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Friday, 15 December 1905

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think that the honorable member for Fremantle has dealt quite fairly with this proposed new clause. The matter does not concern me, since I so seldom change my views on any question that my constituents nave them in a stereotyped form; but I can quite understand that it is a matter of keen concern to some honorable members, who may change their views at every fresh election. I Have the greatest respect for the stability of the views of my honorable friend, the member for Kooyong ; but, as he represents a constituency which has a moving population, it becomes necessary for him, no doubt, from time to time, to let them know, by means of addresses, what his views are on current topics. There is a very serious side to this proposal, and I think that the honorable member for Fremantle has quite missed the point. The "honorable member for Kooyong does not -wish to give Members of Parliament an ad vantage over other people. He has pointed out that it is possible to send through the post 20 ozs. of newspapers in bulk for id.

Mr Fisher - Separately?

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes ; that is the point. One may take twenty newspapers to the post-office, weighing, an ounce each, and have them distributed over the country broadcast for id. The honorable member for Kooyong merely contends that, for educational purposes, the addresses of candidates for election to this Parliament are quite as valuable as newspapers, and should be distributed by the post-office at the same rates. I do not think that he is asking for a privilege; he merely desires that candidates shall be allowed to take advantage of the existing practice in regard to newspapers. Presumably, the ground upon which newspapers may be posted at such a cheap rate is that they contain at least a modicum of educational matter; and it is only fair to assume that the addresses of parliamentary candidates will do the same. I speak quite disinterestedly, because I am not likely to avail myself of the privilege, since my constituents do not need matter of this kind !

Mr. MAHON(Coolgardie).- The honorable member for Wentworth is under a misapprehension,. The Post and, Telegraph Rates Act provides that the postage of newspapers shall be id. for 20 ozs. aggregate weight, although each newspaper is in a separate wrapper. I do not look upon the proposal of the honorable member for"' Kooyong as anything very dreadful, but I would point out to the Committee that the object which he has in view could be achieved if he had his addresses printed in his local newspaper, and .then circulated.

Mr Kelly - That might be difficult to arrange.

Mr MAHON - He could get them printed if he were willing to pay for the printing.

Mr Wilks - His local newspapers happen to be the Age and the Argus.

Mr MAHON - There are several small newspapers in the Kooyong electorate, any one of which the honorable member could avail himself of for the publication of his addresses, and he could have copies of these newspapers posted at the rate of id. for 20 ozs. Still. I see no objection to the insertion of this provision in the Bill. It is a very fair one, and will operate as usefully for one party as for another. I db not share the rather pessimistic views of the honorable member for Darwin, and see nothing dangerous in the proposal.

Mr Fisher - The candidate should certify that they are election addresses.

Mr MAHON - That is a detail, and is provided for by the words " as prescribed by regulation."

Mr. STORRER(Bass).- I agree with the honorable member for Fremantle that, although we have control of the post-office, we should not use it to give special concessions to ourselves which are not given to other public men.

Mr Mahon - They cannot be given to other than candidates for the Federal, Parliament.

Mr STORRER - Then we should not give this privilege to candidates for the Federal Parliament. The addresses of candidates for the States Parliaments are relatively as important as those of candidates for this Parliament. I hope that the Committee will show its independence and wisdom by rejecting the proposal.

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