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Wednesday, 21 March 1928

Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia) (Honorary Minister) . - I understand that the report of the PostmasterGeneral's Department has been printed, and I shall inquire the reason for the delay in the distribution of copies to honorable senators. . In regard to the Amalgamated Wireless Company, the honorable senator has raised an important question of policy, namely, whether the business details of every commercial concern in which the Commonwealth is financially interested are to he disclosed, not only to honorable senators, hut through the medium of Hansard and the press to its trade competitors. Amalgamated Wireless. (Australasia) Limited is in competition with two cable companies. The Government is also a shareholder in the Common wealth Oil Refineries, and I, personally, would take strong exception to the publication of details of its business which might be of advantage to its trade rivals.

Senator Duncan - Does not the Government compel those trade rivals to publish annual reportsand balancesheets ?

Senator McLACHLAN - Yes ;but only in the -same way as Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and the Commonwealth Oil Refineries are bound to publish their reports and balance- sheets. These are public companies, and the reports and balance-sheets will he made available in due course. But to disclose business details at any period of the year in regard to concerns in which the taxpayers' money is invested would be extremely unwise. The information is not at the disposal of the PostmasterGeneral. The Government must rely on its representatives on the board of directors of Amalgamated Wireles (Australasia) Limited to safeguard the interests of the taxpayers of Australia.

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