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Wednesday, 3 July 1946
Page: 2165

Mr FRASER (Eden) (Monaro) (1:35 AM) . - The Minister (Mr. Calwell) has made it plain that to extend privilege in connexion with broadcasts of the proceedings of the Parliament merely to the Australian Broadcasting Commission would not be sufficient, because the PostmasterGeneral's Department also will be associated with the broadcasts. I have no doubt that the honorable gentleman ha.? given very careful consideration to the possible effect of the clause as it stands. Provision for the protection of those who will he engaged in the broadcasts authorized* by the Parliament is essential. So long as the Minister is satisfied that the clause as drafted does not go much farther than that, and confer on commercial broadcasting stations who make an unauthorized re-broadcast of portions of a debate, a licence to broadcast selected defamatory sentences, with complete privilege and immunity from punishment, then it will be all right.

Mr Calwell - The clause, as amended, of itself, would not do that; but it would if taken in conjunction with proposed new clause 13a.

Mr FRASER - I am interested in proposed new clause 13a, because it aims to give to the committee the power to determine the conditions under which a re-broadcast may be made. So long as the Minister is satisfied that there will be power to punish a commercial station that is known to have re-broadcast one or two defamatory sentences, or defamatory portions of a speech, after the Parliament has been prorogued and while an election campaign is in progress, the bill is satisfactory.

Mr Calwell - I assure the honorable gentleman that under the Australian Broadcasting Act the Postmaster-General would have the power to revoke the licence of such a broadcasting station. There is one example of a Minister having put a broadcasting station off the air.

Mr FRASER - I am glad to have that assurance from' the Minister, because

I regard this as an extremely important matter. The complete protection of those who are engaged in making the broadcasts authorized by the Parliament is essential. It is equally important that protection should not be afforded to those who broadcast any portion of the proceedings of the Parliament, greater than is afforded to a newspaper or any other recorder of the proceedings of the Parliament. Such protection is given only when, the report is fair, and covers all phases of a debate. I accept the Minister's assurance.

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