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Tuesday, 22 October 1974
Page: 1843

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) -Senator DrakeBrockman raises the question whether titles ought to be given. Sometimes this is asked for. On several occasions suggestions have been made in this chamber by an honourable senator opposite- not of the honourable senator's Party but of the Liberal Party- for amendments to the Bill. All of those amendments were designed to put a condition on the bounty. Clearly, what has emerged in the argument is the suggestion that some form of discrimination should be exercised so that books, which that honourable senator thought were not in good taste or which in some way offended his sense of decency, ought not to receive the bounty. If we were to embark upon that course it would be one of the most dangerous courses which could be undertaken by a government. It is well-known that if one engages in that kind of censorship, very soon there can be political censorship. Nothing could be worse than a system where a government heavily subsidises the printing of material- books or, one day, it could be newspapers- and then makes that subsidy conditional upon some kind of conformity to the approval of the Government.

Once we introduce that kind of subsidy the industry, whatever it is, rearranges its economy and that subsidy is necessary for its survival. If survival depends upon government approval of what is produced in the area of information and communication, this would be the most dangerous form of censorship that we could possibly have by which a government would be able to say: 'You produce what you like, but you do not get our subsidy unless we approve the content'. I do not think the Senate ought to warrant the slightest movement in that direction whatever the purpose, even if we thought that the suggestions of the honourable senator, whom I indicated previously, had some merit in the exercise. I do not agree that there is any merit in it at all. The dangers of such a policy are so great. I can imagine hardly any step which could be more dangerous in a democracy than the subsidising of printing or publication of material on a condition that it had the approval of the Government as to its contents. That is the reason we reject the suggestion.

I hope that the Senate will understand and accept this fact and insist that in no way whatevereven in respect of material of which it disapproves- shall this principle be brought in. I was one who suggested that there be such a bounty, but I would prefer to see the whole of the book bounty go and no subsidy whatever in this field rather than the introduction of any such principle.

I think that the principle of a government subsidy for the production of material is very dangerous because of the possibilities of it being converted in the way that I have suggested. We ought to be finding some other way which does not depend upon any form of subsidy for published material.

There is a matter in the Bill which has been considered since it was brought into the Senate. The matter has been looked at by the Minister for Manufacturing Industry (Mr Enderby), and I think it might be convenient if the Committee stage were stood over.

Senator Drake-Brockman - In relation to what?

Senator MURPHY - In relation to the application of the bounty. The Minister for Manufacturing Industry wants a day or two to consider this matter. I would suggest that the Bill be read a second time and the Committee stage be adjourned.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that the Committee stage be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.

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