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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) . - I have quite a lot of notes on this matter and, as Senator Wright has stated a case, I think that, for the record, they should be recorded in " Hansard ". I might say that I am grateful for Senator Hannan's interjection, also. Section 92 (3.) provides that a person shall not contravene Section 92 (1.) by reason of -

(a)   the holding of interests in licensee companies which holdings were acquired prior to 17th December, 1964, if these holdings did not result in a contravention of the existing provisions of Section 92 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1964, or in respect of which holdings, action has been taken after that date which would not have resulted in a contravention of existing Section 92 if such action had been taken prior to that date. The sub-section also applies even if there is an increase in the proportion of the interests held by the paying off of loans or the redemption of a class of shares.

(b)   the holding of interests acquired after 17th December, 1964, if the Minister has certified in writing that the acquisition of the interests has been approved by him for the purposes of this Act as part of a scheme of re-arrangement, consistent with the prohibitions that were contained in Section 92 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1964, of matters resulting through a transaction entered into before 17th December, 1964;

(c)   an allotment or issue of shares or debentures to a person after 17th December, 1964, in accordance with rights enjoyed by him in common with the other holders of the particular type of shares or debentures, where the original holdings, to which the rights apply, were acquired before that date. This provision permits a person to accept a new issue of shares or debentures in respect of holdings which he acquired prior to 17th December, 1964. Such a new issue would not result normally in any increase in the percentage holdings of the person concerned but if it did, because of say, a class of shareholder or debenture holder not being entitled to participate in the new issue, this is permissible.

Here we come to the more direct provisions. My notes continue -

The provisions of section 92 (3.) have the effect that the new provisions of Division 3 of Part IV of the Act will not apply retrospectively to interests acquired in licensee companies prior to 17th December 1964, which were not in contravention of the existing provisions of the Act. There would bc serious difficulties in making the provisions of the Bill apply retrospectively, as apart from being required to divest themselves of interests held directly in licensee companies, the persons (including companies) involved would in many instances be required to divest themselves of shareholding interests in companies other than licensee companies where the acquisition of those interests had involved indirect interests in television companies which, though not significant in terms of the existing legislation, would become significant under the new provisions, and even though these interests were acquired in the normal course of business.

In all the circumstances, 1 think that the purpose of this provision, as Senator Hannan said, is simply to protect the position in future and, at the same time, to give some reasonable protection in regard to things done in good faith prior to the prescribed date.

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