10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
What is the average cost per yard of the material used by the Defence Clothing Factory in the manufacture of public service uniforms, and from whom is such material purchased?
What is the average cost of public service uniforms supplied by the factory?
I am now able to furnish the following replies : -
Average cost per yard for woollen cloth is 8s.1d. The material is purchased under contract with Australian woollen cloth manufacturers, the result of tenders invited publicly throughout the Commonwealth. Recent contracts have been held by J. Vicars and Company, Marrickville, New South Wales; Western Australian Woollen Mills, Albany, Western Australia; and Federal Woollen Mills, Geelong, Victoria.
Average cost per suit of Post Office uniform, including trimmings, is £2 7s. 2d. With minor exceptions the Postal Department is the only Commonwealth department (excluding the Navy, Army and Air Forces) for which clothing is made at the Government factory.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 8 of 1928 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 9 of 1928 - Amalgamated Postal
Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 12 of 1928 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association.
No. 13 of 1928 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department of Health - E. V. Keogh, F. Trenerry, E. A. North, and W. R. Trembath.
Papua - Annual Report for year 1926-27. Northern Australia Act-Ordinances of 1928-
Central Australia -
No. 5 - Venereal Diseases.
No. 6 - Endemic Diseases.
No. 7 - Prison.
North Australia -
No. 5 - Venereal Diseases.
No. 6 - Endemic Diseases.
No. 7 - Prison.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1928 -
No. 8 - Animals and Birds Protection.
No. 9 - Cotter River.
No. 10 - Pounds.
No. 11 - Housing.
Railways Act - By-law No. 47.
SenatorROBINSON asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What progress has been made by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in connexion with the investigation by Mr. F. G. Holdaway, M.Sc, with regard to the ravages of Smynthurus, commonly known as lucerne flea, in the pasture, lucerne, and clover fields of South Australia and Western Australia?
If any effective discovery has been made to combat the action of this destructive pest, will the Minister give it the widest publicity at the earliest possible moment?
Senator Sir GEOEGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Pamphlet No. 4 of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research consists of a report of some preliminary work on the lucerne flea, which Mr. Holdaway carried out in Australia prior to his departure for America, in September, 1926. As with other important entomological problems, no systematic work on lucerne flea has yet been carried out by the council owing to the lack of suitably trained entomologists. Lucerne flea has been placed high up in the order of priority of the council’s entomological investigations, and Dr. Tillyard is now abroad arranging for the supply of likely parasites for use in this and other problems.
No proved method of combating the pest has yet been developed. The recommendations made by Mr. Holdaway require to be tested under field conditions before they can be recommended for general adoption. As soon as an effective method becomes known, the widest possible publicity will be given to it.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– I refer the honorable senator to the statement made by the Prime Minister in another place yesterday, indicating that the Government had decided to appoint a Royal Commission to investigate the matter.
Motion (by Senator Poli.) agreed to -
That Senator Givens be granted two months’ leave of absence on account of ill-health.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
[3.8]. - I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
As honorable senators will see, the Senate should be able to get through all the business on the notice-paper this week. It is, therefore, proposed that at the end of the week we should adjourn until such time as we are called together again by Mr. President, after the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill has passed another place. I am moving this motion now so that the bill, which has just come to us from another place, may be finished this week. It will enable the Minister to move the second reading to-day, and then the debate can be resumed to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill (on motion by Senator Crawford) read a first time.
Bill received from House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended and bill (on motion by Senator Crawford) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Wine Bounty Act of 1924 provided for a bounty of 4s. per gallon “on fortified wine exported from the Commonwealth. Through the bounty a large trade was opened up in Great Britain for our fortified wines. In April, 1927, after the whole question of wine bounty had been thoroughly investigated, the Minister for Trade and Customs introduced a measure for the amendment of the act providing that the bounty should be ls. 9d. per gallon, together with the payment of ls. 3d. per gallon drawback of duty paid on fortifying spirits contained in the wine. This made a total payment of 3s. per gallon to exporters. When this reduction was made, the Minister made it clear that the Government reserved the right to re-open the question of bounty payment in the- event of the British Government giving increased preference for Empire wines’. The exact words used by the Minister on that occasion were as follows: -
It is to be distinctly understood that ii, during the term of the bounty, the British Government gives additional preference to Australian sweet wines, the Government reserves the right to submit to this House thai the bounty now proposed be reduced by the amount of the additional preference given.
At that time the British preference, on paper, was 4s. per gallon. The actual preference, however, was only 6d. per gallon, because our fortified wines of a strength of 34 per cent, of proof spirit which paid, duty at the rate of 2s. per gallon were in competition with foreign wines at a strength of 29 per cent, dutiable at the -rate of 2s. 6d. per gallon. About one month after the bounty was reduced to ls. 9d., plus ls. 3d. drawback, the British budget was introduced which gave a much higher preference to Empire wines. Tha duty on the foreign wines against which we competed was fixed at 8s. per gallon, and the duty on Empire wines at 4s. per gallon. This gave Empire wines of this description an effective preference of 4s. per gallon, as against 6d. when the reduction in the bounty took place. The Government would have been justified in introducing a measure to provide for a further’ decrease as soon as the increased
British wine preference duties came into force. However, it was considered that it would be more satisfactory to postpone such action until there was no doubt as to the effectiveness of the new preference. During the twelve months that have elapsed, attempts have been made by British importers of foreign wines to reduce the effectiveness of the British preference by importing lowstrength foreign wines at the lower rate of duty, and blendingthem with foreign wines of a high strength at the higher rate of duty. Though this has been attempted, the resulting blends have not been very successful, and have not done much damage to our trade in fortified wines. The Government has closely watched the position, and, after close investigation, has decided that the proposed reduction is justifiable. .
The Government has taken into consideration the question of contracts made by wine exporters prior to 8th March, when the present reduction was introduced. It has concluded that these contracts should be honored, and has provided that, where the Minister is satisfied that contracts were properly entered into before that date and that they are still existing, the reduced rate shall not apply. Wines shipped according to these contracts will be entitled to1s. 9d. per gallon bounty. The quantity of wine sold under the contracts alluded to is about 570,000 gallons. Some wine exporters gave notice of intention to export wine just prior to the 9th March and their wine was either on its way to the ship or was on the wharf ready to be shipped. In some cases, the wine was actually on the ship. These wines left the Commonwealth after the reduction in the bounty was announced. It was considered fair and reasonable to allow bounty on these wines at1s. 9d. per gallon. The quantity involved is approximately 48,500 gallons. A trade with Canada is being established for our sweet fortified wines and there is promise of a big increase. As there are no effective preference duties there for our wines as against foreign wines, it has been decided to allow fortified wines shipped to Canada to enjoy the old rate of1s. 9d. per gallon. The bill is recommended to the Senate as a carefully studied measure, the. Government being sure that the suggested reduction to1s., plus1s. 3d. drawback of the duty paid on the fortifying spirit used in the wine, is quite sufficient assistance to further develop the wine export trade.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham), adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill was framed in order to meet the wishes of the Governments of the States in which dried fruits are produced, and of the industry generally. Its main object is to provide that no grower shall receive more than a fair share of the advantages and disadvantages in regard to the sale of his dried fruits within the Commonwealth and overseas. It frequently happens that the overseas market is unprofitable, whereas the fixed prices in Australia enable the grower to receive a satisfactory return in respect of the proportion of his fruit marketed in thiscountry. Without some measure of control, it would be possible for some growers to take advantage of the better Australian market to the detriment of others, who would be compelled to export overseas more than a. fair share of their fruit. In 1924 growers decided by a very large majority at a poll taken throughout the Commonwealth in favour of a measure passed by Parliament for the establishment of an export control board. The function of this board is to lay down a general marketing policy in respect of the sale of dried fruits overseas. It has no power to determine the proportion of fruit which must be marketed in Australia or sold abroad. The Governments of Victoria and South Australia, which are vitally interested in this industry, passed legislation later in the same year, and more recently the Governments of New South Wales and Western Australia passed similar legislation to enable boards to be established in those States. The function of these boards was to determine the proportion of fruit which must be exported, and in each State the growers by a substantial majority affirmed the principle of the establishment of State boards in order that the industry might become properly organized. Little or no difficulty was experienced by the State boards in regard to the fixation of the export quotas until some months ago, when the Government of South Australia was involved in litigation which sought to defeat the system of legislative control in force in all the dried fruit-producing States. The South Australian board, acting under its legislative powers, compulsorily acquired a quantity of fruit held by a packer and dealer which he had failed to export in accordance with the determination of the board. It was held by the High Court that the Dried Fruits Act of South Australia was unconstitutional in so far as it prescribed the quantity of fruit which must be marketed outside the Commonwealth. The High Court took the view that the State act was an interference with the freedom of trade between the States, and, therefore, contravened section 92 of the Constitution. The Dried Fruits Acts of the other States contain a similar provision. The State Parliaments of Victoria and South Australia have amended their acts by providing, in effect, that the enforcement of the provision relating to the marketing of a proportion of the fruit outside Australia shall not operate so as to interfere with the freedom of trade and commerce between the States unless and until enabling legislation to that effect is passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. It is understood that similar legislation to that passed by the Victorian and South Australian Parliaments will shortly be introduced into the New South Wales and Western Australian Parliaments, so that the position will be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. The Government does not propose to delegate its power to the States, but to make use of prescribed authorities, which will probably be the State boards, to act on behalf of the Commonwealth in carrying out Commonwealth powers in connexion with the marketing of dried vine fruits.
