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Wednesday, 27 August 1902

Mr WATSON (Bland) - I trust the committee will not adopt the suggestion of the acting leader of the Opposition. The proposal in the Bill seems fairly liberal, and if papers weighing 10 ozs. are carried for a halfpenny, it will follow that ordinary bulk parcels must be carried at the same rate, namely, Id. for 20 ozs. as suggested by the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O'Malley. A great deal is said about the immense work newspapers are doing, and I admit' that they do a great deal in purveying news, although that news is generally coloured by the particular ideas of the proprietors. After all a newspaper is just like any other commercial concern, and the whole basis of the charge imposed on them should be the amount of service rendered. I cannot, therefore, follow the Acting Prime Minister in saying that it is sufficient to charge the big newspapers one halfpenny for each copy of 10 ozs., and to charge the smaller newspapers Id. for a lb. of 1'6 ozs. I admit that the matter of delivery may enter into the service rendered.

Mr Deakin - Eight newspapers are got through for the penny.

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - And those eight newspapers may be delivered at eight different centres.

Mr WATSON - That may be so, but a bulk parcel of eight country newspapers are equivalent to one or two papers of large size. I do not think the committee will be acting wisely or equitably if they decree that the big newspapers in the capital cities shall be carried singly at the charge of Jd. for 10 ozs., while other newspapers are called upon to pay Id. for 16 ozs. I should prefer to see the proposal to charge½d. for single newspapers of 10 ozs. put first, so as to allow a separate decision as to bulk parcels. . Whatever is done I am prepared to vote for a charge of1d. for 20 ozs. all round, rather than for a separate proposal of½d. for 10 ozs., but I should not like to go as far as is proposed by the honorable member for Wentworth. The honorable member for Canobolas, a little earlier, stated that the country newspapers had to submit to a great deal of competition from the metropolitan press, but so far as I can see there are very few country newspaper proprietors who are not prepared to pay a reasonable amount of postage. It is admitted that the service rendered is worth paying for, and any objections raised are not worth a great deal of credence.

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