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Tuesday, 2 June 1970


Mr BARNES (MCPHERSON, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for External Territories) - This question concerns a matter of very great importance and I believe it would be more fitting should I seek leave to make a statement on some future occasion. I would be very happy to do this. In the meantime let me say in relation to this subject that these charges mentioned by the honourable member appeared in a 3-column article on the front page of the 'Australian' on Saturday. I issued a written Press statement relating to these charges and I thought that at least this could be reported in that paper in view of its seriousness. I might add that only 1 newspaper I saw took up these charges. Much to my surprise on Monday morning, there was a contribution by the same columnist on page 2. It made no mention of one word of my Press statement but he gave an interpretation of it. This indicates a sort of Press censorship. This columnist was not prepared to make my Press statement available to the readers of this paper but he served, to interpret this statement. We have seen quite a lot of this sort of thing in the Press lately - a sort of Press censorship. I made a remark on one previous occasion in this House to the effect that the great privilege of freedom of the Press is treated by the Press very lightly and I made the point that in authoritarian countries the difficulty is to suppress the truth but in our democratic countries the difficulty is to have the truth reported.







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