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Wednesday, 5 September 1945
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Mr WHITE - I have received from the president of the 8th Division Australian Army Service Corps (Supply and Transport) Welfare Association a telegram which reads -

At the earnest request of our association we ask you to use your influence to arrange to have stories of atrocities withheld until after casualty lists are published and so prevent more unnecessary suffering to next of kin of Japanese prisoners of war.

In view of the mental torture unnecessarily inflicted on relatives of prisoners of war by the publication of atrocity stories, will the Minister for Information endeavour to have the publication of such stories withheld until the names of survivors have been published ? Will he also confer with the Minister for the Army so as to ensure that the names of these men shall not be unnecessarily withheld, but shall be released immediately they are available? I understand that the nameare not being disclosed as quickly as they should be.

Mr CALWELL - I agree with the sentiments expressed in the telegram read by the honorable member, and his observations in regard to the publication of atrocity stories. There has been a difference of opinion among the Government's military advisers as to the desirability of allowing such stories to be published from time to time. Unfortunately, the censorship powers of the Government under the new censorship code do noi permit the censorship of matter which deals only with morale. In view of ยป decision of the High Court, censorship has to be related to security matters. In that respect, the Government's power to prevent the publication of such stories isstrictly limited. The matter finally depends upon the good taste of the newspaper proprietors of this country, many of whom, unfortunately, regard atrocity stories as sensational news, and are actuated solely by the profit motive, despite the exacerbation of feelings they cause and the sufferings they impose on the relatives of prisoners of war. In newspaper offices, whenever there is a conflict between profits and patriotism, profitalways win. If I can do anything to help prisoners of war, or their representatives in the various associations, To secure an alteration of the conduct of newspaper proprietors in this regard, I shall do so. I shall also consult with the Minister for the Army, with a view to determining whether effect can be given to the desire expressed in the second portion of the question.

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