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Thursday, 31 July 1902

Mr GLYNN (South Australia) - My attention has a few times been called to the harsh operation of one of the new regulations in districts where there happen to be no banks. Take, for instance, the case of Renmark. I have been given some information by an association at Renmark which the department to some extent disputes, but the association by letter confirmed the facts which they have submitted to me. I find that the old rate for sending £20 worth of silver to Renmark from the bank in Adelaide was ls. 6d. .Now under the new regulations of the 30th of June, the sending of bullion by parcels post is prohibited, and the consequence is that the charge for sending a parcel of £20 worth of silver from Adelaide to Renmark is 22s. 6d. This is found to be exceedingly inconvenient in places like Renmark, where there is scarcely any currency other than silver.

Mr Deakin - What responsibility did the Government authorities undertake when they carried bullion as a parcel1!

Mr GLYNN - I do not think that they took any. It was simply registered as an ordinary parcel. I do not think they took any liability as to loss, nor do I think they were asked to accept any liability. The regulation to which I refer is exceedingly inconvenient for places like Renmark. I hope the matter will be looked into with a view to continuing the previous practice. I may say that in South Australia, inquiries have been made locally, and I have been rather surprised to hear that what I have referred to was not the rule there. I have sent for confirmation of the information I have received, and the statements made to me are categorical and explicit. I hope the Acting Prime Minister will reply clearly to the statement of the honorable member for Macquarie. The complaint of the honorable member for Macquarie is that Ministers regard every information, or criticism combined with information, coming from them as liable only to the lower rate, whereas if a statement of facts, or criticism combined with a statement of facts, happens to come from the leader of the Opposition it is charged the higher rate. The regulation dealing with press telegrams is as follows : -

Commonwealth press telegrams shall mean those relating to parliamen tar y and executive proceedings of the Commonwealth ; or parliamentary papers and Bills, or summaries thereof, without notes or comments ; or information given by Commonwealth Ministers for publication.

Surely a statement on such matters made by the leader qf the Opposition ought to come under that regulation quite as much as do statements by Ministers. If it is the practice of Ministers to regard every statement, whether it be criticism or otherwise, as coming under the head of information supplied by the Executive, that seems an undue extension of the privilege accorded to Ministers. A legitimate corollary would be to allow all criticism,, if not by all politicians, at any rate by the leader of the Opposition, to come under the regulation which I have read. Indeed, I do not think there ought to be any distinction made as between members of this House : it is only a matter of convenience that any distinction at all is made. No doubt, Ministers have recognition outside as Ministers of State, but in the House they are simply a sort of executive committee to initiate legislation.

Sir William Lyne - What?

Mi-. GLYNN. - -Ministers are only a sort of executive committee to initiate legislation, and take control of the business in the House. A Minister of State under the Constitution has a status that is independent of his position as a member of the Cabinet committee of the House, and under the circumstances all honorable members would seem to be on the same footing so far as regards the right or privilege of having their expressions of opinion transmitted at the lower rates. While we should not grumble at the Minister extending the regulation, so as to cover criticism combined with information, we object to a ban being placed on the transmission of the utterances of the leader of the Opposition.

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