The Home Front Volume II
CHAPTER 19 — Censorship
THE Censorship and Publicity Regulations passed on 1 September 1939 were not rushed up overnight. Since 1934, committees drawn from the Service departments, the Police, Internal Affairs, Post and Telegraph, and Prime Minister's departments had considered problems and precedents, deciding among much else that press censorship and publicity were inter-related and should be part of the Prime Minister's Department. Out of all these considerings, regulations were drafted during the Munich crisis of September 1938, revised under the further advice of concerned departments, and made ready by February 1939.1
The supreme authority was to be the Censorship and Publicity Board2 chaired by the Prime Minister, its members the Minister of Defence, the Postmaster-General, the chiefs of the three Service departments, the Director-General of Post and Telegraph, the permanent head of the Prime Minister's Department and any other persons whom the Prime Minister might appoint. The Controller of Censorship, appointed by the Governor-General, removable by the Board and paid as Parliament might decide, was at the head of postal and telegraph censorship; the Director of Publicity, appointed, paid and removable likewise, was in control of the press.3 Both were charged to prevent the spreading of prejudicial information and subversive reports.
‘Prejudicial information’ was any information on Service strengths, equipment, operations, defence measures, shipping, cargoes and any other matter whatsoever which would or might be directly or indirectly useful to the enemy. ‘Subversive reports’ as first defined included four categories which remained operative throughout the war: reports intended or likely to cause disaffection towards His Majesty, to interfere with the success of His Majesty's forces by land, sea or air, or with their recruiting, training, administration and discipline; or to disrupt their morale or the morale of civilians. Four page 887 other sorts deemed subversive in September 1939 were dropped from a revised list in February 1940: a false report; one expressing seditious intention within the meaning of Section 118 of the Crimes Act 1908;4 one intended or likely to undermine confidence in the banking system or currency or any financial measures of the government taken in the interests of the war; one intended or likely to prejudice relations between His Majesty's subjects and any friendly foreign state, or the subjects thereof. This last clause, dropped in 1940, was restored in March 1942.
Three new sorts of statements were added to the subversive list in February 1940: those intended or likely to cause undue alarm to the public; to prejudice or interfere with the manufacture, production, supply or delivery of any goods or services required by the war; to cause unlawful resistance to any law relating to military service or to the administration of justice. Reasonable and temperate discussion in good faith of any existing laws or measures would not be subversive. No one should publish or communicate orally or otherwise a subversive report, or possess an article with a view to so doing; prosecutions could be instituted only with the written consent of the Attorney-General.
The 1939 regulations empowered the Director of Publicity to forbid any periodical to publish information which he considered prejudicial to the public safety; or to publish without his prior consent information on any topic he might specify. A publisher convicted of disobeying such instructions might, in addition to any other penalty imposed, be forbidden by the court to publish or be concerned with the publication, for a specified time, of any newspaper in New Zealand. No one should publish in a periodical any letterpress or graphic representation dealing with the war, unless it had previously been submitted to the Director of Publicity and approved in writing, though this would not check publication of material dealing with war topics in a general way, without describing or page 888 purporting to describe any actual events. The Director of Publicity could forbid those in charge of a printing press (widely defined) to print on it any material of a specified kind which had not been submitted for censorship and approval. There could be no published indication that the censor had required to see any material, had altered or excised anything or refused publication. Finally, if charged with a breach of these regulations, the onus of proving that he had complied lay with the person charged.
Regulations could more readily define censorship powers than the processes of publicity, but during 1938 the formative committee had worked on this aspect of the duties of the Director of Publicity. He was to implement the policy of the Board of Censorship and Publicity; to prepare and issue information both as news and for propaganda, using and co-ordinating the press, broadcasting and films; to maintain continuity of policy and direction in publicity, and to be the sole authority through which all government departments would issue statements relating to the war, though where the armed forces were concerned he would be guided by them.5 Propaganda was to be prepared ‘to secure that the national cause is properly presented to the public both at home and abroad. Various aspects of the national activities will have to be analysed and explained; enemy activities must be examined and criticised; and means must be devised to disseminate the national point of view in a guise which will be attractive and through channels which will ensure that it reaches persons who are likely to be influenced by it.’6 The formative committee had also decreed that censorship of the press was to be carried out largely by the voluntary co-operation and self-imposed restrictions of newspapers themselves, and any control likely to appear unreasonably irksome to them was deprecated.7
On 22 June 1939 the Council of Defence8 approved the appointment, in the event of war, of George McNamara,9 recently retired Director-General of Post and Telegraph, as Controller of Censorship, page 889 and on 28 August Cabinet appointed J. T. Paul as Director of Publicity, with J. H. Hall10 as Deputy Director.11 These three appointments were announced on 2 September 1939.
Paul, who in the next five years was by far the most prominent figure in the censorship field, was 65 years old when the war began. Born and educated in Victoria, he had come to New Zealand in 1899 to work for 20 years as a linotype operator on the Otago Daily Times. He then moved to the literary side of his trade, working on the Dunedin Evening Star, the Otago Daily Times and the Otago Witness, which last he edited from 1924 till it ceased publication in 1932. From the start he had been active in trade unionism, had been president of several unions and in 1903 president of the Otago Trades and Labour Council. He was also prominent in the formation of the Parliamentary Labour party, from as early as 1904, and was its president from 1917 to 1920. The Liberals in 1907 had appointed him to the Legislative Council, where he stayed till 1919, resigning to stand unsuccessfully for Dunedin South. He had written a number of pamphlets, including Our Majority: some shadows and high lights of industrial history (1910), The Tailoress's Birthday (1911), Labour's First Plank (1917) and Labour Landmarks (1938). He had a thorough knowledge of newspaper routines, and he was a dedicated Labour man whose moderation and persuasiveness had been of high value in the party's formative years.12
Connections between the Prime Minister and both branches of censorship were soon strengthened. A regulation (1939/215) in October, decreed that the salaries of both the Controller of Censorship and the Director of Publicity should be fixed by the Prime Minister, not Parliament. The Censorship and Publicity Board met about twice, the last time in April 1940; effective control of censorship throughout the war was exercised by the Prime Minister.13 Postal censorship had its headquarters in the State Fire Buildings, Wellington, but the office of the Director of Publicity was in Parliament Buildings and his letter-head proclaimed that he was of the Prime Minister's Department.
In the first months of the war the public was less aware of press censorship, which was of course invisible, than of the postal sort, page 890 which cut holes in letters.14 The Director of Publicity however was soon instructing editors on lines to be followed and areas to be avoided.
Most of the war news came by overseas cable, terminating at Auckland, where it was received by the telegraph office. After the first few days, when many cables were referred to the Director of Publicity, telegraph censors at both Auckland and Wellington were made his representatives, empowered to release cables that seemed in order. The Auckland Telegraph Censor released them to northern papers, including Hamilton and Gisborne, after a half hour's delay. During this delay cables were read by the Telegraph Censor at Wellington, who if he found anything doubtful would refer it to the Director of Publicity; otherwise he would release the cables to the Press Association for the rest of the country.
By far the most inward cables passed without alteration or deletion. Those read most carefully and in which most deletions were made came from the United States before it entered the war, or from neutral countries. These, not being censored at source, often contained reports or conjectures that were unfounded or extremely alarming.15 Within Britain much censorship was left to the discretion of editors, but news going overseas by cable was censored more tightly, and often information uttered by the BBC was not cabled out of Britain.16 When cables reached the Dominions they were censored again and some information withheld by the local censor. Repeatedly New Zealanders who read overseas papers were to wonder why news that could appear in Britain, so close to the firing line, could not be printed at the world's edge. After March 1942, news already published in British newspapers, which hitherto had left London uncensored, was at the request of the Dominions' governments subject to the same treatment as news going overseas directly by cable.17
From the start, the Director of Publicity did not accept that publication of a news item in Britain or in any Dominion was a passport to its publication in New Zealand. When Australia, in May 1941, decided to rely on British screening and cease censoring cables from the United Kingdom, the Press wondered why New Zealand did not follow suit, why news which had passed the exacting requirements of British censors on its way from Britain should be improper page 891 for New Zealanders. ‘The results are fantastic and irritating. Half the world knew that New Zealand forces were in Greece weeks before it was considered expedient to release this information in the one country in the world most interested in it.’18 Paul, in the same week, wrote:
In order to retain absolute control of what should be published in New Zealand in relation to the war I have refused to accept censorship restrictions in any part of His Majesty's Dominions ‘as sufficient’. Cablegrams from the United Kingdom sometimes contain items that would not only be destructive to public morale but would be seriously disturbing to those people who have direct representatives engaged on the battle front.19
Letters sent into and out of New Zealand containing material for publication were, with some clearly harmless exceptions in the late stages of the war, referred by Post Office censors to the Director of Publicity for approval.20 Outward news cables if they were obviously in order could be passed by the telegraph censors who were alert for more than security errors: for instance, on 17 April 1940 they were instructed by the Director of Publicity to ‘suppress all outward press news which is likely to convey a prejudicial view to overseas countries concerning the National War Effort in New Zealand. This will include comment implying disunity on the part of political parties as affecting the Government's war measures, and in addition information concerning anti-war and communist organisations.’21
In the first weeks of press censorship, directives warned against accepting undesirable advertisements concerning the war, against printing letters from New Zealand servicemen overseas or photographs of military camps, without approval. Others deprecated publishing material likely to inflame public opinion against inoffensive enemy aliens, and urged the use of the term ‘Nazi’ rather than ‘German’, as the Allies had no hostility to the German people.22 Reprint matter or comment which might in any way reflect on Japan or Italy should be avoided in order not still more to prejudice friendly relations with these countries.23
As the war went on, directives not only imposed or lifted prohibitions on items of news but advised how news should be treated. page 892 For instance, on 19 June 1940, when the ship Niagara was sunk by a mine off Bream Head, causing a spurt of suspicion about sabotage, spies and aliens, the Director of Publicity telegraphed to editors: ‘Speculation inadvisable regarding time, vessel or means by which mines laid off New Zealand coast. Please keep closely to Prime Minister's statement in House tonight.’24 Another example of advice on presentation occurred at the end of June 1942, when British forces were driven back to Egypt and Paul telegraphed: ‘War Cabinet requests co-operative assistance of press in avoiding overemphasis of Middle East news in headlines.’25 Again, on 8 April 1942, as the Japanese threat loomed, Paul warned editors to avoid placing undue emphasis on the return of the Australian Imperial Force to Australia, as ‘it would be doubly unfortunate if an agitation took place in New Zealand for the return of the NZEF and the military situation made it impossible to favourably consider any such demand.’26
Sometimes editors were ordered to submit all items on certain subjects for censorship before publication. For example, when the New Zealand Herald on 17 April 1941 printed a story about New Zealand making Service biscuits for Britain, stating that shipments would begin before the end of June, the Director telegraphed: ‘Arising out of publication of an unauthorised statement by one newspaper regarding British War Office Orders any future reference to war material or war production must be referred to this office prior to publication.’ He later explained that the defence authorities held that enemy attention would be directed at New Zealand in proportion to food supplies known to be shipped to Britain, while manufacturers had already been told that the British government desired secrecy concerning food contracts.27 Manufacturers, of course, wanted the public to appreciate why local biscuit supplies were reduced, and the papers were keen to give news of such contributions to the war effort.
By February 1940 the initial definition of subversive reports had been found wanting. The elimination of ‘false reports’ would have placed an impossibly heavy burden on censors, especially postal censors, who inevitably encountered much harmless inaccuracy, and it would have infuriated the public. It was likewise impracticable to eliminate reports likely to undermine confidence in the government's page 893 financial measures, unless the Opposition were to be silenced, and it had been far from silent during October 1939. Seditious intention under Section 118 of the 1908 Crimes Act was complicated by precedent cases, when no friendly foreign states were being impugned.
Subversive statements were being uttered plentifully at pacifist and communist meetings and in communist pamphlets, against which the censorship regulations were ineffective through lack of activating machinery: there was no provision for on-the-spot arrests and prosecutions required the assent of the Attorney-General. Meetings were more readily broken up on charges of obstructing traffic or by the police, under the Police Offences Act 1927, when they believed a breach of the peace was about to occur, ordering the speaker to desist and arresting him for obstruction if he did not.28
To meet the situation as it existed, Section 14 of the Censorship and Publicity Regulations dealing with subversive reports was revoked on 21 February 1940 and replaced by Public Safety Emergency Regulations. These gave the police immediate powers to prohibit meetings or processions, to arrest speakers or distributors of leaflets, and to search without warrants. The definitions of subversive statements now included four from the original list, dropped four,29 and brought in three new ones.
As described elsewhere,30 1940 saw a number of prosecutions of Communists for subversive statements. The first of these was heard at Auckland on 12 April, on charges relating to the People's Voice of 9 and 16 February and to certain pamphlets; all accused were convicted, as were most of those later prosecuted in various parts of the country. A few got off for speeches made in a by-election campaign. Meanwhile the People's Voice showed no repentance or caution and on 29 May 1940 Censorship and Publicity Regulations were extended (1940/93).31 On 30 May the police seized the press of the People's Voice.
That paper was not the only one that troubled the censors. On 7 October 1939 the Director of Publicity had written to Fraser: The Paper Tomorrow, which pretends to be a New Zealand independent review, has been publishing some matter calculated to detract from our national effort. Tomorrow approaches the present crisis in much the same insidious manner as it deals with local problems or politics—and the Government. For instance, it quotes approvingly the words of yourself as Acting-Prime Minister—‘I do not think that even in this black hour anybody should be page 894 expected to sink his conscientious opinions’—as ‘A fine statement’, and devotes much of the same issue to a mixture of candid friend advice and semi-subversive criticisms of national policy.32
Very soon after the amendment of 29 May 1940, the police warned the printer of Tomorrow that his press might be seized. The editor, Kennaway Henderson,33 on 17 June wrote to subscribers that for this reason publication had ceased:
under the Emergency legislation ‘Subversion’ is very vaguely defined, so that almost any critical writing might be regarded as subversive. Consequently no printer is prepared to print Tomorrow, and, in effect, we have been suppressed under legislation passed by the first N.Z. Labour Government. New Zealand now has no independent critical journal.
At the moment a wave of hysteria is sweeping the country. It may be that an opportunity to commence publication again will occur in a few months.34
The opportunity did not come, and Tomorrow, a vigorous intellectual sprout of the 1930s, disappeared without a court charge staining its character.
The Co-operative Press of Christchurch, which had printed leaflets for the local anti-conscription campaign and also pacifist literature, notably A. M. Richards's trenchantly critical booklet, What are we Fighting for?, was seized like the People's Voice but without any publication having been challenged in court as subversive.35
The press in general had no sympathy with anti-war voices, pacifist or leftist, and often urged the government to stiffen measures against them. Papers also made statements about the necessity for censorship. Later, these were usually followed by complaints that New Zealand's censorship went too far, but in the early days a graceful acceptance of sacrifice was advocated. Thus, the Christchurch Star–Sun on 3 October 1939: ‘in wartime even the democracies recognise the necessity of restricting freedom in order not to lose it, and a Press censorship is conformed to by the Press with the best page 895 of grace. The censorship is full of difficulties, anomalies and inconsistencies, but it must go on.’
The Listener, which did not regard itself as a governmental tool, declared on 1 March 1940:
If there is any Government in the world reluctant to curtail liberty it is the Government at present in office in New Zealand. It is a bitter experience for it and for everybody that it must now control liberty or betray it.
It hoped, of course, and kept on hoping, that citizens of all shades of opinion would control themselves…. Liberty is precious. It is the goal, whatever comes in the way, of our struggle. Freedom of speech is precious since it is the sign and expression, normally, of freedom of thought. But freedom of speech is not precious in itself. Far less is it sacred. It is precious when it preserves other freedoms, a dangerous superstition when it destroys them. There is no freedom of speech in No Man's Land; none outside a hostile listening post, none in the presence of spies and traitors.
To pretend that there is no risk in curtailing free speech is, of course, blindness; but to argue that it must never be curtailed is madness. War is a balancing of risk against risk, of evil against evil. It is a state of emergency in which standards of liberty as well as standards of living must be related to the necessities of the hour. To claim that our tongues must be free, everywhere and at any time, is a fanatical loss of touch with reality.
The Outlook, official voice of the Presbyterian Church with its tradition of free speech, was in October 1939 in equally docile mood: restrictions of one kind and another were inevitable and would be borne in the knowledge that they were necessary. In censorship, the Church would submit to the law of the land, rendering unto Caesar what was Caesar's, and knowing that the government would not interfere with its fundamental doctrines. The Wanganui Chronicle on 9 February 1940 wrote that some people looked on censorship as something too grievous to be borne, but this attitude was entirely wrong, for the censor was a friend, knowing better than anyone else what was likely to be harmful and what not; seemingly innocent remarks might give an important clue to an interested person.
Early criticism was directed not at the local press censor, for whom there was some actual praise, but at the feebleness of overseas news and the silence of the Services. The peace so far from peaceful had been replaced by the war that was not warlike; much seemed dubious page 896 and the news media were doubted. The New Zealand Observer on 11 October 1939 commented that though censorship and propaganda were an essential part of modern war, the current wearisome repetition in the cable news was like playing football without knowing the score. The fault was not with the newspapers or censorship in New Zealand: ‘These Boys' Own Paper stories are apparently deemed suitable for Empire consumption by the British Ministry of Information … and the Daventry broadcasts have the same flavour.’ After five weeks, it was obvious that the surest way to make people lose interest in the war was to deprive them of authentic and credible information about it. The Southland Times on 28 February 1940 attributed the smooth functioning of newspaper censorship to the Director and Deputy Director of Publicity both being trained journalists and to the government's obvious sympathy for civil rather than military control. The Thames Star on 11 March 1940 said that the Director of Publicity did his best to assist newspapers, but was hampered and restricted by instructions from London. The Press on 8 March explained that the British Ministry of Information withheld from the Dominions some news published in Britain, an illogical restraint; British newspapers went by air to neutral countries such as Sweden, and thence to Germany, so that in German broadcasts New Zealanders might hear English news denied to them. Admittedly the suppressions were more irritating than important. In New Zealand, relations between the press and the local censorship had been happier than in other Dominions: the muddled announcement of the Anzac troops' arrival in Egypt, for which the Australian press had violently denounced its censors, created no stir in New Zealand. It could not be said, however, that the administrative problems of local censorship had yet been satisfactorily solved, or that decisions were always reasonable. Nor was it easy to understand the steps taken by some State departments to prevent information being divulged on such topics as the expansion of industry to meet war needs, which in Australia was set forth in detail. The Press also pointed out that there were in fact two local censors: the Director of Publicity and the military authorities. Between them, newspapers at times had difficulty in obtaining clear and authoritative rulings with a minimum of delay.
Halfway through 1940 the Auckland Star complained of the probably inevitable chafing between the Services and newsmen keen to tell what was going on in the war. Control was necessary and was accepted, said the Star, but some was not serving its purpose. page 897 For instance, damaging rumours about the Niagara were published in Australia36 because official news in New Zealand was:
dammed both at source and outlet. At the outlet stands the censor, who is reasonable, courteous and helpful. He is there to ensure that information which the newspapers obtain is not published if publication would be harmful…. If newspapers obtain the news, he will, if necessary, censor it. If they do not obtain the news— well, it isn't published unless some one, some time, chooses to make a statement. At the source of the news stand the Service Departments, which have little understanding of—and, in some instances, not the slightest regard for—what the public requires in the way of a full, fair and safe presentation of affairs. Their general policy is to say nothing, to discourage publication, and, if they can, prevent it. This negative policy is by some mistaken for strength.
