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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- I could understand that if, in proposed section 92 (3.) (a) (ii), instead of the words " such a contravention " - which means a contravention of the old Act - the draftsman had used the words " would not result in a contravention of this Act". Sub-paragraph (ii) seems to enable anybody to take action after the prescribed date which, if it had been taken before that date, would have caused the holding not to be in contravention of the old Act. It seems to me that what is intended is that it should not be in contravention of the new Act. What is contemplated is that after December 1964 a company which has taken action against the policy of the Government - but not the statute - before December 1964, can bring itself into conformity with the Act by making the transaction adjust itself to the requirements of the Act. If the action did not constitute a contravention of this Act, I think the intention is that it should thereby escape. But to me the provision - as I have read it and as I still read it, as printed - is most difficult. Let me go on to paragraph (b) for the sake of further illustration. Its effect is that a person shall not be taken to be in contravention of the section by reason of- the holding by him of interests in any nl' the companies holding the licences, being interests of which he became the holder on or after the prescribed date, if the Minister has certified in writing that the acquisition of the interests has been approved by him for the purposes of this sub-section as part of the carrying out of a scheme for the re-arrangement, consistently with the prohibitions that were contained in section ninety-two of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1964, of matters resulting from a transaction entered into before the prescribed date;

Here we have the Minister, by writing under his hand, giving approval to a company rearrangement. I would have thought that to be territory which any prudent Minister would not touch with a 40-foot pole. Who is the Minister to be giving dispensation, by approval in writing, of a re-arrangement not in conformity with any law, but in accordance with his judgment? I simply content myself with saying that this is most undesirable.

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