Title Public Accounts Committee - Reports - Report (with appendices) of Royal Commission appointed to inquire into allegations against Members of the Committee in connexion with claims made by Broadcasting Companies against Commonwealth Government
Source Both Chambers
Date 08-08-1930
Parliament No. 12
Tabled in House of Reps 08-08-1930
Tabled in Senate 08-08-1930
Parliamentary Paper Year 1930
Parliamentary Paper No. 115
System Id publications/tabledpapers/HPP052016004374


Public Accounts Committee - Reports - Report (with appendices) of Royal Commission appointed to inquire into allegations against Members of the Committee in connexion with claims made by Broadcasting Companies against Commonwealth Government

1929 - 30 . 629

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA.

REPORT OF THE

ROYAL COMMISSION APPOINTED TO INQUIRE INTO

ALLEGATIONS AFFECTING MEMBERS OF THE PARLIAMENTARY JOINT OF PUBLIC

ACCOUNTS IN CONNEXION WITH CLAIMS MADE BY BROADCASTING COMPANIES AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT.

TOGETHER WITH

APPENDICES.

Presented by Command ; ordered to be pr·inted, 8th 1930.

[Colt of Paper:-Pr cparatlon, not given; 855 copies; approxim ate co3t of pr!ntlng and pu bl!shlng, £1 6.]

Printed and Published for the GOVERNMENT of the OMl>! ONWEALTli of AUSTR ALIA by H. J. GREEN, Go,·ernment Printer,

No. 115.- F.2458.- P RICE 9D.

COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA . • 1 ' •

GEORGE ')'HE ;Flf'J'H, by Grace of Qod, of the U:qited Kingdom oi Great Britain, and and of the British

beyo\ld tl.le Seas. Jipg, of the Fajtb, of India.

To Our Trusty apd G_eo)\'ge JaiD;tlS Chief J qdge of our Commonwealth Court of Conciliation

and Arbitration. ·

GREETING:

KNOW YOU THAT We do, by these Our Letters Patent, issued in Our name by Our Governor-General of Our Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the ad·vice of Our Federal Cquneil, i!-ttd jn p-qrsuance of the Constitution of Our said Commonwealth, the Roya.l Commissions .Act 1902-1912, and all other powers him thereunto enabling, appoint you to be a Commissioner to inquire into, and report in relation to the foll owing ma.tters :-

(1) 'rhe matters referred to in a letter, a copy of which is attached hereto, dated the eighth day of May, One thousand nine hundred and thirty, from the Chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts to the Prime Minister and in the enclosures annexed thereto ; and (2) "\Vbether any bribe, valuable consideration, advantage, recompense, r--eward or benefit was accepted b-y, or offered or

suggested to, any member the said Committe,e in connexion with the inquiry into a claim by certain Br9adcasting Companies in Australia foF£64,26llOs. 7d. stated t o be in respect of actual expenditure made and incurred and incidental thereto ii1 connexion with the amalgamation and co-ordination of the said Companies in pursuance of a demand alleged to ha;ve beett made upon tlie said Co.mpanies by the Government :

AND WE REQUIRE you with as little delay as possible, t o report to Our Governor-General, of .Our said Com monwealth the result o] inquiries into the mat ters entrusted t o. y ou by these Our Letters P aJtent.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF WE have causeq these Our Letters to be made Patent, and the Seal of Our said Commonwealth to be thereunto affixed.

WITNESS Our Right Trusty and Well-beloved ARTHUR HERBERT T ENN YSON, BAR ON SoMERS, Lieutenant-Colonel in the Reserve of Officers of om Army, Kinght-Commander of Our Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Companion of Our Distmguished Service Order, Deputy of Our Governor-General a,nd Commander-in-Chief in and over Our Commonwealth of Australia., this :fifteent1:J. day of May, in the year of our Lord, One thousand nine hundred and t hirty, and in the twenty-first year of Our Reign. ·

By His Excellency's Command, J. H. SCULLIN, Prime Minister.

SOMERS,

Deputy of the Governor-General.

Entered on R ecord by -me in Register of Patents No. 56, page 352, this sixteenth day of May, One thousand nine hundred and thirty. (Sgd.) J. G. McLAREN.

'"THE REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER.

To His Excellency the_ Right Honorable JoHN LAWRENCE, BARON STONEHAVEN, a Member of His Majesty's Most Honorable Privy Co·uncil, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint JJ1ichael and. Saint George, Companion of the · DiBtinguished Service Order, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief in

and over the Commonwealth of'Australia.

