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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

Senator LECKIE (Victoria) .- This is another clause which might be reconstructed. It seems to me that if station 3DB, Victoria, which is owned by the Melbourne Herald, broadcast an item of news which it received from overseas, the Herald would be precluded from publishing the same item in its evening edition without the approval of the Minister. Surely that is not the intention of the Government.

Senator Ashley - This provision was embodied in a regulation passed by the previous Government, and has been in operation for many years.

Senator LECKIE - I am glad to note that the Postmaster-General's innate toryism is coming out. He seems to take the view that anything that has been in operation for a number of years must be absolutely right. I am astonished to hear an argument of that kind from him. 1 should have thought that he would take the opposite view. I am endeavouring to improve this measure. I do not wish the Postmaster-General to make a mistake in respect of it. He is responsible for the measure, but when an honorable senator raises a point of this kind, which could be met by a simple amendment, he becomes angry. He thinks that he is being baited all the time.

Senator Ashley - The honorable senator has not tried to assist me.

Senator LECKIE - Already in respect of three matters in this measure we have prevented the Postmaster-General from making himself look supremely ridiculous. It seems to me that some amendment to this clause is necessary. I can imagine quite a lot of things which might happen under it. For instance, the proprietor of a small country newspaper might hear an important item of news broadcast, and thinking that it was universal, publish it. Under this clause such a person would be liable to a penalty for publishing the item. Many innocent people might suffer in that way. L have no doubt that honorable senators generally can imagine the troubles that might arise. The Postmaster-General could overcome the objections to the clause by giving power to newspapers to publish items which are broadcast by their own stations.

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