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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- I do not seek to detain the Committee unnecessarily. But it occurs to me that this matter could be clarified if the Minister would select two short instances of companies which were in contravention of policy but not of the statute by any transaction that has come to notice before December 1964. We would then know what adjustment was necessary to bring them into conformity with the new Act and then be able better to apply the section to which we are addressing ourselves. As I said, I do not seek to create difficulty, and I recognise the unusual position of the Minister, who faces unique difficulties.

It is all very well for the Minister to say what the Postmaster-General wishes. A House of Parliament is getting into a very poor state indeed when, even though it thinks that legislation is misconceived, it is prepared to trundle that legislation through because of what a Minister wishes. I do not seek to raise any issue that will disturb the present atmosphere, but I. suggest that as we are dealing with complicated legislation it would be appropriate to report progress and to allow the Bill to stand over until the August sitting, as is being done with the restrictive trade practices legislation. If that were done, the Minister would have the support of everybody in this chamber in trying to mould the legislation into proper form. I venture to say that, if the functions of the Postmaster-General and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in relation to renewals were grasped, the purpose of this legislation could be achieved by introducing a very much simplified Bill.

I am watching Senator McClelland's amendment with great interest, and not yet with the thought of rejection, unless subsection (8.) of proposed new section 91 goes out. I suggest to the Minister that, in view of the position we have reached, this Bill could well be stood over with great advantage to everybody until after the recess. I see in proposed section 91 (8.) provision for continuous life for a licence that was granted before December 1964 and therefore, perhaps, continuous immunity from these restrictive provisions. I am not altogether in favour of the basic concept of a 5 per cent, interest in more than two licensee companies as being the criterion. Therein lies my dilemma. When we consider the matter that has been raised by Senator McClelland, there will be need for quite considerable argument. If my view is correct, in proposed new section 92 (3.) (a) (ii) we are writing in a loophole for evasion. Surely it would be better to report progress and allow the bill to lie on the table until after the recess.

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