MAY IT PLEASE YouR ExcELLENCY :

I, .the 9oll!missioner bf Royal Letters Patent, dat ed the fifteenth day of May, 1930, to Inquue Into and report In relation to the follo wing matters :-(1) The referred to in a letter, a copy of which is attached hereto, dated

the .mghth day of One. thousand nine hundred and thirty, from the Chauman of the Joint Cornm1ttee of Public Accounts to the Prime Minister and in the enclosures annexed thereto-COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA.

My dear Prime Minister,

Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts, Canberra, 8th May, 1930. ·

On behalf of the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts I am forwarding herewith copy of an official report of portion of the proceedings of Committee at Temple Court, Melbourne, on the 29th !April, 1930. You will observe from the statements made therem that the honour of every Member of the Committee is impugned. The Committee took such a. serious view of matter that unanim?usly decided t o immediately suspend the inquiry

and to convene a full meetmg, of the Committee at the earhest possible date. Arrangements were accordingly made to meet at Parliament House, Canberra, on the 7th May, 1930, when careful consideration was given to the course of action the Committee should take. As the Broadcasting Inquiry was instituted as the result of a direct reference from yourself as head of the

Government, the Committee decided that the proper course to pursue was to place the facts before you with a request that appropriate action be taken by you as the recognized head of Parliament. . For the time being the inquiry by the Committee will be suspended.

The Right Honorable J. H. Scullin, P.O., M.P., Prime Minister of the Commonwealth -of Australia, Canberra.

Yours faithfully, M. R. O'HALLORAN,

Chairman.

PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS.

MEETING AT TEMPLE CouRT, MELBOURNE, 29TH APRIL, 1930.

Official Notes of Discussion.

Mr. Coleman (Chairman).-Mr. Green has taken exception to t he report in the S ydney M orning Herald that the Committee had decided to award £26,000 compensation to the broadcasting co mpanie . His ob jection was based on the fact that there was obviously a leakage. Every m ember of the Commi tee disclaim re ponsibility for the report in the Press. When the took evidence fr?m Mr. Aikins the Commi tee decided to exclude the

Press, but allowed counsel and representatives of the co mpames and the Commonwealth Government to be pre ent. No one took exception to the presence of the persons named. Copies Aikin ' ement distributed

amongst those present. The proceedings went and afterwards_ fr. Aikins exammed on _his by

Council. Counsel then said a few words and retued . The Comrruttee then sat camera and discus ed With Mr. Aikins the details of his report. Senator Hayes and others propounded variou method under which damag _co uld be assessed. The Committee- was by no means unanimous as t o whether any award wa o made, and 1 recognized that no decision could be reached until there was a meeting ?f he Committee. Obvw 1 he g t wn

that any member of the Committee would be a party to the disclosure rn he Pre :vas a ource of embarra men to everybody. No decision had been arrived at when announcement appeared m . er e er

member of the Committee including myself absolutely dernee that h E} wa!'l a party to a dtscu lOil Wl h an member of the Press or any one

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The second point raised by Mr. Green was that I had discussed the position in Canberra. I admitted that I had referred to the inquiry when speaking with Mr. Percy Deane. Mr. Deane indicated to me that he had knowledge of the conversations which took place between the former Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and Mr. Tait, I told Mr. Deane that as far as .I was concerned the evidence was closed, and that if he had any evidence he would have to submit it in the ordinary official way. . ·

Mr. Green alleges that he met somebody at Parliament House, Canberra, who said: "I hear you are the only one on the Committee standing out against the Companies' claim. Coleman has earned his £500 at all events." Mr. Green also avers that he was personally approached by Major Condor and offered £200 to purchase dresses for his wife.

After these statements I denied absolutely that I had been approached by any one and I think the Committee accepted the denial. There the matter stands. The Committee immediately broke up to consider the matter. Senator O'Halloran and I considered the position and decided that it was better to have a further discussion this morning and decide what attitude the Committee desired to adopt. The only other point I wish to make is this­ These statements, which impugn my personal integrity, have come as a great shock to me naturally I feel my position very keenly. Mr. Green will indicate whether I have correctly stated the position as he represented it to

the Committee yesterday. ·

Mr. G1·een.-The Chairman has set out the position correctly. I have been trying to think who this individual was and who it was introduced me to him. He is an insurance man from Melbourne. I have not the slightest idea what his name is. The conversation. took place on the ':erandah by the bar on the day I left Canberra for Sydney. Mr. Francis.-What day was that.

