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Tuesday, 15 December 1914

The PRESIDENT - They were making representations with a view to the continuance of the practice which they themselves had established in addition to the privileges which were allowed to them. No attempt was made bv either Committee to restrict their privileges in any, way. All that we did was to call their attention to the privileges allowed to them, and to ask them to co-operate with us in seeing that they were not overstepped.

Senator Long - Privileges already governed by regulation.

The PRESIDENT - It was represented to us that the members of the press had a very hard time here; that their duties were often wearisome, and that the least that could be done by Parliament was to provide them with suitable means of recreation and amusement so as to counteract the effect of their very hard work. That view was put before the Joint House Committee by letter, and we replied that the only duty we recognised towards the members of the press was that of providing them with the fullest and most ample facilities and accommodation necessary to enable them to conveniently and effectively report the proceedings of Parliament. That is all that has been done and will continue to be done. If the mem bers of the press are too hardlyworked, if they are in sore need of recreation and amusement, that is entirely a matter for trie proprietors of the>> newspapers they represent, and notfor this or the other branch of the Legislature. We might just as reasonably beasked to vote a sum ul" money to supplement their pay, if they wereunderpaid by their employers, as bet asked to provide facilities for their amusement or recreation. Again, they asked us to formulate some complaint om. which we based the action which we took, and we replied, as everybody must admit was reasonable, that in making rules forthe conduct, order, and good governmentof Parliament House generally, it was not at all necessary for us to formulate a complaint against any individual. We further pointed out that it was essential, if members of Parliament were to have any comfort, that they should have some privacy. Under the old system, when' themembers of the press roamed unrestricted all over the premises at their own sweet, will, honorable members had no privacy whatever, either in the Library, the gardens, or anywhere else; and, on more than one occasion, to my own knowledge, the gist of private conversations between honorable members has been pubslished in the press next day. I say, unhesitatingly, that private conversations between honorable members of this Parliament outside the Chambers should be as sacred as private conversations between honorable members in their own homes; but that could never be the case while honorable members were under the constant sur- ' veillance of the press. -I have made inquiries in other quarters to see if the press had any just cause of complaint, and! have received a full memorandum regarding the press privileges allowed from Mr. H. H. Newton, Clerk of Parliaments for Victoria, from which I find! that, even now, under the system at present obtaining in this building, the members of the press have a great many mores privileges than they have in the VictorianParliament. To my own certain knowledge, they possess more privileges herethan they do now in the Queensland Parliament, because there no honorable member ever saw a member of the press unless he went into the gallery to do so. The> members of the press there were not allowed to enter any of the rooms set apart for honorable members in any part of the House. We have tried to be -reasonable and courteous towards the press, and to see that they are treated with every consideration. Last session, the question arose whether the members of the press, or portion of our own staff, should, owing to the limited accommodation in the refreshmentrooms, be deprived of the right to have their meals there; and I, as Chairman of the Joint House Committee, ingiving the matter consideration, decided in favour of the press, and . of depriving a part of our own staff of the right to have their meals there. Yet the press say that they are treated harshly. They have been treated with the utmost consideration. Any action taken by the Library Committee, or the Joint House Committee, has been absolutely unanimous, and both sides of the House have been fully consulted before anything has been done, and for my part I take full responsibility for everything that was done, and am quite certain Mr. Speaker is prepared to do the same.

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