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Wednesday, 25 October 1905

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - As I did on Friday last, I intimate again to-day that it is quite impossible for the Government to agree to the proposal for the recommittal of the Bill.

Senator Lt Col Gould - I have made no such proposal. I should have proposed it if I had thought the Minister would have voted for it.

Senator KEATING - I understood that the honorable and learned senator had proposed it. He has again been guilty of the inaccuracy of which he was guilty on Friday last; though he has not stated it in such express terms as he did then. In moving the recommittal on Friday last, the honorable and learned senator stated expressly that the only protection given to newspapers under this Bill was that given by clause 34. I wish to state again, and as publicly as possible, that there is more protection given to newspapers under this Bill as it now stands than was ever enjoyed by newspapers in any of the States heretofore. In Tasmania, where there is an Act dealing with copyright, and only copyright in cables, it is not worth the paper on which it is printed. Speaking personally, I will say that there can be no possible information or complaint drawn under , that Act upon which a conviction will stand. This applies in, perhaps, a lesser degree to the Acts passed by South Australia and Western Australia, in which States such legislation exists. In those States there is protection afforded to newspaper cables. I say advisedly that my statement applies in a lesser degree to those last-named States Acts, because I have carefully studied them. With regard to the general copyright enjoyed under clause 46 of this Bill, there is not in the case of Tasmania one tittle of protection enjoyed by a single newspaper, unless it is registered at Stationers' Hall, London. We here propose to give the proprietors of all Commonwealth newspapers a measure of copyright equal to that enjoyed by other persons in respect of any literary production at all. In addition, we also give redress in infringement of their rights by action for damages, for penalties, for profits, or for injunction, or any or either of those remedies. In addition to these rights enjoyed by newspaper proprietors under this Bill, we provide in clause 34 that in respect to cable communications received independently and exclusively they shall have the right to exclusive publication for twentyfour hours. If that exclusive right of publication is infringed by any individual, they have this extraordinary remedy, which is not enjoyed by the proprietors of newspapers in any other part of the civilized globe - the right to go before any two justices in a Court of summary jurisdiction to bring the person infringing their right before that Court, and to have that person punished by the infliction of a penalty of not for every newspaper in which he infringes the right, but for every document in which he infringes the right. Where is the fine to go? Into the consolidated revenue fund of a State or of the Commonwealth? No; but into the pockets of the proprietors whose rights have been infringed. I know of no part of the British Dominions, and of no other part of the world, in which such a right is conferred on newspaper proprietors as they will enjoy under this Bill. The condition to which exception has been taken does not apply to the general copyright" proposed to be given to the proprietors of newspapers, as Senator

Gould would have the public -believe by his "demonstration," but to the singular and extraordinary right here proposed, which', so far as I know, has never been previously enjoyed by the proprietors of any newspaper published in the British1 Dominions. Another feature in connexion with this provision is that, so far as newspapers are concerned in an action taken before two justices of the peace in a Court of summary jurisdiction, it will not be necessary to prove infringement in any newspaper. Let me give honorable senators an instance. We will say that the Australian cricket team is in England. Cables concerning the matches played are sent out here, and are published in the two metropolitan newspapers. Those cables are published in the windows, or on boards outside the offices of the Age and Argus. If any individual copies these cables, and', going out to- Collingwood or to Prahran, writes out the information on a sheet of note paper and puts it in his window, he will be liable to prosecution under this Bill, and under the particular clause to which Senator Gould has taken exception. Is there any section of any other Act which gives Such a power to newspaper proprietors? When Senator Gould comes down here and "demonstrates" - for that is all it is - as he did on Friday last and to-day, with a view to induce people to believe that honorable senators opposite are looking after the interests of the public, it is only right that it should1 be pointed out that, notwithstanding the condition to which exception is taken, we are in this Bill giving to newspaper proprietors an extraordinary right never previously enjoyed in this Commonwealth or elsewhere. Where was the honorable and learned senator who has made this demonstration when the amendment moved by Senator Pearce was under consideration by the Committee ? The Committee discussed one amendment from after the dinner adjournment until half-past 10 o'clock at night, and succeeded in defeating it by a majority of one. Another amendment was discussed for a very considerable time, and at the conclusion of the debate upon it honorable senators who had previously voted with "the Government voted for the amendment, and it was carried by fiftteen to nine. Long before Senator Gould stood up to ask' for the recommittal of the Bill I had taken the trouble to inform myself as to the course which would be adopted by certain honorable senators, and I was satisfied that it would only be taking up time unnecessarily to propose the recommittal.

Senator Lt Col Gould - The Minister knows that if the Government had voted with us we should have had a majority for the recommittal.

Senator KEATING - We should have had a majority for the motion for the recommittal, but we should be in the same position as we were in before, or, rather, in a worse position, so far as concerns the interests of the people whose cause the honorable and learned senator is proposing to champion. In the circumstances, the Senate would not be well advised in consenting to recommit the Bill, and I therefore ask that honorable senators will expedite its third reading.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

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