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Thursday, 13 April 1972
Page: 1109

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - I have listened with interest to what was said by Senator Byrne on behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. I am grateful to him for indicating that his Party will go to some extent to adopt the suggestions which I have made. On the first point, it is important that the reference appear to be evenhanded.

Senator Gair - They apply to both companies.

Senator MURPHY - Yes. As to the second point, I think it would have been helpful to suggest possible advantages as well as disadvantages. I am inclined to agree that most of the matters would be covered by the term 'matters incidental thereto', so that does not disturb me. The only difference between us about which I am really disturbed is the question of. the Committee being asked to advise the Minister. I regard that as a matter of principle. I do not think the Senate should put that in a motion of reference. That is what concerns me. Whatever may be the outcome of this matter, I think the proper course for me to adopt is to move the amendments I have foreshadowed. I realise that there is very little difference between us now in relation to the other matters, but rather than cause any confusion I will take the course simply of moving the amendment and let the matter go as it is. There may not be need for the Senate to divide on this matter. I move:

Leave out all words after 'particular', insert

(a)   the financial structure of Ansett Transport Industries and Thomas Nationwide Transport and the degree of non-Australian ownership whether direct or indirect of the issued share capital of the companies and of any financial interests involved directly orindirectly in the attempted takeover operation;

(b)   any advantages or disadvantages to the public which might result from a successful takeover in respect of aviation or transport services, the 2 airline system, or otherwise respecting the national interest, and what, if anything, might be done to maximise any advantage or minimise any disadvantage;

(c)   whether the exercise, if successful, would result in a degree of control of Australian domestic airline operations passing to nonAustralian interests and, if so, to what extent;

(d)   the manner of the proposed takeover;

(e)   and matters incidental thereto.

2.   The Committee is requested to recommend whether the Commonwealth should intervene by, legislative or administrative measures to prevent the attempted takeover or its implementation.

3.   The Committee is also requested to make such observations as to the proper application of the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act, 1942-1971 in relation to the proposed takeover (involving as it does a company holding licences under that Act) as the Committee may think appropriate.

4.   The Committee is directed to give priority to this reference.

5.   The Committee is empowered to sit during any sittings of the Senate.

6.   The Committee is directed to report to the Senate within 28 days of the date of this reference.

7.   The foregoing provisions of this resolution shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in the Standing Orders or in any previous resolution of the Senate'.

I see that as the only basis of difference between us, and that is very far removed from the problem we are faced with, namely, what I regard as the constitutional division of responsibilities between this chamber and the executive. I do not think the Committee should be asked to give advice to the Minister.

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