Churchill had put the issue of official news in the real, not nominal, charge of a civilian authority, consulting with but not dominated by the Services, and similar charge was needed here.37
Truth, as usual, scolded everyone, especially the government. On 8 May 1940 it had complained that through timidity, lack of enterprise and government repression the press gave a ‘milk and watery acquiescence’ to every government defence measure, good, bad or indifferent; increasingly it was assumed that the war effort, the concern of every thinking person, was wholly the concern of the government and the defence machine, but if these authorities took the people more into their confidence there would be a more vigorous spirit. On 18 December, claiming that in Britain during the raids a ‘soporific censorship’ had persuaded many, including Americans, that Britain was doing very nicely and there was no need to worry, Truth urged again that the people of New Zealand should be taken into the government's confidence; like the British, they could take hard facts, and they needed wakening to effort. Further complaints against ‘schoolmarmish war censorship’ appeared on 30 December.38
Till the end of 1940 it could be said that the press and the Director of Publicity, helped by the novelty of the war, got along page 898 fairly amicably, restiveness being mainly against the British Ministry of Information and, even more, against the silence of the Services. But as time passed with warning restrictions gradually mounting, irritation was predictable. Events early in 1941 led the Director of Publicity into censoring not for direct security reasons, but from belief that criticism of the government would hurt the war effort by endangering public morale. This caused newspapers to remember actively their allegiance to the National party. Sidney Holland strongly supported by F. W. Doidge entered the scene as champions of free speech and freedom of the press.
The first incident in which it was held that the censor exceeded his proper powers in order to shield members of the government from embarrassment came out of a communist subversion trial in the much-venerated Supreme Court. On Thursday 13 February 1941, H. A. Ostler and T. B. Christie were on trial in Christchurch for publishing or attempting to publish a subversive statement, the underground People's Voice. Ostler, son of Sir Hubert Ostler, Judge of the Supreme Court, declared that while the prosecution was pending, the Solicitor-General, H. H. Cornish,39 had taken him to dinner and suggested that it could be arranged for him to enter the Army, and that if he did so the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General were willing to drop the prosecution, though this would not be easy; no such accommodation was offered for Christie, his partner in crime.
The Director of Publicity, as he later explained, when faced at 2 pm with this disturbing revelation ‘decided within three minutes’ to postpone publication of that part of the proceedings until an ‘explanation and refutation’ could be published with it. Immediately instructions were given: ‘Ostler's statement in Supreme Court concerning Solicitor-General's alleged interview must not be published. Will release Ostler's statement together with Solicitor-General's reply when case resumed on Monday’. Paul added: ‘No other person had either a direct or indirect voice in the postponement of publication, and my first discussion with the Prime Minister regarding that decision did not take place till some hours after it had been made.’40
The two men were convicted but not sentenced on 13 February, reappearing in court on Monday 17th, when a statement from the Solicitor-General was read. Cornish explained that as a family friend page 899 and a former headmaster of the school where young Ostler had made a promising start, he had, entirely on his own responsibility, met him for ‘a friendly talk’, hoping to induce him to break from subversive associations. He had advised that it would be both right and wise to join the Army, which would show repudiation of any disloyal intention, and which the Court might properly take into consideration. He firmly denied that he had or had claimed any authority from the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General to offer privileged treatment. This was published in the papers of 17–18 February, alongside Ostler's statement, without any explanation of the delay.41
The Otago Daily Times on 18 February was the first paper to make critical comment. Apart from the Solicitor-General's indiscretion, there was another circumstance in this deplorable episode to which public attention must be directed. Ostler's statement was made in court on Thursday; a telegraphic report was circulated by the Press Association during Thursday evening and in the ordinary course would have appeared in the press next morning.
It did not appear because at a late hour the Director of Publicity communicated with the newspapers prohibiting publication until Monday when Mr Cornish's explanation of his interview with Ostler would be available. In view of the extraordinary powers vested in the government, and in this officer, whose communications emanate from the Prime Minister's office, publication of the message was withheld by us on Thursday evening. We do not, however, admit that any obligation rested on us to comply with the demand of the Director of Publicity. This official is empowered under the Censorship and Publicity Regulations 1939 to administer these regulations to the extent of controlling the publication of statements that may be broadly defined as tending to imperil the public safety during this time of war. Only through an excess of zeal could he extend his authority to a supervision over the publication of reports of proceedings in the Supreme Court, even though the names of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General might be mentioned in them.42
At Napier on 20 February, W. J. Broadfoot MP was the next to draw attention to the postponement. ‘A full account of the prosecution of Ostler was given in the Press but not of the defence, and that I say is wrong…. Ostler's defence was suppressed, and that is page 900 wrong. I am sure that the Press did not do it but that it was suppressed by someone else.’43
The Standard of 27 February, under the heading ‘Censorship— But Not Suppression’ called this an ‘unfair inference’, and printed Paul's statement, already cited, on how the postponement came to be made. In this Paul said:
One of my responsibilities is to prevent the impairment of public morale, to discourage the publication of anything calculated to destroy confidence in the integrity of responsible officers or those charged with the effective prosecution of the war effort in New Zealand. But above all, it is imperative that public confidence should not without cause be shaken in the administration of justice as affecting the war effort, and the War Regulations are designed to maintain that confidence. If it could be proved that a Judge's son could obtain any sort of preferential treatment in comparison with the son of any other citizen then that would be detrimental to the nation's war effort; but a statement by any person, especially when not made on oath, is not proof.
In my position of grave responsibility I am not concerned with persons, politics or parties, but I must endeavour to preserve the public morale….
There was never any intention or desire to suppress one word of the Press reports regarding the proceedings and no suppression was made. I believed that it was fair to the people of this country that with the publication of Ostler's allegations, a statement from the Solicitor-General should appear.
Speaking generally, added Paul, if both sides of any question could be given simultaneously, there would be no excuse for unsound judgment. He stressed that the postponement was his decision alone, and threw in that it was part of Hitler's technique to divide nations under attack, while part of his own responsibility was to prevent division.44
The day before the Standard appeared, papers had published a letter from the Prime Minister to the Solicitor-General, inquiring sharply whether Ostler's statements were correct, in whole or in part; he wanted a ‘full and explicit statement regarding anything and everything that may have transpired between you and Mr Ostler having bearing on the case’; this matter, affecting the administration of law and the integrity of the government and its officers, was most serious, calling for ‘most searching and urgent examination’. Cornishs reply, published alongside, was dated 20 February, and merely page 901 enclosed the statement already uttered in court, adding that he now realised it had been indiscreet of him to interview Ostler at all, and his chief regret was that ‘as a result of what I did Ostler was able to make a statement that I had the authority of yourself and the Attorney-General to discuss the matter with him.’45
During the next week, both Christchurch papers said that the suspension of Supreme Court reporting had provoked much comment and criticism. The Star–Sun was relieved that Paul had acted on his own, though he had established a very dangerous precedent, which should never be followed.46 The Press said that Paul's action was legal but queried whether it was just and wise. His statements showed a dangerous view of his functions. Over a long period a censor could do little to ‘prevent the impairment of the public morale’, though he could damage it by weakening faith in the full ness and reliability of available news and, by the suppression of accurate information, encouraging rumours. The public did not need a censor to shield it from disagreeable truth or bolster up confidence in administration and political leaders. Confidence would be better maintained by knowing that evidence of muddling and incompet ence was not being withheld, while faith in the administration of justice was not strengthened by awareness that the censor had inter fered with the publication of judicial proceedings.47
While the Ostler case was simmering, newspaper men met at Rotorua in annual conference from which emerged varying opinions on current censorship. Paul claimed that the ‘overwhelming opinion’ of the New Zealand Newspaper Proprietors' Association was that his action over Ostler was justified in the circumstances.48 Of Paul's regime in general, the president of the Association later said, ‘It would be expecting too much to suggest that there was complete agreement on all the issues raised, but it was freely conceded that Mr Paul was carrying out a difficult task with the minimum of inconvenience to the newspapers and that his practical knowledge of newspaper production and his helpful attitude at all times had assisted to promote an admirable spirit of co-operation between the Censorship Department and the newspapers.’49page 902
Sir Henry Horton,50 chairman of the New Zealand branch of the Empire Association, voiced criticisms that were to be repeated during the next few years. Mistakes and inconsistencies, he said, were certain to occur, as censors were necessarily inexperienced, but they should therefore be responsive to improving suggestions. Though there had been no formal proposal to restrict further the independence of news papers, there was within the official censorship ‘an increasing tend ency to suppress information which cannot have any military importance’. More serious was the unofficial censorship, the with holding of information by persons and institutions on the excuse that its publication might affect the conduct of the war or disturb the public mind. Such withholding to prevent criticism of the administration in any area could not be defended, and newspapers should protest strongly ‘whenever they find that the powers vested in the official censorship are being usurped by persons or services having no authority to restrict the freedom of the Press.’51
More censorship tension was soon produced by a strike in the Hutt Valley at the Woburn railway workshops, which were now doing some munitions work. They required four extra hours from some workers on Saturday mornings. This was on a voluntary basis and at ordinary pay rates, as it was established Railways practice that the first four hours of such work was at normal rates, whereas since 1936 in private industry all work beyond 40 hours was at time-and-a-half, or more.
The Wellington branch of the Railway Tradesmen's Association, seeking to have this anomaly adjusted, interviewed the Minister of Railways, Sullivan, on 14 November 1940. On 14 February 1941 a letter signed by Semple, Minister of Railways since 21 January, refused extra pay for Saturday morning work while promising to require as little of it as possible, consistent with the war effort.52 At Woburn, where 1600 men were employed, a meeting on Thursday 6 March decided that unless overtime payments were granted forth with, Saturday morning work would be declined. Management on Friday afternoon told nearly 300 men to report next morning or face suspension. They refused, and Semple ordered their suspension, declaring that he would not tolerate direct action; these men, who had not acted through the national executive of the railway unions, were disloyal both to their unions and to the government; there page 903 could be only one government in the country.53 On Monday 10 March, when 280 men were turned away from their machines, their fellow workers left the shops, saying that the Minister had taken an uncompromising attitude and that they had no alternative to accepting his challenge.54 When police and management stopped union officials from addressing the night shift, the night men also joined the strike.55
Newspapers greeted the affair with detailed reports and disapproving editorials. In general, they were not concerned with the rights or wrongs of the strike; these were outweighed by the wartime needs of a vital industry where a new spirit and discipline must keep work moving while anomalies and grievances were ‘left in the hands of those appointed for that purpose.’56 The denunciations of the New Zealand Herald, for instance, were not half-hearted:
This appalling dereliction of duty in face of the supreme crisis57 leaves the whole country aghast….Whatever the point at issue at Woburn… it pales into insignificance beside the country's plain need…. The dispute can be settled while the work goes on…. The Minister and the Government can do no other than take up this challenge to their authority and this Mr Semple intends to do. Meanwhile the shops stand idle and munitions output has ceased because of the precipitate, irresponsible and undisciplined action of workers who subordinate all else to their demand to profit out of the war emergency.58
The Auckland Star held that people should appreciate the real nature and importance of the matters involved. Condemnation of direct action, the natural and justifiable reaction of many, should not obscure the larger issues. On various occasions since the start of the war, workers had been led to expect continuance of the 40-hour week. The war effort demanded Saturday work, and if normal rates were paid for it war production would undoubtedly benefit, but the change must apply to all workers, not just a section of them. Immediate redress of all grievances was the democratic right of workers, and assured of that they should go on working while their case was being heard, in a sense of co-operation and liberty; but, in war, page 904 discipline was even more necessary than liberty, and if self-discipline were lacking it must be imposed. ‘The united, disciplined and solid nation is the one that wins wars.’59
The Otago Daily Times reminded that in Germany and Britain 10 to 12 hours were worked daily, six days a week, but in New Zealand a series of stoppages over hours and wages had climaxed in the refusal of railway workers to exceed 40 hours a week on war equipment. Government had refused to be cajoled into paying overtime rates on Saturday; the men, defying previous agreements and the advice of union executives, had struck, and Semple, roused by their flagrant refusal, had declared there could be but one government. ‘If the new Minister of Railways is as good as his word, the public may expect that he will seize the opportunity to indicate… once and for all that his mandates are to be obeyed.’ The men must go back to work immediately on the previous conditions. The government had the power to deal decisively with this challenge, a challenge to the basis of democracy, by asserting its authority with compromise or loss of time.60
However, besides the lofty editorials, the papers were printing statements from Ministers and the men about past negotiations.61 Other railway branches and other unions were beginning to consider the strike, Wellington carpenters for instance sending fraternal greetings and a donation.62 On 12 March, on the instructions of the Prime Minister, the Director of Publicity telegraphed his editors: ‘From this date the publication of all resolutions, reports of meetings, statements in support, or any information relating to the railway strike cannot be published [sic] without permission.’63
Editorials, however, could continue, and on 13 March both the Press and the Dominion took similar lines, dwelling on the 40-hour week anomaly. The Press said that the government had so far dealt wisely and firmly with the dispute, refusing to discuss the men's grievances while they were on strike.64 The government must make clear its determination to prevent strikes and lockouts. But the Woburn men in hours of work and payment for overtime were substantially worse off than employees in private industry, where since 1936 legislation had established a 40-hour week. The government should rationalise its position. By requiring the workshops to exceed 40 hours, the government was admitting that the 40-hour page 905 week was a bar to industrial efficiency. How could it justify maintaining it in private industry?65 The Dominion pointed to the embarrassing contradiction of the Labour Department having recently refused to allow volunteers in a private firm to work for ordinary rates on Saturday,66 and on the same day the Newspapers Proprietors' Association warned the Prime Minister that many complaints were coming in; Holland said that he would move for discussion in the House; Fraser replied that this would be off the air and out of the press. On the argument that discussion in Parliament might prejudice settlement of the strike, Holland agreed to postpone the debate,67 which took place a week later on 19 March.
Behind the scenes, the national executives of both railway unions— the Associated Society of Railway Servants and the Railway Tradesmens Association—passed resolutions regretting any unconstitutional action by unionists and asking for the reinstatement of all suspended men and others on the basis prior to the stoppages, ‘with the assurance of the Minister that negotiations re overtime rate for Saturday work be instituted immediately.’68 The government accepted the regrets and agreed that the men should be reinstated on pre-strike conditions, provided that they were back on duty on or before Monday 17 March. On the 14th, at a mass meeting of 1200 to which the press was not admitted though the results were published, this was accepted with only eight dissenting. The combined Hutt Committee later put out a leaflet condemning the executives for working against the Hutt men's interests.69 The national executives opposed the Hutt's striking on a national issue without their advice, fearing that it would prejudice negotiations. The result was total victory for the government: not till 30 August 1943 did railway workers obtain time-and-a-half rates for Saturday work after 40 hours during the preceding five days.70
City editors forbore immediate comment, save for the Otago Daily Times, Paul's former employer and somewhat restive under his new authority, which on 15 March worked in the first hint that censorship had been exercised: ‘Brief as, from a circumstance over which we have no control, the information is that we are now, and have, in the past day or two, been able to give the public concerning this unfortunate incident, it is sufficient to indicate, that the men concerned have retired with the best grace possible from a position that page 906 was wholly untenable.’ Important questions were still to be clarified, primarily the 40-hour week, the government's own creation, to which it was now showing inconsistency. Three days later this paper led firmly into the censorship issue, quoting Roosevelt's dictum that without freedom of the press democracy could not be maintained, and the recent statement of a British Home Security official that free speech and criticism were, in democratic government, a spur to action. The free press of New Zealand had never been seriously challenged, and no such challenge, however tentative, could be allowed without remark. ‘In recent months, almost unknown to the public, which is the real custodian of democratic rights, the press of this Dominion has submitted to certain restriction upon its publication of news’, most accepted willingly, some self-imposed. As Churchill said, in war some ancient liberties must be placed in pawn, news or views which might assist the enemy could not be printed. But in a democracy censorship must be applied with scrupulous respect for the rights of the press and the public; several edicts from the Prime Minister's office had arbitrarily delayed or forbidden news of merely domestic affairs, and though so far the restraints had been minor, the principle infringed was of the highest consequence.71
On 19 March Holland, who was renewing his party's demand for a national government, read out the order which had silenced the strikers' side of the news and deprived the public of its right to be fully informed on all public questions, not least the vital question of the 40-hour week. Although the country was at war, it was necessary to ensure that New Zealand's government, in its desire for efficiency, did not fall into Nazi ways. He asked for assurance that the regulations would not be so used again.72
This Fraser stoutly refused. He had saved a vital industry from communist subversion and the newspapers from being, unwittingly, the vehicle of communist propaganda, and he was ‘unrepentant’. ‘I think I did the right thing and I will do it again on every occasion when the necessity arises’; but the regulations would, he stated, be dispensed with as soon as possible after the war.73page 907
The debate was widely and fully reported, being continued next day by Doidge, who declared that while the Woburn men were wrong to strike they were entitled, right or wrong, to be heard, and that if this case, plus that of Ostler, were established as precedents, the newspapers of New Zealand were in the grip of a political Gestapo.74
The debate was the signal for a salvo of city editorials. Leading in mildness, the Dunedin Evening Star accepted that the ‘drastic’ instruction had been induced by the need to settle the dispute as quickly as possible, and if it had been ‘differently worded to refer only to motions encouraging the strikers, which we understand to have been the sole object of prohibition, there would have been no need of criticism.’75 The Evening Post merely noted with satisfaction that the censorship regulations, unlike other State-socialistic changes, would be withdrawn at the end of the war.76 The Dominion said that the public now had a better idea of the government's policy of extending censorship to domestic affairs not directly related to the war, reserving the right to stop any information which in the opinion of the censor would ‘endanger public safety through condonation, approval or anything that would tend to cause a spread of difficulties.’ This description from the Prime Minister's speech covered a very wide field. The real issue was the definition, in particular cases, of what constituted subversive propaganda, on which the regulations gave the censor overriding authority. The press must bow to his decree if he decided that it would be better for the public's morale to withhold disturbing domestic information than to give that information and encourage morale to take strength from adversity.77
The Otago Daily Times was pleased that, thanks to Holland, censorship had come into open discussion. What had the government to fear from submitting the facts of an illegal strike to the public? The answer that the government was not going to have a word published that might be a danger to the war effort was specious pleading. The strike doubtless did affect the war effort, but it was not a strike against the war effort in any deliberate sense; it was a protest against the government's abandonment of the ‘precious 40- hour week’, in essence a domestic and party issue. The public would be wise to exercise the closest surveillance of censorship, as much for its methods as for its intentions.78
The Otago Daily Times also printed, on 22 March, an article derived from a circular put out by Harold Silverstone, editor of the Industrial Worker, which he called an independent and objective weekly newspaper devoted to trade unionism. He was, wrote Silverstone, not allowed to publish one word of a day-by-day account of 10–13 March which he had submitted to Paul. Later, a report of the meeting at which the dispute was settled ‘was slashed until page 908 it was not only unrecognisable but actually false.’ Silverstone resigned from his editorship to produce this cydostyled letter, which by indicating the extent of censorship itself contravened the regulations, and declared that he would welcome prosecution.79 There was none.
