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Thursday, 11 July 1946

Mr SPEAKER - Having made that explanation, the right honorable member should give his reasons for moving to have the bill referred to a select committee.

Mr FADDEN - I desire to have it referred to' a select committee because I :am not. satisfied that the Government has "the requisite information on which to arrive at a wise decision in this matter. Nothing has transpired in denial of the fact that' the private shareholders in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited are to receive about £1,400,000 in respect of fewer than 500,000 shares mid for only about half of the assets and activities of the company. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) :said last night that negotiations for a satisfactory arrangement with the private shareholders had been in progress for some time, and that the House could not be given the figures on which the negotiations were based because it was necessary that the private shareholders :should first have the opportunity to discuss the matter. I remind the right honorable gentleman that the people of Australia, of whose interests he is a custodian, own more than half of the shares in the company and that they are equally entitled to information on which to decide, whether a part of the assets arid activities of the company ought to be taken over on the terms proposed.

Mr SPEAKER -Order ! The right honorable member is going beyond the :Scope of the motion. He is now replying "to the second-reading debate. He may ;give only the reasons why the bill -should be referred to a select committee.

Mr FADDEN - Added to the reasons "that I have given "is the fact that, although shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited are closely held, ;since the negotiations have been in progress they have been the subject of considerable activity on the stock exchange.

Mr Conelan - That is understandable.

Mr FADDEN - Yes, but since June the shares have stood at 7ls. 6d. a share, whereas the price in 1942 was 43s. 6d. A share at 71s. 6d., on last year's dividend rate, would return £2 15s. lid. per cent., which is less than the return from Commonwealth bonds. The capital of the company is approximately £1,000,000. At the date of the last balance-sheet, reserves, other than specific reserves, amounted tq £625,878. So, each share at the date of the last balance-sheet had a backing of 30s. lid., whereas buyers are offering 71s. 6d. That shows that the price of 7.1s. 6d. is a result of those negotiations. It shows more than that. I ask the Minister to note this point. It shows that 71s. 6d. a share is the market value of shares having a backing of only 30s. lid. of shareholders' funds, according to balance-sheet figures. That establishes the value surely. Buyers offer 71s. 6d. for all the activities of the company, including the section that this Government proposes to buy on the basis of £3 a share. The Minister, in reply to an interjection by me to-day- . .

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The right honorable member is going beyond the scope of the motion. He is now replying to the second -reading debate. He may give only the reasons why'.the bill should be referred to a select comittee. >

Mr FADDEN - There is no need for me to canvass further the reasons why a select committee should be appointed to consider this bill in order that the taxpayers may be assured that they are being properly served in the negotiations. The shares in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, operating as it is now, are quoted at 7ls, 6d., so, for 50. per cent, of the shares and activities of the' company the Government is to pay £6 a share. That is the case, and if it does not warrant an investigation by a select committee in order to protect the Australian people, who own more than half of the company's shares, I do not know what does.

Question put -

That the bill he referred to a select committee.

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