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Wednesday, 8 November 1967

Mr Devine asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

1.   Who are the members of the Defence Press and Broadcasting Committee?

2.   Is it part of this Committee's responsibility to recommend the issue of D notices to press, radio and television?

3.   How many D notices are currently operating and to what subjects do they relate?

Mr Harold Holt - The answer to the honourable member's questions is as follows:

The Defence Press and Broadcasting Committee is a committee established by agreement between the Commonwealth Government and press, radio and television interests in Australia.

The Committee consists of fourteen members, with Government members in a minority. I do not feel that it is appropriate that I indicate current membership by name. However, nine members represent a cross-section of the morning, evening and provincial press, and broadcasting and television stations. Five members represent the Defence group of Departments.

The Committee's function is not to recommend, but in fact to issue D notices to press, radio and television. A D notice is a confidential request in the interests of national security not to make public specific matters referred to in the notice. The system is a voluntary one and non-compliance carries no penalties.

A request for a Dnotice originates with a Government department and is referred to the committee, which can either approve, refuse or suggest amendment. When it approves tha committee's secretary issues the notice on a confidential basis to editors and managers. If it does not approve, the notice does not issue.

The number of D notices currently in force is small and it is not in the national interest to disclose the precise number or the subjects to which they relate.

The Defence Press and Broadcasting Committee renders a valuable public service and it is appropriate to record the Government's appreciation of its work.

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