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Friday, 22 May 1970

Mr BRYANT (Wills) - Mr Deputy Speaker,I will not take much time to deal with the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman) who is trying to get a bit of a run in the Melbourne 'Herald', acting as its spokesman here. When the honourable member talks about freedom of speech, freedom for news media and freedom for instrumentalities, 1 suggest that he could well start with the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The facts at issue are these: I read out here yesterday some figures from the gallup poll. They showed that in Victoria there was a 48.81% acceptance of the Labor Party and about a 32% or 33% acceptance for the Liberal Party.

The Melbourne 'Herald' did not make this a major issue because it is a major political fact, whether the 'Herald' has published it in the past or not. I will leave it at that. If there were any errors in the figures that I read out yesterday, I will make the record straight when the Parliament resumes. But the facts are that the gallup poll shows, whatever the statistical measure was, a substantial swing to the ALP. This was ignored by the Melbourne Herald'. It is a major political fact, whether such facts are customarily printed or not by the 'Herald*. For this newspaper to ignore it was, I believe, to betray its duty as one of the great monopolistic newspapers in Australia.

The honourable member may attack the other issues as he will. I turn to the question of the policy statement by the Leader of the Labor Party in Victoria. The Leader in Victoria, as is the tradition, announced the policy of the Labor Party. There was an expanded policy statement issued after his speech was delivered. The Leader decides the details of the policy for the time being. There was no dissension, as far as I could determine, inside the Labor movement in Victoria. It was a completely phoney war. Honourable members opposite can whistle as loudly as they like, but they will not be able to keep their courage up for much longer.

The facts are that the honourable member for Deakin has deliberately misinterpreted Labor's policy in his speech this afternoon. He does not even understand it. So, how can he understand a democratic institution in which policies flow from branch to conference to the parliamentary party and to the executive. These things are under constant consideration. Yet the honourable member rises here and talks about freedom.

Look at him. He, a rubber stamp for the Executive. He who speaks of freedom of speech and has voted for the gag every time it has been moved when he is here. The honourable member for Deakin who talks about the freedom of the individual acts as a rubber stamp for the tyrannical parliamentary executive without fail every time the gag has been put before the House. Fancy people like the honourable member talking about democracy.

The facts are that the Melbourne 'Herald' is one of the world's great monopolistic newspaper combines. It is also, in general, one of Australia's best newspapers. It has a duty beyond its political bias to give the facts - all the facts - particularly at times of elections in a democracy. That is why I challenge it.

I mention one other issue: The Melbourne 'Herald' said last night - I have not had time to respond to it yet - that it always has treated me fairly. This newspaper runs a television station in Melbourne. During the last Federal election, it invited two of my apponents to be guests on its 'Meet The Press' programme for half an hour on the last Sunday before the election was held. I was not invited to participate. A half an hour was spent trying to denigrate the honourable member for Wills - a totally fruitless operation, of course. On the next day, the Melbourne Sun-Pictorial' produced the remarks of those candidates but made no reference to me. If that is the attitude of that organisation to fairness, I will have none of it. I do not like the honourable member for Deakin. I do not care if the newspaper prints half a million copies each day. I do not care whether it is one of the largest journalistic concerns in Australia. It will not silence me and it will not turn me into a newspaper stooge like the honourable member for Deakin.

Mr Scholes - Mr Deputy Speaker--

Motion (by Mr Hughes) agreed to:

That the question be now put.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 4 p.m. until Tuesday, 2 June, at 2 p.m.

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