– What was the High Court’s decision in that case?
– It was that the South Australian legislation was unconstitutional. It prescribed the quantity of fruit which could be sold outside the Commonwealth.
– The South Australian board commandeered the man’s fruit, and the decision was that that action was illegal.
– That is what I have already said. It is provided in the bill that packers in those States in which there is a production greater than can be consumed within the State may engage in interstate trade only under licence issued by the prescribed authority. It will probably be a condition of the licence that before interstate trade can be undertaken the packer will he required to satisfy the prescribed authority that he has complied with the export quota conditions. The power delegated to the various State boards will enable the effective work of those boards to be carried on under the supervision of the Commonwealth in the interests of growers, and, with their full concurrence, I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Adoption of Report.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
Motion (by Senator Needham) proposed -
That the bill be re-committed for the reconsideration of the first schedule.
. - The Journals of the Senate show that when the bill was in committee Senator Needham moved an amendment to the first schedule, that that amendment was rejected, and that the schedule was passed. I am quite unaware of the object of the honorable senator in now moving for the recommittal of the bill, and I am sure that other honorable senators also are in the dark. He should indicate his reason for wishing to have the first schedule reconsidered.
– I was under the impression that the Minister (Senator McLachlan) and other honorable senators were well aware of my object in asking for the recommittal of the bill. It will be remembered that during the discussion of the first schedule in committee, the Minister moved an amendment to paragraph c of Clause 1. I had intended to move an amendment toparagraph b, but after the Minister’s amendment had been disposed of, the Chairman of Committees ruled that I could not do so. The Minister then agreed to my having an opportunity to recommit the bill for the purpose of submitting my amendment. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce) also agreed to such a course being adopted. In conformity with that agreement, I have today moved for the recommittal of the measure. Honorable senators will notice that paragraph b provides that the compensation payable shall be -
Where total or partial incapacity for work results from the injury a weekly payment during the incapacity not exceeding twothirds of the employee’s weekly pay at the time of the injury, such weekly payment not to exceed three pounds.
I desire to move that the word “ exceed “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ be less than.”
Question - that the bill be recommitted -put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question30 resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative. .
In committee (Consideration resumed, from 11th May, vide page 4796) :
Clauses 3 to 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Section 28 of the principal act is repealed’ and the following sections inserted in its stead : - “28. - (1) A publication may be registered under this Act as a newspaper if it is known and recognized as a newspaper in the generally accepted sense of the word, and is printed and published within the Commonwealth for bona fide sale at the advertised price as a business proposition with a view to earning profit and is a publication which -
consists in substantial part of current news and articles or illustrations relating theretoor to other current topics ;
.- I trust the committee will support toe in my effort to secure the rejection of this clause which sets out the definition of a newspaper. If the deletion of the clause is agreed to, I shall move for the insertion in lieu thereof of the words contained in section 28 of the principal act which reads : -
For the purposes of this act a newspaper shall mean any publication known and recognized as a newspaper in the generally accepted sense of the word, and printed and published within the Commonwealth for sale, if -
it consists in substantial part of news and articlesrelating to current topics, or of religious, technical or practical information; and
it is published in numbers at in tervals of not more than one month ; and
the full title and date of publication are printed at the top of the first page, and the whole or part of the title and the date of publication are printed at the top of every subsequent page. . . .
Under this section journals or periodicals which are published at intervals of more than seven days, come within the definition of newspapers and are registered as such. For many years they have had the benefit and privilege of the postal rates which, if this measure becomes law, will apply only to daily and weekly newspapers. I ask the committee to realize that the action which the Government is taking will seriously penalize the proprietors and publishers of journals which are of the highest educational value to the community. Printing is an important Australian industry, and should receive the same measure of protection that is given to hundreds of. other industries. Merely to obtain additional revenue for the Post Office, the Government proposes to increase by 66 per cent. the postage rates on journals which are published at intervals of more than seven days.
– Surely the proposed increase is not 66 per cent.?
– The present rate for newspapers is l½d. for 20 ounces. This bill proposes to make it 2½d. for 20 ounces for journals published at intervals of more” than one week. That -additional tax is an unfair imposition on the proprietors or publishers of journals issued monthly or bi-monthly. Many of the publications which will be affected by this bill have enjoyed newspaper rates of postage for periods varying from ten to 50 years. The Pastoral Review, formerly known as The Pastoralists Review, was registered as a newspaper long before the foundation of the Commonwealth. It has always enjoyed the privilege of newspaper rates of postage. But under the new definition of” newspaper “ that journal, with dozens of other publications, will have to pay additional postage- rates. Have honorable senators considered the effect that the passing of this bill will have on the printing trade and those associated with it ? Do they realize that it will mean less employment among printers, journalists, magazine writers and others ?
SenatorReid. - The honorable senator is making a mountain out of a mole hill.
– I am not. The definition of “newspaper” in this bill is manifestly unfair. A periodical published weekly will still be regarded as a newspaper, whereas a similar periodical published monthly will not be so regarded. Everylady’s Journal- a well established journal which is attractively set up, well edited and contains much that is not only extremely interesting and informative but, also, of high educational value to thousands of women throughout Australia - merely because it is published monthly will, after the passing of this legislation, no longer enjoy newspaper rates of postage. Yet The Mirror and The Woman’s Budget, which cater for the same class, of reader and contain, in the main, articles and information of the same nature will, because they are. published weekly, come under the definition of “newspaper” and continue to enjoy the benefits of newspaper rates of postage.
– Has the honorable senator overlooked the first portion of the definition of “newspaper”? The journals he has mentioned fall in the same class .
SenatorFINDLEY.- That is doubtful. If the Minister will peruse his second reading speech on this bill, he will see that he distinctly stated that journals published within seven days and registeredas newspapers would not be affected by this legislation. The Mirror and The Woman’s Budget are registered as newspapers and, because they are published weekly, they will, according to the Minister’s own statement, continue to go through the post at newspaper rates. Another monthly publication, Life, contains an epitomized review of world affairs written specially for busy men. That journal, whose many readers throughout Australasia look forward to receiving it month by month, will be penalized under this bill.
-The increased rates of postage will be passed on to the readers.
SenatorFINDLEY. - Life, merely because it is published monthly will, after the passing of this legislation, no longer be recognized as a newspaper; yet journals like The Bulletin, Smith’s Weekly, Truth and Beckett’s Budget, which are published weekly, will continue to go through the post as newspapers.
– Thank goodness there is power to prevent Beckett’s Budget from going through the post at all.
