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Wednesday, 17 December 1941

Senator DARCEY (Tasmania) . - I draw the attention of honorable senators to a question which I asked to-day upon notice. To me the answer is most unsatisfactory. Unfortunately, statements are frequently made in the press which are quite untruthful. There was a flagrant case this week which has been referred to already in this chamber and in the House of Representatives. The questions which I asked read -

1.   Will the Government take action under the National Security Regulations to ensure that sufficient space and time are made available by press and radio, respectively, to all sections of thought on political and financial problems?

2.   Will the Government license the press a nd radio with a view to their informing the public of the truth on all political and financial matters?

3.   Will the Government also take power to suspendthe newspaper or radio concerned and to cancel its licence in the event of the truthupon such matters being withheld or distorted ?

The answer reads - 1, 2 and 3. The Government already possesses the power to compel newspapers and broadcasting stations to observe the requirements of national security. It is not proposed to extend this power in the manner suggested by the honorable senator.

My opinion is that the power possessed by the Government is not exerted at all. On frequent occasions I have seen reference made in the press to political issues, but usually only one side of the question is given. Also, persons broadcasting frequently distort my political opinions, especially in regard to finance, and no opportunity is afforded to broadcast the truth. In view of the statements made in a Sydney newspaper a few days ago strongly criticizing certain service chiefs, it is time the Government exercised its powers to suppress such attacks. I do not think that sufficient supervision is exercised over radio broadcasts and the press, and in this case, the comment published about men in high positions in our armed forces was very unfair. Such attacks will cause the people to lose confidence in the men controlling our war services. I repeat that the answer given to my question is far from satisfactory.

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