Mr. Green.-I think it was the Friday before the House adjourned. I was not present the last week in Canberra. This man was to leave the same night for Melbourne. He was in the House and I am not positive now whether I was introduced to him or whether he saw me in King's Hall. He is a senior man in one of the insurance companies here. I have a kind of idea I was introduced to him. Later on, when we were having a spot together, we were discussing the tariff and the prohibition business. He then said-" I am rather interested in this Broadcasting Inquiry you are on. I hear the Committee is going to come to a verdict in favour of the Companies. You are, I believe, the only one standing out." I said-" Oh, where did you get that information from?" He said-" That information came from the Chairman." I That seems very funny." He said-" Why the hell are you

standing out. Anyway, Coleman earned his £500." Mr. Ohai;man.-\Vhat followed then? Mr. Green.-! was astounded. I tried to draw him on as to what proof he had about your obtaining £500. He said-" He received it all right. I know that. Why be a damned fool? Why stand in your own light." The conversation then ended rather abruptly. Every member of the Committee can draw his own inferences from that. The next statement I want to make is this, and I am prepared to give sworn evidence before the Committee as to the statement I have made. I was talking one day to Major Conder. I think it was the day we left for Tasmania. The conversation took place in the lounge in the Alexander. My wife was talking to the girl near the booking office. I have an idea it was the -night before we left for Tasmania. Conder and I were standing up. He said to me-" A couple of h'tmdred pounds would go very well. You could buy some dresses for your wife." I just looked at him and said no more. Nothing more was said.

Jl!lr. Chairman.-Did you know Conder ?

Mr. Green.-Oh yes;. we all did. Mr. Chairman.-You did not know him more than we did. Mr. Green.-! did not really know him. I had met him. I just looked at the man. He saw a man near the telephone and he walked away to see this man. ,The man I saw a.t Canberra was a middle-aged man. He is connected with an insurance company in Victoria. Mr .. Ohairman.-He did not indicate his association in any way ? Mr. Green.- He did not say. He said- " I am rather interested in the Broadcasting Inquiry." My impression is that he came specially to see me. He started off his conversation by talking about the effect of the tariff. I have been trying to think whether I was introduced to him or not, or whether I met ,him -casually. We went and had a drink together. He said-" You are the only one standing out. Why stand in your own light ?" He told me he was associated with an insurance company. He arrived from Melbourne that morning and went back that night. I should know the man if I saw him again. He was a man about 5 ft. 9 in., reasonably well built, a slightish but good build, a prosperous-looking gentleman; his hair was slightly grey; I understand he is a very senior man in some insurance company in. Melbourne. I told my wife about the Alexander incident at the time. I told herjust afterwards.

Mr. Chairman.-! propose to the chair. I do not know whether it is necessary for me to ask whether any individual members have been approached. Mess,rs. O'Halloran, Francis, Gardner, Guy, Hoare and Yates intimated that they had not heen approached in any way.

Mr. Ohairman.- In asking Senator O'Halloran to take chair, I can only repeat my unqualified denial that 1 have been approached or received any monetary or other consideration in relation to this or any other inquiry with iWhich I have been associated. The allegations convey very unfortunate implications and place me in a very difficult position seeing that I am going away.

Mr. Green.- Personally, I believe you. Mr. Ohairman. - It is unfortunate that this should happen when I am departino- . I cannot postpone my departure ap this stage. I think I have been scrupulously fair during the conduct of this inquiry. I will not, of course, be a party to any further consideration of the matter. My departure involves my immediate retirrement from any further deliberations. No fin al decision have been arrived at. For the purpose of expediting finality so far as the inquiry was concerned the Committee did tentatively agree that there was a claim. That decision was made without prejudice and with the object of going into the bona fides of the damages sought by the companies. It did :!}Qt the Committee in any way. The Committee will no do-ubt in due course decide what acti0n is to be taken.

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I do not know tha.t I need add more than to say that I think the Committee should go exhaustively into this matter. The honour of every member has been impugned. If any suggestion of malpractice were to hang over tliis Committee·, the Committee would not be justified in pursuing any further inquiry until the matter was sifted to the bottom. I-feel that the Committee should resign rather than have a thing like this hanging over everybody's head. W'hat is going, to happen 1 I shall certainly have to leave instructions to protect my interests in the event of any public inquiry.

