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Thursday, 26 November 1959

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) .- I suggest that the Minister and honorable members on this side of the House are at cross-purposes about this. I say that the capital aspect of this particular undertaking ought to be contrasted with something which was debated not very long ago in this House - the question of the payment of interest on some capital that is employed in the Post Office. My job is to show what is going on as we see it from this side. Here we have an undertaking given an initial amount of £500,000 and, subsequently, another £500,000. As I said to the Minister before, this £1,000,000 is not at the moment working capital at all. What has happened to that £1,000,000? It is not used in the undertaking. It has been put into Commonwealth Government securities, and the interest that is derived from those securities is brought into the income side of the undertaking. That is a very different proposition from what was argued by the Government here a few weeks ago. Such organizations should be considered as business undertakings. I do not think that the Minister will quibble when I say that this is a business undertaking.

Mr McEwen - On the contrary, I have been arguing that it is.

Mr CREAN - If it is a business undertaking it should secure some return on its capital, and not bring in an amount from outside and show it on the income side. 1 could understand this if the £1,000,000 had been advanced in the first place with, say, the idea of buying a property some time. That may be the intention. I do not know whether it is, but why all the secrecy about it? If it were used to buy a property at least the corporation would avoid paying rent, an item for which £7,000 is now provided, and there would be that much less expenditure m consequence. The £1,000,000 would be doing some work in those circumstances. But the £1,000,000 is not doing any work whatsoever.

The undertaking's invested capital is bringing in an income of £40,000 - nothing whatever to do with the undertaking's operations, but taken into account when computing the profits. I say about that what we have said about some other transactions by this Government - it is very crazy accounting.

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