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Wednesday, 3 June 1942

Mr HOLT (Fawkner) (1:30 AM) .Every member of the committee will agree with the principle underlying the clause, namely, that the Director-General of Health should exercise effective supervision over the advertising of patent medicines. However, I agree with the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) and the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) that the method provided in the clause for obtaining this result is very clumsy. Moreover, it is not even in accordance with the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Broadcasting. The committee recommended that any person who desired to advertise a patent medicine should be required to submit all matter relating to it to the Director-General of Health. I am sure that the intention behind the recommendation was that the DirectorGeneral of Health should be supplied with all relevant material so that he could judge whether or not it was proper, in the public interest, that the medicine or treatment should be advertised. It was never intended that the text of every advertisement should be submitted, seeing that the text might be changed every week.

Mr Calwell - Advertising contracts of this kind are let for six months at a time.

Mr HOLT - Yes, but the text of the advertisement may be altered every week. One might think that most of the advertising space in the newspapers would be devoted to advertisements of clothing, motor cars, motor fuels, &c, but it has been found that, in fact, the greater part is taken up with patent medicine advertisements. It is evident, therefore, that the volume of such advertising, even over the broadcasting stations, would be so great that much work would be involved in checking the text of all advertisements.

Mr Rosevear - What is the difference between the clause and the amendment?

Mr HOLT - The clause provides that the text of every advertisement must be submitted to the Director-General. Under the amendment, the Director-General will still have power to prevent the broadcasting of objectionable advertisements, but it will not be necessary for him to scrutinize the text of every advertisement. Surely the Director-General of Health should not be required to check the text of advertisements of patent medicines that have been accepted family remedies for years.

Mr Calwell - It would have to be done only once in respect of each medicine.

Mr HOLT - No, it would have to be done every time the text was changed.

Mr Calwell - The Director-General could give a general approval for the advertising of aspirin, for instance.

Mr HOLT - Not under this clause. In my opinion, the amendment is a definite improvement. It makes for greater flexibility of administration, while still achieving the desired result. The committee recommended that the advertisements of osteopaths should not be ruled out unless such persons were forbidden by law to practise. If honorable members are prepared to allow that recommendation to go through, they have very little to fear from this amendment.

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