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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) . - I spared the Senate a contribution to the second reading debate last evening because contrary to what the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), for whom we have a great affection, said in his reply the submission of a complicated measure of this sort to us with so little opportunity to discuss it is an affront to one's intelligence. It is a complete debasement of Parliament. It does complete injustice to the purpose of the policy of improving, 1 believe on a proper basis, our television industry. It does complete injustice to those who are prepared to put their enterprise and capital into the proper development of that policy. All those considerations ought to be taken into account after honorable senators have had a proper opportunity of studying this very complicated Bill and its provisions and then, as an act of judgment, expressed a viewpoint as to their wisdom.

I wish the Minister would explain to me where we get a basis of differential in clause 7, proposed new section 91 (2.) where " prescribed interest in a licence " is defined. Then, paragraph (c) of subsection (2.) mentions control of 5 per centum of the maximum number of votes that could be cast at a poll of a general meeting of a company holding the licence. The differential is between that 5 per cent, as the criterion of what I call monopoly control and the 15 per cent, that is referred to in subsequent provisions of the Bill.

I now refer to proposed new section 92b. Tempers will be tested before we tease this one out. Nobody understands it. I say with great politeness whilst refusing to pay compliments to anyone that nobody in this chamber has the faintest idea of what we are being asked to pass. We should put up the best test we can to see whether the Minister and his advisers can explain these provisions. Proposed new section 91 proposes a rigid definition of the words "prescribed interest ". AsI understand it, with certain loopholes to whichI will come to, proposed new section 92 makes it an offence punishable by a penalty of £1,000 and £100 for every day on which the contravention continues, if any person has a prescribed interest in each of three or more licences; or one or two or more licences for stations in a Territory; or one of two or more licences for stations in a capital city.

I want to get my point established. Proposed new section 91 (2.) creates a new rigid definition of what is a " prescrbed interest ". One of the criteria for that prescribed interest is a 5 per cent, control. But, coming to proposed new section 92b (l.)(a) which deals with the meaning of control of a company, we find that it is provided - (1.) For the purposes of this Division, a person who -

(a)   is in a position to exercise control of more than fifteen per centum of the maximum number of votes that could be cast at a poll . . . shall be deemed . . . to be in a position to exercise control of that company . . .

What I want to know is: What is the justfication for the differential between the criterion of 5 per cent, in proposed new section 91 (2.) (c) and the criterion of 15 per cent, in proposed new section 92b (l.)(a)?

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