The suggestion made is a cruel one. It is all the inore cruel and malicious since no decision has been arrived at. I' have not attempted to influence any one of you. "'When your tentative vote was given at Canberra on the question of the claim the last man who spoke was myself. Every one gave his opinion before I did. I merely concurred in the decision of the majority. There I leave the matter, gentlemen, inspired by the feeling of your unanimous belief

and confidence in me. If that were not present I should immediately cancel my arrangements and remain here. Senator O'Halloran.-I accept your denial without any qualification whatever. I have no doubt whatever as to your veracity . . I realize the importance of the issue that has been by Mr. Green this morning. The matter is one which must be carefully discussed before a full Committee. fl.

Mr. Francis.-The allegations are so serious that I suggest that the Committee should not proceed one step further until the whole matter is fully discussed at a full meeting of the Committee. Mr. Francis then moved a motion, seconded by Mr. Gardner, that the inquiry should not be proceeded with until the whole matter was fully discussed by a full meeting of the Committee.

Mr. Green.-What is the desire of the Committee? I am prepared to be sworn the Committee and to repeat · the statements I have made to-day. Senator O'Halloran.-We must· have a full meeting before any further discussion can proceed in connexion witli this inquiry. .

Mr. Ooleman.-My duty is not only to protect my honour but to act in conjunction with the Committee. I do not want to do anything to embarrass the Committee. If it is your wish that I leave the matter in your hands I shall do so. The allegations affect every member of the Committee. Senator O'Halloran.-I think the Chairman should leave the matter with the Committee feeling that it will

take all steps necessary to protect his honour during his absence. (2) Whether any hribe, valuable considerat ion, advantage, recom.pense, reward or benefit was accepted by, OJ: offered or suggested ·to, any member of th.e said Committee in connexion with the inquiry into a. claim by cert ain broadcasting

companies in Australia fo r £64,261 l Os. 7d. stated to be in respect. qf actual expenditure made and incurred and incidental thereto in connexion with the amalgamation and co-ordination of the said companies in pursuance of a. dmnand alleged to have been made upon the said c.)mpanies by the

Commonwealth Governn1ent ;

have the honour to report as follows:--I without delay instructed that the parties concerned be requested to attend for the purpose of hearing evidence at the Canberra Court I-Iouse, on Thn.rsday, 22nd May, 1930, at II a.m.

Appearances were made accordingly a;.:; follows:-Mr. J. H. K eating- Instructed by the Commonwealth Crown Soljcitor to the Commission. Mr. R. G. Menzies, lLC. "'\._Instructed by Fink, Best and :Miller appeared for Maj )r

Mr. C. Gavan Duffy J Conder.

Mr. E. A. 1\IcTiernan--I nstruct ed by Messrs. Davies, Mr>.Donald and Pratt · for P. E. Colernan, l\1.P.

Mr. W. F. Owen-Instructed by Stephen, Jacques and Stephen for l\1r. R. F. H. Green, M.P. ·

The hearing was commenced on 22nd May and was continued on·23rd and 24t h May and 17th July when it was concluded. The position disclosed by the material placed before me is, stated in order of date, as follows:-

A elaim for compensation from the Comn1onwealth made by certain broadcasting companies was by letter of 29th. November, 1929, from the Prime 1inist .r r ferred _to he Joint Committee of Public Accounts. Subsequently, bu.L 'efor he Comnnttee began 1ts s1t+1ngs upon the claim, Mr. Roland Green, a member of Commi ·t e, r c iv d a r f

fronl Mr. Percy Deane, Secretary of the H om e Aff a,us D partm nt, .to .1r. 1n,.Pu?hc1ty Manager of J. C. Williamson Limited , the ob j e_ \ of t he 1ng to ?bta1 hospitality for

Mr. Green in that Company's theatres.. J. C. Williamson Lnruted was and Is. possessed of a large interest in the Btoadcasting Companies concerned, and ou]d c rresp nrun crly ben fit by t e success of the claim before the Co1nmit t e Mr . Gr en sa r hat t bat im h W ''- S t a\ r

t hat J. C. Williamson Limited was inter sted in the lai1n. The Committee began it s sit ings upon +he claim on t h 1 th J anu ry 3 Mr. Conder was present throuahout the sitting on b half f h broadc trn the purpose of putting t heir ?Jaim through couns .1 efor h ann was in charge of the case 1n support of that clmm.

