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Thursday, 30 April 1942


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon J Cunningham (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - In speaking to the second reading of a bill, it is not usual to deal with its clauses in detail. At the committee stage the honorable senator will have an opportunity to discuss the clauses separately, but he is not in order in doing so at this stage.


Senator LECKIE - I was about to refer to a broad principle. Clause 100 provides that any matter broadcast in Australia or overseas, may not be rebroadcast or published without the consent of the owner of the station and the approval of the Minister, and any person who offends in this respect is liable to a penalty.


Senator Gibson - He may be evading the Wireless Telegraphy Act.


Senator LECKIE - That may be so, but a person might innocently broadcast or publish an item heard over the air. I do not know whether this clause was inserted to protect the revenue of the Postal Department or of the cable companies, but I think it goes too far. News might be given over the air and published by an outback country newspaper which happened to hear it a few minutes before going to press. The publication of such an item of news, even if the exact words were not repeated, would make the publisher liable to a severe penalty. Although on general principles this bill may be desirable, I felt somewhat suspicious regarding it when I found that nearly all honorable senators were loud in its praises. It is not sufficient for us to say that we believe in this measure or that it is practically the same measure as that which has been in operation for years. Nor is it sufficient to say that the commission has done its work well. Our job is to scrutinize its provisions closely. I consider that the slight criticism that I have offered is thoroughly warranted. I thought it necessary to refer to the change of attitude of certain honorable senators opposite who, in the past, have condemned the commission and all its works.







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