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Thursday, 26 October 1911

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I am now up to 1905.

Senator Walker - Where does this Bill come in?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I am dealing with a proposal to limit the power of the press.

Senator Millen - Is there then a proposal in this Bill to limit the power of thepress ?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - There" is a proposal to limit the power of the press to slander its political opponents, or, at alt events, to compel newspapers to acknowledge such of their political slanders as are really advertisements. Dr. Carty Salmon, who spoke of the Argus in the terms that I have quoted, was elected to the honorable position of Speaker by the Fusion party.

Senator Walker - He was not Speaker in 1905.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I do not suffer from a short memory, and I may remind Senator Walker that there was no Fusion in 1905. It has been reported that a member of this Senate, in an interview published in Tasmania, distinctly made the statement - Iam not prepared to affirm that it is true - that pressure would be brought to bear upon the Age people to bring them to their knees, if they did not support the Fusion party. The statement was, I believe, denied, but it was afterwards reaffirmed.

Senator O'Keefe - Thereis not the slightest doubt that the statement was made.

Senator Findley - Senator Fraser would have denied the statement if he had not made it.

Senator O'Keefe -I know the journalist who reported the interview, and I know him too well to doubt the truth of the statement.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - At all events, Senator Fraser is a wealthy man, and he had his remedy in the Courts of this country if the remarks which he was reported to have made were false. I shall now deal for a little while with the country press. Part of our object is to protect the country newspapers against efforts made to bribe them- to buy them - to publish articles, prepared in party offices in Melbourne, which they would not publish except for the money offers made to them.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator would not mind subsidizing the country newspapers, would he?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - My experience has been that when I have addressed meetings, reports have frequently appeared which were not really reports of what I have said, but merely inaccurate comments, upon which criticism was afterwards founded.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator ought to be thankful.

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I am not thankful for such reports. I have never asked for any reports from the press, but I do say that when reports of speeches are published as a matter of news, they should, no matter how much condensed, at any rate be a correct epitome of the remarks of the speaker. It certainly is not fair to put observations into the mouth of a speaker, and then found criticism upon what he did not say.

Senator Millen - Is this Bill going to cure that evil?

Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - I will come to that point in good time. The country press needs protection, as the document which I shall now quote abundantly shows. This letter was circulated amongst the proprietors of country newspapers in 1909 -

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