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Thursday, 11 September 1958

Mr McMAHON (Lowe) (Minister for Primary Industry) . - I wish to reply to two inaccurate statements that have been made this evening. I refer first to a statement by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) relating to charges against the general manager and the assistant general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The honorable gentleman's statement was made without any supporting evidence. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), who unfortunately is not able to be here because he has had to return to his electorate, has assured me that the morale of the administrative staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is extremely high. It is obvious, therefore, that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has been misinformed by some isolated and disgruntled member of the staff. The charges made by the honorable member are without foundation. It is appropriate, indeed it is correct, that when a charge is levelled against the character of a member of the commission, the facts on which the charge is based should be presented and that they should be firmly based.

The honorable member also referred to the fact that the commission's board room was used during the recent hearing of the senior officers' log of claims before the Public Service Arbitrator. That is perfectly true, but I am informed that the hearing was moved to that location to suit the convenience not only of the commission but also of the employees' association. Usually we can rely upon what the honorable member says, and I regret to have to say that, when he impugns the character and efficiency of high and responsible members of the commission, the charges made by him must be answered and refuted.

I interjected when the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) stated that the funds provided for telephone exchange, trunk and miscellaneous services had been reduced. The contrary is the case. They have been increased by £1,500,000 in cash, but even that does not tell the full story. In fact, the increase is £2,000,000, because £500,000 of the 1957-58 funds was provided as a working advance for the Post Office Stores and Services Trust Account. No such provision has been made for 1958-59. The provision for other capital works items such as buildings and sites is comparable with that provided in 1957-58. I repeat what I said by way of interjection - that is, that the honorable member's facts were not correct. (Several honorable members rising in their places) -

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