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Thursday, 11 July 1946

Mr Adermann n asked the Minister for Information, upon notice-

1.   Did the Commonwealth Government have printed one copy of a film taken by Dr. Donald Thomson dealing with the life and customs of the Arnhem Land natives?

2.   If so, was one copy of the film deposited with the Department of Information? 3.. Was objection taken by Dr. Thomson when the department wanted to make cuts from the film for newsreel purposes?

4.   Was any further action taken by the department to make available to the Australian public and to the people overseas this film which was of great scientific value?

5.   Waa the film subsequently destroyed by a fire which broke out in one of the department's stores ? fi. Is it a fact that while the department was in possession of this film, it was negotiating with American scientists to conduct an exploring expedition into Arnhem Land to deal with precisely the same subject-matter 1

7.   If not, what was the nature of the negotiations V

Mr Calwell - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : -

1.   One copy was printed several years ago for the Melbourne University.

2.   The film was deposited with the Commonwealth Cinema Branch several years before the Department of Information came into existence.

3.   The question bf re-editing and soundtracking the film was discussed with Dr. Thomson in January and February of this year. He was informed that the Department nf Information would make up a new film nt no cost to him, and pay a reasonable proportion and perhaps even the whole of the cost of a three weeks tour which he said would be necessary to enable him to obtain proper background for the film. He was also informed that copies of the completed film would be sent to all Department of Information representatives overseas, with the request that they should try to market it for theatrical use, any financial returns to be split between Dr. Thomson and the 'department in a way that would ensure that the department would recover no more than the cost of making and distributing the film. Negotiations were proceeding when the fire occurred.

4.   See answer to No. 3.

5.   Yes.

6.   The proposed visit of American scientists will cover a much wider field of investigation than was dealt with in Dr. .Thomson's film.

7.   The Research Committee of the National Geographic Society offered a grant of '8,500 dollars towards the cost of an expedition to Arnhem Land, in which three American scientists would participate. The- purpose of the visit will be to study tho ethnology, fauna and flora of Arnhem Land. Biologists with the party will study the bird life of the swamps and inland rivers and the bird and fish life of the sea coasts and mangrove swamps, in addition to securing a unique series of coloured films for future lecture series and for educational distribution.' The National Geographic Society will publish a series of articles, with coloured plates, on the aborigines of Arnhem Land, the bird life and water lily lagoons of the swamps and the reef fish and corals.

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