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Thursday, 11 July 1946

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Minister for Immigration and Minister for Information) . - The clause provides for the payment of compensation in respect of capital assets taken by the Commonwealth Government from Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. What the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) have talked about relates to the current income of the company. I told honorable gentlemen in my speech, in reply to the "second-reading debate, that no subsidies, were paid to the company. None is paid to it. It is true that the Commonwealth Government pays £45,000 a year for a service rendered by the company - the transmission of messages to ships at sea from coastal stations. If the Government did not pay the money to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited for that service,- it would have to pay it to another company if there were another company performing a like service. Money must ' be paid to some authority which will do the ne'cessary work of protecting life at sea. That payment is not in the form of a subvention or subs'idy. It is a business deal. Such things are not taken into consideration in the assessment of compensation in respect of assets taken from the company. It is most extraordinary that honorable members opposite remain so obtuse, no matter how clearly and lucidly the position is explained to them - not all honorable members opposite, but just a handful of intransigent souls that have frustrated or attempted to frustrate us all night with banalities, generalities and, as I said of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), extraordinary platitudes.

Mr Conelan - He is now absent.

Mr CALWELL - Yes. Not so many people listen at 11 o'clock as at 9.30, and . those who:misuse the provision for broad, casting the proceedings have probably gone home to bed, but some . honorable gentlemen opposite, who take an intelligent interest in the bill, have .remained. The figures cited by the Leader of the Australian Country party do not differ from the figures that I gave. I said > that- the Government paid annually £45,000 which it is obliged ,to pay under the- agreement of 1927, which was formulated and passed through Parliament by the parties to which honorable gentlemen opposite belong. There is provision for the deduction from that amount of 30 per cent, of the revenue from coastal and island radio'- services. In the year ended the 30th June, 1945, that sum amounted to £5,743. That is approximately the figure given by the Leader of -the Australian Country party. There is no inconsistency between the two figures. I ask the committee to dismiss from its mind entirely any question of subsidies. The honorable member for Barker can put as many questions on the noticespaper as his fertile brain can conjure up.

Mr Falstein - Futile brain !

Mr CALWELL - It may be a futile brain, but I paid the honorable gentleman the compliment of saying it was fertile. The honorable gentleman will get any information that the Government has to give him in reply to any questions that he asks, because the Government has nothing to hide.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 54 to 66 agreed to.

New clause 49a.

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