newspaper proprietors at rates less than those charged to the general public. Newspapers and broadcasting under-, takings enjoy- concession rates in respect of international and internal press telegrams containing news intended for publication or broadcasting, respectively.

2.   Concerning publications and documents, see answer to No. 1. The differences in the rates for ordinary and press telegrams between Australia and other countries, are as follows: - Empire countries (excepting New Zealand and Fiji), ls. 2d. per word; foreign countries, difference varies according to destination and represents up to ls. 8d. per word for messagesto the United States of America and 2s. 7id. to China. The difference for messages transmitted within Australia on the basis of the average press message is .8d. per word for intra-state messages and .02d. per word for interstate messages.' .

3.   The practice of applying a differential ' rate to press messages is uniform throughout the world, and is in harmony with the provisions of the Telegraph Regulations annexed to the International Telecommunications Convention. In accordance with the Post and Telegraph Rates Act a similar principle is applied in the case of press telegrams transmitted within the Commonwealth.

4.   Accommodation for the press is supplied, in Parliament House, Canberra. A room for the press is .also provided in the Commonwealth Bank Buildings, Sydney, in the Victoria. Barracks, Melbourne, and facilities are also available in the Federal Members' Rooms, Brisbane. 5 6 7 and 8. (a) Replies will be furnished to- the honorable member as early as practicable. 8. (6) The reduced rates which apply to press telegrams have resulted- in a large increase in the number of such messages. If the differences bet ween the rates for ordinary and press telegrams, referred to in the answer to question No. 2, did not exist, the Australian press would have to pay approximately £102,000 more in the case of "within the Commonwealth" telegrams and £708,000 more in respect to press messages from the United Kingdom which represent the bulk of the overseas press load.

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