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Tuesday, 19 December 1905

Senator FRASER (Victoria) - I, too, am afraid that by legislation of this sort we may make ourselves ridiculous. Is it proposed that the press shall be allowed no liberty - that it shall be gagged? A free press is a most valuable institution in any community. There are truthful newspapers and lying newspapers, just as there are truthful men and lying men. Under the proposal of Senator Pearce, although a candidate's character might be as black as night, no adverse comments could be made by the press on the ground that it would prejudice his chances. I have been in political life for thirty years, and I have always found the press, as a whole, willing to give me fair treatment, and to insert any contradictions which were necessary. We Shall stand higher in the public estimation if we avoid passing silly provisions such as this. Although' the press may sometimes go too far, it is too valuable an institution to be hedged round with undue restrictions. Personally, a section of the press in another State has been hammering at me for years past. The Bulletin has been " at me " for goodness knows how long, but I do not mind ; it does not affect me in the least. I have known cases of men being returned 'to Parliament for no other reason than that they had been persecuted by the press. If a candidate has a just claim, and is not too thin-skinned. he will get fair play, on the whole.




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