SenatorFINDLEY. - That power exists under the principal act. I am now dealing with the proposed increased postage rates which will have to be borne by the proprietors or publishers of journals published monthly or bi-monthly. Apparently the only object of this amending legislation is to obtain a little additional revenue for the Postal Department.
SenatorReid. - In that case, what is the necessity for so great a protest ?
– The proposed additional rates of postage will inconvenience the community in many ways. Many public utilities established for the benefit of ‘ the community do not pay directly, although they pay indirectly. Is it not a fact that the proprietors of the great daily newspapers of Australia get their telegrams and cablegrams at cheap rates, because their publications are supposed to have an educational value to the community? Monthly publications also have ‘ an educational value to the community. If this bill goes through in its present form, many readers of monthly publications will not be in a position to buy them.
– What will be the extra impost? -
– The proprietors of these publications, who have built up big circulations through the post,- and thus brought additional revenue1 to ‘the Postal Department, will be called upon to pay 66$ per cent, extra postage. I ask the committee to hesitate before passing the bill in its present form, and to support the amendment I have outlined.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– “When we were last considering this bill, the Minister in charge (Senator McLachlan) intimated that during the week-end a deputation, representative of the various interests concerned, would wait on him or the PostmasterGeneral and that by the time’ we re-assembled he would have a statement to make. He has . not made that statement, and in the absence of it, we resume the discussion of the bill in the position in which we found ourselves on Friday last. According to this clause a publication may be registered as a newspaper, if it is “ a publication which is published in numbers at intervals of not more than seven days.” The basis for the amendment of the act is the difference set up between seven and thirty days. The Minister contends that a magazine giving information on technical matters is not a newspaper. I do not agree with that. I propose to. mention a few publications which are likely to be affected by the bill and to- ask whether they should not be treated as newspapers inasmuch’ as they contain not only news, bat also ‘information which is very valuable’ to the community’. “Can such’ weekly publications as the Mining Standard, Golf in Australia, Wireless Weekly, ‘ Construction, and Australian Manufacturer, by the widest stretch of imagination .be classed ‘ more as news’papers than such monthly publications as Golf, Stead’s, Woman’s World, A.N.A., Life, The Pastoral Review, and the .Commonwealth Engineer? What is the difference between Golf, the monthly publication,, and Golf in Australia, which is issued weekly? Can it be. said that Stead’s does not convey tu the people of Australia important news, and news of an educational value? Will’ the Minister deny that the Pastoral Review and the . Commonwealth Engineer are educational publications, containing news of vast importance to the people of the Commonwealth? I think they are. entitled to be classed as newspapers, just as much as those weekly publications I have named. The Minister claims that the Government has a precedent for its present proposal in the fact that Great -Britain and the United States of America have adopted the principle of a seven days’ interval; but I remind- him of the vast disparity between the population of those countries and that of Australia. We have approximately only 6,000,000 people in Australia, and consequently many Aus. tralian publishers cannot publish more than once a month. There is practically no difference between many of the weekly publications and some of the monthly publications I have mentioned. They contain the same class of news . The Minister appears to lay emphasis on the fact that the additional rates of postage will not amount to more than fd. per lb. It may seem a small increase ; nevertheless it amounts to a 40 per cent, increase on the parcels postage in bulk. It will cost in the case of the Pastoral Review, for instance, an extra penny to post a single copy. Senator Findley has already referred to the privileges which, are enjoyed by proprietors of newspapers. These privileges are cheaper telegrams and cablegrams and cheaper railway fares to the proprietors or members of their staffs when travelling interstate. I.n the event of the clause being agreed to, thus depriving monthly publications of the right to be classified as newspapers, I want to know how these proprietors will be affected in respect of the concessions which they now enjoy. So far as I can see the bill will certainly inflict an injustice on many people in Australia, there will be an entirely new definition of a newspaper, the transmission through the post of certain periodicals which to-day are read by many people in Australia will be rendered more difficult, and an unjust tax will be imposed on those persons engaged in the business of publishing periodicals. In the circumstances I hope that the Minister will realize that a mistake is being made.
– As it is the wish of Senator Findley to retain the provisions of section 28 of the principal act, he can best achieve his object by voting against clause 7 which seeks to repeal that section. The period between the issues of a publication is not, as Senator Needham would have the committee believe, the sole determining factor in defining what is a newspaper. Under the proposed new section 28, a publication may be registered as a newspaper if it is known and recognized as a news paper in the generally accepted sense of the word, and is printed and published within the Commonwealth for bona fide sale at the advertised price as a business proposition with a view to earning profit and is a publication which -
A weekly publication is not necessarily a newspaper unless it complies with all the requirements of the proposed new section. A publication is either a newspaper or not a newspaper; it does not automatically become one because it comes out once a week.
SenatorFindley. - Did not the Minister say on the second reading that publications issued once a week and at present registered as newspapers would not be affected by the bill?
– I do not think I said so. Clearly it could not be the case with many of the magazines and journals which have been referred to by my honorable friends opposite, but wjiich cannot by any stretch of ‘ imagination be classed as newspapers. The proprietors of such publications have enjoyed this benefit for so long that naturally they wish it to be continued. Actually the Postal Department, in its concessions to such publications, is granting a substantial bounty to a certain section of the community.
– Should Golf be classified as a newspaper?
– I shall deal with the point raised by the honorable senator as I proceed. Unless a publication complies with the requirements of paragraphs a and b of the clause which I have just quoted, it will not come within the definition of a newspaper, whether it is issued once a week or once a month.
– Who is to judge whether they should be classed as newspapers ?
– The PostmasterGeneral.
– Has the proprietor of a publication any appeal from his decision ?
– No, unless we insert in the bill a provision for the right of appeal. But I put it to honorable senators that if we do this, the last position of the people who are using the post office for the conveyance of this class of mail matter may be worse than the first. If the Postmaster-General exercised his power to deregister certain publications very few of them would again be included in the classification. The Government’s proposal is really intended to regularize the position and to correct what is generally regarded as an anomaly.
– Should frequency of publication ensure inclusion in the classification of a newspaper?
– It is one of the bases that has been universally adopted. Senator Findley directed attention to the position of Everylady’s Journal, The Mirror and The Woman’s Budget. I understand that in future they will be in the category of periodicals and the proprietors will be required to pay postage on them at the rate of 2½d. per 20 ounces. The honorable senator has correctly described Life as a periodical. It can in no sense of the term be regarded as a newspaper. The Bulletin, Smith’s Weekly and many other similar publication’s are clearly newspapers within the generally accepted meaning of the term and will continue to be classed as such. As Senator Duncan has stated, if they ceased to be published weekly, and instead, appeared at intervals of a fortnight, they might still contain news, but would not fall within the classification of newspapers. The press telegraphic rates, I understand, will remain as at present, so the various publications will not be affected in that respect by this measure.
– Publications classed as periodicals will not have the benefit of the newspaper rates for telegrams.
– Can the honorable senator say that they have the benefit of the newspaper rates to-day?
-At all events I am instructed that the press rates for telegrams will remain as hitherto. The Government’s proposal is to put in one category, newspapers which are newspapers in the true sense of the term, in that they publish current news from day to day or week to week, but at no longer intervals than seven days. I cannot say how often The Industrial Australian and Mining Standard and that other estimable publication mentioned by Senator Thomas, Golf, are issued, but by no stretch of imagination can they be classified as newspapers. Therefore they are not entitled to inclusion in the category of such publications and enjoy the postage rates applicable to newspapers.
– Would they be regarded as newspapers if they were issued once a week?
– No. Senator Needham made some reference to the tremendous population in Great Britain and the United States of America, and reminded us of what is being done by the postal authorities in those countries. I venture to suggest that is one of the reasons why we should adopt the provisions in this bill. The Commonwealth Post Office has to carry mail matter over tremendous distances and, as we have discovered, at a conaider able financial loss. At my suggestion the departmental officials were good enough to prepare certain interesting information bearing on this point. This shows that a magazine classed as a newspaper, 1 lb. in weight, is carried by the post office for many hundreds of miles for l½d., and actually it costs the taxpayers of this country 6½d., the cost of railage, apart altogether from the service which the post office renders by handling and distributing this class of mail matter. This is the burden which is thrown upon the postal department by publications such as The Pastoral Review and others which, at present, are classed as newspapers.
