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Thursday, 10 June 1926

Senator GUTHRIE (Victoria) . - I intend, for many reasons, to support Senator Grant's requested amendment.

Senator Payne - Will the honorable senator- vote for it?

Senator GUTHRIE - Certainly. We should encourage the production of films in Australia and within the British. Empire. For many years Australia has been flooded with American films, cleverly produced, no doubt, but, nevertheless, in many cases undesirable and. in questionable taste. They appear to have been produced for propaganda purposes.Not infrequently the fool of the picture is a Britisher, while the "square-jawed, cleanlimbed American " is always the hero. The scenes generally are American. I agree with Senator Grant that the British Empire is capable of producing splendid films. There is wonderful scenery in Great Britain and her dominions. Very few of the 6,000,000 people in Australia know very much about their own country. I admit that it is a difficult country to know, because of its great distances. It is a wonderful land, with a great variety of magnificent scenery, though not infrequently one has to suffer considerable discomfort to see it. We should, by means of Australian films, give the people living in our cities an opportunity to learn something of this wonderful island continent. I do not think that the people of this country prefer American to British or Australian films. A large section of the public is sick and tired of the insidious American propaganda that is being carried out throughout Australia by means of the cinematograph. The American picture producers are clever, no doubt, but many of their pictures are not desirable from an educational, moral, or any other point of view. I should like to see a much stricter censorship exercised over them, I understand that some of the films that have been censored would shock any decent citizen, because they are the most immoral trash imaginable.

Senator Millen - That is true.

Senator GUTHRIE - It cannot be denied. These pictures are presented to hundreds of thousands of Australian children night after night, and they can only havea detrimental influence on the rising, generation. They are the cause of most of the crimes in this country. At the usual picture show the smart criminal is screened as a hero. I would not allow my children to attend these shows. On looking at the advertisements regarding them in the Melbourne Herald to-night, one sees page after page of sensational trash about divorce cases and worse things. There are "blood and thunder" yarns, and every conceivable sort of immoral rubbish. If the majority of these pictures were of an educational value, as some, but very few, are, I should be inclined to let them in. duty free. Films that are not highly immoral, are, to put is mildly, very suggestive. They very often glorify men of the criminal type, and provide a popular form of amusement calculated to lower the whole tone of the community. I grant that the Americans, who talk of "how we won the war," are pastmasters in the production of films. They have flooded the Empire with their propaganda, and it is reasonableto charge them a duty of 3d. a foot on their films. I support the request up to the hilt. I have no desire, however, to increase the cost of amusement to the masses, provided the entertainment is healthy.

Senator Lynch - Is not a censorship exercised over the films before they are exhibited?

Senator GUTHRIE - Yes, and the censors have excised thousands of feet of films that no decent man or woman would care to see.

Senator Thompson - The report of the Tariff Board does not say so.

Senator GUTHRIE - My informant has been employed as a censor. The

Minister stated that a duty of 3d. a foot might increase the cost of this popular form of amusement; but I remind honorable senators that the Federal Government proposes to abandon the entertainments tax.

Senator Needham - It has not yet been removed.

Senator GUTHRIE - No, but I hope that it will be. A company with a huge capital should be formed within the British Empire for the production of pictures in Australia and other parts of the Empire. The committee should encourage the exhibition of films depicting the scenery, the industries, and the happenings in the British Empire, and particularly in Australia. Although I have travelled over Australia as much as most people, I probably have not seen one-tenth of it. In Australia and New Zealand there is scenery equal to the finest in the world. I hope that honorable senators will support the request, thus showing their loyalty to their Empire, and particularly to their own country.

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