Under the heading ‘Muzzling the Press’ the Auckland Star listed the Prime Minister's offences: he had invoked the regulations to censor news of the strike, he had threatened to prevent the reporting and broadcasting of Opposition comment until the strike was settled, and he was ‘quite unrepentant’, though democratic people must feel grave disquiet at their Prime Minister ‘referring derisively to the “specious plea of the freedom of the Press”.’ Fraser's case, said the Star, was that Communists were intent on prolonging and spreading the strike, and that communist-inspired resolutions were being published in the newspapers; he therefore imposed the censorship, the strike ended and, therefore again, the censorship was justified. He had claimed that 99 per cent of the strikers were normally patriotic men, misled by a malign subversive communist element. But all were back at work, including the Communists, the war regulations having been used not against Communists but against the press. Labour supporters should note that trade unions were prevented from explaining their grievances to the public. Censorship was exerted not merely on communist-inspired resolutions but also on any information about the strike. In practice, the news permitted was government propaganda. Such an abuse of power was consistently applied in Germany, Russia and Italy; ‘It has not happened consistently in New Zealand; there have been one or two minor abuses, and this major one.’80
The Press stressed that newspapers were forbidden to indicate that any censorship had been exercised and was disturbed that the Prime Minister seemed jocularly unaware that he should explain riding roughshod over the freedom of the press, the privileges of Parliament and the elementary right of citizens in a democracy to be kept reliably informed on the policy and actions of their government. The forgoing of small items of news, Fraser had said, was a small matter compared with the possibility of newspapers being used unwittingly to foment trouble and turmoil in the country. Newspapers, said the Press, did not mind forgoing important items of news for diplomatic page 909 and military reasons; they minded being deprived of the right to be fair and impartial.81
The New Zealand Herald, which at the outset had so vigorously rebuked the strikers, repeated that the press fully accepted military censorship, proving its discretion by the absence of any serious breach in 18 months of war. ‘It is the abuse of the censorship for party political ends that is condemned.’ The previous week the workers had been gagged, yet the point at issue, the 40-hour week, was of the widest public interest, and how should the public decide unless both sides were stated? Incitements such as reports of meetings or statements supporting the strike were justifiably silenced, but that no information was to be published without permission was an ‘unconscionable proceeding’, plain suppression, more likely to breed suspicion than unity. The Herald added that there had been other cases of political censorship, ‘the most glaring’ being the four-day suppression of Ostler's statement in the Supreme Court where only the Judge should have such power. ‘The Prime Minister should recognise an error that is, in fact, an offence’, and give the assurance for which the Opposition asked—that there would be no repetition, no further falling into Nazi methods.82
Two days later the Herald considered the legal freedom of the press in British countries. Unlike in America, where by the 1789 Bill of Rights freedom of speech and of the press could not be abridged by Congress, in Britain Parliament was supreme, restrained only by public opinion, drawing on tradition. Lord Justice Mansfield83 had said in 1784: ‘The liberty of the press consists in publishing without licence, subject to the consequences of the law’, and this reference to licence stemmed back to the system attacked by Milton in Areopagitica. While there was no legal barrier to censorship, the whole idea was repugnant to British law. In war it was accepted concerning anything that might aid the enemy or injure the nation's war effort, but it was vitally important that these should not be so generously interpreted as to ban what would be merely inconvenient for the authorities to have known. War in defence of liberty should not become the vehicle for needlessly suppressing liberty: eternal vigilance was still the price; all should be alert to guard against unnecessary inroads.84
Several papers linked this episode with the Ostler case. The Star– Sun recalled the latter as an utterly unwarranted interference with domestic news, an error of judgment by the Director of Publicity which had precisely the opposite effect to that intended. The Prime Minister had used the regulations to prevent the strike spreading; no one who knew anything of labour organisations imagined for a moment that such use had any influence on the course of the dispute, but Fraser had prevented public discussion of some aspects of the strike and stifled public criticism.87 A few days later the Star–Sun observed, fairly enough, that in the past week or two a good deal of nonsense had been talked about censorship and the liberty of the press but the important principle, stated over and over again, was that the total freedom enjoyed by a country was measured by the freedom of its press. It was radically unsound to apply censorship to domestic matters; its recent such use was unnecessary, showed page 911 official ignorance of elementary principles and created a dangerous precedent.88
Censorship in the Woburn strike was a political football. Possibly because the Opposition and the press were usually so much against strikes and the 40-hour week, and as the papers had opened fire so hotly, Fraser felt that in the heightening war tension quick and salutary smothering of the dispute could be achieved through censorship, hoping for tolerance, even approval, from the strikers' traditional foes. A note in J. H. Hall's handwriting, dated 29 March 1941, pointed out that in this totalitarian war, where every phase of the nation's life, social, economic and moral, was subject to attack, the term ‘military’ must have much wider application than it had had in 1914–18.89
But censorship provided Holland, in the flush of new leadership, with an opportunity to attack the government in the name of democracy, freedom of the press and the right of trade unionists to be heard. Political warfare, especially to a politician in opposition, was an entrenched habit, while the other war, however many words were spent on it, was not yet a reality. The newspapers, already slightly chafed by Paul's cautions, were happy to chastise the old enemy, Labour, for a new offence.
The opportunism of the press and the National party was proved by later events. When unrepentant Fraser applied similar press strictures in later strikes, there was no such outcry. There was no protest when on 17 March 1942 an order forbad publication without prior approval of news of the Westfield freezing workers' strike.90 Similarly, on 15 October 1942 Sullivan, justifying the use of censorship to maintain essential supplies, read out to the House as an example of proper censorship an order issued on 15 September early in the Waikato coal strike: ‘To assist in localizing the serious coal dislocation and ensure speediest possible return to full production assistance of press is necessary to prevent extension of trouble. There must be no publication of reports of meetings resolutions or statements in support of the unlawful strike or of any statement supporting or condemning the strikers without reference to the Director of Publicity.’91 Though more tactful, less peremptory, this order was not in substance much different from that which had caused such furore page 912 18 months earlier.92 No member of Parliament or editor was concerned about trade unionists' right to be heard, or the public's right to full information.
This acceptance of strike-silencing in 1942 might well seem a measure of the deepening force of the war, and doubtless this was part of it. But in 1951, in the waterfront strike, Holland was to apply censorship quite as firmly as had Fraser in war time.
Ironically, German propagandists were able to make prompt use of Holland's censures, broadcast in Parliament. Breslau, on 22 March, in English for England, announced:
Mr. Sydney Holland, Leader of the Opposition in the New Zealand Parliament, stated on Friday that the Government had introduced a very strict censorship. The Censor had been instructed to ban all news concerning strikes in New Zealand armament works and to prevent newspapers from criticising the Government. Mr. Fraser, the New Zealand Prime Minister, said that if he had known Mr. Holland had meant to allude to the strike in armament works he would have prevented this debate in Parliament. Great Britains alleged struggle for liberty and freedom has throughout the Empire become the sepulchre of tradition, right and privilege of Britons.
On the same day Germans were told: ‘A New Zealand member of Parliament tried to criticise the British War Censorship. He objected to the press being forbidden to criticise members of New Zealand Government. This imprudent M.P. was told by Prime Minister Fraser that it was not for Parliament to formulate policy: that was the business of the Government which was appointed by the London Government.’93
The Labour government was with reason long and deeply aware of the antagonism and power of the press. ‘We never had a fair go from the papers’, was a plaint uttered often by Savage. Labour had come to office against all the weight of press influence, which continually dragged against most of its actions, for instance in 1941 strenuously supporting doctors in their hostility to the medical benefits of Social Security. The war had killed plans for a Labour daily, and the government's use of the new medium, radio, to explain its purposes and tell of its achievements was not an over-happy substitute, its national service talks being too often unskilful, dull and too obviously propaganda. Parliamentary broadcasts were Labour's main line to the minds of people and here, from time to time, page 913 Labour men revealed their exasperation and anxiety over the persistent opposition of the press.
Thus A. F. Moncur, in the crisis of June 1940, asked the city newspapers, ‘the greatest controlling factor in making for the calmness of the people today’, to cancel for the moment their political inclinations. Labour, he said, had known for years that the metropolitan press ‘stands first, last, and all the time for vested interests’, whereas Labour stood for the masses; he complained that ministerial statements handed to the press had portions left out or were printed in obscure places.94
Another member, J. W. Munro,95 on 29 July 1941, claimed that Labour had passed its highly Christian Social Security Act with the dogs of vested interest yapping at its heels. ‘Never forget that the newspapers are owned by vested interests, and are their watchdogs.’96 At about the same time H. G. R. Mason complained that the Oppositions friends in the press concealed and suppressed Labour statements: a ‘splendid speech’ by the Minister of Agriculture was buried under a small heading in the middle of a page.97 Chief Whip James O'Brien, irked by the space given to Opposition utterances, carried resentment further, advocating that every newspaper should be licensed, and when one worked against the interests of the country and the people, or criticised the government unfairly, the licence should be cancelled. He evaded saying who should judge the issue, adding that Seddon98 in his time had fought every newspaper in the country.99 The Evening Post, linking O' Brien's proposal with vague warnings in the Standard against Labour-suppressing reportage, saw a serious threat of totalitarianism,100 as did the Wanganui Herald on 4 August; but there was no widespread alarm.
In March 1944 James Thorn was to declare that freedom of the press meant that a few capitalists started a paper and their employees wrote to prop up their system, vilifying Labour and praising Tories; such freedom was licence to corrupt and poison the minds of the people and, despite the censorship complained of, newspapers had campaigned against the government throughout the war.101 Fraser himself in August 1944 said heatedly that the press was controlled page 914 by landowners and the rich, who in effect told the leaderwriters what to write, ‘and, if they do not write it, out they go’; the real censorship was by editors, not by the government censor.102
One of the clearest statements came from Paul commenting on criticism of his functions by the Press of 3 June 1941: ‘It is unfortunately necessary in almost every instance where criticism of a war activity occurs to remember that a definite bias—unconscious or otherwise—obtrudes against the Government. While the Press as a whole is favourable to the war effort, it holds in the main that the success of that effort depends in large measure on the destruction of the Government. If not that, then destruction of the principles on which the Government exists.’103
The government, then, was resentful of newspapers, knowing that praise from them would be grudging, criticism prompt and plentiful; the newspapers' basic attitude was that the war required a British-style coalition, and that only with National party talents in Cabinet and Labour's domestic programme set aside for the duration would there be the unity needed for a real war effort. Newspapers were irked to have Paul, a life-long Labour man, holding final authority on what could and could not be published, in areas of public morale and welfare largely determined by himself. They were ready, as the months passed, to criticise his shortcomings both in censorship and publicity.
Reverses in Greece and Crete in April and May 1941 shook confidence in the conduct of the war. As mentioned elsewhere,104 Fraser took steps through Freyberg to ensure that the New Zealand Division would not again be launched on adventures without due air and armour support, but this of course was not known by the public. In the House of Commons these campaigns were criticised openly, extracts reaching New Zealand; here, however, Parliament's talk on Greece and Crete was, as usual when military matters were discussed, in secret session.
Before that debate began, on 11 June 1941, Holland stated that 90 to 95 per cent of the information given in secret sessions could have been given openly.105 Nash, as Acting Prime Minister, claimed that nothing had been withheld except what would have been advantageous to the enemy, that absence of wrangling in Parliament on the war situation did not mean that people were not informed. Such wrangling helped the enemy. Even things quite innocent in page 915 themselves, said in the House, had been so used, twisted very cleverly by Dr Goebbels to create an impression in such places as Spain, Italy, Sweden, Holland and Denmark that the British Commonwealth was disintegrating, whereas an argument in the House of Commons would not give this impression.106
Greece and Crete sharpened another censorship problem. Very early in the war, editors had been warned to take great care in publishing letters from servicemen overseas. The Director himself had been advised by the staff officer in charge of publicity with 2NZEF to be very cautious over interviews with returned men, as some were not in normal health and a few were not desirable citizens.107 Accordingly, in September 1940 Paul asked newspapers to submit such interviews to him before publication.
On 10 July 1941, when a hospital ship brought a large number home from the fighting, Paul telegraphed editors tightening this instruction. Subsequently he deleted several references, for instance to prisoners and to the Greek Army, that would have been harmful to the Allied cause. Similar restrictions were placed on letters from prisoners-of-war.108 In handling statements from disgruntled soldiers, as in other matters, Paul ‘endeavoured to induce editors to adopt the principle that together with every published charge made by soldier or civilian affecting the war effort there should appear an explanation, whether that explanation contained a complete rebuttal of the charge or an admission that it rested on a sound or reasonable foundation.’109
As the war worsened, a growing question was whether criticisms of equipment, manpower, training, etc, should be published as a spur to greater effort and better administration, or should be silenced as damaging to the country's morale, let alone any help or encouragement they might give to the enemy. The government inclined to the latter view. New Zealand's war effort was the war effort of the New Zealand Labour government; it was only half a side-step in the mind for attacks on Labour's administration to become attacks damaging to the war effort itself, and therefore censorable.
‘Blanket’ prohibitions, which might cover wide topics indefinitely, kept precision well away from comments on defence. As an instance: on 9 May 1941 the Director of Publicity told editors that on 29 April some newspapers had reported, from military sources, a shortage of 2000 men in the Northern Territorial forces, and another page 916 quoted the Dominion commander of the Home Guard telling Guardsmen at Waipawa that there were no rifles for them. Such news should not be given to the enemy, potential or otherwise; therefore, there should be no published reference, direct or indirect, to any shortage of manpower or war materials in New Zealand, without authority from his office.110 A similar restriction on news of war production had been imposed in April.111
This covering type of prohibition drew complaint from Sir Cecil Leys,112 chairman of New Zealand Newspapers Ltd.113 On 21 May he recalled saying at the last annual meeting that it was the duty of the press, besides stimulating effort and maintaining morale, to ventilate abuses and bring slackness to light. These purposes were hampered by a ‘timid censorship which has become unnecessarily restrictive. “Blanket” orders prohibiting the publication of this or that class of information, much of which should rightly be in the hands of the public, are being issued in increasing numbers until there is scarcely an item of war news which can be published without reference to the censor. No New Zealand newspaper would publish matter which would give information to the enemy not already in his possession or available to him from a dozen sources’,114 while keeping back essential facts was a grave disservice to New Zealanders. One result was an erroneous impression of preparedness. The people had no idea of the true state of home defences, or of the need for urgent preparation against an emergency that might arise at any moment. ‘The easy belief that all we need do is to carry on … as if conditions were normal is thus fostered, and the enthusiasm of the many thousands who were never foolish enough to hold this belief but were ready to do their utmost to put the country in a state of preparedness is … not being maintained. It could be rekindled by a vigorous campaign in which the real facts were stated, but these must not be told—they would be giving information to the enemy. Such a policy is utterly wrong.’ The Censorship system was basically at fault, giving to one man a monopoly of judgment, without any appeal. He should have the help of experts outside the forces, whose invariable reaction was that as little as possible on page 917 anything should be published. ‘No man, however able, painstaking and industrious, should be expected to exercise such wide powers.’ The government should urgently recast its censorship policy, to require that before reference to a subject without prior approval was banned, a ‘limited body of men qualified to judge and advise upon the long-term results of such restrictions be consulted.’115
This speech was widely and prominently reported, but it was not followed by the approving general chorus that would salute later criticisms of censorship. The Otago Daily Times, however, commented on 24 May that the Director of Publicity had unquestionable control over all publication; his prohibitions extended much more widely than most people knew; there appeared to be no dividing line between military and political significance, and items of news more likely to stimulate than to retard the war effort had been suppressed. The Timaru Herald on 22 May said that for practical purposes the Director's powers were unlimited, and he had been set an impossible task which no other government had entrusted to one man. Unexpected endorsement came from the Labour-minded Grey River Argus, which stated bluntly that though Sir Cecil Leys was no friend of the workers he should be heard on this issue. Censorship had spread a mental blackout over New Zealand, rivalling the literal blackout of coastal towns and drawing protest from many quarters. Labour's censorship was harsher than that of Tory-dominated Britain, its operators refusing to ‘accept the commonsense principle that what is good enough, and safe enough, for the minds of the British people (… virtually in the firing line) should, without question, be considered good enough and safe enough for us.’ Did ‘these people’ really believe that New Zealanders could not be trusted with the truth, that national unity and effort would be jeopardised by frank, informed discussions on the war situation? Did they believe that all must be kept on a proper course by a carefully selected diet of sunshine items of news and sunshine expressions of views? The Argus agreed with Sir Cecil Leys that the existing censorship should be tempered by consultative experts; indeed it went further, suggesting that the present organisation should be replaced by a more democratic one, representative of the mentality and requirements of New Zealanders.116
At about the same time, on 29 May 1941, Nash himself, opening an RSA conference, evoked further criticism of government leadership and war publicity by saying that not five per cent of New Zealanders understood the seriousness of the war situation. The RSA page 918 proposed a Ministry of Information and regretted that Ministers used the radio to make important defence policy statements.117 The Otago Daily Times pointed out that to keep people informed of events and their obligations the radio was no substitute for the press: within minutes the spoken word became hearsay, passed on inaccurately, facts distorted into error and statement into rumour. ‘Newspaper print provides the most reliable and assimilable medium for placing before the public, in the first instance, facts which have to be faced.’118
While some papers attributed national complacency to the government's carry-on-as-usual attitude,119 the Press said firmly that the responsibility for this lay with the Censorship and Publicity Branch of the Prime Minister's Department. Manifestly this organisation had failed, partly because of the national tendency to take things as they came and not worry overmuch about the future, but partly from weakness of policy, method and personnel. The Director of Publicity, who was also the chief press censor, had been appointed without any understanding of the magnitude of the task of publicising the war effort, and he had done about as much as could be expected with his staff which, apart from typists, ‘seems to consist of two men, one of whom is a journalist’. This meagre organisation, unhappily combining both censorship and publicity, had an almost negative attitude. As ‘keeping up the public morale’ had meant for the most part suppressing or glossing over unfavourable news, discouraging free and informed discussion of the war effort and covering up deficiencies in the country's military resources, it was not surprising that the public was over-complacent. The Economic Stabilisation Conference had urged that more attention be given to publicising the war effort. Publicity needed experts such as those who for the Centennial had produced in the pictorial pamphlets Making New Zealand some of the best official publicity seen in this or in any country; similar pamphlets could have helped to bring home wartime realities.120
Press complaints against politically protective censorship flared again when on 6 August 1941 Doidge gave notice in the House of a question suggesting inadequate rifle training. The Speaker, as he was empowered and expected to do for security reasons, cut him off the air, while Paul, in the interests of public morale, silenced the question in the newspapers until a ministerial answer could be given alongside. Nash, stressing that the Director of Publicity was an page 919 independent authority, said that he had full power for such decision, which no one could break.121 A month earlier in Australia, when the censor had attempted to cut criticism of AIF equipment in Greece from the reports of a debate, Prime Minister Menzies, calling this a ‘grievous error’, had said that censorship should not be used to stifle criticism.122 The New Zealand press was not slow to note the difference and to point out that between suppression to shield government from criticism and suppression for the sake of public morale the line was very thin.123
As mentioned earlier,124 the entry of Russia created new censorship and publicity problems. Directions from the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs that hopes of effective resistance by Russia should not be raised and that Russia should not be spoken of as an ally but as another country attacked by Hitler did not have much effect. Although circulated to newspapers, they were overwhelmed by Churchill's ‘Any man or State who fights against Nazidom will have our aid.’ There was, however, little risk of New Zealand newspapers being over-enthusiastic about Russia (until its resistance became heroic) and Roman Catholic papers were hostile to any association with godless, materialist Russia.