– How long has this been going on?
– Speaking for myself I should say it has been going on far too long. The concessions given in this way by the Postal Department represent a bounty to a certain section of the community. For the transmission of magazines 2 lbs. in weight, the postal department receives 3d., and the cost to the country is 6½d. The rates show a loss until we reach the weight of 15 lbs., when the department receives 1½d. more than the actual cost for the carriage of suchmail matter. Having regard to the position it is only right that we should take steps to remedy it. W. should not expect the Postal Department to incur a direct monetary loss on the conveyance of mail matter.
– Is the bulk carriage of mails profitable to the Government?
– On the contrary. I understand that the loss on the handling of that class of mail is between £200,000 and £300,000 per annum.
-Do those figures include the cost of handling daily newspapers ?
– They include everything.
– Does it pay the Postal Department to handle daily newspapers ?
– I should say it does not.
– What is the estimated increase in revenue under the Government’s proposals?
– It is diffi- cult to say, but we may be sure that there will be some increase in revenue.
– I regret that I was not present to take part in the second-reading debate on this measure. The amendments of the principal act proposed by the Government appear to be somewhat drastic and the people concerned, now that they realize what is being attempted, are displaying keen resentment. I do not think, however, that there is any need to delete, as proposed by Senator Findley, the whole of this clause which is a vital part of the bill itself. A slight amendment should meet the situation. Sub-section 1, of section 28, which clause 7 proposes to delete, reads as follows: -
For the purposes of this act a newspaper shall mean anypublication known and recognized as a newspaper in the generally accepted sense of the word, and printed and published within the Commonwealth for sale, if-
it consists in substantial part of news andarticles relatingto current topics, or of religious, technical, or practical information;
The vital words appear to me to be “consists in substantial ‘part of news and articles relating to current topics “. I should like honorable senators to note that the words “ or of religious, technical or practical information”, which appear in the principal act, have been omitted from this bill. I regret thatvery much. Information in relation to those subjects is much more important than a lot of other news which is printed, such as that published recently in relation to an outrage in Sydney, which it would have been far better not to have published because, in addition to its being uneducational, it was rather degrading. I propose to move for the reinsertion of the words “ or of religious, technical or practical information “. The clause would then read - .
Consists in substantial part of current news and articles, or illustrations relating thereto or to other current topics, or of religious, technical or practical information.
I intend also to move that the words “ seven days “ in paragraph b be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ one month “, and thus restore the provision to the form in which it appears in the principal act. There is a further slight omission in the bill in regard to supplements. The principal act provides that -
A publication printed on paper and issued as a supplement to a newspaper shall be deemed to be a supplement and to be part of the newspaper if -
it consists in substantial part of reading matter other than advertisements, or of ‘ engravings, prints. lithographs, or coloured supplements.
The words “ or coloured supplements “ do not appear in this bill, and I cannot understand the reason for their omission. I have had conversations with the trade regarding the matter, and have been informed that there is practically no difference between, a lithograph and a coloured supplement ; one is printed from metal and the otherfrom stone. It has beensaid that only a few journals are concerned in this proposed amendment of the law; but otherhonorable senators have shown that quite a number will be affected. Since the nature of the alterations has become known,I have received many protests. The following telegram has been sent tome from Adelaide -
Publishers monthly periodicalspublished in commercial andagricultural interests here unanimously opposed excessive increase in postage. Will undoubtedly prove detrimental to’ publishers printing trades and readers. Sincerely hope you will use endeavours and influence to reject from the publishers controlling Storekeepers’ . and Grocers’ Journal, South Australian Motor, Farm, Stock and Station Journal, National Roads Association, Railway Officers’ Journal, South Australian Freemasons, Garden and Field, Adelaide Church Guardian, and other similar publications.
That will be the effect if the words “ religious, technical or practical information “ are not included and “ monthly “ is altered to “ weekly.” The South Australia Farmers’ Union have sent me a letter along similar lines, which I shall read because it shows the likely effect upon the co-operative movement, which the Government is doing its best to foster. The people in the country want to be supplied with information that will assist them in their operations, and their particular needs are catered for by agricultural journals. The letter reads -
In the event of the bill being passed as drafted, there is no doubt that co-operative companies will be placed in a very unpleasant position. It is essential that the co-operative view-point should be kept before members, and the most convenient way in which this can be done is by means of a periodical. If monthly papers, however, are eliminated from cheaper rates by legislation, the expense in this direction will be seriously increased, and very great inconvenience will be caused to this union, representing as it does nearly 16,000 members - mostly primary producers. Such a paper as The Farm unquestionably benefits the farmer by keeping him in touch with topical news, and also in introducing to his notice different articles used in farm operations.
Reference has been made on a number of occasions to the Pastoral Review. When I was in Sydney recently, I got into touch with that newspaper, and I now have one of its issues in which 105 pages are devoted to reading matter and 106 pages to advertisements. They have written to me in the following terms: -
I see by this morning’s paper that a bill is before the Senate dealing with the classification and postage rates of newspapers and periodicals, from which I gather that the classification of a newspaper is a publication which publishes once in seven days. This cuts out all monthly publications such as The Pastoral Review, Insurance and Banking Record, and the numerous trade journals, religious monthlies, &c, which up till now have enjoyed the status and privileges of a newspaper, which latter include postage and cable rates. The scattered country population of Australia depends largely upon the monthly newspapers for its knowledge of current happenings. In classifying monthly publications as journals the cost of distribution is very considerably increased, and this we regard as a class tax on publications that could not economically be brought out at more frequent intervals, and which are of as great value as news distributors in the country as the weeklies. .We have a Monthly Newspapers’ Association in .Melbourne which will meet early next week and ‘ consider what action should be taken to combat the. bill. .’ ‘
On the question of cable and telegraphic rates, I’ have received from the same source a further letter which’ reads -
A further injustice would be. done to this paper if it were removed from the list of news papers. We should lose the privileges of press, cable, and telegraph rates. Our cables from abroad, London, and Argentina, giving shipments and prices of wheat, wool, and. grain, for instance. Our cables from New Zealand and Africa giving results of particulars: of show-ring prizes. Also bur press railwayprivileges would be lost. At present in alf countries we receive press rates when travelling on the railways, and this has been our privilege since 1891. You will see by this what a serious handicap will be placed on The Pastoral. Revieu) if its status is lowered.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Plain).The honorable senator’s time has expired:.
– I am assured that the question qf cable and telegraphic rates need not engage ourconsideration. The privileges of such, publications as the Pastoral Review willi be preserved.
– Do I understand that any publication in Australia, bimonthly or monthly, no matter what its size or circulation may be, can obtain cheap telephonic, telegraphic and cable rates ?
