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Thursday, 19 November 1959

Mr CHRESBY (Griffith) .- During the course of this lengthy debate I have found myself continuously taking the opposite view to that of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). On this occasion, however, I find myself on his side. Indeed, I find myself in the strange position of what one might call championing the cause of the press. I do not do so with any love for most sections of the press. Indeed, I am conscious, as many members are conscious, of the failure of a considerable section of the press to recognize its own moral responsibility in the correct reporting of incidents, whether within this chamber or in the courts. The Attorney-General and others may point to the fact that during the course of war, in the cause of national security, there must be a certain amount of suppression of what the press may print. I still believe that the newspapers, or some of them, fail in their moral responsibility to realize that what they print can have quite a damaging effect, opposite to the one intended, but I maintain that we must zealously guard the right of the press to print the truth.

Mr Chaney - That is what we are doing in this clause.

Mr CHRESBY - I take the view that it will be hard, at times, to determine what is the truth. I believe, with the honorable member for Moreton, that we are establishing a very dangerous principle. I would like to see a provision in the law whereby an institution such as the Parliament would have the right to print its view alongside the view of the press, so that people could compare them and make up their own minds.

Mr Chaney - That is not your argument now.

Mr CHRESBY - That is your point of view. It is not mine. I oppose this clause. I do not think it will achieve what it sets out to achieve and I do not think it is in the public interest. I intend to vote against it.

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