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Friday, 27 June 1941

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - I am sure that most honorable senators will agree with the .remarks of Senator A. J. McLachlan. I agree with . him entirely on the subject of propaganda. My view is that propaganda is something more than mere information. If we are to approach the people, then we should do so in the best manner possible in order to make them understand completely the danger that this country is in.' Mere information is not sufficient. We have a Department of Information, but it has failed in many directions. Probably the people concerned have done their best according to their lights, but money has been spent lavishly on huge advertisements in the press, which, in my opinion, are not worth a snap of the fingers. No doubt the advertisements have been written by well-meaning men, but from the point of view of an effective appeal to the people, the money might just as well have been poured down the. sink. It would have been interesting indeed to know just what amount of money has been expended on those useless advertisements. It would also be interesting, especially to honorable senators, on this side of the chamber, to know what charge is made for photographs supplied to the press by the Department of Information. Does the press pay anything for those pictures, or does the department pay the press to have them published ?

Senator Foll - The photographs are made available to the press without charge because we regard their publication as valuable assistance in our Avar effort.

Senator Collings - So does the press. The newspapers are making their wartime profits that way.

Senator BROWN - As I see the position to-day, our main trouble arises from the fact that all the business of this war is conducted on a capitalist financial basis: That vitiates our war effort. Those engaged in war work are looking for profits and commissions. Of course, that is understandable in view of the fact that the Government is composed of men who have passed a lifetime under the capitalist system. I say frankly that the great conflict in which we are now engaged is a struggle, but between, two totalitarian- systems. It; is a struggle between Fascist totalitarianism, and Socialist totalitarianism. We shall never beat Hitler's Nazi totalitarianism by the application of antiquated financial methods. This Government is failing, not because it lacks heart, morality or high integrity, but because it adheres to out-of-date ideas and conceptions, which do not allow it to make the best of its opportunities. In regard to propaganda and the dissemination of information generally, I point out that the main essential is not merely the provision of money, but a conviction that our. cause is right. An appeal must be made to the people not merely in order that the men engaged in making that appeal may have an opportunity -to earn commissions, but because we feel in our minds that we are right, and we want the people to believe us. What is a mere statement of figures made by some person over the air? Such statements do not influence the people at all. Only a few days ago, two men attempted to make a. recruiting appeal at a "Melbourne football ground. In the noise and hubbub, they could not be heard, and the money paid to them was merely wasted. If those conducting our recruiting campaigns go to football grounds and are- .unable to speak to the people as they think that they should be spoken to, why waste money in that- direction? It is worse than useless. In fact, it is anti-recruiting, when things are done which are not in the best interest of the Australian nation. What we need is a Minister of Propaganda, who understands the art of propaganda, because, after all, it is an art. If the people are to be addressed, they must be spoken to in the way that will give the best results. When I make a speech, except in my more facetious moments, my object is always to get the best results. I endeavour to present my views in such a way that they will carry conviction. A man can carry conviction only if he knows in his heart that he is right, and that he is not working merely for a few paltry pounds. I do not believe in the form of propaganda indulged in by Dr. Goebbels, although, undoubtedly, he is one of the greatest propagandists in the world to-day. But he has abused propaganda until - it has " become one of the worst evils in the history of mankind. Dr. Goebbels contends that the truth and righteousness do not matter; the end alone is what he considers, and he will . sink to any vile depth to achieve that end. I agree with Senator A. J. Mclachlan that the people should' know the whole truth. Why should we hide the truth from them? We are merely practising political bulldozing. When dealing .with the appointment, of additional Ministers, an ex-Minister said in the House of Representatives some days ago that when he was Minister for the Navy, lie had only about one hour's work each day. Is he telling the truth in that regard i Was' a Minister being paid for doing only one hour's work a day? If the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) who made the statement is not telling the truth, he should be pilloried before the people of this country; if he is telling the truth, then the Prime Minister, should admit that there is no realneed for additional Ministers. The same gentleman also said that, after he had been Postmaster-General for a few weeks, he was yelling. out for work to do.- Is that true? I do not know whether it is true or not, but I should like a Minister to tell.- me if it is. I have always said that I should not like to be a Minister because of the arduous work that they have to do. I was under the impression that they had to work night and day, but now an ex-Minister,, who is now a member of the Army Intelligence Department, has indicated that I may be wrong. I do not think that the honorable gentleman would tell untruths, but such statements go out to the world in the form of propaganda against our war effort. What, can we say to the people ? When Colonel Holmes asks me to go on the platform to assist the recruiting campaign, what can I say to the people in view of the statement I have just quoted?

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