– I am instructed that they are entitled to the benefit of press rates in regard to tele grams and cables. The Pastoral Review is a monthly publication which, at present, is registered as a newspaper at the General Post Office, Melbourne. I suggest that it is not a newspaper in the general acceptance of the term. It contains little that can be classed as news, such as that which is published in a daily newspaper. In short, it is exactly what it styles itself - a review - and, therefore, it comes under the postal classification relating to magazines, reviews and similar publications, with respect to which the rate of postage is Id. for 8 ounces. An examination of the issue of 28th February last, shows that it is a bulky publication. The weight of that issue was 16 ounces.. It contained 174 pages, of which 87 pageswere devoted wholly to advertisements^. Other pages also contained advertisements. It will be seen that at- least 50 percent, is devoted to advertisements. Of the 87 pages of letterpress and illustrations 24 are devoted to a description of: certain pastoral properties, &c. Thesearticles, and illustrations are printed on a, good class of heavy paper which- adds* considerably to the weight of the publication. The remaining pages of letterpress consist of articles such as generally appear in reviews. It is necessary only to refer to. the table of contents on page 27 to see that such is the case. Publications of this nature are not newspapers, and it is only the wide definition of a newspaper contained in the present act, and also a liberal interpretation of that definition which has enabled them to secure registration as newspapers. The time has long since arrived for publications such as the Pastoral Review to be placed in the postal classification to which they properly belong, and in the main, the amendments to the act which are now proposed are to this end. The effect of the.. proposed alterations to the act is, so far as the Pastoral Review is concerned, that it will be transferred from the register of newspapers to the register of periodicals, and the rate of postage will be increased from l½d. per 20 ounces to 2½d. per 20 ounces, an increase of four-fifths of a penny per lb. The effect so far as the general public is concerned, that is as regards the posting of a copy of the journal by one individual to another, is nil, as a periodical weighing 16 ounces will require the same amount of postage, namely, 2d., as a newspaper of that weight does to-day. As regards weekly and monthly publications of a similar character I may say that the frequency of issue of a publication is not in itself the determining factor in deciding whether a publication is a “ newspaper,” or a “periodical.” To be eligible for classification as a newspaper, a publication, in addition to being issued not less than once a week, must consist in substantial part of current news and articles or illustrations relating thereto, or to other current topics. At present certain publications of a similar character are issued weekly and monthly, respectively, but this of itself will not necessarily result in the former being classified as “ newspapers “ and the latter as “ periodicals.” If a weekly publication does not comply with the provisions of the bill in regardto news, it will be placed in the same class as a monthly publication, and each will be charged the same rate of postage. Particular care will be taken by the department to prevent the weekly journal obtaining an advantage over the monthly publication simply by reason of its more frequent issue.
I intimated to the committee when this measure was last under consideration that it was expected that a deputation would wait upon the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson) at Canberra. The department communicated with the New SouthWales Master Printers and Commercial Traders’ Association, asking it to fix a day. This it did not do, but its representative courteously sent me a communication, in which he stated that any respresentations in addition to those already made to the Postmaster-General and his officers would doubtless be of little use. He concluded -
In the circumstances of your definite reply it is concluded that a deputation could not alter your decision; but the members of my association respectfully ask that a clause be inserted in the amending bill clearly setting out the definition of a newspaper.
The association is anxious that a clear line of demarcation shall be drawn, as I think has already been done, between newspapers and other publications. As that has been provided, there should be little ground for complaint. Senator Chapman seems to think that paragraph a of subclause . 2 of proposed new section 28, which relates to supplements, alters the original provision in such a way as to provide a different effect in regard to supplements. Paragraph a of subsection 2 of section 28 of the principal act reads -
A publication printed on paper and issued as a supplement to a newspaper shall be deemed to be a supplement and to be part of the newspaper if -
it consists in . substantial part of reading matter other than advertisements, or of engravings, prints, lithographs or coloured supplements.
The department in endeavouring to clarify the position proposes in this bill the following amended definition: -
A publication which is printed on paper and issued as a supplement to a newspaper, and which -
consists in substantial part of reading matter other than advertisements, or of engravings, prints or lithographs, and is enclosed in each copy of the relevant issue of the newspaper. . . . shall be deemed to be a supplement and to be part of that newspaper. “A supplement is thus clearly defined, and I do not think that Senator Chapman need he under any misapprehension concerning coloured supplements. If the amendment which Senator Chapman has outlined were carried it would have the effect of vitiating the clause.
– Some of the publications registered as newspapers contain only rubbish.
– That is not the responsibility of the department.
– The department allows such publications to be registered as newspapers.
– That is a matter for the department to determine.
– The stuff contained in such publications is regarded by the department as news.
– All that Parliament can do is to frame legislation under which the newspapers published in Australia will in the matter of postage be treated as in other countries. We cannot determine what these newspapers shall print, and in that sense act as censors. The Government cannot be responsible for the moral effect of the publications to which Senator Chapman referred. If Senator Chapman’s amendment were adopted it would not remove the anomalies which at present exist.
– It seems to me that this proposed departure from a system which has been in force for many years is not justified, particularly as the amount of revenue to be gained as a result of the amended legislation will make little, if any, impression on the £172,080 which the department lost last year. It will, however, have the effect of interferingwith the custom which has prevailed for a number of years of allowing certain publications to be registered as newspapers.
– That is no reason why the present system should not be altered.
– There is no reason why we should disturb the present arrangement if the change will be of no benefit to the department.
– We are progressing.
– I differ from the honorable senator. I regard this as a retrograde step, and one which no business firm would adopt. I shall be quite content if paragraph b of sub-clause 1 of proposed new section 28 is amended by leaving out the words “ seven days “ and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ one month.” The provision would then read -
A publication may be registered under this act as a newspaper if it is known and recognized as a newspaper in the generally accepted sense of the word, and is printed and published within the Commonwealth for bona fide sale at the advertised price as a business proposition with a view to earning profit, and is a publication which -
is published in numbers’ at intervals of not more than one month.
I suggest such an amendment in the interests of several publications circulated in Queensland, and with which no doubt Senator Reid is familiar. For instance, the Queensland Mining Journal is in every respect a newspaper. It is published monthly, and contains news concerning the mining industry, which is read by many persons interested in the industry, but is not published in the daily newspapers because they cannot afford the necessary space. The same could be said concerning the Queensland Sugar Journal, which the Honorary Minister (Senator McLachlan) mentioned, and which contains a good deal of information useful to the sugar-growers and others interested in the sugar industry. That journal contains information of a character that daily newspapers ought to, but cannot find space to publish. There is also a publication issued in New South Wales entitled Harbour, containing information of great value to those engaged in the shipping business and to others. It contains news of a character that is eagerly looked for every month in the shipping world, but which owing to the pressure on space is not published in the daily newspapers. There is also the Australasian J ournal of Pharmacy, which meets the requirements of chemists, and contains a good deal of information which is useful to not only those engaged in the profession, but to the general public. There are other similar publications, which give valuable information concerning industries and professions; and which although not published weekly, should properly be regarded as newspapers, will be affected, I will not say seriously, by this clause. I ask the Minister to seriously consider an amendment such as I have suggested. If the period is extended from seven days to one month I shall support the clause.
– At an earlier stage I intimated my intention to move in a certain direction, but I can achieve the same result by voting against clause 7 as it stands. That I propose to do, and I ask honorable senators to support me. If successful, we shall thenrevert to the provisions of the original act, section 28 (1), of which reads -
For the purposes of this act a newspaper shall mean any publication known and recognized as a newspaper in the generally accepted sense of the word, and printed and published within the Commonwealth for sale, if -
it consists in substantial part of news and articles relating to current topics, or of religious technical or practical information; and
it is published in numbers at intervals of not more than one month; and
the full title and date of publication are printed at the top of the first page, and the whole or part of the title and the date of publication are printed at the top of every subsequent page.
That section is in operation to-day and has been in operation for many years. The proprietors and publishers of every newspaper and magazine published in Australia are aware of its provisions, to which they have taken no exception. The Government has acted unwisely in introducing this bill which contains such drastic provisions. Apparently the Minister has not given full consideration to the measure which he has introduced. If he had done so, he would not have baulked at so many hurdles.
– The honorable senator should remember that the Minister in charge of the bill in this Chamber is not himself the Postmaster-General.
– That is true, but he is a gentleman with legal training. The statements made by the Minister when introducing the bill, are atvariance with those he has made here to-day. In his second reading speech he said -
Before going on to explain the effect of these alterations as regards publications which will thereby be removed from the newspaper class, I wish to stress the point that no publication which is at present registered as a newspaper and is issued daily or at intervals not exceeding one week will be in any way affected. Such publications will remain in the newspaper class and continue to be transmitted at the existing rates of postage.
That speech was made only a fortnight ago. To-day the Minister’s statements are totally different. He says now that journals which are published at intervals of more than one week and are now registered as newspapers will, under this legislation, be classed as magazines or periodicals for which the rates of postage will be 2½d. for every 20 oz., instead of 1½d. for every 20 oz.
