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Monday, 18 December 1905

Mr WEBSTER (Gwydir) - We have not had an opportunity to give to this Bill the careful consideration that it deserves,and one cannot be expected at a moment's notice to determine what is really necessary in this regard. It seems to me, however, that this provision is unreasonable. I am one of those who believe that public lectures have done much to raise the people from the mire of ignorance to the higher altitudes of learning, and I fail to see why a lecturer should have power to prevent a newspaper from publishing his address. This clause means really that a lecturer- shall have the power to say that no one shall learn of the purport of his lecture, except by paying for admission to the hall in which it is delivered. The clause is not in keeping with modern ideas on educational .questions. The lecture may consist of a mere collection of historical facts from various sources, which are open to the whole community, but with which the people generally have not time to acquaint themselves, and the moment such a lecture is delivered from a public platform it should become the property of the public. The people should have the opportunity to learn the views of a lecturer, not merely by paying for admission to 'the hall in which he speaks, but by means of newspaper reports. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that we may go too far, and that there is a point at which we must limit the right of a man to secure privileges to which he is really not entitled. I certainly think that we are asked to take a retrograde step.

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