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Thursday, 1 July 1926

Senator McLACHLAN (South Australia) . - When this matter was before us on a previous occasion I supported the request moved by Senator Grant, and, subsequently, that moved by Senator Guthrie. It may be true that the imposition of higher duties would not result in the picture industry being established in Australia, or in old-world countries, because of the power of the gigantio combines in the United States of America. Perhaps it is due to my somewhat puritanical upbringing, but I believe that many of the pictures now exhibited have a harmful effect on young people and on the future welfare of this country. Much of the juvenile crime which, unfortunately, exists to-day is directly traceable to a certain class of pictures. Pictures, like literature, vary in quality. On the few occasions that I have visited picture shows, it has been my misfortune to have seen, together with interesting and instructive films, others which evidently had been severely censored, but which, nevertheless, required very little imagination to fill in the gaps made by the censor. We may not be able immediately to deal effectively with that kind of thing, but it is as well to make it known that we are watching, because the result may be a better class of picture than has been supplied in the past. I think, however, that we shall have to take more drastic steps to deal with this problem. I do not subscribe to the policy of despair that has been enunciated by Senator Reid. I think that something can be> done to remedy this defect. It is our duty as public men to protect the young people of this country, and when we see their appetites being whetted by films such as only too frequently are placed before them, we must strike a blow whenever we can in their interests. If at present we cannot entirely prevent the importation of these films, we may at least derive some revenue from them. The Minister has admitted that this is a revenue duty. He could do no other and be logical. If we add to the duty we shall assist Australia to the extent that we increase our revenue. Then, if people are foolish enough to pay a higher price for admission to picture shows, they must pay it. For a long time, as was mentioned by Senator Reid, difficulty has been experienced in dealing with the picture companies. We cannot get at them effectively through the Customs or the income tax. The American producers fix the price which they charge to the Australian companies. They have that matter in their own hands. In the circumstances it is easy to see how the Australian companies are unable to make profits. I suggest to the Government that this matter might be dealt with through the copyrights. It might be possible, not only to control the class of film which comes here, but also to prevent the entry of unsuitable films. That is why I voted as I did oh a Former occasion. We were informed yesterday that no inter-Empire industry would result from the imposition of this higher duty, but I understand that already there is a movement in that direction. It is our duty to adhere to the increased duty for what it is worth. It may not be worth much; but I see no reason for departing from the attitude I adopted when this matter was before ns previously.

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