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Tuesday, 3 December 1974
Page: 3005

Senator COLEMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Minister for the Media. In asking it I express concern at a report in the 'Australian' today which states that the Minister was 'too busy' to provide a letter of introduction for Miss Caroline Jones, a prominent television current affairs personality, who wished to make a documentary for Film Australia on Australian settlement in Paraguay. Will the Minister advise the Senate whether such a request was made? If so, by whom and when was it made? Is it the practice for the Minister to refuse such requests which could be in the interests of at least a section of the Australian community?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - It is true that Miss Caroline Jones, who is now employed by Film Australia, the Australian Government's film production unit, is in South America with a Film Australia crew making a documentary about the descendants of the Australian settlers in Paraguay last century. I understand that in the 'Australian' this morning it was stated in the column 'Perspective' that before they left in October the party had asked for a letter from me to faciliate dealings with official groups in South America and that I was too busy at the time to provide them with such a letter of introduction. The columnist also said that without the letter Miss Jones has found things quite difficult.

Senator Withers - That is very flattering to you.

Senator DOUGLAS McCLELLAND (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - Indeed. I can tell the honourable senator that no request was ever made to me for a letter and, on checking with my staff, as far as I can ascertain no request was ever made to any member of my staff. I can assure the honourable senator that this being a film of a type which I suggested Film Australia should engage itself in, recording the history of early Australian settlers in Paraguay, had such a request been made to me I would have complied with it. Even at this late stage I will be prepared to ask the Department of Foreign Affairs to contact our various posts in South America asking that every possible assistance be given to the Film Australia crew.

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