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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

Senator COLLINGS (QueenslandMinister for the Interior) (12:11 PM) . -in reply- I have listened carefully to the remarks made by honorable senators and I promise that the matters raised by each of them will receive attention. They will be advised as early as possible of the result of investigations into the respective matters.

On the 6th March, Senator A. J. McLachlan suggested that an officer of the Attorney-General's Department should, in association with some one possessing journalistic ability, draw up a precis, couched in plain language and entirely free from legal terms, of regulations made under the National Security Act for publication in the press. The honorable senator stated that, if necessary, the Government could compel the publication of such statements or pay for the space occupied. I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that I have conferred with the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Beasley) regarding his suggestion, and I find that every effort is being made to give the widest publicity to all National Security Regulations. When a regulation is gazetted, the Gazette officer issues to the press an explanatory statement prepared for press purposes in the department dealing with the matter covered by the particular regulations gazetted. These statements are not always published in the form in which they are issued, and some of them are not published at all, as they relate to matters which are considered by the press to have no news value. The Government has no intention of compelling newspapers to publish any of these statements because that would be an unwarrantable interference with the freedom of the press. The Acting Attorney-General agrees that the arrangement under which press statements are now issued should not be disturbed.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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