At about this time, censorship was exercised over an outbreak of intense anti-Catholicism in the Nation, organ of the Orange Lodges. The printers, unwilling to get into trouble for a trade job, showed some extreme samples125 to the Director of Publicity, who vetoed them, but others were printed of which he did not approve, while the police received an anonymous letter complaining that the Nation was offensive to Catholics. In July, after stopping on the machines an article complaining of the complaints, the Director warned editor and printers that portions were subversive, tending to divide the community; thereafter suppression was not found necessary.126page 920
The Paul Papers record a telephone conversation between Paul and the Rev P. T. B. McKeefry127 on 29 September 1941, which is quoted in full to show something of Paul's attitudes, his methods, and the pressures he tried to balance.128
Mr Paul: I want to keep you chaps and the Nation and the Communists and the near Left on as even lines as I possibly can. Don't you mistake me for one moment. I do not expect the men and women who hold their religion to be a serious and vital thing to have any truck with the enemy. The dividing line between Marxism and Christianity is a very definite line. I am not going to ask you to say anything you should not say—but you would not if I did ask you. What I want to do if I can is ask you to soft-pedal a bit in order that I may demand the same from the Nation and expect the same from the Communist or near-communist organisations and papers like In Print for instance. That is only a camouflage. I know all the rottenness that is underneath these things. I know how stupid it must appear to all intelligent people. Now that Russia has come in it is a ‘holy war’—before it was an ‘imperialist war’. I am not insensible to that. All I want you to do as far as you can—if you subordinate your opinion on religion—all I am asking if you can possibly do—take Lee's Weekly.
Rev. P. T. B. McK: He expects to get a little cheap publicity but I am damned if he will—I am not going to take any notice of him.
Mr Paul: And I agree with you. I don't know how possible it is for you to help me in this matter. I do not find much in this that I would personally take exception to; but officially there are one or two things. I don't like the references to Maisky—‘verbal perversion’. Maisky is an ambassador of a friendly power, and I think you can use another descriptive term rather than that.
Rev. P. T. B. McK: Would you mind putting a good pencil mark right round anything you want altered or left out?page 921
Mr Paul: Yes. I didn't see your issue of August 14.
Rev. P. T. B. McK: Could I post you down a copy?
Mr Paul: If you would. I am very much interested in this because I took a view as a Labour man in the old days that the Russian Government had quite enough to do to change the face of Industrial Russia without attempting to destroy Christianity in the process, just as the Germans had quite enough to do to re-organise Germany without exterminating the Jews. These extreme schools provide the germ of their own destruction.
Rev. McK: Yes. Would you put a cross against anything to go out? And a ring round anything to be changed. I promise you faithfully to do that. Another thing: I will be coming through Wellington some time about the end of October. I wonder if I could call round and see you?
Mr Paul: I'd be only too glad to see you.
Rev. McK: If you will just let me have that back noted with your own marks, then you can be sure I will fall right in with you, and I will also send off the copy for you.
Mr Paul: Thank you. Much obliged.129
Japan's entry, and the increased defence measures ensuing, predictably tightened censorship. On 22 December 1941 references to coastal shipping were banned, and from 2 January 1942 any references to the ‘location of military camps or aerodromes, or concentrations of defence units or troops in any area in New Zealand or in territories within her sphere of activities’ had to be approved before publication.130 On the civilian front, fear that reports or rushes on goods expected to be scarce, such as sugar and tea, would lead to more greedy buying and premature shortage, produced on 20 January an instruction that unless approved by the Director there must be no published reference to shortage of any commodity in New Zealand, or to steps proposed or taken to remedy such shortage. An amendment on 9 February limited this to imported foodstuffs, another on 8 May banned reference to cotton textile goods, and the original order was reimposed on 19 June, after a New Zealand Herald reference to scarce potatoes had apparently created a local potato famine. This order was finally removed on 18 January 1943.131page 922
Japan's advance also caused some expressions of nervous exasperation with government authorities for lack of preparedness. Paul's diary of early 1942132 shows the Prime Minister at this stage also somewhat nervous, readily considering prosecutions, with Paul as a soothing influence. Thus:
2 Jan . P.M. raised question of publication of cablegram from Moscow… a piece of uninformed criticism. Written by M. Zazlavsky, chief leader writer on Pravda. P.M. considered release for publication was bad judgment. Saw him in evening and told him tel. censor had informed Mr Pollard133 of cable. Told P.M. I would have approved it if consulted.
Jan 10. Letter to Attorney-General covering alleged subversive statement in letter, NZ Herald Dec 8—‘It is high time the military authorities stepped in to take control of New Zealand's destiny. No confidence can be placed in the muddling politicians and their talk. We want action not more words. Military Reserve.’ Copy of letter to Mr Cornish, Solicitor-General, as instructed by P.M.
Jan 15. P.M. ref. Mr Frost's article for Standard [29 January 1942], Alterations and deletions suggested. Approved. Indicated proposed to consider issuing order prohibiting publication of letters in [blank] without approval. P.M. expressed opinion that prosecution of NZ Herald should be taken on sentence in letter (page 12). My opinion weak case. Would like discussion with Attn-Gen. and P.M.
Jan 17. P.M. instructed me to examine In Print article ref. Fiji. Feb 6. P.M. rang ref. prosecution Truth Baume cable proposed by Police. Informed P.M. all Baume cables approved prior to publication. Saw P.M. later in afternoon. Discussed Auckland Herald leader and question of prosecution. Leader published January 29.
On legal advice, no prosecution was taken on the Herald's leader of 29 January 1942,134 and legal advice damped prosecution zeal on other issues, mainly concerned with morale. For instance, over a paragraph by ‘McClure’ in the Auckland Star of 13 February 1942, headed ‘Singapore’, the Crown Prosecutor doubted the wisdom of prosecution, pointing out, ‘with diffidence and hesitation’ as it was not really his province, the likelihood that in a jury a fairly strong page 923 proportion might hold views similar to those expressed, while freedom of the press would be well and thoroughly ventilated.135 Again the Solicitor-General, while holding that an attack on the British governing caste in John A. Lee's Weekly of 20 January 1943 was subversive, had no feeling of confidence about a jury's verdict, so could not recommend prosecution.136
Early 1942 saw the first prosecutions (there were to be very few) of newspapers for military information transgressions. Under an order made just before Japan entered the war in December 1941 prohibiting reference to New Zealanders building a large air base at Fiji, the editor of the crypto-communist weekly, In Print, R. A. K. Mason,137 better known as a poet, was charged with oblique minor references thereto on 14 and 28 January. Luxford SM, saying that the presence of New Zealand troops there had already been mentioned in other news passed by the censor and that he was not merely a rubber stamp for prosecutions, dismissed these charges as far-fetched.138 However, restrictions on In Print had been tightened by a special order on 27 January comprehensively forbidding any direct or indirect reference without prior approval to any service personnel, any camp or camp conditions, defence works or workers in or outside New Zealand, any food, equipment or lack of it, or the training, efficiency or administration of any unit.139
On 1 May 1942 the only successful prosecution of a daily paper for a security breach was taken against the Auckland Star for interviews with seamen who in February 1942 had been at Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, which the Japanese had raided but not occupied on 10 December 1941, smashing all radio and electrical equipment. These accounts, published on 31 March and 4 April, both referred to radio messages being sent from a surviving transmitter. The castaways assured the reporter that its presence was known to the Japanese, and the Star, seeing only straightforward stories displaying the courage and initiative of British merchant seamen, published them without reference to Paul. A medical officer at Tarawa who had been interrogated by the Japanese during their raid, and who had come to Auckland along with the talkative seamen, told the police he was positive that the Japanese did not know about the transmitter.140page 924
The Naval Secretary stated that the article of 4 April could lead to the capture of a great patriot, the radio operator, and end valuable wireless intelligence from the island.141
The case was heard in camera, again by Luxford, who imposed fines totalling £75, saying that it was impossible to tell what items would contribute information to enemy intelligence; consequently the plea in mitigation that other published items also seemed to offend could not be accepted.142
Events culminating in the mid-February fall of Singapore, vaunted so secure and crumpled so readily, caused some New Zealanders to wonder if they too were living in a fool's paradise of soothing assurances. There were meetings in many places, the most purposeful often engendered by the ‘Awake New Zealand’ campaign.143 As these meetings called for active, self-help home defence, with locally contrived weapons, they were critical of the status quo, and the sensitive Standard commented on 2 April: ‘As these gatherings invariably contain a kick in the political pants for the Government they have received a favourable hearing from the daily newspapers, those great guardians of the public weal, the harbingers of truth and light, to whom the welfare of the public is a sacred trust.’ Some Labour members thought the ‘Awake’ movement should be suppressed, but Fraser, very much wiser, gave it interest and support, thereby minimising its anti-government aspects and channelling its energy into positive action.
Some newspapers, besides voicing uneasiness about soothing syrup and imposed imprecision, complained with new force about the lack of effort-kindling, rumour-dousing publicity on defence measures. The Press on 23 February said that censorship made it impossible for papers to discuss defence deficiencies except in terms so vague that discussion was worthless. At the same time it was disturbing to read in overseas publications grossly over-optimistic reports, presumably passed by the New Zealand censor here, denying the existence of local need to countries which might relieve it. Thus the Wellington correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor on 11 December 1941 had stated that New Zealand had at least an Army corps abroad and a first line force approaching the same size at home, plus a considerable fleet of tanks and powerful artillery regiments, with plenty of heavy artillery along the coasts; the days when the Army had had to borrow rifles from civilians were over, there were plenty of rifles and ammunition, and a superlatively equipped air page 925 force. Any New Zealander knew that such statements were nonsense, said the Press, knowledgeable New Zealanders knew they were tragic nonsense. The New Zealand government, it would seem, was in danger of repeating the errors of Malaya, where censorship produced uniformly encouraging reports; these did not deceive the Japanese but deceived those who might have strengthened Malaya in time.
One whose opinions carried some weight, W. E. Barnard, Speaker and ex-soldier, said that Parliament's secret sessions, compared with the British practice, were over-secret. There should be open debates, not broadcast to be heard by the enemy, but reported in the press. He also advocated more use of the radio to expose the misrepresentations and suggestions that circulated, many from enemy broadcasts. He thought that national broadcasts could be improved; for instance making more use of Coates, the only ex-soldier in War Cabinet, could greatly hearten the public.144
The Press, endorsing the call for more Parliamentary openness, attacked existing publicity:
There is no need to say again all that has been many times said here. It is enough to state the broad fact, that the Department of Censorship and Publicity is, in respect of its second function, better called non-existent than incompetent. No country is worse served with information, in any valid and relevant sense, about its own war aims and efforts than New Zealand is; and this is true, not because full, vivid and dynamic publicity cannot be organised, but because the Government either does not want it or, with inconceivable blindness, believes that it has done everything necessary to secure it.145
In the Auckland Star of 20–3 April, four articles by ‘Sentinel’ surveyed the effect, mainly in Britain, during the Polish and French phases of the war, of restricting discussion on military matters in the interest of public morale and tranquillity, by which the British government itself was lulled into complacency and inaction. It was suggested that open facing of reality, including Allied weakness, might have prevented tragic loss. The last article stressed that criticism, to be effective, must be public; delivered through ‘proper channels’ it was lost in red tape and the innate conservatism of Service departments. In England recently and in Australia under General MacArthur, the creed that the public must be sheltered from the rough winds of reality had been largely abandoned.146 It was firmly stated that New Zealand had not received from its page 926 government the false optimism, half truths and humbug dealt out in Britain, ‘but the censor has restrained public discussion and criticism on many matters of vital public concern and public interest.’ Restrictive censorship on the conduct of the war, particularly on the ground of morale, should be replaced by interest in information, uniting and kindling both troops and civilians. Experienced and skilled reporters, freed from the restrained, colourless and general terms induced by Service supervision and official censorship would evoke response, and editors could be trusted to see that nothing of value to the enemy was published.147
Truth complained that New Zealanders were treated like school children, that most of the uneasiness being expressed at meetings could be allayed by more official frankness. The Prime Minister himself had said that much well-meaning anxiety came from lack of appreciation of what was being done; the public wanted ‘tin tacks’, war talk straight and direct, not merely on camp facilities etc, but on New Zealand's defence position and strategic importance.148
Presumably it was these complaints on the lack of publicity that led to a government-sanctioned tour of the Northern Military District by the Auckland Star's chief reporter. After traveling hundreds of miles north and south, coast to coast, he said on 4 May that he was then able, both from observation and from information freely given by helpful officers, to punch out a series of stories to kill pessimism and inspire solid confidence. Thirteen stories appeared between the 2nd and the 16th May, explaining that while silence had been necessary when the Army first spilled out of its mobilisation camps to build and man northern defence positions, the veil could now be lifted. The articles, fluent, direct and colourful, told of hard, purposeful work and lively spirit, of improvisation, vigilance, abundant good food, plentiful camouflage and prudence with petrol; weapons could be referred to only in general terms, but accurate shooting was mentioned.
At about the same time, in a Sunday evening broadcast, General Puttick briefly outlined New Zealand's defence scheme, describing some of the difficulties overcome in bringing it from infancy to a man-sized organisation, adding that while the Army had received more criticism than praise, this was largely its own fault; it had been over-given to hush-hush, and civilians did not know many encouraging things that they might safely have known, but the Army was page 927 now inclined to be more communicative.149 The Auckland Star with satisfaction commented that a real start had been made in this direction with its own articles, which had wide coverage in other papers.
After this burst of confidence, however, Service publicity subsided into its normal quietness. By 13 June 1942 the Auckland Star was again grumbling, this time on behalf of the Merchant Navy—due to ‘rigid unimaginative censorship and the almost complete lack of a publicity policy in New Zealand… the public now hears next to nothing of the merchant seaman, and thinks of him hardly at all.’
Behind the scenes, the Army's awareness of inadequate publicity and consequent criticism had caused it, probably in July 1942, to propose setting up a Publicity Office within its own body. Among the Paul Papers is an undated carbon copy headed ‘C.G.S. Draft Publicity–Censorship’, which states that recently J. G. Coates had pointed out to the Director of Publicity that publicity given to the forces, and particularly to the Army, was poor, lacking ‘life’ and imagination. The same opinion was held by members of the General Staff, who perceived that compared with practice in other countries their Army ‘failed to advertise’, thereby drawing uninformed and unfair ciriticism. For this they were themselves largely to blame through not having been concerned about publicity or about unwarranted criticism which left unanswered was accepted as fact. Also militating against effective publicity was the recent centralisation of control of newspaper articles and photographs under the Director of Publicity: previously he had delegated to certain responsible officers power to authorise publication of articles and photographs, but now all must be submitted to him. Decentralisation should be resumed and the General Staff, as the appropriate branch, should set up a publicity section, consisting of a ‘heavy weight’ journalist with one or two assistants and a typist-clerk, to inform the public, through words and photographs, on all aspects of Army activities; to bring to the notice of the General Officer Commanding and staff articles, local or overseas, which would merit counter-propaganda, or overseas articles which might be of use in training or administration; to establish close relations with the Press Association, and to scrutinise material submitted by the Director of Publicity.150
Paul's response, dated 30 July 1942, was hostile. The Army did not realise that publicity ‘handed out’ was not popular with newsmen; the best overseas publicity for armies was written by professional journalists, given aid and access (the word was stressed). ‘An page 928 obstructive officer, whether junior or highly placed, retards the journalist, and is the man who prevents publicity.’ Censorship was weakened by dispersal, and the Army had already in some instances shown the danger of it.151 Nothing came of the Army proposal.
As for secret sessions, Fraser in a Sunday evening broadcast on 8 March rebutted accusations of silence; War Cabinet and Parliament in secret session were keeping back only what could be useful to the enemy or what our allies had asked should not be publicised. He deplored recent foolish talk and rumours, some derived from Tokyo. Certain newspapers, usually helpful, had promoted distrust by ‘inimical articles’ (he referred vaguely to three such), adding that any action necessary would be taken to ‘stop the dissemination of such false statements and perspectives which are bound to have a detrimental and depressing effect on the minds of the people.’152
The Prime Minister, noted the watchful Press, ‘insisted strongly on this new phrase and new conception of the “false perspective”. It is not easy to see why he did so, unless he wanted to edge forward the rather awkward suggestion that anything is in “false perspective” if the Government does not approve and agree, and that the Government is entitled, and intends, to “take any necessary action” to correct and prevent it. To extend the use of the censorship to such an effect—making an end of free comment and discussion—would be an appalling error.’ Fraser had not answered the real charges that the government had failed to inform the public, as it safely and advantageously could, upon important policy issues; that it had not encouraged and led open debate in Parliament on the conduct of the war; that its publicity policy, both official and unofficial, had been narrow, timid and unconstructive.153
Fraser's speech alarmed the Dominion Council of New Zealand Journalists, which wrote to him that censorship beyond that of details useful to the enemy itself had a depressing effect because when people feel that something is withheld, they suspect their rulers fear to disclose the truth. In a democracy the government must not suppress statements that would enable the public to judge it merely because it thought these statements unfair or based on incorrect information, but should correct them by making known what the government regarded as the truth. In England criticism of war administration had brought reforms and ultimately strengthened morale.154
At the same time, British censorship was extended to news items going overseas after being published in Britain, which hitherto had page 929 not been censored. Late in March, partly at the behest of Dominion governments which said that news from London had done ‘appalling harm’ to their war efforts, it was decided that Home publications would when going overseas be censored like new material, largely to check stories which fomented ill-will between Britain and her Allies or neutral countries.155
The New Zealand Herald commented that unless faithfully limited this new British censorship might present British opinion as smugly content with the war administration, a picture that would be as false as some of the jaundiced reports issuing from some London correspondents. The British government's direction of the war had not always been perfect and it was reassuring to the Dominions to see how, in Britain, Parliament, press and people were alive to shortcomings and insisted on reform. If the Dominions were not so informed by their press—‘the radio is no longer free’—and were left to think that Britain was wrapped in complacency, the gravest forebodings would flourish. The peoples of the Dominions could be trusted with a fair presentation of facts. General MacArthur, ‘Amercias foremost general’, was quoted: ‘if the public does not know the truth, its imagination at once comes into play. If it does not know the truth, its confidence is reduced.’ And MacArthur had called the press ‘one of the most valuable components I have’ for getting the maximum out of the situation.156
The Auckland Star also attacked, linking this decision with a current threat to close down the Daily Mirror:‘Tighten the censor ship and win the war! That seems to be the notion with which the Churchill Government is playing just now.’ Grave blots on Britain's war effort, such as black markets, racketeering, petrol waste and too much sport, would still exist but for press criticism, which had also assisted in replacing Chamberlain with Churchill. It would be deeply disturbing to the Dominions' peoples if they were not to be aware of the vigilance of the British press and people.157
With America, bulwark against Japan, good relations were essential but some editors, early in 1942, were tactlessly critical. The New Zealand Herald, usually highly respectful, but now exasperated by America's apparent slowness of response to attack, on 29 January 1942 assailed American statesmen for bringing on a war that they were not ready for, exposing Pacific peoples to conquest. On the page 930 other side of the coin, with totally different concern and linked with other issues, the fortnightly Social Credit News (renamed Democracy after 28 February 1942) on 30 January under the heading ‘Prepare for an American Invasion’ stated that within three months American forces would arrive, hailed as saviours by cheering crowds. Behind them lay Wall Street and the looming Frankenstein of financial interests, of international Federal Union,158 the bogey of Social Credit, ‘our resistance to which may be irresistibly overwhelmed by our need for immediate aid.’ If the whole situation had been planned to eliminate hostility to the absorption of the British Commonwealth by American financial interests, it could not have been bettered.
On 4 March 1942 the clause in the original censorship regulations, dropped in February 1940, against reports ‘intended or likely to prejudice relations between His Majesty's subjects and any friendly foreign State or its subjects’, was restored.