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after it had appeared to Mr,. Green that J. C. Williamson Limited was interested in the claim Mr. Green indiscreetly began to make advances towards a friendly intimacy with Mr. Conder, which intimacy rapidly developed. He also indiscreetly presented the Jetter of introduction already referred to, and thereafter received hospitality in the theatres of J. C. Williamson Limited. Mr. Conder did not discourage this intimacy or hospitaEty although in the course of the sittings he formed the opinion that Mr. Green was the only n1ember of the Committee hostile to the claim and that the rest of the Committee were favorable to it. The sittings for the taking of evidence and addresses of counsel lasted until the 4th February, 1930. Mr. Green and 1\fr. Conder met repeatedly during this period at J. C. Willian1son's theatres and elsewhere, and there were frequent opportunities for secret conversation between them, but no improper approach is said

by Mr. Green to have occurred until the 5th February, the day after the sittings ended. Mr. Green swore in evidence before me that on that day in the lounge at the Alexander Hotel, shortly after the Committee left fo r Tasmanja upon its ordinary business, Mr. Conder asked him how he thought the verdict would go, that in reply Mr. Green said he thought it would go · hard for the companies, and that Mr. Conder then said "A couple of hunared pounds would go

very well; it could be used t o buy some dresses fo r your wife," that Mr. Green made no reply in words but merely looked around at him in surprise and that Mr. Conder, who at the time was not looking at lVlr. Green but was looking in another direction at Mrs. Green who was some distance away out of hearing, thereupon walked away and spoke to another man some distance away in the lounge. No evidence has been adduced to corroborate 1\Ir. Green's evidence as to this alleged utterance of Mr. Conder.

Mr. Green took no action consequent upon this alleged utterance and now says in effect that he awaited further advances from Mr. Conder before doing anything; in the meanwhile he proceeded · to use in Tasmania letters of introduction which he _ had previously received from Mr. Conder and acted in respect of Mr. Conder as if the alleged utterance had not happened. Since this occasion on the 5th February no further conversation or communication has occurred between Mr. Green and Mr. Conder, although the latter was present at the departure on the afternoon of the 5th February for Tasmania of the vessel in which the Committee, including Mr. Green, travelled, and was also subsequently present in Launceston at the same time as Mr. Green.

On the 25th March the Committee met and took a vote upon the questionwhether a claim had b.een established by the broadcasting companies. Mr. Green voted in the negative, .Mr. Francis declined to vote either way in as much as Mr. Bruce, the former Prime Minister, had not been called to give evidence, and the rest of the Con1mittee voted that a claim had been established, but the amount of the claim was left for further consideration pending investigation by accountants.

On the 27th March, Mr. Green with Mr. and l\1rs. Percy Deane were the guests at dinner at the Hotel Canberra of Mr. Charles Melville, who is a senior man in an insurance office in Melbourne. Mr. Melville and Mr. and Mrs. Deane are well acquainted with and on very friendly terms with the Messrs. Tait who are the directors ·of J. C. Williamson Limited and one of whom is a director of the claimant Dominion Broadcasting Company. Mr. Melville who is now abroad has n1ade a statutory declaration in London dated 24th June, 1930, in which he says that Mr.

Green at this dinner stated to him, referring to the inquiry of the Committee upon the claim of the broadcasting companies, "You need not be alarmed; you can tell John Tait that the thing is over, the Committee has come to its decision and I was the only dissentient". Mr. Green in his evidence has contradicted this and denies that he said to Mr. Melville or any one else at the dinner that the Committee had come to any decision. Mr. and Mrs. Deane also swore in their evidence before me that they did not remember Mr. Green saying at the dinner that the

Committee has come to a decision, although the fact that Mr. Green was a member of the Committee hearing the claim was mentioned to Mr. Melville. The evidence showed that Mr. Melville had visited Canberra on this occasion chiefly in connexion with a life insurance bill then before the Senate, and that he, while upon this visit, saw Mr. Deane in connexion with

certain letters of introduction. On the 4th April, according to the sworn evidence of Mr. Green, a man interviewed him at Parliament House, Canberra, told Mr. Green that he was a senior man in one of the insurance comp'1nies in Melbourne, gave as his name a not uncommon name, and after some general talk said he wished to talk privately to Mr. Green. Mr . Green swore that he thereupon asked the man to have a drink with him, that they went to a table at the end of the verandah in Parliament House where they were served with drinks, and that this conversation ensued :-

Mr. Green.- Now then. The Man.- I am rather interested in tills broadcasting case that you are sitting on. Mr. Green.- Oh! The Man.- I believe the Cemmittee have come to a decision in favour of the Companie claim, and you are the only one standing out.