– The position is set out plainly in the bill.
– If the honorable senator would read all my secondreading speech, he would see that I made the position perfectly plain.
– When I asked the Minister the meaning of “newspaper “ or “ current news “, he replied that the definitions would rest with the Postmaster-General.
– That is the position to-day.
– Yes, under the principal act, but such definitions will not have general application under this bill.
– Under this legislation the Postmaster-General will decide as he did under the principal act.
– We may well ask what constitutes current news. I have here The Pastoral Review, a somewhat bulky publication, which contains information regarding the wool and frozen meat markets in the different countries of the world as well as special articles relating to industries of great importance to Australia. Wool is our staple industry; a good wool clip means a great deal to Australia. The Pastoral Review contains much valuable information which is not obtainable from other journals. It caters specially for pastoralists; other journals cater for other sections of the community. I am hot pleading solely for The Pastoral Review, 1 merely instance it as typical of the journals which are published monthly. If the bill is passed in its present form, endless worry and anxiety will be caused to proprietors and publishers of various periodicals throughout Australia. I am greatly concerned about this bill. I was born and reared in the work-a-day world and spent many years in the printing business. I know that to-day many men who have served their apprenticeship to the printing trade, or are connected with the printing industry in various ways, are out of work. In a communication received recently from the proprietor of a journal published in Melbourne, which will be affected by this legislation, the writer stated that in response to a recent advertisement notifying a vacancy on his staff, 50 men applied for the position. The passing of this legislationwill throw more men out of employment. Some of the publications which will be affected by it have been struggling for a long time to get on their feet. The persons whom this bill will affect are now rendering valuable service to the community by supplying them not only with general news but also information of technical and scientific value. Any thing that will raise the educational standard of the people will receive my support. Are honorable senators supporting the Government not concerned about an industry of great value to Australia? Are they not concerned about the readers of the journals which will be affected by this bill? Those who are scientifically minded and wish to increase their knowledge of technical matters, or desire to be conversant with the conditions existing in industry; as well as women who read with avidity the journals published in their interests - journals containing patterns of clothing, and articles of domestic economy and hygiene - will all be affected by this bill. Some of the publications which will be required to pay increased rates of postage have been registered as newspapersfor half a century; others for 25, fifteen or ten years. Now, merely because the existing rates of postage on those journals do not pay the post office, the Government proposes to raise those rates by 66 per cent.
Yet, the proprietors of daily and weekly newspapers, some of whom are rich beyond the dreams of avarice, are not to be interfered with; they are to continue to enjoy the existing privileges of cheap postage rate. Honorable senators should not lose sight of the fact that with an increased population many of the journals now published monthly or bimonthly would probably circulate weekly. The Post Office is not more seriously affected by the rates of postage on those journals, than it is by the rates charged in respect of newspapers published daily or weekly. While not advocating increased rates of postage on daily and weekly newspapers, I wish to repeat that if any section of newspaper proprietors is in a position to meet increased postage rates, it is that section which controls the big daily newspapers of Australia.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Findley is entitled to all the comfort he can obtain from his reference to my second-reading speech; but I trust thathe will allow me to observe that when words are torn from their context they convey quite a different impression of what has been said. It is quite plain from the Hansard record of my second-reading speech that I indicated in the clearest possible language the” distinction to be drawn between magazines and newspapers. Before I made use of the words quoted by my honorable friend, I said : -
The amendments to section 28 of the act are designed to place this matter on a satisfactory basis and to define as, a newspaper only those publications which are newspapers in the generally accepted sense of the term; are issued at intervals of not more than seven days and consist in substantial part of current news and articles, or illustrations relating thereto, or to other current topics.
Then I proceeded to discuss the provision . and used the words referred to by Senator Findley. The language of the clause is plain. The object is to place newspapers and periodicals in two different categories. The present position is not satisfactory to the Postal Department in as much as these publications are being, carried on at a loss. Although we may be quite sympathetic with the proprietors of periodicals and may have no desire to impose an additional burden on them, the position calls aloud for some alteration. Everywhere a distinction is drawn between daily or weekly newspapers and magazines which specialize in giving certain information. I have every reason to admire the Pastoral Review, which provides great facilities for its subscribers, but 87 out of 174 pages in one issue are devoted to advertising and 24 to illustrations of pastoral properties. Can the Pastoral Review be placed on the same footing as a daily newspaper? I suggest that neither branch of this Parliament ever intended that publications of that character or those that contain reviews of literature should be classed a3 newspapers and have the benefit of the exceedingly cheap postage rates that apply to newspapers. The distinction to which *I have referred is drawn in other countries, and I see- no good reason why the committee should baulk at passing this provision which will help to systematize the matter and put it on a better footing while doing no injustice to one class of publication as against another.
– If the bill is passed in its present form it will be a great blow to a big industry. I am informed that some publications will not be able to carry on.
– I do not think that is likely.
– I can give the name of my informant. I cannot understand why the bill should make a direct attack on monthly publications which convey very valuable information to outback people particularly concerning the position of markets overseas, information of a sort which is of the utmost importance to people outback.
– Has not broadcasting rather superseded the publications in that regard?
– It may do so when proper relay stations are established, but the statics are too bad at present to enable remote listeners-in to take advantage of radio. I have received a communication informing me that the Australasian Insurance and Banking Record, the Pastoral Review and the Victorian Producer, issue 21,000 copies a month and pay £70 a month in postage. If this bill is carried the cost of distributing these valuable periodicals will be increased by 40 per cent., representing £336 a year. It is questionable whether the publishers of these papers will be able to stand the extra impost, and if they are compelled to cease publishing their subscribers will be deprived of very valuable information. For instance it is of untold value to the pastoralist to know how the wool market stands at any time and when it is best for him to export his wool, and he may be deprived of that information if the Pastoral Review is compelled to go out of circulation. I have a letter from Fitchett Brothers, publishers. They state that this bill will penalize them to the extent of 66 J per cent, of their present circulation. They have been publishing for the last 30 years and during that period have spent £40,000 in postage and have received £150,000 through the post in connexion with other business associated with their papers. Thus there is another side to the question. People advertise in periodicals with a view to bringing in business, and in that way extra business is brought to the Postal Department. For instance, mail orders are sent by post. It is questionable if the extra business gained by way of additional postage and money orders in that way does not make up for the small loss which the department declares it suffers through carrying periodicals at the present newspaper rates. I think the Minister might accept the suggestion to make the period one month instead of one week. Provision is made in the bill by which the proprietor of a periodical who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Postmaster-General may appeal to the High Court. The man who thinks about applying to the High Court had better see first where his fortune is - if he has any - because if he does so the possibility is that in the end he will have very little of it left. I have had my experience of the law. The case in which I was ‘concerned did not last for more than five days but it was sufficient to cause me to realize that when one goes to law one is out of pocket. The time it would take to secure finality would be fatal to a publisher’s business in many cases. Many publishers may not be able to afford to appeal to the High Court, if their publications are not classed as newspapers, and they will simply have to go out of business. If there is to be an appeal it should be made a less cumbersome and less costly process. I have received quite a number of letters protesting against this bill, and it seems to me from perusing, them that the only effect of the measure will be to disorganize a big industry and possibly cause a considerable amount of unemployment. Last week the Minister said that he did not think the bill would make much difference to the revenue of the department, but now he tells us that the retention of the existing section will entail a loss on the department* That loss is unimportant seeing that this great industry is serving Australia in an educational way and conferring considerable benefit upon outback people by supplying them with information which they would not otherwise be able to obtain. The Government would be well advised to reconsider the clause.
