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Thursday, 27 May 1915

Mr JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta) . - The honorable member for Bendigo has raisedvery important question in regardto the censorshipnot onlyof the utterances of honorable members in this

Parliament, but of their utterances outside of it. I think it is time that the Ministry cleared up the position in some way or other. It is about as unsatisfactory as it can be.I may say at once that I have discussed this matter with the Minister, and that I have also had some conversation regarding it with the chief censor. As a result I am not at all satisfied that the present position is satisfactory, or that the best thing possible is being done. Whatever I have to say in this connexion will, I hope, be viewed from the objective of abolishing some of the irksome restrictions which now trammel our utterances, and of thus leading to a. more reasonable censorship than exists at the present time. I imagine that it ought to. be. accepted as a fundamental proposition that anything which is published in the newspapers at Home may surely be published here. Seeing that we are contributing only a modicum - and a small modicum - towards the defence of the Empire, we surely have as much right to criticise men, munitions, and war preparations as have the people in the Old Country, which is carrying the chief responsibility for the entire conduct of the war. Yet our censors are every day ruling out statements which are far less important and far less critical than are those which are being made by all sorts of persons in the daily newspapers of Great Britain. Quite recently a censor here, acting under somebody's instructions, would not allow a reference to be made to the desirableness of inaugurating a second shift at our Small Arms Factory. Two Committees of this Parliament have now reported in favour of that step, namely, the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Works Committee. They have inquired into the matter very thoroughly, and they both affirm that, in the interests, of war preparations, a second shift should be inaugurated at. the earliest possible moment. They go further and affirm that, in the interests of the economical working of the plant at the Factory, a further effort should be made to obtain the requisite material and to employ a double shift.

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