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Mr.. Green.-Where did you get that information from 1 The Man.-The Chajrman. · Mr. Green.-That seems very funny. The Man.-Why the h_ ell are you standing out 1 Coleman has earned his £500 at all events.

Mr. Green.-Who paid Coleman £500 1 . The Man.-He got it. J.l1r. Green.-Who paid it to him?

The Man.-He got it I know that. Why be a damn fool , why stand in your own light? . Mr. Green.-I must go. now; I want to catch this train. But I would like to talk the matter over with you agam ; come and see me agam. The Man.-I will come and see you again; in the meantime think it over. .

Mr. Green.-I will think it over all right.

Mr. Green swore that they then separated, that he at once went to catch his train to Sydney, that he was very annoyed at what had taken place, tried in the t r-ain t o recall the name which the man had given but could not do so, thought the statmnent made by the man Inight call for investigation but did nothing to bring about that investigation, and did not mention

the matter to any one until the next meeting of the Committee at which he was present, i. e., that on the 28th April at Melbourne. He swears that Mr. Charles Melville is not the m an who interviewed him on 4th April, and Mr. Melville in the statutory declaration already referred to makes a statement to, the same affect: There is nothing to suggest that the m2,n made any

attempt to again communicate with Mr. Green as was suggested in the conversation would be done. No evidence was adduced to corroborate that of Mr. Green as to the oecU:rrence of a. eonversation of the kind alleged by him, but there was some other evidenee, sliP'ht in charaeter, a8 to his being in company and drinking with a stranger as stated by him. o

On the 26th April the Sydney Morning Herald published a statement suggesting that the Uommittee might recommend a paym ent of £26,000 to the broadcasting c.ompanies . :Mr. Green swears that this public'1tion c9.used him to think that there was an improper leakage of imformation from the Committee, and that things might not be " as they should be in the Comn1it.tee " ·and

that it finally induced him to disclose to the Committee what he alleges had occurred.

On the 28th April he made the disclosure to some of the members and on the 29th April repeated it formally to a fuller meeting of the members. All the members present at once denied any impropriety so far as they were coneerned. As to the publication in the Sydney Morning Herald, the evidence shows that the information therein contained could have been acquired

elsewhere than any member. I now turn back to the alleged conversations on the 5th February and the 4th April. Mr. Conder gave evidenee on oath in t he witness box in the co_u rse of which he said that he never on any oceasion said anything to Mr. Green about giving him any kind of inducement, that he had not authorized any person to int erview J\1r . Green, and

that he did not know who that person might be who interviewed him. H e said that he was with Mr. Green at the Alexander Hotel on 5th F ebruary and was in conversation wit h him there, but he denied having said anything there concerning the broadcasting companies' claim . H e said, however, that on one occasion, during the second week of t he sitt ings, he and Mr. Green

were in Mr. Conder's Toom at His Majesty's Theatre in Melbourne where Mr. Green was having a drink, and that Mr. Green then asked Mr. Conder how he thought his ease was going, and t hat when Mr. Conder replied "Very well", Mr. Green told him that he didn't have a chance. If this happened it might be regarded as an attempt by Mr . Green t o lead up to an improper offer

from Mr. Conder. Mr. Green, however, contradicted this evidence absolutely upon oa th.

There was nothing in the demeanour of Mr. Green to suggest that he was intentionally giving false evidence, but I came to the eonclusion t hat, although he was an honest witness, his powers of me_mory and. of not nor acut e. On my seeking an

adequate motive for the IntentiOnal fabncatwn by him of his accounts of the alleged conversatwns, Mr. Conder's counsel at first only suggest ed a desire t o gratify some sort of vanity or self-love, but subsequently advanced the theory that he had hoped to be bribed by the broadcasting companies, and, being disappointed in t his hope, had. made his on the 28th Apr_il

to' the Committee for the purpose of revenge. On this aspect, eVIdence of 1r. Gre n and hlS wife that he told her on the 5th F ebruary that Mr . Conder had attempted to brib him i of some importance. I t hink this evidence is t o be accept ed, and, therefore, his malicious int ntion, if any, to invent a false story must begun to as far back hen- lo_n befor th

Committee had com.e t o any conclusiOn upon tbe claim. I do not _ think ha 1 h r .of h suggested operat ed his case, and I do not the suggestiOn h h . d li ra 1

fabricated hiS account of either of the two conversatwns now In que 1on .. Bu 1na mu h in my opinion he is apt t o be inaccurate in his recollection . and ob er wn and s m wh t

8

precipitate in his inferences, I think that it would he uns·afe• to come to· an adverse conclusion against Mr. Conder on his evidence, seeing that Mr. Conder has absolutely contradicted on oath that evidence. In the n1ain, Mr. Conder's demeanour when giving was satisfactory, although he showed some lack of frankness in respect of two incidental matters, namely, his knowledge of Mr. Percy Deane being the writer of the letter of introduction brought by Mr. Green, and the opinion he had formed of the attitude of the members of the Committee towards the claim.

