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Tuesday, 3 May 1932

Mr HUGHES (North Sydney) .- The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) interjected a few moments ago that no objection to sponsored programmes had been made by any of the critics of the bill in this House, prior to the circulation of the amendment now before us.

Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I denied the statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr Gullett) that objection had been made by members of the official Opposition.

Mr HUGHES - So far as I am aware, ministries do not customarily take very serious notice of criticism by members of the Opposition, but the Government of which the t honorable member for Kalgoorlie was a member took very serious notice of criticism by its own supporters, and so do all governments. Honorable members opposite have declared that this amendment has been introduced at the dictation of the press. If I can show that it is a direct result of criticism by ministerial members, that charge fails. On the 10th March, when speaking on the motion for the second reading of the bill, I dealt with the provision relating to sponsored programmes, in terms that did not meet with special favour from the Postmaster-General (Mr. Fenton). My remarks are reported in Hansard, volume 133, page 961. Equally pregnant criticism by other honorable members on this side of the chamber followed. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie said that the demand for amendments caused fluttering in the ministerial dovecot, and that the Postmaster-General threatened to resign. If any trouble arose, it was caused by ministerial members expressing freely their opinions on a measure submitted for their consideration in this chamber. Freedom of speech is something to which honorable members opposite are not accustomed. Whilst no doubt newspapershave great powers, a Ministry is more likely to pay regard to the views of the majority of its followers than to any criticism in organs of the press. After all, the Government lives by virtue of the support of honorable members on this side, and that there was general dissatisfaction with this bill- is undeniable. Admittedly, the measure was drafted by the last Administration; no wonder honorable members of the Opposition rise in defence of their offspring. Ministers of the present Cabinet have to deal with many important and urgent matters, and circumstances compelled them to accept a measure that was ready to their hands and present it to this chamber; but when keen and intelligent criticism was focussed upon it _ by ministerial supporters, Ministers realized that they had fallen into a grievous error; they decided to make the changeling more presentable, and in its improved form we are supporting it.

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