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Thursday, 19 November 1959

Mr O'CONNOR (Dalley) .- I support, in general, the view expressed by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). The only thing I am perturbed about is the provision that the court may, if it thinks fit, in any particular proceeding forbid publication of matters. I shall be very interested to hear from the AttorneyGeneral the reasons that might actuate a court in such a manner. While it is true to say the press to-day treats divorce proceedings differently from the way in which it treated them in the past, it is also perfectly true that the approach of the press to reports of divorce proceedings is not uniform. People who own newspapers have a power which is denied to ordinary members of the public. I know that some years ago certain people who own powerful newspaper interests went through the divorce courts, but none of the papers that they publish printed a line of the proceeding. Newspapers published by rival companies, of course, carried reports of these proceedings but, as I said, the newspapers owned by the parties to the divorce, or by one of them, suppressed the proceedings. That is an example of the kind of behaviour that the press is likely to resort to. I point out that the newspaper concerned is publishing, daily, reports of divorce proceedings that affect other people, in contradistinction to its attitude when the owner of the newspaper was concerned, when it published not a line.

So I think it is advisable for us to have some assurances from the Attorney-General that there will be some degree of uniformity in the decisions that courts might make under sub-clause (2.). I say, with due deference to everybody, and with no desire to cast any aspersions on anybody, that it is quite possible that some member of the bench would be influenced by factors which should not influence him. I am not here to criticize the judiciary, but such things have happened in this profession as in other spheres. What I want the AttorneyGeneral to remove is my fear that we may have cases where a person may obtain a decree from a court and, because of that person's background, the judge may favour him and order the suppression of reports of the proceedings, whereas if ordinary Mr. Jack Smith were concerned the judge would not make a similar order.

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