In estimating evidence as to verbal conversations, especially when that evidence is given after a considerable lapse of time, it must be remen1bered that particular words and terms of phrase are unlikely to be reprqduced accurately, and . that it is quite possible for an innocent statement to be misunderstood and changed in form so as to carry a. sinister meaning. This is more likely to happen, where as in the alleged conversation between 1.\'Ir. Green and Mr. Conder, there is no interchange of statement so as to make clear to each party in the conversation what meaning is being given by the other party to the statements. According to Mr. Green, his only reply to the alleged suggestion of a bribe was a look of surprise, which :Mr. Conder had to perceive out of corner of his eyes. It is quite possible that some innocuous remark of l\1r. Conder was misunderstood, and that the misunderstanding was not corrected because no reply was made, the conversation having been broken off at that point. Mr. Green's inference wa_s that a suggestion of bribery had been made, that his ma:uner or receiving it was such as to show Mr. Conder that it might be unacceptable, and that the latter thereupon appeared to become alarmed and went off to speak to someone else. Mr. Green said that he thought Mr. Conder might renew the attack upon his probity. But if Mr. Conder had. become alarmed it is not at all likely that he would make any further attempt either directly or indirectly by means of an intermediary: on the other hand if he had not become alarmed it is probable that he would have continued until he got some more definite assurance as to Mr. Green's attitude towards the suggestion. On the question as to whether this conversation of the 5th February alleged by Mr. Green did or did not happen, I am unable to come to any definite conclusion, either upon the evidence particularly relating to that incident, or upon that evidence taken in conjunction with that

relating to the conversation alleged to have occurred on the 4th April at Canberra. As to the alleged conversation on 4th April at Canberra, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Green did have some conversation of the kind, and that in the course of the conversation a suggestion was made that Mr. Coleman had received £500 in connexion with the broadcasting companies claim and that Mr. Green should accept some similar payment. The terms of that conversation as given in evidence did not, in my opinion, show any intention to impute corruption to any other member of the Committee of Public Accounts. But those other members, namely, Senators Hayes, Hoare and O'Halloran and Messrs. Chifley, Francis, Gardner, Guy and Yates, M's.P., have each given evidence upon oath denying any such corruption and any improper approach in respect of the claim, and have produced to me the passbooks or certified copies of

the bank accounts of themselves, their wives, and relatives within their control. These members have clearly disproved any actual or attempted corruption of themselve§l in. respect of the claim. Mr. Green also has produced the banking accounts of himself and his wife which also are free from suspicion.

The identity of the person with whom Mr. Green conversed on 4th April has, unfortunately, not been discovered. I am satisfied that all possible steps have been taken by the officers of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department and of the Commonwealth Investigation Branch for the purpose of tracing that person, but no success has ensued upon those steps or upon Mr.

Green's· own inquiries. Mr. Coleman, whose name was mentioned in the conversation on 4th April was not informed of this until the 28th April and was therefore placed at a disadvantage. Arrangements which could not be altered had been made for him to leave Australia at the end of April upon public work abroad. Mr. Green had not himself taken any steps to cause an investigation to be made into the allegation against Mr. Coleman, nor had he taken the of giving early

information to Mr. Coleman of that allegation. The result was certainly unfair to .Mr. Coleman. If there had been any evidence at all against him, I should have thought it proper to keep the inquiry open until he returned to Australia and had an opportunity of giving evidence on oa.th in the witness box. But there is not a tittle of evidence against him, and I feel able, on the matenal now before me, to come to a definite conclusion concerning him. His departure from Australia,

which followed almost immediately upon Mr. Green's disclosure on the 28th and 29th April, took place at the end of April, which was long before this inquiry was suggested, I do not think in the circumstances, that he could have been expected to do more before his departure than he did, that is to immediately deny the truth of the sugges.tion against him. Green him lf

accepted that denial as satisfactory. lVIr. Coleman has since the. accounts of

himself and his wife to be submitted to me. These accounts contain nothing In support of any

