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Thursday, 27 March 1941

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - Action such as might be necessary under this clause would have to be taken with great speed. I am wondering whether the Minister has considered whether the powers to be conferred are sufficiently wide. In certain events of a most alarming character, it would be unfortunate if we . could not prevent the broadcasting of matter the publication of which was considered injurious to the people as a whole. When I was PostmasterGeneral I had to exercise this power, and I felt somewhat embarrassed, having regard to the terms of the statute. It seems to me that speed is of the essence of the contract. If the Minister knew of an impending event, he should be able to direct the chairman of the commission, or its executive officer, that certain information must not be broadcast. Since it would be necessary, under this clause as it stands, to get the Governor-General to attend a meeting of the Executive Council before certain action could be taken I am a little unhappy about the machinery that would have to be set in motion. Mischief could be done before a regulation could be issued. It seems to me that the Minister should have power to deal instantly with a matter of this kind, and should take the responsibility for it. He could consult with the Prime Minister or with such Ministers as were available.

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