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Tuesday, 3 May 1932

Mr NAIRN (Perth) .- The clause seems to contemplate that the commission will engage in business other than has been mentioned by the Minister. The word " exploitation " is used, whereas the British charter merely gives to the broadcasting corporation power - " to do all such other things as the corporation may deem incidental or conducive to the attainment or exercise of any of the powers of the corporation."

Mr Fenton - The word " exploited " is- used elsewhere in the charter.

Mr NAIRN - The word "exploitation " must be considered in relation to the powers given to the commission by subsequent clauses to issue debentures up to the value of £50,000.

Mr Fenton - But definitely subject to the control of the Treasurer.

Mr NAIRN - A future Treasurer may be in favour of the commission engaging in the manufacture of broadcasting and other electrical material. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) spoke as if the commission may not engage in any subsidiary business without the permission of the Minister; but actually no permission is necessary. The effect of the clause is that the commission may engage in a subsidiary business unless the Minister specifically forbids it to do so. I shall be told that the commission may require to conduct experiments, but the words " engage in business " imply producing and selling for profit. There is no justification for giving the commission the right to operate in that way. It may be necessary for that body to engage in publicity connected with broadcasting, and, therefore, clause 18 allows it to publish newspapers, magazines, and other reading matter. But I object strongly to the commission having power to engage in any business other than that specified. Australia is suffering extensively through governmental ventures in trading at the instance of non-Labour, as well as of Labour Ministers. Two notable examples are Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. In each of these undertakings the Commonwealth holds 50 per cent, of the shares, and both are costing the country a great deal of money, without yielding any commensurate benefit to the people. It would be well if the Commonwealth could dissociate itself from them. Numerous State trading concerns have been even more disastrous. Honorable members supporting this Government have repeatedly inveighed against extensions of governmental operations, believing that governments should confine themselves to the legitimate function of governing, and not engage in ordinary trading. We should express that policy in our statutes, but we shall not be true to our principles if we allow the commission to engage in any subsidiary business which is not essential to the main purpose of providing an efficient broadcasting service. I support the amendment.

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