63.7 .9

allegation that he has received any money improperly in connexion with the broadcasting companies' claim_:_on the contrary they indicate circumstances which make it unlikely that he would have accepted the improper payment suggested. The bank accounts for the relevant period . of the broadcasting companies interested in the claim, and of Mr. Conder, have also been submitted

to me after investigation have disclosed nothing to suggest that any such improper payment had been made. In addition, Mr. Coleman has made a statut ory declaration in London dated 2nd July, in which he, with the responsibility of a statement upon oath, denies the receipt of any such improper payment, and gives what seems to be a truthful account of :his contaets with

the persons ·concerned in the claim. On this material I am satisfied that the suggestion that Mr. Coleman has received or been offered any su1n of money improperly in connexion with the claim of the broadcasting companies is untrue. ·

I summarize n1y conclusions thus-(1) The allegation that 1\'lr. Conder offered or suggested a bribe to Mr. Green is not sustained. (2) Mr. Green on the 4th April did have a conversation at Canberra with ·

some unknown person in which that person suggested that Mr. Coleman had improperly received £500 in connexion with the claim of the broadcasting companies and that Mr. Green should accept a similar payment. (3) The suggestion in that conversation that Mr. Coleman received or was offered

any sum of money is untrue. (4) No suggestion was made in that conversation that any other member of the Committee had received or been offered any improper payment, but any such suggestion if intended is untrue. (5) Mr. Charles Melville is not the person with whom Mr. Green had the conversation

at Canberra on the 4th April, 1930. (6) As to the question whether any bribe, valuable consideration, advantage, recompense, reward or benefit was accepted by or offered or suggested to, any member of the said Committ ee in connexion with the inquiry into a claim

by certain broadcasting companies in Australia for £64,261 lOs. 7d. stated to be in respect of actual made and incurred and incidental

thereto in connexion with the amalgamation and co-ordination of the said companies i:n pursuance of a demand alleged to have been made on the said ·companies .by the Commonwealth Government, I ! epeat what I have already found concerning Mr. Green and Mr. Conder, and In all other respects

find that no bribe or other benefit was accepted by or offered to or suggested to any member. I forward with this my report a transcript of the complete notes of the proceedings, the exhibits and statutory declarations referred to.

6th August, 1930.

I have the honour to be, Your Excellency's l\iost Obedient Servant, GEO. J. DETHRIDGE, Commissioner.

Name.

Green, Roland Frederick Herbert O'Halloran, Micheal Rapheal Hayes, John Blyth Hoare, Albert Alfred Chifley, Joseph Benedict Gardner, Sydney Lane Yates, George Edwin

Green, Elsie Lilian Todd, Norman Cyril Conder, Walter Tasman . Finkelstein, Phil

Tait, Frank Samuel Jones, Harold Edward Richardson, Martin Francis, Josiah Deane, Percy Edgar Deane, Ruth Margery McLachlan, Alexander John Lawson, Harry Sutherland Wightman

10

APPEND IX " A ".

WITNESSES EXAMINED. Designation.

Member of the House of Representatives in the Commonwealth Parliament. Senator, Federal .Parliament. Senator, Federal Parliament. Senator, Federal Parliament. Member of the House of Representatives in Federal Parliament. Member of House of Representatives in Federal Parliament. Member of House of Representatives in Federal Parliament.

Wife of Mr. R. F. H. Green, M.P. Waiter, Refreshment Rooms, Federal Parliament House. General Manager, Dominion Broadcasting Pty. Ltd. Publicity Director for J. C. Williamson Ltd .

Managing Director, J. C. Williamson Ltd. Director, Commonwealth Inv,estigation Branch. Secretary, Joint Committee of Public Accounts. Member of House of Representatives in Federal Parliament.

Secretary, Home Affairs Department. Wife of Mr. Percy Deane. Senator, Federal Parliament: Senator, Federal Parliament.

APPENDIX "B ".

EXHIBITS.

A.-Copy of the 8ydney JVlorning Herald dated 26th April, 1930, containing reference to the report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts in connexwn with claims by the broadcasting companies against the Commonwealth Government. B.-Notices of Motions, &c., in Senate-21st March, 1930.

APPEND IX " C ".

STATUTORY DECLARATIONS.

Coleman, Percy Edmund Melville, Charles Edward Guy, James Allan

21st July, 1930. 24th June, 1930. 28th May, 1930.

Printed and Published for the GovERNMENT of the OMMONWEALTH of by

B. J. GREEN, Government Printer, Canberra