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Wednesday, 11 November 1964

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) . - I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1963 as amended by the Broadcasting and Television Act 1964. Clause 3 of the Bill seeks to amend section 106 of the principal Act. The Bills for the Broadcasting Stations Licence Fees Act 1964 and Television Stations Licence Fees Act 1964 change the basis of the licence fees to be paid by the broadcasting and television stations. In consequence, it is necessary to alter section 106 of the principal Act to provide for stations to furnish information on gross earnings as now defined.

The Bill also seeks to amend certain licensing arrangements for broadcast and television receivers. It is proposed to transfer the responsibility for taking out licences for broadcast and television receivers provided as part of the furnishings of rented premises from the tenant to the lessor. Under the present provisions it is necessary for each tenant, who has the use of a broadcast or television receiver provided by a lessor in rented premises, to take out a licence at the prescribed full annual fee for the receiver concerned. With a succession of tenants during any period of twelve months a number of such licences would thus be required in respect of the one receiver. The present legislation did not intend such a requirement and the proposed arrangements are intended to overcome this anomaly.

The present Act enables the grant of a licence with effect from a date prior to that on which it is issued. Doubts have arisen as to whether the provisions of the Act and the appropriate regulations relating to ante-dating of licences enable a person to present to the courts an antedated licence as an answer to a charge in respect of proceedings for having used an unlicensed receiver. The proposed section 126d which is referred to in clause 4 of the Bill specifies that in any proceeding for an offence against those sections of the Act which concern licences for broadcast and television receivers, an ante-dated licence shall not be assumed to have been current prior to the date on which it was issued. Clause 5 of the Bill seeks to introduce appropriate provisions to enable the Department to refund fees where there is a moral or implied legal obligation to do so. Cases arise where a licence has been taken out unnecessarily or where a person eligible for a reduced rate licence pays the full fee.

It is desirable that the Department should have authority to make the appropriate refunds in such circumstances. I commend the Bill for consideration by the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Cohen) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 12.56 to 2.15 p.m.

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