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Friday, 15 December 1905

Mr POYNTON (Grey) - The provision in the South Australian law has worked well for a number of years, and has created no difficulty. It has been said that the South Australian newspapers have been unfair with regard to the space which they have given to the reports of candidates' meetings, but they are decidedly fairer than the Victorian newspapers, judging by what I have seen of the deliberate and wilful mutilation of speeches here.

Mr Brown - That is much worse.

Mr POYNTON - Yes. It was not until I came to Melbourne that I knew of this wilful cutting down of speeches delivered in election campaigns or in Parliament. During the Federal Convention campaign, the South Australian newspapers, however, took a course which caused a good deal of annoyance to politicians, by printing among the notes and news of the day what appeared to readers to be authentic reports of meetings, but were really concoctions of the paid secretaries of candidates. When', on one occasion, I complained of this to the leader of the staff of one of the newspapers, I was told that if I liked to do as the candidate to whose paragraphs I was referring was doing, and would pay 6s. an inch for such reports, I would be similarly treated. I believe that it was these practices which led to the present provision in the South Australian electoral law. I think that the name of the person authorizing the publication of any electoral circular, address, or manifesto should be printed, so that the people may know who is responsible for it.

Mr Batchelor - That provision does not go far enough. It should apply to leading articles as well.

Mr POYNTON - I agree with the honorable member that it does not go far enough, and I should be very sorry to see it cut down. Advertisements may do a candidate considerable injury, and he ought to be able to ascertain who is attacking him.

Mr Higgins - Suppose that a false name were given?

Mr POYNTON - In that case, I would make the newspaper proprietor responsible. I have hitherto conducted my election campaigns without a committee, and did not employ even scrutineers during the last two elections. I should like to see election committees and all similar institutions done away with. In the interests of purity of elections in this great democracy the less opportunity we give for the expenditure of money in such a manner that it will tend to influence the votes of the electors, the better. Every advertisement that appears should bear the name and address of the person inserting it. I shall certainly vote in favour of retaining the law as it stands.

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