Social Credit News, now Democracy, added to its errors by attacking government war loan policy in articles headed ‘Bomber Bonds Swindle’ (10 April) and ‘Debt Swindle Exposed’ (24 April). On 27 April the Director of Publicity forbad the editor John Hogan159 to publish without approval any reference to government methods of financing the war effort, or reference to the prohibition itself.160 On 12 May, after another issue of Democracy (8 May), with an article ‘Dictatorship in New Zealand’, the Attorney-General informed Hogan that as he was satisfied that subversive statements had appeared in Democracy and more were likely to do so, it must cease publication; Hogan was ordered not to be associated with any publication for three months. Thus began the long drawn out ‘Hogan case’.
A letter by Hogan, telling of this ‘autocratic action’, this threat to fundamental liberties, wanted the subversion charge tested in court, and quoted Benjamin Franklin161 saying that they who would give up essential liberty for the illusion of temporary safety deserved neither liberty nor safety. The letter was published by both Dunedin papers on 26 May 1942 with supporting editorials, but did not appear in other city papers. The Southland Times of 30 May, however, commented that censorship was steadily overflowing into an page 931 area of news and opinion loosely defined as ‘harmful to the war effort’, and cited suppression of a small-circulation periodical advocating unorthodox finance. The suppression was also brought to the notice of an Auckland Farmers' Union conference, which wrote to the Prime Minister that such secret action, outside the courts, was against the spirit of British law.162
Early in May, Hogan had sent out petition forms, asking his supporters to collect signatures and send them to local members of Parliament. The petition protested against the suppression, claiming that free comment and criticism had already helped to overcome obsolete practice in the Allied war effort: many people believed Democracy's, proposals to be justified, and that press and radio should be open to such progressive thought. A number of signatures were gathered, along with a few telegrams and letters. Official replies to the letters referred to both the ‘American invasion’ and the bomber bonds articles and explained that Hogan had tried to defeat the financial policy of the constitutional government in a very serious if unsuccessful attempt against the national war effort. To have allowed his disruptive campaign to continue would, apart from leading to internal division, have provided excuse for more definitely subversive organisations to claim similar newspaper rights of free speech; the country would soon be in a hopeless position and all talk of a united war effort would be futile.163
Also in May, Hogan had formed at Auckland the New Zealand Democracy Association, with the avowed aim of winning the war and extending democracy through the preservation of free speech. By exerting pressure on all members of Parliament, irrespective of party, democracy would be made effective and unnecessary electioneering be avoided.164 To the report of its first public meeting on 14 May 1942, where Hogan quoted the article attacking the government's war finance policy which he considered the reason for the suppression, the Director of Publicity added a note that appeal against such an order could be made to a judge of the Supreme Court.165 Hogan did not appeal until August, but continued his agitations meanwhile. On 18 June, Auckland's Town Hall was half filled to hear seven speakers for the Democracy Association; a long resolution was passed expressing concern at the slow destruction of essential rights by a censorship control more severe, while apparently less needed, than that in any other democratic country. It demanded page 932 that criticism of government methods and policy be recognised as necessary to national morale and efficiency; that any charges made under the censorship regulations should be tried by a jury, and that Democracy and other suppressed publications be permitted to resume.166
This ‘free speech’ issue, along with others, was taken up by Doidge on 24 June 1942. Without defending the bomber bonds article— ‘the author was no doubt looking for trouble’—Doidge said that the government should prosecute the publisher rather than suppress the publication, which action was arousing much protest.167
Fraser's answer opened with one of the earliest references to the presence of Americans. There was need, said Fraser, for the utmost goodwill to be engendered towards the gallant visitors, so that when ‘a newspaper started to scare the people by saying this was an attempt on the part of Wall Street to financially capture the country, drastic action had to be taken; for that is nothing more or less than sub version. We cannot have anyone endeavouring, consciously or uncon sciously, to stir up ill-will.’ It was a ‘scandalous article about the invasion of Wall Street, the people being warned that it was a deep-laid scheme of Wall Street to send the boys to capture New Zealand. That sort of thing could not be tolerated.’ The government's financial policy could be criticised but the government would not tolerate ‘frustration or attempted frustration’, and Democracy's undermining of the effort to raise money could not be allowed. ‘The final thing was the attempt by the publication of letters from soldiers in camps, to stir up inside the camps particularly the Waiouru camp, action against the government's financial policy and the raising of money for the war, which came very near to undermining the loyalty of the soldiers. That is not going to be permitted. If that is the liberty of the press, it is something foreign to me in the name of liberty.’168
The Christchurch Star–Sun, a paper usually temperate in its crit icism of the government in its war effort, now said that the suppression of Democracy was unwarranted and unsound from every point of view. The journal's criticisms would not have diverted a ten pound note from the loan, but even if its influence had been considerable there was no justification for its suppression, though there might have been for prosecution of the publisher. As a matter of fact, the newspapers were looking for arguments to help along the lagging loan campaign and an attack by the Douglas Credit champions would have stimulated the little extra punch that was needed in the governments propaganda. But in any case the political use of censorship page 933 was utterly wrong.169 Paul, in a personal letter to the editor, repeated the argument that if, as was Democracy's intention, a paper could destroy financial measures in support of the war, other schools of thought and action should logically be allowed to express opposition to measures that government considered necessary; it was not a long step from such toleration to permitting a Fascist organisation to present its case in proof of the failure of democracy.170
In August 1942 Hogan asked the Attorney-General what would be his position when his three months' ban ran out. Mason replied: ‘The period of three months was fixed for the prohibition because it was expected that if you were not returning to Australia, you would be in military or other national service. There is certainly no intention of permitting your continuance of journalism in this coun try, and unless it appears that your energies are engaged in other channels, the prohibition will be re-imposed.’ This letter, with Hogan's comments, was published by the Auckland Star on 7 August, and by the Press on 14 August with a supporting editorial which, while disclaiming interest in Hogan's monetary policy or the rights and wrongs of his case, was concerned at the arbitrary and prolonged suspension, without trial in a court.171
In Hogan's case, as with some Communists and pacifists, press censorship was coupled with postal censorship. In the House on 9 July 1942, John A. Lee asked the Prime Minister, in view of recent action of his Department which had created feelings of uncertainty and uneasiness among many electors, to state government policy concerning interference with and detention of internal correspondence. Fraser dealt with the postal matters raised,172 and went on to speak of Democracy. This time he did not mention Americans, but said that ‘some atrocious things’ had appeared in it. A statement, headed ‘Don't Buy Bonds’, read: ‘In spite of all the worked-up enthusiasm, we know at least one prominent business man who informed his staff that he was so strongly opposed to the Loan Racket that we would sack anyone who purchased Bonds. The method may be drastic, but the spirit was right!’ ‘It is only right,’ concluded Fraser, ‘that the Censor and the police and everybody else should keep a close watch on a person who so completely puts himself in opposition to the war effort; and I make no apology for what the Censor has done in that direction.’173page 934
Hogan continued to produce newsletters and occasional issues of Democracy, some of which were intercepted in the mail and held without prosecution.174 In the issue of October 1942 he stated that he had not since August received a further order restraining him from journalism, and he renewed his demand for trial in court before a jury: court hearings of his appeal against the original prohibition, served in August, had been stalled by government inactivity. He had volunteered for the Air Force, but headed this article, ‘No Trial— No Uniform’. The Director of Publicity on 9 October wrote to the Solicitor-General that this whole question of publications and challenges should be considered immediately,175 but no prosecution ensued. There was understandable reluctance to focus attention on the silencing of Social Credit's anti-debt finance policy, to which some Labour members had been close during the early Thirties and to which J. A. Lee still held.176 In March 1943 Lee and Atmore asked in the House that the ban on Democracy should be lifted, saying that Hogan was ready to conform to any condition generally applicable to the New Zealand press, and was anxious to proceed to his military duties. The following week the ban was removed, the Press commenting that this prohibition without court charges was ‘dictatorship pure and simple and an infringement of the rights of the individual which should not be tolerated in peace or in war.’177
The intention that Hogan's energies should be engaged in other channels was maintained by the Manpower authorities. Democracy re-appeared on 15 April 1943 with Hogan as editor, but this was not rated an essential occupation and on 2 August, having appealed against military service, he was directed to an industrial job. The direction was withdrawn while he stood in the 1943 general election against Fraser, and was suspended, on domestic grounds, while he moved his family to Wellington. In July 1944 he appealed against a further direction to the Wellington Woollen Mills, claiming victimisation: no other managing editor of a newspaper, or proprietor of a business employing staff had been Manpowered, said his counsel,178 and this claim was repeated at public meetings.179 McLagan, Minister of Manpower, stated on 15 August that Hogan's direction page 935 was by no means unique; he had in fact been given special consideration. On 22 November Hogan's non-compliance with the order led to seven days in prison,180 but he continued to protest and appeal.181 On 25 July 1945, when he was fined £25, he said that National Service had for two years unsuccessfully tried to get him out of his job as editor and publisher; he had been prosecuted four times, acquitted twice and convicted twice, imprisoned for a week and now fined.182
As mentioned elsewhere183 the American presence, with South Pacific Command requiring an unreal reticence, multiplied the problems of censorship. Paul rebutted an early proposal that all news of Allied forces' activities should be vetted at United States headquarters in Auckland, with a New Zealand forces censor attached thereto, thus relieving him of any responsibility in the Service area. The New Zealand censor, insisted Paul holding to sovereign rights, was the final arbiter, but there should be the closest liaison between him and the American Command, both governed by specific, listed prohibitions, such as the names of ships, forces, etc; photographs of ships or types of ships; speculation on future moves (except where the United States might desire it for strategic reasons), etc.184
Such a list, with a formidable number of reserved topics, was not established till November 1943, United States naval headquarters meanwhile claiming judgment theoretically over each mention of Americans, and exerting a firmly restrictive influence on news about these exotic targets of public interest, highly frustrating to reporters. After a long silence, occasional public relations stories were printed, along with social trivia. This narrow publicity possibly helped to confine civilian contact with Americans in the main to the clubs, the good hostesses, the girls and the exploiters.
South Pacific Command's reticence passed through several phases. On 8 April 1942, in response to American direction, it was laid down as most important that no reference to movements of American forces in New Zealand or the Pacific should be published without approval by the Director of Publicity,185 and this blanket restriction remained till 20 November 1942, when the presence at page 936 least of Americans could be mentioned, subject to American censorship. The impracticability of submitting every non-military social reference to Americans, with thousands of them about, was more obvious to newsmen, including the Director of Publicity, than to some American officers, who held to the principle of deciding each case on its merits. Editorial discretion was in fact exercised, connived at, even supported, by Paul, provided that military details were not disclosed or news put forth likely to prejudice relations between Americans and New Zealanders. The limits of the latter were not defined, and the Chief Naval Censor at Auckland was highly sensitive; some of the issues are examined in Chapter 14.
In June 1943, with the position in the Pacific clearly much stronger, South Pacific Command directed that more news could be released, subject still to censorship. Paul on 21 June quoted this information to editors, adding, ‘In large measure, the principle of editorial censorship within the regulations and these directives will operate.’186 American authorities considered that this led to over-iberal releases, and by 3 November a code was devised prohibiting releases on various topics unless approved by the Director of Publicity or American censors acting on his behalf—this last phrase explicitly maintaining the legal sovereignty of New Zealand. The situation still provided plenty of irritation and Paul continued to receive complaints from both sides, especially over the reporting of court proceedings in which United States servicemen were involved in any way, a matter on which American authorities had long been dainty. But with the gradual withdrawal of American forces, which began soon after this, censorship tensions faded in this area.
Complaints against both censorship and lack of positive publicity, as voiced in the Press on 3 June 1941 and 4 March 1942,187 continued during 1942, from provincial as well as city papers. Thus the Southland Times on 30 May, holding that censorship was tighter in New Zealand than elsewhere, said that timidity and lack of imagination were the main causes. Tired Cabinet ministers, instead of adopting a constructive publicity service to expand press relations with war-concerned departments, had appointed a Director of Publicity ‘whose function has become increasingly negative’, preferring silence to explanation. From military items, censorship was steadily overflowing into news and opinions loosely defined as ‘harmful to the war effort’, an effort in fact hampered by this mistaken faith in page 937 silence which, while it prevented rashness, could also protect inefficiency and breed rumour
Another provincial paper, the Timaru Herald, two months later, quoting Dr Samuel Johnson's188 1756 insistence on the right of every Englishman to be informed on national affairs, complained of timidity in censorship and incompetence in publicity. Effective publicity was a skilled craft, but the government still clung pathetically to the idea that one person could control the irreconcilable tasks of publicity and censorship. The easy way out was to concentrate on censorship, which ‘like any other bad habit, takes fast hold on those who practise it….they see no harm in indulging just a little bit more, and then a little more still.’ Withholding information bred rumour, hid mistakes and denied the democratic right of informed public opinion. The stage of gross abuse was not yet reached but the position was ‘exceedingly unsatisfactory.’189
Generally it was not possible to refer to items that had been prohibited or delayed, but an example useful to restive editors was provided when news that Freyberg had been wounded in July's fight for Egypt reached New Zealanders through Churchill's referring to it; whereupon Fraser explained that publication had been delayed because it might be of distinct value to the enemy. The Otago Daily Times, drawing attention to this ‘minor embarrassment’, said that it was typical of the government's ‘close-mouthed silence applied … to matters significant and insignificant, domestic and international, encouraging and disturbing.’190
An indication of the thought that ordinary citizens were giving to censorship and publicity in mid-1942 was given in a lunch address to businessmen. The speaker, Julius Hogben,191 considered the bad Nazi uses of propaganda, to rouse hate and to stifle freedom and critical appraisal, and our own, which had been too passive, rejecting the proper principle of expression and depending on suppression. Official procrastination in releasing news, on the lines of ‘there is no confirmation in regard to reports of reverses’, leaving New Zealand to hear bad news from enemy sources, gravely affected morale.192
Here it seems appropriate to give Paul's own views on his publicity work which largely explain its low profile. The RSA was not page 938 alone in proposing, on 30 May 1941,193 a Ministry of Information distinct from censorship. David Wilson, Minister of Broadcasting and Associate Minister of National Service, had in February 1941 advocated to the part-time Publicity Committee which assisted Paul in this aspect that there should be a full-time Director of Information, experienced in publicity work and able to estimate the value not only of newspaper articles and advertisements but of films, radio, brochures and other forms of modern propaganda. Granted any necessary help from government departments, he should devise schemes which would go to Paul for censorship, then to the Prime Minister for final decision.194
Paul thought ‘without egotism’ that his judgment, in practical results, would match that of any possible appointee. ‘A go-getter or publicity buccaneer could attract much more limelight with certain trouble for the Government and possibly harm to the national war effort. Whatever else may be said about my administration it is the single exception in the Empire which has not involved its Government in serious disputation.’ He claimed that to improve publicity he needed only another staff member, but there was great difficulty in finding the right man. Clashes between the proposed Director of Information and the ‘man who would act as censor’ would be inevitable. Publicity and censorship were complementary not antagonistic, ‘that is, always providing censorship is applied with brains’, and the censor had to be as keenly interested in any publicity assisting the war effort as he was careful in the exercise of censorship.195
Further, in a mid-1942 report to the Prime Minister on the work of his office, Paul explained that in any attempt to tell the public about the war effort the question arose whether the enemy was being told too much. He disliked the term ‘publicity’, preferring ‘information’;
next to propaganda, publicity was possibly the word most abused in its connotation, publicity buccaneers of all types being associated with legitimate as well as shady undertakings. “Publicity” for a war effort, it has seemed to me, must be basically true, and it must avoid exaggeration if it is to achieve that vital end: the retention of public confidence.
Newspapers, he continued, looked with suspicion, even distaste, on statements issued by government officers, preferring independent sources, such as their own writers. It was his policy to encourage papers to ‘see for themselves’, keeping the Director of Publicity in page 939 the background, though that must ‘sacrifice some of the public recognition his activities warrant.’196
Paul, then, avoided the directly inspirational type of publicity. The few pamphlets produced by his office, such as New Zealand's War Effort: Two Years' Achievements (1941) and New Zealand at War: Marching to Victory (1943), commended the country's various achievements in laudatory but pedestrian style. Generally he led or allowed the media to examine activities which he thought it proper to display, and checked their portrayal. A notable instance was the series of articles on the Army defences of northern New Zealand in May 1942, produced by the Auckland Star.197 Paul commended them to editors on 6 May 1942: they were ‘wholly independent… their value being that they convey the view of an experienced journalist’ and they should be credited to the senior reporter of the Auckland Star.198 Samples of publicity methods show the Auckland Star, ‘following the receipt of your permit’, photographing the manufacture of small arms ammunition and believing that some useful publicity for New Zealand's war effort would thus be gained:199 the New Zealand Herald's, illustrations editor noted on 7 March 1941 that the Director particularly wanted a photograph of the Brengun carriers that were being made in Wellington.200
It seems that the Press and other critics were looking for sustained, detailed accounts of work and contrivance that might inspire others to effort, while Paul usually thought that anything but short stories and close-ups of workers would tell the enemy too much. It needs remembering that most papers were more than ready to find fault with any government department.
Much of the work of Paul's office lay in giving wide circulation to approved local material and reports from New Zealand Service correspondents abroad, along with material from the British Ministry of Information and from other countries on their war efforts and national life. News was also pumped overseas in weekly cables to Cairo, for 2 NZEF Times, to the High Commissioner, London, and to Reuters, both the latter sources being available to the BBC. Photographs were circulated, plus ebonoid blocks and matrices, giving every paper in New Zealand opportunity to illustrate the war effort, while large photographs and posters were available for displays. Radio scripts on war effort at home and overseas were prescribed and checked.201 Censorship had also to satisfy the concerned page 940 public: the Mayor of Rotorua complained to the Prime Minister on 15 June 1942 that in recent Sunday evening broadcasts, ‘New Zealand at Work’, the positions of the Whakatane paper mill and the large timber mill at Whakarewarewa had been given in such detail that the enemy could bomb them with certainty.202
The medium of film was not forgotten. The National Film Unit at Miramar, previously concerned only with tourist publicity, was re-organised and strengthened under Paul, in close co-operation with a devoted producer, E. S. Andrews,203 and his small team. In August 1941 it began producing ‘The New Zealand Weekly Review’204 short films ranging from about 250 to 600 feet. Some showed New Zealanders overseas, such as ‘Desert Railway’, ‘New Zealand's Prime Minister in Egypt’, ‘Return from Crete’, ‘Hospital Ship’; some showed the home front, such as ‘Women at War’, ‘Emergency Fire Service Display’, ‘Aerodrome Builders’, ‘Coal from Westland’; in a few, such as ‘Easter Action in Bougainville’, New Zealand cameramen got very close to the guns.205
Censorship of broadcasting excited less criticism than that of the press or of mail. Broadcasting was, as the Opposition and its allies often complained, dominated by the government. In April 1937 the National party, commenting on the Prime Minister's statement that the new high-powered 2YA station would be used to put the government's case to the people, said that the socialist drug would be thus injected, lulling people into false security with specious promises.206 Seven years later, in August 1944, Doidge criticised government control of radio for its propaganda monopoly which became dangerous when it put out ‘either dope or dung’.207page 941
In the field of war effort publicity, Fraser in July 1940 explained that the two radio services, national and commercial, were co-ordinated to give the widest possible coverage for important broadcasts. The Director of Publicity was in charge of all information and policy broadcasts on the war effort. As a first step in this development, the Minister of Finance had lately inaugurated a series of talks over all stations on Sunday evenings, the first entitled ‘Paying for the War’, while during the week several five-minute talks had explained points in the budget.208 Not all speakers were members or employees of the government, but all scripts were examined before they were broadcast. From the Paul Papers a report of a meeting, on 10 December 1940, of the war publicity committee (David Wilson, J. T. Paul, A. D. McIntosh,209 J. Robertson210 and L. Greenberg) supplied a sample of routine. Greenberg reported that the next Sunday evening talk would be on life aboard an NZEF troopship; that on 22 December would deal with ‘Greece, Past and Present’ in a dignified but light and popular manner with emphasis on Greece's present achievements. On 4 January a notable visitor, Noel Coward,211 British dramatist and actor, would talk on the war effort and patriotic funds. A talk on ‘Pig Production’ was well in hand and future talks would summarise to date the success of the Home Guard, the WWSA, the EPS and life and training in the New Zealand Air Force.212 Paul claimed that about 150 radio scripts were censored each month.213 When Aircraftsman C. G. Scrimgeour, formerly ‘Scrim’ of the commercial service, stood against Fraser in the 1943 election, he cited instances of topics and of speakers banned on Fraser's instructions.214
War news itself came mainly from the BBC, in re-broadcasts from Daventry which were heard several times a day. In general these were regarded as reliable, but from time to time there were com- page 942 plaints that smooth half-truths had left listeners unprepared for bad news when it became inescapable.215 There were no problems in the censorship of local news for this was not prepared by radio newsmen, who did not exist; excerpts from newspapers were broadcast daily.
