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Wednesday, 16 September 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - I wish to bring to the notice of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) certain aspects of the control of films depicting Commonwealth Government activities and produced for distribution under the direction of the Department of Commerce. This government activity I regard as a very wise one, and I pay the department the well-deserved compliment of saying that the films made have a high educational value. I understand that Universal Films has the contract for their distribution, and I regret to state that, up to the present, the agreement has precluded their screening in Australian schools. There is in Queensland at least one school equipped by the parents of scholars at great expense with an up-to-date projecting machine, the intention being to increase the efficiency of the curriculum by the screening of films having a definite educational value.

Unfortunately, the school committee is unable to obtain any of the films made by the Commerce Department, depicting Australian scenes and industries. I have taken the matter up with the Department of Commerce, and have been informed that the contract for the distribution of the films prevents their being made available to the Queensland school committee. I may add that the committee undertook to construct a fireproof vault and to have the films insured whilst in its possession. I have already mentioned the matter to the Minister for Commerce, and I refer to it now in the hope that I shall have the support of the Leader of the Senate in requesting that the application of the school, committee be acceded to. The committee is not asking that the films should be made available before they have been exhibited elsewhere. All that it asks is that when the films have been screened in the ordinary way, they should, because of their high educational value, be made available to any school committee which has a projecting apparatus and desires to screen them. We should not be told that Universal Films, or any other organization, has complete control over them for all time. The school committee to which I refer, having installed an expensive plant, should not be precluded from screening educational films made by the Department of Commerce.

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