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Thursday, 28 August 1902

Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) - There are many matters of even greater importance than the proceedings of the Commonwealth Parliament or Ministers, and all press telegrams should be treated alike. I have not been spoken to on this question by any one, so that no pressure has been exercised on me. The proposal of the honorable member for Wentworth is one which the Government should take into consideration.

Mr. WATSON(Bland). - I trust the 'Government will consider the advisability of altering the definition of the Commonwealth or Parliamentary news which may be sent at the reduced rate. It will be difficult to prevent news of every description, without reference to its source, from going through if the definition be widened. It would be well if any news concerning the Commonwealth or the Commonwealth Parliament could be sent as cheaply as possible to every part of Australia. People in distant States are, in this connexion, at a considerable disadvantage, because, in addition to Parliamentary proceedings, there is much other news of interest and importance. The Government ought to. endeavour to make a definition which will be sufficiently wide, but which will not allow the transmission of news having no relation to Commonwealth affairs at the ^cheaper rate.

Mr. FOWLER(Perth).- There is a distinct hardship in the definition we are asked to adopt.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The insertion of the word " political " would meet the case.

Mr FOWLER - I do not care what words are used, so long as greater facilities are afforded for sending important information from the seat of Government to places like Western Australia. There are many matters in connexion with my own State which I should like to see reported in the Western Australian newspapers, but their publication is prevented by the prohibitive telegraph rates. For instance, the report on the immigration of Italians is of great interest to the people of Western Australia, and yet, under present arrangements, they must wait until it can be sent by post. A considerable part of the work of a member of Parliament is done outside the Chamber, but there is no possibility of letting my electors know what is going on unless I take improper advantage of the concession afforded to members in respect of their own telegrams. That improper advantage I do not take, and, as a result, only the most meagre and late reports appear in the metropolitan newspapers pf Western Australia. I do not blame the newspapers, which are not so wealthy as to be able to afford 4s. 6d. per 100 words for news of the kind. I do not think there would be any great loss of revenue if the concession were made a little more liberal, and in view of the importance of giving the people as much information as is available, I hope the Government will expand the definition.

Amendment negatived.

Mr DEAKIN - I am willing to expand the heading of the third column of the schedule in order to embrace practically all facts and matters relating to the Commonwealth. I move -

That the heading to the third column be omitted, and the following inserted in lieu thereof : - ' ' Relating to Parliamentary, Executive, departmental, and other Commonwealth proceedings as may be prescribed."

Parliament has control over the regulations, and will thus be placed in a position to say what news shall be included.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I understand that if any injustice be done it may be brought under the notice of the Government and the regulations altered.

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - I am prepared to accept the amendment proposed by the Acting Prime Minister.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Sir Philip Fysh) agreed to-

That the following words be added to the' schedule : - " On telegrams from and to Tasmania the charges to be those mentioned above, with cable charges added."

Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.

Resolved(on motion by Sir Philip Fysh) -

That the standing orders be suspended so as to allow the Bill to be passed through its remaining stages this day.

Bill read a third time.

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