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Friday, 16 October 1970


Mr HULME (Petrie) (PostmasterGeneral) - I de not. want to detain the House long, . but first I would like to say that twice during this debate mention has been made of the profit of commercial television stations. I would like to put this in its right perspective. The report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board indicates the gross profit, which is the revenue less expenses but before the licence fee arid taxation have been paid. All the commercial telecasting stations are public companies. For the year 1968-69 referred to in the report they all paid 45 per cent of their profit by way of taxation. So to use a figure of $15m as being their profit gives the impression to the community that this is automatically available for shareholders, for reserves and for expenditure in the area of film, production. This would be quite wrong . When licence fees are added to the taxes,, the proportion which is taken away from, tha companies is pretty close to 50 per. cent Only 50 per cent remains for other purposes.


Mr Crean - Fifty per cent in income tax?


Mr HULME - Forty-five per cent in income tax.


Mr Crean - That is the same as anybody else pays?


Mr HULME - No. I merely make that, point for the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) because he says there is a profit of $15m. Mr Crean - That is taxable income.


Mr HULME - That is not the' term in which one refers to company profits. Honourable members opposite come into the House and say that the profit of the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd for the year was- S50m odd. This is after taxation has been a charge against the profit. No taxation has been charged against this $15m. I am merely trying to make the point that if we want to be properly analytical in our debate in this House we should be dealing with realities and not dealing with what one might term the spurious facts which appear to flow but of a particular operation. I do not want to say any more about that. I wanted to make a comment in relation to a query raised by the honourable member for Perth (Mr Berinson). Earlier in the week he asked me a question which I answered broadly. He raised the matter again yesterday during this debate and I now have the answer for him. I point out to honourable members that sometimes when a question is asked without notice which relates to an administrative process it is impossible for the Minister to deal with it other than broadly. I now come to the particular in regard to the question. I am sorry that the honourable member is not in the House, but no doubt he will pick up the answer from Hansard in due course.

The honourable member raised the question of some of the telephone accounts in Western Australia having been held over from September to early in October for distribution. The accounts that have been distributed included rental charges which date from 1st October. Although recognised as the October accounts, as the honourable member for Perth suggested, they are normally issued in September. The increased telephone tariffs are operative from 1st October 1970 and are payable in respect of all services as from that date. Subscribers whose October accounts did not include the higher rental charge will receive their next bills in April 1971. In addition to 6 months rental in advance at the higher rate those bills will include a rental adjustment from 1st October 1970. The experience of the Department has shown that most telephone subscribers prefer to have any . tariff adjustments included in their accounts at the earliest date so as to escape the cumulative effect of back-dated adjustments in later accounts. Before a rental tariff adjustment can be included in telephone accounts a considerable amount of preliminary work is necessary on the departmental records.

On. this occasion Queensland and Western Australia were the only States in a position to adjust the October accounts, and the increased tariff for the corresponding accounts in other States will be billed in April 1971. In Queensland and Western Australia special efforts were made to include the increased rates in the October bills to avoid the effect on subscribers of adjusting the longer period in the April 1971 accounts. This has caused the normal cycle of bill despatch to be extended by about 1 week. The October bills, which would normally have been despatched during September, would not have been delivered before 2nd October. In order that subscribers would have a full 14 days in which to pay their accounts, the date was amended, and the payment terms read: 'Payable within 14 days of 2nd October 1970'.

As I .indicated yesterday, I have no intention on this occasion of dealing with many of the details that have been raised by honourable members. I took up a quarter of an hour or so yesterday afternoon on very important matters relating to the Post Office and other instrumentalities. I regret only that honourable members have riot seen fit to talk about some of those important things rather than to continue to deal with details which come within the administrative area and which I believe have not a very great significance in relation to the estimates of the Post Office.







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