– As I said on the second reading I have the greatest possible sympathy with the Postal Department in its desire to amend the act. I quite agree with the Minister that the present rates for the carriage of newspapers and other publications are such as to “ show up “ the post office in many respects, and that something should be .done to remedy this state of affairs, but I cannot see how this bill will do it. The Minister has told us that at present as many as 80 newspapers can be sent through the post to addresses all over Australia for ltd. It appears that if this bill goes through these 80 newspapers will be carried for 2½d. The department thus will gain Id. more if 80 newspapers are carried, lOd. more if SOO are carried, and 8s. 4d. more if 8000 are carried. It does not seem to me that the amendment will improve the revenue of the department to any great extent. Of course the Minister might ask why honorable senators should bother about such a trifling extra impost. I am ready to advocate anything that I think is worth while even if it may be unpopular : but I cannot understand why the Government should advocate something that is unpopular when material gain is to be secured by doing so. I do not regard this measure as drastic. The departmental view is that it represents a reform; but in my judgment the reforms to be achieved by it are so slight that they are not worth troubling about. If the Government proposed to adopt rates such as those obtaining in New Zealand or England, where the charge is so much for every copy posted, the reform might be worth while.
– That would be a revolution.
– At all events it would achieve something. It is to be regretted that the Minister is not in a position to state the estimated additional revenue expected to accrue from this reform. Such an answer to a question seeking that information may be accepted in the Senate, but I imagine that if the Postmaster-General in another place furnished such an indefinite reply he would have a few unpleasant minutes. at the hands of honorable members. Are we to believe that the department does not know what increase in revenue will result from this so-called reform - whether it will be £5, £5,000 or £50,000? I understand, that under the new rates periodicals may be posted in bulk. Can the Minister say how this will affect the revenue ?
– The effect will be very slight because most of such publications are registered as newspapers.
– I believe that is so, but the point I wish to make is that under this bill they may be handled under the bulk rate of postage. I listened attentively to the speech of Senator Findley, and I understand from the Minister’s reply that if newspapers are published at intervals of not more than seven days, they will remain in their present classification. This will unfairly affect a number of publications. I have two in mind - Grit, published once a week, and another called Liberator or Victory, which is published once a month. Both are temperance newspapers. What I now wish to know is whether Grit will be classified as a newspaper, and the other publication “be designated a periodical ?
– I am informed that neither complies with the requirements of the definition of a newspaper.
– We are to understand then that certain publications which have been registered as newspapers for many years will, under this bill, be classified as magazines or periodicals ?
– There is no doubt about that.
– I presume, .then, that the bill will affect church papers such as The Methodist, which has been registered as a newspaper, I suppose, for about 40 years. It is published once a week. Another in the same class, called The Men’s Own Paper, is published Ones a month. I imagine that church authorities who are responsible ‘ for- such publications are not thoroughly alive to what is going to happen to their publications under this bill.
– Most of them are well aware- of its provisions, as 1 have reason to know,!
– I shall certainly support Senator Findley, because I doubt if the bill will lead’ to much in the’ way of reform. We are completely in the dark concerning the financial side of the measure. The Minister is unable to give us any idea of the probable increase iu revenue. All he can say is that the department expects there will be an increase. The Minister’s explanation does not seem to me to be satisfactory. I shall therefore support Senator Findley.
.- Senator Thomas has just said that, according to a departmental view, the bill represents a reform. I regard it as a reactionary measure. , We have spent the best part of . three days in endeavouring to ascertain, from the Minister in charge what will be the probable increase in revenue, and he is unable to inform us. I could understand this lack of information if the bill were being disposed of hastily; but, in the circumstances, the Minister’s admission is most unsatisfactory Senator Chapman has indicated that he proposes, to submit an amendment to reinsert sub-paragraph a of section 28. It defines a newspaper, as a publication consisting - in substantial part of news and articles reluting to current topics, or of religious, technical, or practical information.
The Minister did not state whether the Government would accept the suggested amendment. Are we to understand that the Ministry proposes to penalize religious publications, some . of which are issued free? Does the Government propose to place them on the same footing as newspapers which are earning a substantial profit for their proprietors? Surely this is not the intention of Parliament. Unless the clause is amended, as suggested by Senator Chapman, an injustice will be done to a considerable section of the community that is interested in the publication of such papers.
Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) [5.33 1 . - I do not think that the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator McLachlan). suggested, in his second-reading speech”, that the adoption of the proposed amendments to the act would lead to a marked increase in revenue, though he indicated that in all probability there would be a slight increase. I gathered from his remarks that’ the Postmaster-General was reviewing the classification of a number of publications, some of. which are,. in his opinion, improperly registered for transmission through the post as newspapers, ^understand that the Minister has the power under , the existing act to either agree or refuse to register as a newspaper any. publication. . The way is, therefore, clear for the department to rid itself qf the objection which attaches to the carriage of publications of a bulky nature. I trust that when the bill becomes law the department will give the widest possible interpretation . to the definition of “ newspaper “. Replying to Senator Findley, the Minister said that the department has been carrying many publications at a considerable loss, and he cited an extreme case to justify his. contention. He referred to the long distances covered, but ignored the fact that bulk postage is. paid in the majority of cases, and that such publications are distributed mostly in the larger centres of population. We should endeavour to popularize the distribution of magazines and other periodicals in the outlying districts, where the population is sparse, and the people do not enjoy the amenities of the cities and towns. The Minister also referred to the bulky nature of much of the postal matter that the postmen have to handle. That argument does not apply to the small, outlying districts, because in those centres the residents have to call at the post offices to collect their mail matter.
– It has to be transported to and from the railway station.
- Senator Findley argued that the existing provisions have been in operation for 50 years, and that, therefore, they should not be interfered with. I consider, however, that the Postmaster-General is justified in re-organizing his business in the light of the experience which has been gained, if that re-organization does not mean the raising of additional revenue. I should not support this measure if it were intended to use it as a means to increase the revenue. The Postal Department is now returning a surplus.
– What is the object of the bill if it is not to . increase the revenue ?
– I accept the statement of the Minister that the object is to re-organize the department.
– That could be done without altering the rates.
– The post office should not be used as a taxgathering machine to obtain more revenue than is necessary to enable it to carry on its operations. I intend to move at the appropriate stage, that all newspapers, magazines, and other publications which are donated to public hospitals and other charitable institutions shall be carried free of postage. I shall be glad if the Minister will indicate the clause in which that provision can be inserted. It would be a step in the right direction, and should receive the favorable consideration of all honorable senators. Many persons are actively engaged to-day in hospital and other charitable work, a portion qf which consists in collecting and sending to the inmates, newspapers and other reading matter. This country should encourage those efforts, and be generous enough to carry such reading matter free , of charge through the post.
– Earlier in the debate I indicated that I intended to move two amendments. I now move -
That after the words “ current topics “ proposed new section 28, sub-section 1, paragraph (b), the words “or of religious or technical information “ be inserted.
Some members of the committee appear to think that the provision would be too wide if the word “ practical “ which appears in the principal act were also added; therefore, I have not included it in my amendment. The whole of the administration seems to depend upon the proportion of advertisements to news matter. According to the definition in the bill, for the purpose of registration a publication is to be regarded as a newspaper “ if it consists in substantial part of current news and articles or illustrations relating thereto, or to other current topics.” Apparently technical and religious information is not to be regarded as news, although up to the present it has been so regarded, and has warranted the registration of the publication in which it has appeared. An issue of the Pastoral Review that I have received contains no fewer than 105 pages of news matter; yet, under the proposed definition, it . is not to be regarded as a newspaper and thus will be denied registration. If honorable senators will study many of the daily newspapers they will find that the volume of advertisements is three times as great as that of news.
– But they are newspapers.
– After all, “ what’s in a name “ ? This publication provides a better class of news for a large section of the community. The issue that I have contains articles on the close of the wool sales, country wool-selling, and other subjects that are of interest to the pastoralists.
– They are taken from the daily newspapers.
