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Thursday, 1 July 1926


Senator THOMPSON (Queensland) . - When this item was last before the -committee, I recorded a silent vote; but I do not intend to do so on this occasion. If the proposed duty would be of value to Great Britain, I would support it; but the number of films imported from Great Britain is so small as to be almost unworthy of consideration. For the information of honorable senators, I quote the following, from a gentleman who has invested a lot of money in the picture industry in Australia: -

My firm made a very big effort to do this successfully in Australia in 1920. We stuck to the business for two years, and spared no capital or effort. We brought out American producers, American scenario writers, American technical experts; but still the project was a failure, but the experience gained has given us the opportunity to form an opinion of what we consider the best possibilities for the development of picture production in Australia.

As the successful production of pictures depends largely upon the market available, and as the Americans have secured world distribution, it could, perhaps, be arranged for British capitalists, producers, and artists to come to Australia, where the climate is undoubtedly favorable for the production of pictures. That is a means of providing for the production of British pictures which has not been suggested before. If British producers were to direct their energies in this way instead of endeavouring to produce good pictures in that murky little isle, they would have a better opportunity of successfully competing with American interests. A good deal has been said . concerning the influence of moving pictures upon a certain sec-: tion of the community. . One production to which reference has been made ie said to belittle Great Britain; but, after seeing the picture, I cannot agree with that contention. It is a pretty love story of a young American who joined the American Army. The movements of the unit to which he was attached are depicted until he was , wOunded and invalided home.


Senator Millen - It is a particularly clean story.


Senator THOMPSON - Yes. Before the picture is screened, the descriptive matter states that, although the story relates to the movements of a unit in the American Army, it could also apply to a unit of any other of the allied armies. From that simple story we have had the inference drawn that the picture belittles Great Britain, and makes the suggestion that America won the war. I deprecate such statements. Senator Sampson referred to the value of the picture. Certainly, I do not think it is a good war picture. It gives a very horrid view of war, and, for that reason, possibly, the censor was' quite justified in refusing to permit its exhibition in Australia.


Senator Payne - It gives a fair indication of what our men had to put up with.


Senator THOMPSON - Yes ; but it depicts so many dead men, and in such horrible attitudes, that perhaps it was better not to allow it to be shown in Australia, It would only harrow the feelings of many people who suffered during; the Avar. The censor was quite justified in holding it up.


Senator Millen - That is the only reason for which the honorable senator w.ould prohibit its exhibition here?


Senator THOMPSON - Yes. I could, see nothing in it that was likely to belittle Great Britain. Much has been, said about the character of American films shown in Australia. I think they are improving. The censor told us theother day when we were' viewing excerpts that had been made from films. that a great many of the pictures from which they were cut were old, and that, in his opinion, the tone of the pictures coming from America was improving. One thing that has occurred to me in connexion with the American picture business, and which has not been touched upon by other honorable senators, is the language employed in the editorial part of the pictures. It is a new language to many of us. If the censor had the power to cut that out, and thus get rid of so many objectionable phrases and Americanisms, which, I think, spoil our language, he would be doing good service. We get surfeited with these American slang terms, that have nothing to. recommend them, and I suggest that the censor give this matter his attention. If I thought it would be of any use to the British importer to insist on the higher rate on foreign films as requested by the Senate, my vote would be against the Government on this occasion; but, since I am satisfied that the extra impost would be passed on to the people with, as I interjected when Senator Findley was speaking, a bit extra, we should support the Government, and so save the public from that imposition.







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