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Wednesday, 11 November 1964

Senator COHEN (Victoria) (2:38 AM) .I wish to make a few brief remarks on this measure, Mr. Deputy President. It will give effect to a number of suggestions not overwhelmingly important in character, and it makes provision in some detail for the tidying up of certain features of the principal Act. We offer no opposition to its provisions. I rise briefly to make the point that, this being a bill covering the fields of broadcasting and television, the Opposition seeks some information about the promise made last May by Sir Charles Davidson, who was then Postmaster-General, to consider amending the Act to deal with transactions in the shares of a television company resulting in the transfer of effective ownership from one person or group to another. I refer particularly to the scandalous case of the licence for the . third Brisbane commercial television station. After the Australian Broadcasting Control Board had rejected the Ansett application for the licence, the Ansett interests acquired 49 per cent, of the shares in Universal Telecasters Queensland Ltd., the company to which the licence had been granted. I do not propose to go over the ground again or to describe the extraordinary indignation that the situation aroused. But when the situation was brought to the notice of the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) he took the view that what had been done was within the terms of the Act and was not subject to any action or discipline by the Minister. The PostmasterGeneral did undertake in May last to act in this matter and he said, as reported at page 1496 of "Hansard"-

I have occupied the office of Postmaster-General for only a few months and it is a portfolio which has many implications. I am giving consideration to this matter, and I hope before very long we shall have before us an amendment which will help to clarify situations such as this.

We have not had the amendment yet, or any indication of an amendment, except that in another place yesterday the Postmaster-General, in reply to a question, indicated that he would not be able to do anything about the matter prior to the House rising, and he added -

Perhaps, in the next session of the Parliament, we may be able to have a look at the matter.

That is not good enough from the point of view of the Opposition, and in a general way, we take this opportunity to ask for some much more definite assurance from the Minister that legislation will be forthcoming to deal with this matter.

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