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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania) - I was in hopes that Senator Pearce would withdraw his amendment, which, I think, will be practically ineffective. According to the honorable senator's proposal, it will be an offence to publish anything which may pre judice the candidate's chances of election, unless the newspaper affords an opportunity for reply. But newspapers occasionally publish, in the public interest, statements which are absolutely true, but which undoubtedly prejudice the chances of a candidate. I speak with some little experience, and I have suffered from misrepresentation by the press. Miserable parochial untruths have been told of me, and there have been serious distortions of my public conduct. But the publication of the real truth was much more harmful at the time. The imposition of an income tax in Tasmania was a proposal of which myself and my colleagues were all proud, but it was that proposal which really condemned us politically ; andyet, according to Senator Pearce' s proposal, a newspaper which made reference to facts which would prejudice our election-

Senator O'Keefe - But there would have been no dispute about the facts in such a case as that.

Senator MULCAHY - But the press pointed out all sorts of consequences that would follow the imposition of an income tax, and while these comments doubtlessly seriously prejudiced our election, I am sure that no judicial tribunal would, on that ground, have condemned the press. I wish it were possible to make the press act fairly and justly, but I am afraid that, by some of the proposals from another place which we have adopted, we are in danger of making ourselves ridiculous. We can no more make editors truthful or virtuous by Act of Parliament, than we can make people sober by the same means.

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