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Wednesday, 25 June 1941

Senator COLLINGS (QueenslandLeader of the Opposition) . - I take this opportunity to correct myself in respect of a question which I asked, will tout notice, this afternoon. The question was -

1.   Has Mr. A. W. Coles, M.H.B., recently admitted that he was "guilty of a small deceit" in order to obtain £7i>0 worth of dollars to travel from New Zealand to England?

2.   Does .the Government approve of the example set to Australia by a member of Parliament in obtaining dollar exchange bv deceit?

3.   Would not the 3,000-odd dollars' involved have been better spent on essential United States of America imports?

4.   Did the'. Commonwealth Government pay any part of the expenses incurred by Mr. Coles during his investigations in England on behalf of the Government?

I find that the figure of £750 on which I based my question is wrong. In the first proof of Ilansard containing the statement made by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Coles) in the House of Representatives, the figure of £750 appeared. After I asked this question to-day my attention was called to the corrected copy of Ilansard in which I find that the figure is £75, and not £750. In view of this fact I can only say that my question was wrongly founded. I have no more interest in the matter except to make this explanation.

Senator Foll - I shall advise the honorable member for Henty of the honorable senator's explanation.

Senator COLLINGS - The second matter with which I wish to deal concerns the subject of censorship. Occasionally, honorable senators on this side are very disturbed at the operation of the military censorship. To-day, however, I am a little disturbed concerning the censorship of certain questions which I asked in this chamber. Perhaps, a satisfactory explanation will be forthcoming; I hope so. I am entirely dissatisfied with what was done to two questions which I placed on the notice-paper on the. 28th May last, and which were answered only to-day. Following are the questions that I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs: -

1.   Is it a. fact that Australia will have to import large quantities of Southern Rhodesian tobacco as a supplement to the local crop in order to .meet home demand this year?

2.   Is the action of the Lyons and Menzies Governments in destroying tariff protection afforded to tobacco by the Scullin Government responsible for the inability of Australia to meet her own requirements of that commodity to-day?

I submit that there was nothing improper, or in contravention of any standing order ' or regulation, in the language used in those two questions, but they appeared on the notice-paper in the following form : -

1.   Is it n fact that Australia will have to import large quantities of Southern Rho.desian tobacco to supplement the Io':aI crop in order to meet home demand this year?

2.   Is the action of a later Parliament in reducing the tariff protection afforded to tobacco during the term of the Scullin Government responsible for the inability of Australia to meet her own requirements in that commodity to-day?

I do not know what is meant by " a later Parliament". I wanted to make it clear that the shortage is due to the action of anti-Labour governments, and for that reason I specified the governments. The tobacco industry was practically ruined until the position w-as remedied.

Senator Foll - I assure the honorable senator now that no government censorship has been responsible for any alteration of his questions.

Senator COLLINGS - The fact remains that they were altered. If I put in a question which is improperly worded, . it should be sent back to me for concurrence in any alterations that are made before it is placed on the notice-paper.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - I have not seen the questions to which the honorable senator refers, but I shall look into the matter and give him an explanation later.

Senator COLLINGS - In those circumstances that is all I need say oh the subject. I was astounded to see that alterations had been made.

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