On the security side, precautions were introduced early in the war. Personal messages and birthday greetings were banned and casual advertising copy was rewritten to avoid the possibility of code mesages, though copy for big advertisements, prepared months in advance, was not. The broadcasting of shipping news and weather forecasts was stopped and announcements about missing cars were accepted only from the police. Scripts for all broadcasts were prepared in advance and censored, microphones were always guarded.216
The Opposition was of course the main public critic of government policy and administration, while demanding coalition for a united war effort. Amid the criticism that greeted the ‘hybrid’ national administration established at the end of June 1942217 and intended to continue for the duration of the war and 12 months thereafter were fears that this unequal union would suppress effective criticism for an indefinite time. This was expressed from varying angles, for instance by Downie Stewart,218 by R. M. Algie's Freedom Association and the Auckland Trades Council,219 by leader writers, and by Minhinnick who over the caption ‘Prisoner of War’ showed a classic female figure, ‘Public Opinion’, in a cell bound and gagged ‘for the duration and 12 months’.220
On 15 July 1942 the Farmers' Union national conference voiced some ideas made familiar by the ‘Awake’ movement; soothing syrup should not be handed out to the people as in current national service broadcasts; they should be told of the very grave dangers and their fighting spirit kindled by every means. The farmers also resolved that as criticism of mistakes in the war effort by press and radio was now suppressed a central bureau, under a Supreme Court judge, should be set up to probe and where necessary expose all complaints indicating inefficiency, bungling, waste or culpable negligence.223 The Otago Daily Times, commenting on the charge of suppression, said: If this is not entirely the position as far as newspapers are concerned—the radio is, of course, the property of the Government in office—it is through no fault of authority. Not only is report page 944 of mistakes and of bungling, including political bungling, controlled so far as blanket censorship provisions can be made to cover it, but matters of fact, of everyday knowledge, are forbidden the merest reference unless some Cabinet member blurts something out. And even in that case, it need not be assumed that the press is entitled to report what the offending Minister says. The theory behind this policy—if a suppressive influence so enigmatic and random as is exerted by the Prime Minister's Office could be dignified by an exact noun—is apparently that rumour is a safer coin of exchange among ordinary men than fact is, and that the public will assume, if it has no official pronouncement to the contrary, that no such thing as a mistake, not even the merest occasion for a pin-point of criticism, mars the Governments's conduct of affairs in wartime. The contrary tends to become the case.224
The Auckland Star, also quoting the farmers on censorship, said that newspaper readers were entitled to know exactly what was implied.
They may think (and some undoubtedly do) that if reports intended for publication contain criticism of the war effort the censor, as a matter of course, prohibits their publication. Such an impression would be incorrect, and unfair to the censor. Parliament has laid it down that ‘reasonable and temperate discussion in good faith of any existing laws or measures’ shall be allowable, and although inevitably there have been differences of opinion over interpretation the censor has not disregarded this instruction. But there cannot be helpful discussion, including criticism, of any matter unless the writer or speaker is able to support his statements with facts. Anyone may make sweeping generalisations, but these will not receive or deserve attention unless the writer or speaker ‘comes down to cases.’ If he cannot do so, because the facts are withheld from him, or because though he has the facts he cannot publish them, then there is, in effect, a censorship of opinion, a prohibition of criticism.
This is the situation steadily developing in New Zealand. Facts are increasingly difficult to come by, for the reasons that persons in a position to make them available frequently refuse to do so. Sometimes they have good reasons to refuse, reasons of security, but increasingly often their real reason is convenience—their own, or their superiors', or the Government's. The attitude of the Government to criticism is such that any official, military or civil, or any non-official person, who has anything to hope for from the Government, can feel certain that he is more likely to save himself page 945 trouble by withholding than by giving information upon which criticism may be based. This feeling, of course, needs no encouragement in the armed services, in which there is a disposition, not universal but always evident, to think that the war is their own ‘show,’ and that the only part of the public is to supply the men and the money, and the only part of the Press to cultivate a belief that everything is always well. When this tendency is not resisted, the result is a surfeit of syrupy ‘blah,’ of the kind now unfortunately often associated with the B.B.C. bulletin and commentaries. Then, when there are military reverses abroad, there is a dangerous revulsion of public feeling against the information services, and a weakening of confidence in the Governments responsible for them.225
These long quotations, apart from their own arguments, cast light on the working and reception of censorship. Both indicate the exasperation of frustrated newsmen, but two reputable papers on the same occasion produced widely different analyses of censorship. To the Otago Daily Times, it all emanated from the Prime Minister's Department; the Auckland Star saw it with much wider origins, ranging from the arrogance of the Services to the caution of civilians who might want something from the government, and who yielded in advance to pressures not directly applied, withholding the details that would make criticism meaningful. It was against this unofficial censorship that Sir Henry Horton had protested in February 1941.226 Possibly, by an extension of this process, newspapers themselves were timid in their interpretation of blanket restrictions.
Early in October 1942 the Newspaper Proprietors' Association, in a long statement, expressed grave anxiety at the rapid extension of censorship over facts and comment that had nothing to do with military security. There must be vigilance against its becoming a cloak for remediable political or Service weaknesses. Specific instances could not legally be quoted but the public should be aware of the maze of restrictions, many not related to security; only by fullest knowledge and freest criticism could New Zealand rise to do its best. Public morale was most endangered when there was suspicion that facts were being concealed, whereas sound morale was built up by telling the public the truth and enlisting their co-operation. Instead of censoring commodity shortages, industrial disputes and so on, strong attitudes of good citizenship, co-operation and constructive page 946 ideas should be created out of full information. General prohibitions, extending censorship from a particular incident and maintaining it after the need had passed, should be replaced by prohibitions for specific purposes. Censorship had meant a steady accumulation of restrictions on news of sabotage of production, shortcomings in the control of the necessities of life, administrative mistakes, extravagances that even war could not condone, and a number of minor but not unimportant matters.
This was published in almost every newspaper, city or provincial, on or about 7 October, copiously endorsed by editorials. The ‘Awake New Zealand’ campaign, ardent for the stimulus of criticism, promised the support of its 521 branches, working on local chambers of commerce, the Farmers' Union and the RSA for censorship reform227 At Hamilton the RSA, the Chamber of Commerce and ‘Awake New Zealand’ met to discuss and support the newspaper proprietors' complaints228 and in the House on 14 October Holland drew attention to their ‘very well-reasoned statement.’229
Paul, commenting on that statement, wrote that ‘grave exaggeration’ was its most striking feature, and recalled the appreciation of the same body 18 months earlier.230 He strongly denied that censorship was dictated by political expediency or was a cloak for remediable weaknesses. He instanced some particular shortages, for which the government had already scoured the world, which no amount of press criticism could produce, and about which there was no point in telling the enemy. Most general prohibitions provided for publication with the approval of the Director. If the censor could be certain that any newspaper would consult him before the publication of dangerous matter, there would be less need for general prohibitions, but isolated cases of gross carelessness proved that the risk could not be taken: ‘The least responsible editor makes the general prohibition necessary—and responsible editors know it.’ He claimed that censorship in New Zealand was less irksome and more co-operative than in any other British community, due both to the smallness of the country and to satisfactory relationships between censorship and editors generally. There had been the largest possible measure of voluntary censorship by the press itself, and he hoped that it would continue. With unwonted eloquence he went on:
The role of Sir Oracle sits easily on those who have spent their lives producing newspapers. Like all human institutions, censorship should be submitted to informed and unbiassed criticisms, page 947 but newspaper proprietors may not be ideal judges in their own cause. The infallibility ot the Press is not now universally accepted ….There is no other section of men who are always so terribly right; who never hesitate to criticise individuals and institutions; who have never lost a war; who express so profoundly the truth on all questions and who at the same time are immune from Press criticism.
He concluded by quoting General MacArthur's April utterance: ‘When you start to tear down, you destroy public confidence in the leaders of a military movement. You practically destroy an army.’231 This comment doubtless reached the Prime Minister, but was not given to the public. However, on 15 October 1942 Sullivan, Minister of Supply, took up one of the proprietors' points, the censoring of news on shortages, explaining that it was to avoid panic buying: in January 1942, following reports of increasing demands for sugar, the demands had multiplied,232 some people who normally bought a few pounds buying 70-pound bags. This had led to the directive of 20 January, prohibiting references to shortages.
On the next day, however, Fraser effectively countered the whole attack by reading out two letters. In the first, dated 7 October 1942, the Director of Publicity asked the Newspaper Proprietors' Association to supply specific instances of the misuse of censorship in the areas listed in their complaint. The reply from the Association, dated 15 October, read:
There would, of course, be no difficulty in furnishing such details by quotation in full of official instructions and prohibitions issued by you but in our opinion no good purpose would be served by doing so.
The purpose of the Association's statement was not to promote a public investigation of the administration of the censorship regulations, but to direct attention to the need for a clear definition of the limits within which the censorship of news would be confined. This purpose will not be advanced by discussion of past events; it would be realised by a precise definition of news which in the interests of national security may not be published and an authoritative undertaking that no prohibitions would be imposed on news or comment outside those definitions.
Fraser pointedly made no comment; he would leave that to the public and the House.233 He could well have said, ‘The Lord has delivered them into my hand’. The Association had retreated, not page 948 very convicingly, on to a new issue: its statement had not mentioned limiting censorship to listed topics, and its rejection of Paul's challenge suggests strongly that it had not kept records of actual news suppressions, that its charge was impressionist, not precisely documented. How, except by examination of past events, could the proposed list be compiled? The Press had explained on 7 October that regulations prevented those who drafted the statement from supporting general charges with particular instances, but ‘the public may assume it was drafted with care and that it has behind it three years' experience of the censorship by the New Zealand press as a whole.’ As the Auckland Star on 17 July 1942 had said, ‘Anyone may make sweeping generalisations, but these will not receive or deserve attention unless the writer or speaker “comes down to cases.”’
Censorship in another field was also aired in Parliament at this time. Holland and three other National party members had broken from the War Administration in September 1942, declaring that in the Waikato coal strike the government had failed to govern.234 This was the main issue of a no-confidence debate of 14–15 October, but Holland also had complaints about censorship that drew from the Prime Minister some interesting information on its application to Ministers.
Holland as Minister of War Expenditure, seeing that large sums were being spent on defence construction without normal supervision by the House, had wished to set up an overseeing committee consisting of a member from each party and two outside experts. Fraser, seeing this proposal just as he was about to depart overseas, had given general approval, but told Holland to discuss it with the Commissioner of Defence Construction, James Fletcher, and with the Acting Prime Minister, Sullivan. Fletcher had made a very small amendment, Sullivan and Holland had agreed on the membership of the committee, and Holland had handed his statement launching the committee to the press, with a spare copy going to the Director of Publicity. He was astounded and outraged when the latter withheld it. ‘The Censor had overruled the Acting Prime Minister,’ declared Holland. He himself was a responsible person and a ‘system is wrong when it places in the hands of any one man the power to go over the heads of responsible Ministers and veto their right to tell the public anything that they think the public should be told.’ The Censor had never suggested that there was anything of value page 949 to the enemy in the statement; it had been suppressed in defence of the government.235
In Fraser's reply to the no confidence motion, it is not easy to disentangle the activities of the Prime Minister and the Censor, as the Director of Publicity was called throughout the debate. Fraser began by saying that there was no question of censorship being used in defence of the ordinary government; War Cabinet alone was concerned. He continued:
The whole explanation is that ever since the war started, Cabinet has laid it down—and I have carried it out; although, I do not know whether it has always been enforced when Ministers are not in Parliament Buildings—that a Minister must submit a proposed statement to the Prime Minister or Acting Prime Minister, and he should consult with the Minister concerned if a statement is thought to be inimical to the war effort…. The Censor, in a case like that, would not interfere. He has always come to the Prime Minister with Ministerial statements handed to him, so that the Prime Minister might look at them. I, myself, never make a statement on the war or any aspect of it without submitting it to the Censor. Even if I am in Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland, or elsewhere, I telephone to the Censor and ask whether he thinks it is all right. Why should not I? Why should I make a statement without submitting it to the same conditions as other members of the public? Prime Ministers are not infallible. Many people might think them to be fallible. But they can make mistakes, and, when one writes something it often appears very different from what it does when it is published in the press. We have to be careful in… all statements during war-time….236
When Polson said that the Prime Minister himself had seen the statement, Fraser answered, ‘And I think the statement ought to have been altered. The Censor did what he usually does—called the attention of the Acting Prime Minister, who was head of the team for the time being, to the document, so that it could be discussed and a document representative of the opinions of the War Cabinet as a whole could be issued. No statement ought to be issued by the members of the War Cabinet which is not representative of the whole of the War Cabinet. Otherwise there is no loyalty.’237
Sullivan said, ‘The Censor only held the statement up—until the War Cabinet had had an opportunity of considering it….the matter really did not come before me definitely until I received a letter page 950 from the Censor telling me he disapproved of portions of the statement, but was referring it to myself or War Cabinet for consideration’.238
Fraser repeated: ‘The Censor had instructions from the Government, at the commencement of the war, that any statement presented by a Minister had to come back to the Prime Minister.’239 And again:
The Censor did not censor the statement and has never censored any Ministers' statements. The Censor was told, when the war broke out, that in the interests of the safety of the country every Minister, including the Prime Minister, would have to submit his statements to him in case a matter inimical to the unity of the country and the war effort might be published or news might get out that might be of information to the enemy. The Censor does that duty, but he does not censor the matter…. The matter is returned to the Prime Minister, when necessary, for the purpose of consulting the Minister concerned. That has been done scores of times since the war broke out. The Leader of the Opposition is in no different position from anyone else. That has been the position all along. When any of my colleagues have a statement and I see that the statement is not conducive to the war effort, I say ‘How about talking this over’?240
It would appear that ministerial statements, at least those uttered in Wellington, were shown to the Censor before publication, and if the Censor found any grounds for uneasiness he informed the Prime Minister, who would talk it over with the Minister concerned. The vision of the Prime Minister himself calling the Censor on the telephone from Auckland or Dunedin or Christchurch to check whether a statement was ‘all right’ is engaging. The Observer of 28 October noted that the Director of Publicity ‘who was charged by Mr Holland with suppressing a Ministerial statement for political reasons was present while Mr Fraser was speaking’.
It seems that both the Prime Minister (who was in a hurry) and Acting Prime Minister Sullivan had been less perceptive, in the first instance, to criticism of War Cabinet contained or implied in Holland's statement than was the Director of Publicity, though after the latter had pointed it out they too insisted on redrafting. There followed various delays, suggested amendments were not acceptable to Holland, and it was agreed that the matter should await the return of the Prime Minister. Fraser arrived back shortly before the settlement of the strike. Holland's resignation from the War Cabinet page 951 followed swiftly, and his expenditure committee, with its introductory statement, never appeared.
While most papers concentrated mainly on the mining and political areas of the no-confidence debate, the suppression of Holland's statement was well ventilated in reports, and censorship-conscious papers, notably the Press and the Auckland Star, pointed out editorially that this was the sort of thing the Newspaper Proprietors' Association had had in mind a week or so earlier. Parliament, said the Press, should seek from the Prime Minister a plain statement of policy governing censorship: at present he seemed to be reserving to himself an unfettered discretion to use it as he pleased.241 Would the war-lords of Japan, asked the Star, have rejoiced to learn that war expenditure in New Zealand, which hitherto had not been sufficiently scrutinised, would be so in future? Holland's proposals had not been given effect ‘because somebody thought, or because the censor thought somebody might think, that the statement reflected on Mr Holland's colleagues.’ It was this extending of censorship far beyond its proper purpose that was the essence of the newspapers' protest.242
Newspapers were not allowed to accept advertisements from pacifists and other disruptive people, but apparently there were no qualms about a large advertisement for a National party meeting:
WHAT THE NEWSPAPERS CANNOT PUBLISH. Mr S. G. Holland, M.P., Leader of the Opposition, will address Members, Friends and Supporters of the N.Z. National Party… to-night, Friday, Nov. 27. Mr Holland will give a frank explanation on the following and other cogent matters:—
The War Administration Cabinet.
The Truth behind the Coal Strike.
The Political Situation—Principles or Expediency.
All about the Censorship. Is it being used for Political Purposes?
What the National Party should do—and why.
Keep to-night Free: the information to be given will repay you.243
At about this time G. H. Scholefield recorded how the compulsion to maintain morale, to claim that all was well in the best of page 952 all possible war efforts, was affecting the texture of public life. In his diary he wrote:
5 September . Discussing with Alan Mulgan244 my belief that when this war is over democracy will have a more bitter fight still to reconquer truth and to re-establish sanity in public utterances, I said that we have allowed ourselves to enthrone flattery and insincerity to such a degree that sensible people are beginning to distrust everything that is said. Spontaneous action pictures have entirely disappeared from the press. Everything is a posed and staged demonstration of cordiality and friendship by numbers. Every malcontent and slacker is fulsomely flattered for the wonderful work he has done. Every New Zealand writer or singer is a paragon. Pat Lawlor245 says that New Zealanders have given £40,000 worth of treasures to the Churchill auctions when he must know that the value is probably not one-eighth of that. In fact truth has fled. It can only have the effect of destroying all confidence in the press, the radio and official assurances and producing a race of unbelievers. In fact it will justify the generation that has just sneered its way through the interbellic degradation 1920–40.
A. M. laments that under present conditions truthful memoirs seem out of the question. Too many of the possible writers are in the pay of the Government which is not so broad minded as the BBC (which allows its own people to criticise its policy). Though it was inaugurated with the most benevolent intention this wartime dominion over opinion is going to be overthrown with the greatest difficulty. There will always be some slug whose job depends on perpetuating it.
Oliver Duff, another journalist of lucid and independent mind, talking on the press in wartime, said that in normal times newspapers were as free as the individuals who established them, either to plead a cause or make profits, and generally did both in New Zealand. In war the government must protect the country against the publication of information of use to the enemy or dangerous to its own people. New Zealand in three years had suppressed only two papers, one pacifist, one Communist; England, with 40 million people and in grave danger, had suppressed one communist paper and warned one sensational pictorial publication. While it could not be said that the government had not misused censorship, it could be said most emphatically that censorship had not been grossly abused: it had page 953 said ‘you must not print this’ but not ‘print this’; that would be tyranny. He stressed that government should not be blamed for any misuse of censorship, it was the duty of the public and the press to prevent misuse; they were the watchdogs of the community.246
In censorship, 1943 was a low-key year, apart from the triangular tension between the Americans, the newspapers and the Director of Publicity, which is treated elsewhere.247 For the most part censorship was well away from public knowledge: it was a quiet year for industrial troubles and there were no resounding confrontations in Parliament, only a brief debate in March when Holland waved the banner of freedom for the police force. It was, however, the calm before the storm: three directives issued late in this year were to bring press censorship to its crisis in the Supreme Court.
