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Friday, 18 December 1914

Senator PEARCE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Defence) - I have not yet received a communication from the Premier of Western Australia. I take it that the question was given notice of yesterday afternoon, and, if so, there has hardly been time to send a communication. The matter has come under my notice in another way, and that is by means of a protest which was forwarded by the West Australian to the newspapers here, and sent on to me. It appears that the complaint made by the Wast Australian as to certain news being censored refers to the same news which was also censored here, so that it applies equally to the eastern and western press

Senator Millen - In what part of. Australia would that message be received - st Adelaide or Sydney?

Senator PEARCE - I think that it was received in Adelaide.

Senator Millen - And being censored there it ought not to have been sent on to Perth.

Senator PEARCE - That does not follow, because the censoring is done when the news comes to the newspaper office. The censoring is not done in Adelaide for the eastern or the western press.

Senator Millen - Then the news which came through was censored for the whole of Australia?

Senator PEARCE - As regards the statement that news which has been censored in England is prevented from being published here, that is simply an assertion by the newspapers. News is censored in England just as it is censored here, but we have no guarantee that a cablegram received by a newspaper here is identical with information which has been censored in England and allowed to be published there. News sent out to Australia does not come from the censor in England, but from the representative of the Australian press there. Therefore it is obligatory upon us to see that the news passes the censor here. As regards the seizure of a third edition of the Daily News, a report has been called for from the censor as to his reasons for doing so.

Senator Needham - Can the Minister assure the Senate that the same war news is published, or is about to be published, in the press of Western Australia as is published in the eastern newspapers 1 He has not answered that question.

Senator PEARCE - In each State of the Commonwealth we have a staff of censors, who receive similar instructions on which to act. The censors in Western Australia were chosen with regard to their fitness for the duty. They are citizens of the State, and therefore should know their duty. They would not be likely to take any action which would reflect on the people of Western Australia. The question of Mr. Heitmann seems to indicate that they are not permanent military officers, but citizen officers who have been called up for this special duty. The censors have been instructed to, as far as possible, take uniform action in all the States.

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