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Friday, 25 June 1926

Senator FOLL (Queensland) . - I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to the unsatisfactory position of postmasters who are charged with the responsibility of doing banking business for the Commonwealth Bank. They receive no extra remuneration. Stationmasters, being employees of a State Government, receive additional pay if they are called upon to do banking business. Postmasters are tied down to their offices in much the same way as a bank manager is; that is to say, they may not leave the premises at night without the permission of the Deputy PostmasterGeneral, and they have to pay rent up to 10 per cent, of their salary for premises which they occupy ; whereas stationmasters have free quarters, free passes on the railways - I am not advocating, of course, that postmasters should have that privilege - lighting, and fuel. In some cases, linemen, if they are working a certain distance from the post-office to which they are attached, get an allowance which brings their salary almost to the level of that received by the postmaster himself. It would not be unreasonable if the postmasters were given the privilege of free residences, as well as extra remuneration in the way of commission, for the banking business transacted. I understand that the State Government is credited with commission, according to the amount of banking business transacted for the Commonwealth Bank by stationmasters, and that some portion, at all events, of the commission is passed on to the stationmasters who do the work. Postmasters should be treated in the same way. Senator Needham mentioned the censorship of picture films. Certain honorable senators appear to be pursuing a vendetta against the proprietors of picture shows.

Senator Grant - That is not so.

Senator FOLL - What I have said may not be true of the honorable senator, but it is strange that, in the vote taken in this chamber a little while ago, a majority of the Senate favoured an increase in the duty on foreign-made films. The only effect of this extra duty will be to increase the prices charged for admission to picture shows, which are practically the only form of entertainment available to people on the basic wage.

Senator Grant - To what extent will the proposed tax affect them? It means only one-fifth of a penny on each ticket.

Senator FOLL - The honorable senator must know that the increased duty, if accepted by another place, will add to the cost of picture-show entertainments.

Senator Pearce - I rise to a point' of order. We shall probably have all this discussion when we are dealing again with the item relating to the duty on picture films. This bill has no relation whatever to the tariff. Therefore, Senator Foll, I submit, should not be allowed to discuss the duty on films.

Senator Grant - I submit that Senator Foll was only making passing reference to the duty on picture films, and that reasonable latitude should be allowed to all honorable senators in the debate on this bill.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newlands). - Senator Foll must be aware, that specific reference to the duty on picture films is out of order in this debate. I trust, therefore, that he will not pursue that line of discussion.

Senator FOLL - There is in the bill an item relating to the Commonwealth film censorship. I shall confine my remarks to that item. The censorship of films in Australia is very desirable; but honorable senators must not think that, because recently they had an opportunity to view an objectionable film screened in the office of the censor, that picture and others like it would have been screened in Australia but for the existence of the censorship. Under the present system the pictures are received by the censor before they reach the distributors. I understand that prior to the appoint; ment of the censors the companies themselves took every care to maintain a high standard in the class of pictures shown.

Senator Guthrie - Why, then, were some censored pictures sent back to America and re-imported under another name in order to evade the censorship?

Senator FOLL - That is a matter for the distributors themselves to explain. My point is that they should be allowed to conduct a legitimate business without being unnecessarily harassed by the working of the censorship system. At present they do not know where they stand. Sometimes when a film has been submitted to the office in Sydney a portion has been cut out of it and the picture spoiled. The distributors have then sent it on to Melbourne for the opinion of Professor Wallace, the principal censor, and it has been returned to Sydney with the portion cut out by the Sydney office restored and another portion censored. On other occasions pictures rejected by the

Sydney office have been accepted in Melbourne. The moving picture business has brought a modern form of entertainment within the reach of thousands of people who otherwise would beshut out from practically all forms of amusement, so the distributors should not be unduly interfered with.

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