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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- I pass by the submission by the Minister for Customs and Excise because it does not help me but I do not wish to enter into endless discussion. I have made my point. I turn now to proposed new section 92 (3.). In order to get the drift of the proposed new sub-section one has to turn to proposed new section 92 (1 .) which provides that -

Subject to this section, a person contravenes this section if, and so long as, he has a prescribed interest in -

(a)   each of three or more licences;

I do not need to read the whole of the proposed new section. Proposed new section 92 (2.) imposes a continuous penalty and under 92(3.) -

A person shall not be taken to be in contravention of this section in relation to any licences by reason only of one or more of the following: -

(a)   the holding by him of interests in any of the companies holding the licences, being interests of which he became the holder before the prescribed date, or other circumstances that came into existence before the prescribed date, where -

(ii)   on or after the prescribed date action has been taken which, if it had been taken before the prescribed date, would have caused the holding of those interests or the existence of those other circumstances not to result in such a contravention.

Such a contravention, I believe, is in the preceding paragraph (i) which states -

(i)   the holding of those interests or the existence of those circumstances did not, immediately before the prescribed date, result in a contravention by that person of section ninety-two of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942- 1964;

I shall call it the old Act. It seems to me that this escape provision in sub-section (3.) completely excludes from the operation of the penalties given in proposed new section 92(1.) and (2.) any person who has gained a prescribed interest if the holding of that interest had not before December 1964 constituted a contravention of the old Act. What is the purpose of the new provision if a company can continue to hold interests the acquisition of which before December 1964 contravened the Government's purpose? Everybody seems to be agreed that hardly any more television licences will be issued in this country.

Senator Hannan - There will be more dealings in shares. Obviously the purpose is to prevent this position from arising in the future. If an interest was lawful when it was acquired, it will not be disturbed, but we will not tolerate that position in future in other cases.

Senator Cohen - 1 think sub-clause (3.) (a) suggests that the matter can be put right even after the prescribed date, if it would not have been unlawful to put it right before the prescribed date.

Senator WRIGHT - That is why I read sub-clause (2.) before sub-clause (1.), but I was pausing to give the thought that was due to Senator Hannan's valuable interjection.

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