From 1937, a six-day week of 48 hours was general in the police force, but when these hours were exceeded there were no overtime rates.248 During 1942 the Police Association, pleading extra duty, asked for overtime pay rates. To avoid the impropriety of agitation by the police for more pay during war time, the Director of Publicity, instructed by the Prime Minister, also Minister of Police,249 on 24 December 1942 told editors that there must be no publication of resolutions passed by any branch of the Police Association or by any officers of the Police Department, without his approval; and on 5 January another order also forbad papers to publish without approval ‘any discussion of or reference to the subject of police pay’,250 the ban extending to the Police Journal, voice of the Police Association. It was the right of this body to be heard that Holland championed on 3 March, declaring that it was hamstrung and tongue-tied.251
Fraser said that there was no room or right in the wartime police force, as much a part of New Zealand's defence as the armed forces, for an agitation that might impair discipline or efficiency; action was taken to prevent the spread of disaffection, but at the same time police pay was improved.252 Holland was in fact flogging a dead horse, for at the start of February the Commissioner of Police, the Prime Minister and the Stabilisation Committee had agreed on an page 954 overtime allowance on two hours a week, increasing the pay of policemen up to senior sergeants by one-sixteenth, as from 1 October 1942.253
The reluctance of the first furlough draft to return to the Middle East while there were still thousands of fit men reserved in industry called for a good deal of censorship in 1943–4.254 On 5 August 1943 after the Oamaru RSA had advocated that the furlough men replace Grade I men from industry, Paul telegraphed to editors: ‘There must be no publication without submission to and approval by the Director of Publicity of any matter relating to the following topics, namely, replacing soldiers on furlough by exempted men now working on farms or in other essential occupations nor to the future composition or disposition of New Zealand forces overseas.’255
This was the first of several directives designed to quieten talk and agitation on a sensitive topic that proved difficult to contain. Holland, who believed that New Zealand was militarily over-committed, on 31 August said that long-service men now on furlough should have the choice of returning to the Division or to civil employment. This was broadcast and reported in several papers. On 2 September Paul telegraphed that as such reporting had destroyed the purpose of his 5 August directive it was revoked: ‘That purpose was primarily to discourage the publication of any matter which may be helpful and encouraging to the enemy, destructive of citizen morale in our own country or disruptive of unity of our forces at home or abroad.’256 On 1 October Fraser announced that married men with children, men over 41 and Maoris would remain in New Zealand unless they chose to return overseas, and others could appeal on grounds of personal hardship. The New Zealand Herald on 2 October said that sentiment must not rule in this decision. It was not always fair and could be ‘cruelly unfair’ to speak as if the fit men in industry were somehow at fault. These men could not, except with long training and experience, replace the veterans whose return to service was necessary if others were to have their turn on furlough. The concessions allowed were as far as the government could go if the Division, ‘one of the most famous units in the Mediterranean theatre’, were to be maintained there. Dissatisfaction remained, uttered in newspaper letters, while the Wellington RSA, endorsed page 955 by the NZRSA, urged combing-out of the thousands of fit men retained in so-called essential industry.257
On 21 October, editors were forbidden to publish without approval information or opinions about the return of men on furlough or their replacement by exempted men, or about appeal board hearings apart from name and basis of application. Next day, Paul explained that this order had been issued because some papers had ‘failed to exercise sufficient sense of responsibility concerning the serious issue at stake’. The position had been carefully considered at two sittings of the War Cabinet. The Division had, through training and experience, developed into one of the finest fighting forces in the war—‘as a complete whole it has no equal’; but ‘if the current agitation is effective the disintegration of the division is certain’. Grade I men, however fit, could not, without similar experience, be converted into comparable soldiers. Leave for others would possibly have to be cancelled, and there was no guarantee that the furlough men would willingly take up the jobs now held by those exempted. Most of the anonymous letters appearing arose from self-interest or prejudice, and many had been published ‘in direct contravention of the Regulations’. He added that in this matter he was now acting under direct instructions from the War Cabinet.258
For various reasons, only 1637 of the 6000 furlough men were called back to camp in the New Year. A core, largely from Hamilton, determined not to return and sought to persuade others, using leaflets and stickers, and patrolling Trentham-bound trains.259 These actions, of course, were not reported and on 4 January Paul telegraphed his editors: ‘Please do not repeat references published by some newspapers to furlough men entering camp. Attention is directed to my notice of October 21 and to regulations regarding movement of forces.’260 Two days later he complained of unauthorised references to a watersiders' stoppage in protest against some of their members being called to the Army; there must be no such references direct or indirect to the forces, to the replacement of members, or their employment, civil or military.261
A Hamilton businessman, R. R. V. Challiner, with a fine record of service in both wars, who became interested in the cause of the Hamilton campaigners, was arrested on a train at Taihape, on 9 January 1944, with circulars. These urged that, like the returned Forestry Company, furlough men should go back to civil work, page 956 warned that hundreds of defaulters would pick up the good jobs after the war, and advocated refusing to board troopships: Parliament should meet at once to consider the question.262
On 25 February 1944, the Director warned editors that without prior written consent they must not publish information relating to courts-martial of any furlough men or appeals therefrom, to persons counselling furlough men against returning overseas, or to persons trying to obtain for them release from or postponement of military service.263
Challiner was charged with subversion. After delay over where the case should be heard, the police being keen for Taihape, away from Hamilton sympathy,264 he appeared at Taihape on 30 March and was committed to the Supreme Court for trial. The censored report of the Taihape appearance, excluding reference to his patriotic record and to the furlough men, was considered unfair by the Press Association which did not distribute it.265 In the Supreme Court at Wanganui on 22 May a jury found Challiner not guilty, and reports published his record, still without linking the charge with the furlough men.266
The furlough men continued to be kept from the news. Some returned overseas but the recalcitrants, in batches, were court-martialled for desertion and sentenced to 90 days' detention, with all warrant officers and non-commissioned officers reduced to the ranks.267 In the Court of Appeal, the court-martial verdict on 250 men who had returned punctually to Trentham, performing all duties save embarkation, was silently quashed on 5 April 1944. At the same time the War Cabinet decided that those still refusing service should be dismissed for misconduct with loss of deferred pay and other benefits, news of all this being withheld by further directives.268 Finally, 552 men of both first and second furlough drafts (the second had arrived home on 10 February) were so dismissed in June and July 1944. By law their names had to be published in the New Zealand Gazette, but Paul on 20 June told editors that the War Cabinet especially requested the press to refrain from mention of the topic, adding that while the press generally had been most helpful over the furlough difficulties, an absolute ban had not been achieved: Radio Paris on 5 May had reported ‘There has been page 957 a mutiny among troops due to embark for the European front from Hamilton. A state of siege has been proclaimed in the town.’ Further care must be taken to prevent leakage that would tarnish the reputation of New Zealand soldiers and encourage the enemy.269
Paul continued careful watch for references to the furlough men, notably by the RSA, whose branches from time to time sought to admit them to membership and to secure them honourable discharge with its attendant benefits. On 25 November 1944, when the Dominion published such a resolution by the Wellington RSA, Paul asked again for silence, explaining:
All the dangers of publication regarding the original action … are inherent in that report. The enemy, in possession of the facts of the original action, could now claim that the refusal by certain New Zealand soldiers to obey a lawful army order has now the backing of the Returned Services Association. The propaganda machines of our enemies are not hampered by facts. They need only the most slender published statements on which to build an impressive case and the publication in the Dominion provides all the evidence required by the enemy.270
However, reports appeared about 20 June 1945 that the RSA's annual conference had admitted the dismissed men to membership. Paul decided that despite the earlier wishes of the War Cabinet, ‘it would be most unwise at this stage’ to take legal proceedings against the press, and advised that censorship on this matter should be lifted; further suppression would be regarded as political, and though this would be illogical and baseless, ‘it is capable of successful agitation’. Reference to the furlough draft was certain to be made in Parliament and press reports thereof could not be censored.271 Very soon such questions were asked and published.272 On 18 August 1945 the Prime Minister announced cancellation of the dismissals and restoration of privileges. Within days several papers printed full accounts of the whole incident.273
In November 1943 two directives sought to preserve industrial quiet. When butter rationing was imposed at the end of October, the most valid and vigorous protests came from miners and bush page 958 timber workers. While some negotiations were going quietly through proper channels, the West Coast Timber Workers Union threatened to strike unless its members received one pound of butter a week. When Sullivan declared that the government would not be moved by threats or inflammatory language, the Union secretary on 15 November replied, among other things, ‘I have not known any Government in this country that could fool all the workers all the time into believing that strikes, or threats of strikes, have not compelled Governments to act’; fighting unions were heard, peaceful methods got little consideration.274 Paul forthwith telegraphed editors:
In view of their tendency to result in unlawful action and to create widespread dissatisfaction prejudicially affecting national morale in time of war would appreciate your eliminating from all press matter (particularly in relation to rationing of butter or any other commodity) any suggestions that only by striking or threatening to strike can persons or bodies of persons with legitimate grievances obtain redress.275
The second industrial tranquilliser of November 1943 concerned the police force, its wives and manpower measures. In the interests of efficiency and integrity police regulations had long prohibited members of the force doing outside paid work in their spare time. Wives were included in this ban, thereby avoiding the possibility of policemen through their wives being involved in any dubious enterprises. But in 1943 by Manpower regulations, childless married women of 18 to 30 years were liable for direction to essential industry, and wives of policemen were not exempt. Since the outbreak of war, the Commissioner of Police had readily granted permission for wives to work in approved jobs—but not, for instance, in hotels.276 Some policemen themselves at this time were doing outside work, mainly at night.277 It had begun as patriotic effort in ship-loading emergencies, but this motive was soon merged in keenness for well paid casual work, principally for Americans. Widespread night-shift and weekend work caused fatigue and absenteeism that worried employers and the Labour Department. It would not do to have policemen either overtired or working with doubtful characters; to avoid both impropriety and rigidity, on 27 October an amending page 959 regulation (1943/174) forbad outside work to policemen and their wives unless approved by the Commissioner of Police.278
Some policemen, notably the general secretary of the Police Association, objected that this deprived the country of valuable manpower resources, and claimed that policemen should be free to live as they pleased when off duty. It was also suggested that the Police Department was in conflict with Manpower regulations over the employment of policemen's wives, while in a few instances, through misunderstanding or as an excuse, police regulations were invoked against Manpower directions.279 For instance, in November an Auckland constable told the Post Office that his bride was not allowed to continue postal work, to which the chairman of the Manpower committee replied firmly that the excuse would not hold and that if the police were obstructive the matter would go before higher Manpower authority.280
Publicity of this sort caused Paul on 17 November to order: ‘There must be no publication without approval of the Director of Publicity of any statement or resolution containing any direct or indirect references to the topic of the employment of members of the Police Force in any occupation outside the Force or of the civil or military employment of wives of members of the Police Force.’281
After the elections in September 1943, worker restiveness, under wage controls, Manpower restraints and prices that rose despite the manoeuvres of stabilisation, began to emerge. To prevent one agitation encouraging others and to hold fast the whole structure of emergency regulations, a directive of amazing width was issued on 3 December: ‘Being of opinion that unrestricted publication of information relating to the undermentioned topic would be prejudicial to the public safety I give you notice that without my previous written consent information is not to be published relating to any act of any person if such act amounts to a counselling or inciting of any person to commit an offence against any emergency regulations. On this point please see particularly section nine subsection one of Emergency Regulations Act 1939 and regulation four of Strike page 960 and Lockout Emergency Regulations 1939 and Regulation 21 of Control of Prices Emergency Regulations 1939.’282
This produced at least two overt protests, from papers in Dunedin and Palmerston North. The Otago Daily Times, still resentful that its former employee now had extra editorial powers, pointed out that the United States was relaxing censorship while Australian newspapers were advocating its restriction to security matters and to war casualties until next of kin were notified. It declared that there was no conceivable reason for any stricter control.
New Zealand is, in the experience of its press, the most censor-ridden of the Allied countries. The public would be amazed and perhaps even shocked if it knew the extent to which the censorship deprives it of information that would be of interest to it about events that are occurring in this country. It is, through the deliberate action of the Prime Minister's office, of which the Publicity Department is officially a part, kept in ignorance of activities within the Dominion itself that have no relation to the war …. some of the restrictions to which the newspapers have felt themselves obliged to submit can have been prompted only by political considerations. It is regrettable enough when the censorship is extended to ban the publication of resolutions or statements or comments when the effect might be embarrassing to the Government through their being brought to the notice of the public. But it is worse if the inhibitory ‘directives,’ as they are called in the Prime Minister's office, are so peremptory in tone as to be lacking in courtesy. One of the most recent283 received by us was, in fact, expressed in terms that may justly be described as grossly offensive.284
Paul's reply to this reproof was published in the correspondence column.
The notice to which you refer was in strict legal conformity with the regulation under which it was issued. The reasons will perhaps become more obvious later. It did include the word ‘please’, and it made specific reference to certain provisions of law which explained why the issuing of the notice was considered to be necessary. I was not obliged by law to furnish any such reference, but did so in order to avoid any appearance of arbitrariness ….
The same communication was sent to all editors of newspapers throughout New Zealand. You alone found it ‘grossly offensive.’ page 961 Your discovery was also somewhat belated, because, though you wrote me a letter on December 10 regarding my more recent memorandum of December 8, you then expressed no resentment at the terms of my notice of December 3.
I regret that when making this unfounded charge you did not appreciate the fact that a completely effective defence by me would involve a breach of regulations which I am charged faithfully to administer. I suggest with great respect that the publishing of a so manifestly factitious grievance does little service to the cause of responsible journalism.285
An editor's note, reminding that quotation was prohibited by regulation, maintained that the directive was grossly offensive and that the Director of Publicity deceived himself if he imagined other editors were not highly resentful of the manner in which he exercised or abused his powers.286
Witness to this last remark was borne by the Palmerston North Times. The directive of 3 December, along with those in November concerning threats to strike over rations and with the employment of policemen and their wives, produced on 6 December an editorial headed ‘The Gag Again’ that led to the best-known incident in six years of censorship. Its most important paragraphs, the third, fourth and fifth, read:
Whenever an awkward domestic situation arises—and awkward situations seem to be almost a daily occurrence these days—the Director of Publicity is on the doorstep. Under the Emergency Regulations he has wide powers, and in his practised hand they become as elastic as a politician's conscience. They can be stretched to cover everything, because in the opinion of the Director of Publicity everything these days has some connection, near or remote, with the war effort. But New Zealand's war effort is hardly ever the prime consideration that moves the Director of Publicity to action. Distracted editors are painfully aware of that. What drives the gagging machine into top gear is a maternal solicitude for the Government. And the Government's gagging expert can be relied on to find an excuse for applying his gag at any moment of the day or night, and on any matter from growing onions to coal miners' strikes.
On three occasions recently the gag has been applied. We may be committing a breach of the Emergency Regulations by making that statement, for the peculiar technique which the Director of Publicity has developed, and which he uses with such persistency page 962 and so promiscuously, prevents the newspapers even from stating that they cannot publish certain news. Every communiqué issued from Publicity headquarters is marked ‘Confidential’ and readers must sometimes wonder why a ‘blackout’ suddenly descends just when a particular news story is developing to a climax that is of vital interest to the people of the Dominion—and particularly awkward for the Government
There is an element of grim humour in the fact that all three recent cases of suppression concern the workers, for whose special interest the Government exists—or claims to exist. The workers may or may not have genuine grievances. We are not concerned with that issue at the moment. What we are concerned with is whether the workers have or have not the right to air their grievances through the press, which, no matter whether they admire it or not, is the only Dominion-wide medium through which their grievances can be aired.
