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Tuesday, 16 October 1973
Page: 2211

Mr KING (Wimmera) - I was amazed to hear the way in which the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) spoke. It is obvious that he has little interest in commercial radio stations. There are a number of issues which the Country Party would like to put forward in answer to the honourable member for Franklin. I refer to the rates to which the honourable member referred a few moments ago. He spoke about the licence fee increasing from $50 to $200. He made no reference to the other costs that have been mentioned in this Bill. I refer to the percentage of gross earnings from the returns on advertising because, after all, this is the important issue. I congratulate my colleague, the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson), because I believe that in the short time available to him he did an excellent job in pointing out to the Government the anomalies that are being introduced in this Bill. Let us examine the proposed rates which will apply when this Bill is passed - I repeat the words 'proposed rates' because, after all, the Bill has not been passed yet. It still has to go through the Senate and we do not know what will happen there - no one knows. It is up to them to decide. These rates are backdated to 22 August 1973 as was stated in the last paragraph of the Minister's second reading speech in which he said:

The Bill proposes that the new scale of fees will operate from 22 August 1973 and therefore the licence fees in respect of the renewal of licences falling due after that date will be assessed on the new scale of fees.

Mr Chairman,you will excuse me for making this comparison, but is the position in regard to these fees to be similar to that when the Post Office issued accounts to holders of postal boxes? Those people paid their fees in advance for the period which expires in March next year. Now a second bill has been sent out to them and unless they pay an extra 75c for the small box, $2, I think, for the next size and I have forgotten the extra amount for the third size, their boxes will be taken away from them. Is this the same situation? When it comes to comparative rates - this appeared to be in the mind of the honourable member for Franklin - this is a simple matter. He said that it does not mean very much and that not much revenue will be gained. For those stations in receipt of $500,000 plus from advertising, the existing rate is one per cent but the proposed increase is to H per cent. Only a 50 per cent increase, that is all! For those in receipt of Sim plus the charge remains at 2 per cent. There is no change at all. I cannot see the reason why one group has to pay an extra 50 per cent while the other does not pay any increase at all.

Let us go a little further. The rate for those in receipt of $1.5m plus increases from 2 per cent to 2i per cent. This is another discriminatory figure because that is a 25 per cent rise. For those in receipt of $2m plus there is no change. Those in receipt of $2.5m plus will have their rates increased from 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent. In round figures that is a 17 per cent rise. There is no uniformity at all. For those in receipt of $3m plus the rate is increased from 3 per cent to 4 per cent, a 33 per cent rise. The rate for those in receipt of $3. 5m plus is increased from 3 per cent to 4i per cent, a 50 per cent rise. There is no rhythm in this pattern at all. For the lowest group earning $500,000 plus and for those earning $3.5m plus there is a 50 per cent increase but in respect of some groups in between there is no change at all. I would certainly like the Minister to give the House some explanation of this. For those in receipt of $4m plus the rate increases from 4 per cent to 4.5 per cent, a 12.5 per cent rise.

There is no doubt in my mind that this Bill is similar to a lot of other Budget Bills that have been introduced into this House. They are hell bent on killing or hampering any kind of success. As the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) interjected a little while ago, they are hell bent on interfering with success. The Government's attitude seems to be: 'If anybody is making a little progress let us stop him straightaway'. That appears to be the whole policy of the Government. When I look at the other legislation being introduced there is no doubt in my mind that this is the Government's aim. In a debate in this House a little over an hour ago we heard the Minister for Minerals and Energy (Mr Connor) belting into another successful issue. The honourable member for Cowper this evening referred to land line charges. My friend from Tasmania did not make any reference to this. He accused the honourable member for Cowper of talking about telephones but the land line charges are one of the things which will affect many radio stations. Maybe these stations are in country areas and maybe they are in electorates held by Australian Country Party members but that is no reason why we should sit down and say nothing about these increases.

When we talk of radio stations in the outback I immediately think of the radio station at Alice Springs. As a result of decisions made by this Government - I have checked these figures through the 'Department and can confirm them - there will be an increase of about 5,000 per cent on some of the land line charges to the radio station at Alice Springs. Where does the honourable member for Franklin come in now. He is silent. He forgets that some of the stations will be adversely affected. A little while ago he made reference to the big percentage of stations showing a profit. I am not concerned about the ones showing a profit. I am concerned about the ones on the border line and the ones which are likely to show a loss as a result of this legislation and decisions being made by this Government. This is why the Country Party and Opposition members generally are so hostile to some of the measures that are being introduced in this House. It is the reason why I want to support the line taken earlier this evening by my colleague, the honourable member for Cowper. I am terribly disappointed in the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) for trying to avoid giving the Opposition an opportunity of speaking-

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes - Order! The honourable gentleman will not refer in the Committee stage to events which took place in the House.

Mr KING - I was not referring to the Committee stage.

The CHAIRMAN - The honourable gentleman was referring to the putting of the question last night.

Mr KING - I was referring to the decision of the Leader of the House yesterday in refusing to allow honourable members on this side of the House to voice their opinions on this Bill.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable gentleman will not reflect upon a decision of the House. The House decided that the Bill be read a second time. That is not a subject for debate in the Committee stage of the Bill. If the honourable gentleman wishes to continue his remarks he should confine them to the Bill and not refer to something that took place earlier in the House.

Mr KING - I will change my tactics by saying that I am grateful to the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) who is at the table and is responsible for this Bill for the opportunity given to some members of the Opposition to speak in the Committee stage of the Bill.

The CHAIRMAN - Order!

Mr KING - If people cannot see through what I am trying to say--

The CHAIRMAN - Order! I point out to the honourable gentleman that his remarks are very close to being a reflection on the House. He is speaking in this debate under the Standing Orders of the House and not by the graciousness of the Minister or anyone else.

Mr KING - Well, I am sorry that I cannot compliment the Minister. However, I see that my time has expired and I conclude by saying that if I cannot compliment the Minister I will certainly compliment the honourable member for Cowper.

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