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Tuesday, 18 October 1949

Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) .- The main concern of the Opposition about the legislation that the committee is considering to-night is that it cannot find enough vehicles of expression upon which to spend the thousands of pounds of money that it has dragged into its coffers for the forthcoming election fight. I estimate that the Opposition parties will expend almost £1,000,000 on this election campaign through their party machines and subsidiary bodies such as the bank organizations, chambers of commerce, the Constitutional League and the Freedom League. We heard a bedtime story to-night from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who said that his party did not receive any funds from chambers of commerce and such groups. That was perhaps the most fantastic statement that the right honorable gentleman ever made in this chamber.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The subject of funds was raised by an honorable member on one side of the chamber and I allowed a reasonable answer to be made to his statements from the other side. The honorable member must not pursue the subject of party funds when dealing with this clause.

Mr DUTHIE - I shall make only one more reference to the subject. For the right honorable gentleman to try to convince us and the people that his party was not helped financially by outside organizations was completely untruthful.

We can see evidence every day in the newspapers that many organizations, including the trading banks, support the Liberal party.

One great feature of the bill before the committee is that it will place the Liberal party, the Australian Country party, the Labour party and the Communist party on an equal footing in respect of poster advertisements. The Opposition, wanting to have an open slather on hoardings throughout the country, would, of course, give the Communist party an equal chance to do likewise. We are always wondering where the Communist party gets its funds. It would certainly take advantage of the chance to have an " open go " with hoardings. Therefore, the Liberal party in opposing this measure is, in effect, seeking to open the way for the Communist party to spread its propaganda throughout the country. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) accused the Labour party of using intimidatory tactics and of committing blackmail. He was made to withdraw the statement about blackmail

Mr Beale - I am a lawyer. I meant it just the same.

Mr DUTHIE - That was a shameful statement for a lawyer to make, and I am glad that the honorable gentleman was forced to withdraw it. He spoke as though the Government had played on people's hopes in order to make them support it. He may be interested to know that funds for the Labour party's election campaign are coming in quite voluntarily from such organizations as the trade unions. I can give an illustration of the methods that are used by the Liberal party to gain funds. An employer in a town in the electorate that I represent, who is a member of the Liberal party, has a Labour man working for him. When the employee received his pay envelope one week, the money in it was less than the proper wage, so he went to his boss and said, "Look here, I am 2s. 6d. light this week". The boss replied, " Oh that's all right old chap, you are a member of the Liberal party now ". Was that blackmail or intimidation ?

Why is the Opposition concerned about this measure? It has many avenues available for the dissemination of its propaganda. It has the radio, for instance, and I believe, calculating costs on a technical basis, that it is spending about £50,000 a year on two serials that are broadcast over national networks, lt has pamphlets and it has newspaper advertisements. Those mediums of propaganda will not be ruled out by this measure. It also has its committee rooms, and it will be allowed to erect large posters in those rooms throughout Australia. It is able to use the films and all the other means of publicity that are available to every political party. Yet honorable members opposite talk about the denial of freedom ! They do so simply because they will be prevented from spending thousands of pounds in order to stick posters on great hoardings throughout the length and breadth of the country. Obviously this measure will foil its plans for the disbursement of its swollen funds. The Opposition parties are not putting reasonable arguments before the people through their propaganda. They seek to play entirely upon the fears of the people. The Liberal party can scarcely complain in all justice about the size of ten-inch by six-inch posters. A postage stamp would be large enough to enable it to record its achievements. Obviously the people of Australia are looking for some kind of order in election campaigning and advertising. They are suffering from political indigestion, having been fed the propaganda of the Liberal party for nearly a year. Some of the Liberal party's candidates for the general election were endorsed fourteen months ago, and bank clerks have been touring the country in motor cars in support of its campaign. I believe that the people generally will welcome any limitation of election advertising. I shall be happy to use 10-in. by 6-in. posters in shops in the country towns of my electorate. I think that the size is quite large enough for the purposes of political candidates. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson) said, many business people will welcome the prohibition upon the use of large posters because they do not want to exhibit such placards in their windows, obscuring the gOod- that they offer for sale to the public. Small posters have been accepted whenever I have asked storekeepers to exhibit them. If they are well printed, they may even attract attention to shop windows. The action of the Government in seeking to bring some order out of chaos in poster advertising is democratic, and will be welcomed by 90 per cent, of the people. At election time, the people are deluged with political propaganda from all parties, so that one could not blame them for wishing to get out into the country where they could avoid seeing newspapers, advertisements, hearing the radio or listening to any one bellowing from a soap box.

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