– They are not. This is specialized information, which those who subscribe to this journal cannot obtain from the daily newspapers. The information iri relation to Australian wool shipments, stud sheep and other matters is given ‘ in greater detail than in a daily newspaper.’ But, because the Pastoral Review commits the sin of publishing only once a month, it is proposed to refuse it registration as a newspaper. Honorable senators probably have seen in some newspapers as much as two pages of advertising matter supplied by one firm. I am informed that firms who advertise on such a scale purchase large numbers of the issue for advertising purposes, because they are allowed to send a certain number through the post without paying anything more than bulk postage on them. The periodicals upon whose behalf 1 &m pleading publish a good class of reading matter upon technical, educational and art subjects; yet, according to the definition in the bill, if it is not current news they cannot be registered as a newspaper. Information such as that published in the press the other day concerning an outrage in Sydney is regarded as news, but that of an educational character, unless “current,” is not. I trust that my amendment will be carried so that religions or technical information will be regarded as news. I also trust that publications such as the Pastoral Review will not be removed from the list of registered newspapers merely because they are published monthly.
– Earlier in the discussion, I expressed my intention to move in a certain direction for the specific purpose which Senator Chapman is now endeavouring to accomplish.
– I understood the honorable senator wished to delete the whole clause.
– I did, so that we should revert to the position under section 28 of the principal act. If the honorable senator will peruse that section he will see that one of the amendments he has moved, and another which he has indicated his intention of moving, would practically have that effect.
– Oh, no !
– Yes. Throughout the debate I have urged that we should strike out the whole clause and so retain that provision in the principal act. The Minister (Senator McLachlan) referred to the Pastoral Review, to which I understand he subscribes, as a bulky publication. From the information which he gave, he has apparently had some one busily at work to ascertain the number of pages in that journal which are devoted to news and to advertising matter. He endeavoured to prove that it was not even on a “ fifty-fifty basis, and advanced that as a reason why it should not be classed as a newspaper. I have gone to the trouble to ascertain the quantity of space devoted to news and advertising matter in the Sydney Morning Herald, which is one of the oldest established daily newspapers in Australia. Last Saturday’s issue of that newspaper consisted of 30 pages and 240 columns, 71£ of which comprised illustrations, sporting, commercial and general information which can be regarded as news, and 167£ columns comprised advertisements. That is considerably over the “ fifty-fifty “ basis mentioned by the Minister, and I think we can say that a similar proportion of the space in many other journals published in the capital cities, particularly in the case of Saturday issues, is devoted to advertising matter.
– The newspapers with the largest circulation receive the greatest number of advertisements.
– Yes, the number of advertisements is evidence of the value of the paper not merely to readers but to the advertisers. Trade follows the flag, and it is true, also, that advertisements follow the circulation of a newspaper. Newspapers which receive the greatest number of advertisements have the largest circulation and are newspapers within the meaning of the act. It has been said that the pen is mightier than the sword. We know what the world owes to those who, as a result of their writings, have been instrumental in bringing ab&ut reforms highly beneficial to the community. As the Minister has said that the object of this amending measure is mainly to secure additional revenue, I am justified ‘n asking if we are to measure every proposition from a financial viewpoint. In Victoria the railways commissioners have, at the expense of the community, equipped a costly train known as the Better Farming train. This train carries experts on different subjects, who instruct farmers in the best methods to employ in cultivating the soil and in breeding stock. It also carries nurses who instruct mothers in the care of children, and women lecturers who speak on domestic economy and hygiene. There is no direct return from such services, but they are of wonderful educational value to the community. The great White Train in New South Wales which tours the whole State does not pay, but is of undoubted indirect benefit to the people. In these circumstances we are justified in contending that it will pay the Postal Department to carry journals which it does not regard as newspapers, at the existing rate as the knowledge thus disseminated will make for higher education and a healthier community. I ask honorable senators who usually support the Government not to be induced to agree to this clause merely because it is necessary to raise a little more revenue. Our education system is not expected to pay, neither should our telegraphic and telephonic services be expected to show a profit. Just as the losses on some services ‘ are borne, not by those who receive the direct benefit, but by the whole community, so the loss, if any, incurred in carrying periodicals at the newspaper rate should he shared by the people. We must also consider the effect of this amending legislation upon those who are engaged in the printing and publishing business, and the extent to which the efforts of Australian writers and artists may be discouraged. I know men in the journalistic world - “ free-lances “ - who obtain their livelihood by writing special articles for journals which will he affected by this bill. If the proprietors or publishers of such journals are penalized to the extent of 66$ per cent, in respect of postal rates an unfair burden will be placed upon them. If this measure becomes law the size of some of the journals may be reduced and others will probably cease publication. This would have the effect of throwing men out of employment. If the Government will not agree to the amendment I have outlined’, it is my intention to support Senator Chapman’s proposal. I have risen several times during this discussion because I am firmly of the opinion that this provision will be harmful not only to the publishers but to the general community. I earnestly appeal to the Minister to consider the facts I have placed before him.
– In order to ascertain the additional revenue likely to be derived under this proposal itwould be necessary to analyse the postage paid on each publication now registered as a newspaper and also to closely scrutinize the figures in respect of each journal published weekly or less frequently. The Postal Department is apprehensive concerning the ever increasing number of magazines and periodicals being registered, and as it has permitted certain publications to be registered as newspapers it is difficult in the absence of amending legislation to deny that right to the publishers of similar journals. The volume of work is becoming so great that the department has felt it necessary to suggest an amendment in this direction.
– What amount is the department losing under the present system ?
– I intimated earlier that there has been a considerable loss on the carriage of these publications. A complete analysis of the position would occupy weeks, but I suggest that as the financial aspect is not of major importance it should not be given undue prominence. From the figures I have quoted it will he seen that as service is being rendered at a loss the department is compelled to institute a change. Senator Findley painted a very striking picture of the services rendered to certain sections, the cost of which is met by the whole community. As a Scotsman I prefer to see the hard cash every time. The suggested benefits are all mythical; we cannot lay our hands on these things. In this case the revenue of the post office will be, to an extent, safeguarded. I ask honorable senators not to reject the clause.
Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia [6.6]. - I was sorry to hear the Minister’s speech. If considerations of cash alone are to guide the actions of any government, we shall fall far below our ideals - if, indeed, ideals are to be contemplated, which would not appear to be the case from the Minister’s speech. Apparently he would not support legislation to extend educational facilities through out the country, because the benefit would Be merely mythical, and we could not lay our hands upon them.
– Education is of real value.
– The matter before us is not so much the amount of the additional postage, but the benefit which the journals which will be affected by this legislation confer on the community. The rate which shall be charged for transmitting these journals through the post is to be determined on a nonsensical basis - whether they are published once a week or once a month. Western Australia will probably be the State most affected by this legislation, because of the remoteness from the centres of population of many of its people. Many of those dwellers outback depend largely for their instruction and enjoyment on the articles contained in magazines published monthly. I am desirous that they shall continue to enjoy the privileges, which are still to be enjoyed by newspapers published daily or weekly. I remind honorable senators that these people are doing a great deal more to develop Australia and increase her prosperity than are many of the individuals who receive their daily newspaper otherwise than through the post office. Rather than that this clause should be agreed to, I should prefer that things remain as they are. The principal act makes special provision for publications which are of a religious, technical or practical nature. Journals of that description should not be prevented from reaching’ the outlying portions of the Commonwealth through the post. My concern is chiefly for the peopleoutback. The Minister said that considerations of cash were practically the only reason for this new provision.
– There are other considerations. The post. office does not stand to lose or to gain much.
-The post office could well lose a little in such a good cause - I referto the educational value of many of these journals.Probably the journals which are published monthly are of greater educational value to the community than are the daily and weekly newspapers. Most of them deal with technical, religious, and other subjects of considerable value to the people for whom they are written.
– Do they not come under the heading of “ periodicals ?”
-No ; but many publications which now enjoy newspaper rates of postage will, under this bill, have to pay the rates applicable to periodicals.
– That is the whole reason for the objection.
– This legislation will probably force a number of journals to cease publication. I can see no other justification for the bill than the cash consideration, which the Minister has admitted is not great. In a matter of such importance to the community cash considerations should not weigh too heavily.
[6.14]. - I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Our object in adjourning now is to enable the Minister in charge of the bill which we have just been considering to confer with his colleague, the Postmaster-General.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at6.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 May 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1928/19280516_senate_10_118/>.