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Wednesday, 23 October 1974
Page: 1899

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - There is a problem with this clause because it provides for a power to be given to the Minister in the following terms:

(   1 ) The Minister may, by writing under his hand, give directions to the Commission with respect to the exercise of its powers or the performance of its functions but, except as provided by sub-section (2), shall not give such a direction with respect to a particular project.

(2)   The Minister may give a direction to the Commission with respect to a film, or proposed film, of a kind referred to in sub-paragraph 5 ( 1 ) (b) (i), (ii) or (iii).

What are the films or proposed films with regard to which the Minister may give a direction? He may give a direction with respect to films that serve the purposes of a department of State or an authority of Australia. He may give directions in respect of films that deal with matters of national interest to Australia. He may give directions with respect to films that are designed to illustrate or interpret aspects of Australia or of the life and activities of the Australian people. The power which the Minister so takes to himself has enormous import. On examination it is clear that it could be exercised to say to the Commission: You shall make a film on how good is the Department of the Media. You shall make a film on how excellent was the Deputy Prime Minister's performance when he went to the People's Republic of China. You shall make a film which will serve the purposes of every department of State. ' In short, the Minister is taking to himself a power to use the Film Commission as the greatest propaganda weapon which Parliament has ever given to an institution it has created. That is the unmistakable and unchallengeable effect of this clause which gives to the Minister the power to direct the Commission as to the type of films it can make and exhibit. We in the Liberal Party do not believe that any government, whether of Liberal or Labor persuasion, should have the power to use public moneys and the power of direction to tell the Commission what sort of propaganda shall be made by the film producers of this country. We shall oppose this clause.

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