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Tuesday, 6 December 1938

Mr PERKINS (Eden) (Monaro - Assistant Minister) . - Although there is much in what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has said, this agreement has been made in good faith by the Government and accepted by the company. Furthermore, the Government is not prepared, or able, to bind any future government. None knows what the situation may be in the next few years. - It may be necessary for a later government, for the sake of obtaining revenue, to do the things which the Leader of the Opposition has predicted, but, even if it did so, the company would not be allowed to* suffer.

Mr Curtin - But the bounty would be reduced if the duty were increased.

Mr PERKINS - The bounty would be reduced in that case, but the company would benefit to an equivalent extent from the duty, and its position would not be affected. It is not possible for this Parliament to tic the hands of any future government or Treasurer in regard to the finances of the Commonwealth.

Mr Frost - Is the Minister satisfied that independent country newspapers are adequately protected under this bill?

Mr PERKINS - Yes. Independent newspapers are thoroughly safeguarded, having the right to purchase the paper at the same rate -as the newspapers forming the company.

Mr Curtin - That is not the case.

Mr PERKINS - In what way?

Mr CURTIN (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - They are protected today, because they can buy Canadian newsprint free of duty, and they, therefore, have an alternative source of supply, but, if the Government brings .down a tariff schedule imposing a duty on imported newsprint, then the independent newspapers may find themselves in a very different position.

Mr PERKINS - The honorable member is again talking about the future. We cannot legislate against what a future government may do.

Mr Frost - I am concerned about the independent country newspapers, and I want the Minister's assurance regarding their position.

Mr PERKINS - This bill will not alter it. If, in the future, a contingency arises, they will be in the same position as the company.

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