The Director of Publicity had sought on 16 March to extend obscurity by reminding editors, in view of this pending prosecution, of the clause on which it was based, adding, ‘In order that there should be no misunderstanding, I feel I should remind you that reports of Court proceedings, equally with statements of any other kind, are governed by this clause.’290
When this was raised in court as a preliminary matter, the magistrate, H. P. Lawry,291 asked if it was an attempt to muzzle the press over court proceedings. The Court adjourned, and the Crown prosecutor, Dr N. A. Foden,292 after telephoning Paul in Wellington, stated that Paul's letter was to let editors know that they could not publish, in the guise of a court report, any matter which had been page 963 subject to censorship prohibition; it was not intended that there should be no reports of the proceedings. The magistrate remarked that the letter was less explicit than it might have been, and that the regulation in question293 was not limited to matters of public safety and the war effort; it was ‘as wide open as the world’. Dr Foden said that it was of a kind found desirable on the experience of the last war, and that Australia had an almost identical regulation.294
Billens explained that he had received mountains of directives, most of which he thought went further than they should; the three referred to were the culmination of a long series, and none was so generalised as the last of these three (read in court but not reported) which had finally forced him to speak out, risking prosecution.295
In his reserved judgment on 6 April, Lawry discussed Regulations 15 and 16. Regulation 15 gave the Director of Publicity power to prohibit publication of matters that he as sole judge deemed prejudicial to the public safety, while Regulation 16 (5b) went infinitely further, applying to matters of all kinds, including political or industrial ones, whether or not they related to public safety. Billens was convicted; his editorial plainly indicated that the censor had refused permission for the publication of certain matters. He had acted from the highest motives, wanting to test the validity of the instructions A modest fine of £5 1s, with costs totalling £3 13s, was imposed, and the case went to appeal.296
March 1944 also saw the opening of two other attacks on press censorship. In the first, three editors visiting Britain on a press delegation, E. V. Dumbleton297 (Auckland Star), W. A. Whitlock298 (Hawke's Bay Herald–Tribune) and P. H. N. Freeth299 (Press), cabled a statement widely published on 8 March, telling of much greater page 964 freedom. Basically, they said, censorship in Britain was voluntary; it was compulsory in New Zealand, where certain classes of matter denned by the censor had to be submitted to him and approved before publication, and a paper committed an offence if it disobeyed an instruction, even unwittingly. In Britain, censorship was an insurance against violation of security; a newspaper referred to the censor for expert advice on doubtful points, but even if the newspaper then ignored the advice, that was not of itself an offence: it must be proved that the information published was useful to the enemy, and so far there had been only two such prosecutions. In Britain there was no censorship of policy as opposed to security; guidance memoranda were issued from time to time giving authentic ground information on current events, leaving editors to publish matter relating to policy as they thought fit. Newspapers could indicate plainly what censorship prevented them from saying, whereas in New Zealand it was an offence to indicate that any matter had been before the censor, or been cut. News and articles intended for publication outside Britain were subject to compulsory censorship as in New Zealand, but news from abroad was freely admitted: from a neutral country it was assumed that the enemy could learn it directly, from an Allied country it was assumed to have been passed by local censorship; New Zealand made no such assumptions.300
This information was not wholly new. Something very similar had appeared in the Auckland Star of 26 May 1942 and other papers, taken from an interview with Brendan Bracken,301 British Minister of Information, and published in Life magazine. Paul hastened to claim that much of the editors' description was inaccurate. ‘Voluntary’ censorship in Britain involved scores of stops and releases regularly issued by the censorship authorities, saying what might not be published, what else must be submitted to censorship and what should be carefully scrutinised; evidence of this could be viewed by accredited pressmen at Paul's office. In New Zealand, as in Britain, certain matter had to be submitted to censorship, but voluntary censorship was immeasurably greater than compulsory censorship; some leading New Zealand daily newspapers did not submit on the average even one item a week for censorship. ‘The regulations are clear, and after four and a half years of war pressmen should know what published information will or will not help the enemy.’ In the page 965 United Kingdom, as in New Zealand, censorship was based on common sense and fairness, but that had not prevented periodical outbursts of hostile press criticism, or agitation for changes of Ministers of Information. In a recent censorship agitation, the night news editor of the Daily Mirror had declared that 60 per cent of his work and that of his colleagues was being suppressed—‘There is a deliberate, definite, and damnable censorship of opinion going on.’ Paul quoted Brendan Bracken from the Life article: ‘Censorship is no simple art. Any fact may be news, and any fact from a country at war may be of some value to the enemy. A shortage of this or that, a strike here—all such facts are watched for by the enemy.’302
Concluding in good public relations style, Paul quoted the last sentence of a recent leading article in one of New Zealand's most responsible dailies. ‘Words cannot win wars but they can go a long way towards losing them’ Of all words the published word may be the most dangerous as the conveyor of information to the enemy. There is a very sound case for the New Zealand censorship in law and in practice. Some day, too, the full story of helpful co-operation between the New Zealand press and the censorship will be told. Few editors publicise the censor as a nuisance—fortunately many regard him as a co-operator with them in the [sic] furthering the national war effort.303
Despite this goodwill message, several editors questioned Paul's presentation, notably the Press, which said that the New Zealand editors were aware of the obvious: naturally British censorship commonly issued stops, releases and submission instructions. Paul destroyed his own careful case by saying that after four and a half years of war pressmen should know what published information would or would not help the enemy. They did know, and when in doubt would gladly seek and defer to his opinion; but they objected to rulings imposed, and rulings again and again bent far from the necessary objects of security.304
The Southland Times agreed with Paul that the British system did not in practice differ much from New Zealand's, for though British editors could disregard the stops and qualified releases, they knew page 966 that the censor's military information was fuller than their own; but the big difference was Britain's position in the front line of fighting, whereas New Zealand, especially with the Japanese threat completely gone, was remote from military activity.305 Truth compared the two systems point by point, stressing in the week before Billens's first trial that in New Zealand it was an offence to make it known where censorship had operated.306
Censorship's third public appearance in March 1944 was in Parliament. On the 16th, a few days before Billens's trial Doidge, claiming that censorship was suppressing political comment, read an article that had been posted to the New Statesman, London, and returned with a note that it was not approved for publication overseas and therefore could not be released for outward transmission. The writer, G. le F. Young,307 had handed the issue to Doidge. The article did not refer to the war at all. It was a post-election comment on New Zealand's ‘somewhat gloomy’ political future. Labour had more space than the other parties, in such terms as: ‘At the present time the New Zealand Labour Party affords an interesting study of the decay that overtakes a Socialist Government when it fails to introduce Socialism. Idealism has fled, the pressure groups have taken charge, and the Government's main policy seems to be self presservation. The three most powerful unions in the country, the Freezing Workers, the Watersiders, and the Miners, call the tune, and the Government lifts up its weary old feet and dances.’ The deposit-losing failure of Lee's group in the election was described, and the National party was disparagingly dismissed, in terms such as: ‘The Right damns the unions by bell, book and candle, and calls on the Government to show who is master, to use the big stick &c…. Parliamentary opposition… will be based on the familiar cries of “less regimentation”, “abolish controls”, “give private enterprise freedom to operate” and “down with Socialism”.’308
On 22 March Fraser explained. He could find no trace of political partisanship in the refusal to transmit the article, which was hostile to both the Opposition and the government. ‘I think it was a silly article, and quite wrong, probably, about both parties. I do not think it would have got space in the New Statesman and Nation, but that page 967 is only a matter of opinion.’ He had inquired into the refusal, and with the answer had received another article by the same author which had been in the same envelope with the political commentary. ‘The person who wrote an article of this type, containing innuendoes and reflecting upon the girlhood and womenhood of New Zealand in the most outrageous language, must have a warped mind. It would never be accepted by Mr Kingsley Martin.’309 The Prime Minister allowed that each article should have been considered on its own merits, but ‘the postal Censor who opened the letter saw this filth, and sent it to the press Censor. He assures me that he read this indecent article first; and I can understand him being moved to stop the lot by disgust and a feeling that he had to protect New Zealand from stuff like that.’ He could not read the article, nor would members wish him to quote from it, but it was available to members though the Speaker.
If it could be established that the postal Censor or press Censor was using his power to stultify reasonable political criticism, it would be a very serious matter indeed, and I would not stand for it for one second, nor would the Government…. The purpose of the censorship is to prevent information from leaking out of the country which will be of service to the enemy, to prevent publication of matter that will injure the country's war effort, and to prevent the publication, by the press or any other medium, of anything that will undermine the morale of the people and weaken the fight we are putting up. Anything apart from that, if it is simply political, without any of those repercussions, has no right to be censored. All I can say is that, had I been in the Censor's position, and read that reflection on New Zealand women and girls, I do not know whether my indignation might not have moved me to take similar action, and throw the whole lot into the waste-paper basket. I will leave that matter there….310
Broadfoot, however, returned to it, saying that there were hundreds of grosser books in the Parliamentary Library, and that there were only two words to which any exception could be taken. The article referred to people of ill-repute, and to social diseases. The censor had set himself up as censor of morals, and was presuming too far.311 Broadfoot went on to complain of interference with mail: a clipping page 968 from Truth on election results had been cut off below the headlines, while the letter of a woman who quoted political news to her soldier son was returned with a note advising her to stick to the truth. Fraser called this an impertinence, and said, ‘We had better get a Committee of the House to investigate the matter. I am quite willing.’312 A committee was promptly appointed to examine postal censorship. Thus, as Dr Lochore remarked, a debate mainly concerned with publicity censorship ended with setting up a Parliamentary committee to enquire into postal censorship only.313
In the debate H. E. Combs314 explained government attitudes to censorship, both press and postal, with even more clarity than Fraser. It was, he said, especially necessary now that the trials of war were further from our shores, to avoid any indication that the people of New Zealand were tired, or not prepared to continue the war effort. Any such reference in a newspaper or letter ‘would be—quite properly—deleted’. New Zealanders were safeguarded ‘by trained minds that are interested in the correct point of view going out and the incorrect view not going out. That practice has been in operation in the Publicity Section of the Censorship Department ever since it was established, and it has been faithfully carried out. Then, there is the question of the width to which the censorship shall be applied; and, by necessity, it has been widely applied.’ The newspapers had a duty, which most sustained, ‘to keep up the morale of the general public, and make it honestly believe that what is being done and has been done in the best spirit and to maintain a solid front [sic]. The newspapers have to keep up the confidence of the people in the general direction of the war effort.’ Labour members could reasonably complain that every item of criticism levelled at the government by the Opposition had ‘at least a tendency to undermine the confidence of the people in the control of the war effort… by the Government. That is a very important factor and… all the time they are criticising so drastically everything that is being done, they are poisoning the minds of the people.’ He spoke of the need to eliminate unrelated facts that the enemy could build together into something of value, or information that could sow dissension in the armed forces or civil population. ‘The field of censorship is about as wide as it could possibly be’ and any one who expected that there would be no mistakes or errors of judgment was expecting far too much. ‘The success of the censorship is to be found in this: that so few page 969 comments are made in the correspondence columns of the newspapers… on the exercise of the censorship or any wrong use of it.’315
Paul and the three editors316 had another bout of exchanges in May 1944, when the editors returned. The editors disagreed on 16 May with Paul's 9 March presentation of British censorship as not voluntary, quoting from an official memorandum which stated that matter for publication within the United Kingdom was not subject to compulsory censorship. They concluded by quoting the chief correspondent of the New York Times: ‘“Admiral Thomson317 (the British chief press censor) and his officials are largely responsible for developing the wartime censorship as a strict rule of law, and for the prevention of its extension to matters of domestic and foreign politics, or in fact anything beyond the bare necessities of military security.”’318
Paul criticised this criticism of 18 May, the editors replied on 19 May, and Paul again on 20 May. In this dialogue the editors' main theme was that in Britain censorship, over a wide field of internal news, was voluntary and disregarding the censor's advice was not in itself an offence. Paul held, with increasing firmness, that although within certain limits British newsmen might ‘flout’ the censorship, in actual practice they did not do so, which meant that censorship in Britain and New Zealand was very similar.
The Press on 22 May, besides reminding that in Britain censorship and publicity were not one but two separate functions served by separate departments, dwelt on the point that while censorship on a particular topic could be indicated in Britain, this was forbidden in New Zealand, placing papers in the embarrassment of appearing to suppress news and views without reasonable justification. ‘The Director of Publicity may continue to spin words ad infinitum but he will not be able to dispose of these very essential differences— and they are only a few of the many that could be mentioned between the two systems.’
In Australia during April and May conflict gathered over censorship, producing a crisis out of which censorship emerged limited solely to security, as related to existing conditions, so that what had been censorable in 1942 was not necessarily censorable in 1944; principles were laid down in a comprehensive code.319 Naturally page 970 New Zealand newspapers were impatient for like developments, and they were joined by the Chamber ot Commerce. On 28 June, the Associated Chambers advocated to the Prime Minister that New Zealand's censorship should be amended likewise. The Prime Minister replied: ‘“defence security” is a variable term which must be interpreted in relation to the degree of danger to the nation when any particular decision must be made…. With the danger receding, censorship has been relaxed in important respects and this has been done in accord with practice and commonsense and without amendment of the regulations.’320
Billens's appeal,321 heard in the Supreme Court (Full Court) on 7 July 1944 by three judges, was widely reported in Australia as well as in New Zealand. The Solicitor-General, H. H. Cornish, in prosecuting, placed a good deal of weight on the reference to the gag being applied on three occasions and that all three concerned the workers, which would cause people to wonder what the suppressions were. Both in court and in the judgments, attention was strongly turned to the very wide power, quite without check, of the Director to decide what was prejudicial to public safety. ‘The powers of the Pontiff were nothing compared to those of the Director of Publicity’ was a much quoted comment by the Chief Justice; and what, he asked, had the employment of policemen's wives to do with public safety? Why not include sisters, cousins and aunts, suggested Mr Justice Northcroft, who also remarked that the Director had become editor-in-chief of all papers on topics which he himself selected.
Their judgments, given on 11 August, quashed the conviction 2:1, finding that Paul had exceeded his powers. All three discussed the need for and the proper limits of wartime censorship. The Chief Justice, Sir Michael Myers, dissenting, held that the first four paragraphs of the editorial, though severe criticism, in no way infringed the regulations, but the fifth paragraph, by indicating that the Director of Publicity had refused authority for the publication of a ‘kind of matter’, the airing of grievances by workers, contravened the regulation.322
Mr Justice Johnston was more expansive: … the relations between ‘Censorship’ and the ‘Press’ must in the nature of things be frequently strained and mutual distrust give way to actual animosity. The Press has won only by many a hard-fought battle a freedom of publication every editor thinks it his page 971 bounden duty to the public to preserve. Like pantry-maids who in the presence of crockery seemed seized with an irresistible urge to destruction, censorship seems, when it faces the Press, powerless to restrain an inborn lust of suppression. In this inflammable atmosphere the censor struck a match by issuing a set of directives, to which, unless content to surrender its freedom, the Press could well feel obliged to make protest…. The directives, which proved the last straw, explain the indignation they aroused in the breast of appellant and illustrate a propensity on the part of the Director of Publicity to expand his sphere of activity to an astonishing extent.
He found that the article did not indicate a refusal to authorise the publication of news or information since there was no evidence of application for approval to publish. It did not give information on a prohibited subject, and the Director could not in good faith declare that information on the subjects of the directives endangered public safety.323
Mr Justice Northcroft wrote:
It is difficult to see how any one of the three directives involved in this case deals in the slightest degree with public safety as defined. The directives are claimed to be authorised by Reg. 15 which makes the issuing of a notice depend upon the opinion of the Director of Publicity; but the Director must be of opinion that the information prohibited ‘would be prejudicial to the public safety’. … it was maintained that the mere issue of the prohibition is sufficient to establish the opinion of the Director and that justification of his opinion need not be shown. In my opinion, this states the matter too widely. If it is apparent upon a perusal of the prohibition of the Director that public safety is not involved, then his order cannot be validated by a mere assumption that the Director must have been ‘of opinion’ that public safety would be prejudiced…. These are regulations for the public safety in time of war and are not to be construed narrowly to the prejudice of the public safety. At the same time the regulations are not to be given such a construction as will interfere, without regard for public safety, with the customary freedom of discussion of matters of general interest to the community. If this was intended as one of the functions of the regulations, then it should have been stated in clear and unequivocal language.324 page 972 On 11 August, just before the verdict was delivered, a debate was going on in the House on censorship, both press and postal, with new complaints made and old ones remembered. Doidge opened by saying that, with the war at its peak and victory in sight, the government should introduce economies and relax controls, beginning with the tyranny of censorship. Press censorship should go overnight. He quoted Brendan Bracken, Priestley and Laski,325 spoke of Australia's recent reforms and wondered why New Zealand continued its drastic censorship. He referred to the political instance he had revealed in March, the criticism of the Labour party intended for the New States man, banned because it shared an envelope with an article which the censor said was immoral.326 One might call the article ‘cheap and nasty’ but it was not without literary merit of the New Statesman sort. It was about an American in a taxi squeezing a girl so hard that she nearly swallowed her false teeth.327
Fraser said that there was no limitation when attacking the government, but Doidge was excusing rank filth which it would be wrong to release, besmirching the reputation of New Zealand women. The House being off the air, saving electricity, he quoted a sample: ‘“What are the girls like’? Depends on what you want. There are whores of course. I guess whores are just the same where ever you go…. Far as I can see there's no difference between a whore in South Bend and one in Christchurch, New Zealand. The pox is just the same, too, they tell me.” “No whores for this Marine.” ‘Did the Opposition say that the censor was wrong in stopping that filth from going out of the country’? To have the mothers of America thinking that women in New Zealand were an immoral lot would hinder the joint war effort; it was not merely a matter of public safety, it was a question of the war effort and relations with allies. ‘I make no apology for anything the Censor did in that respect,’ continued Fraser. ‘One case of censorship action has gone to the Supreme Court. Let the Court decide. If the Censor has exceeded his duty in that or any other case, he will have to take the conse quences and his authority in future will be adjusted in accordance with the law.’328
Amid the usual posturing of debate, some things had the ring of truth. It was here that Fraser spoke out as quoted above,329 asking if in any country the press had real freedom. Every day the New page 973 Zealand press attacked the Labour government, magnifying little matters and stirring up strife. The press backed up the Opposition because it knew that while Labour was on the Treasury benches the privileges of the rich were in danger.330
In the midst of this debate came the news of Billens's acquittal, and the attack on Paul sharpened. Bowden331 inveighed strongly against Paul's absolute power. Was there not a Censorship Board? Had it ever met? Censorship was in the hands of one man, subject to the corruption of absolute power. Bowden had no faith in the man appointed, his background saturated with political bias, appointed by the Prime Minister as reward for past service to the government and the Labour party and to continue that service, distrusted throughout New Zealand.332
Oram, who as a lawyer had acted for Billens, pushed the attack home firmly. Had the Director of Publicity been selected for his ability to form unbiased judgments, had he the training, ability and qualifications for that particular job? ‘No. Once again we have the principle of spoils to the victors, and we have appointed as Director of Publicity Mr Paul, whose only claim to that job was that he had served the New Zealand Labour Party well and truly and had been its first president.’ Oram then examined the regulations, explaining that public safety (covering service operations, the maintenance of industry and the prevention of subversive utterances) should guide determination whether anything should be censored or not, and dwelt on the muzzling effect of the clause under which Billens had been tried. He quoted extensively from the judgments, read the three directives that had precipitated the Billens editorial, and read the editorial itself.333
Nash, fighting back, said that the judiciary could not interfere with law passed by Parliament, it could only interpret the law. The judiciary had said that the Director of Publicity had exceeded the powers provided under regulations adopted by Parliament. It was imperative that the country should have absolute faith in and respect for the courts, and he was fearful that some day it might be said that the judges were not interpreting the law.334
The Billens case was widely and prominently reported, and there was general jubilation in the editorials, with only the Grey River page 974 Argus saying that the Opposition was making party capital of cen sorship.335 The Associated Chambers of Commerce on 1 September declared their approval of the press in its fight for freedom.336 New Zealand, however, did not follow Australia into a limited security code of censorship. Paul's diary on 16 August 1944 briefly noted: ‘P.M. Censorship code. No capitulation.’337
During September 1944 several censorship themes were reiterated. The Prime Minister on 6 September, in the budget debate, repeated that freedom of the press meant simply the right of newspapers to express the opinions of their owners, agreeing that the same was true of Labour's weekly, the Standard. It was, he said, a problem for democracy that would have to be met in a sensible and sane way. It would be good if any newspaper which attacked individuals for statements made were obliged to publish any refutation with equal prominence. He claimed that this system had operated for a time in France and that it had been recommended to the Menzies government in Australia by a leading newspaper proprietor, Sir Keith Murdoch.338
A few days later, replying to a question asked by Broadfoot on the continuance of censorship of internal mail, Fraser said that it could not be removed entirely until the end of the war with Japan, although it had already been greatly reduced. He added that it was maintained solely for security reasons, to prevent the communication of anything which might prejudice military success or the safety of shipping.339 The Auckland Star, applying this statement to press censorship, said that logically it should be followed by overhaul of the censorship regulations. These, ‘as the public is now fully aware,’ empowered the censor to prohibit publication of much which had no bearing on military matters or on shipping. It was their wideness which had caused so much objection to them. In Australia the government had recognised the changed war situation by discarding its regulations for a new code devised in consultation with the newspapers. New Zealand should do likewise. ‘While any regulation remains in force it can be used, or its existence can be mentioned page 975 as a covert threat. The way to ensure—and to convince the public— that non-security regulations will not be used is to repeal them.’340
On 20 September, the annual conference of newspaper proprietors, having considered correspondence between its president and the Prime Minister, unanimously supported adoption of the principles of the code agreed upon in Australia. In particular: censorship should be imposed exclusively for defence security, not for the maintenance of morale; it should not prevent the reporting of industrial disputes or stoppages; in prosecutions, the onus of proof should be upon the prosecution. The conference considered the Prime Minister's reply to its president completely unsatisfactory, since it did not give adequate reason for not accepting the Australian code's principles, merely asserting that censorship in New Zealand ‘had been progressively relaxed over a considerable period of time.’ The only relaxations of which the conference had had official advice related to weather reports, the movements of coastal shipping and a few minor domestic matters. ‘Directives’ forbidding publication of news with no bearing on security had not been modified or withdrawn and any of these, ‘which it is considered should never have been issued’, might be invoked in prosecutions involving heavy penalties. Finally, the conference was emphatic that to secure a conviction the prosecution should have to prove that the publication prejudiced defence security.341
Auckland's RSA considered that the war situation made the censorship stringency of the past three years unnecessary and that the time had arrived when people could enjoy the freedom of speech which was part of their democratic rights. It urged Dominion headquarters to support the efforts of the press towards modification of censorship.342 In fact, censoring activity diminished greatly all through 1944. After March the files reveal no more general orders against publishing items of news within New Zealand, except those relating to the furlough rebels.343 In May 1944 Paul, replying to an editor critic, wrote:
You will not have failed to notice that with the improved war situation and the receding danger of direct Japanese attack on New Zealand, censorship direction affecting industrial reports in the Press has disappeared. More than six months have elapsed since any request or order has been issued by me which has any reference to an industrial dispute as such. During that time there have been many disputes, including strikes in the Railway bus service, in the mines, on the waterfront, and in other occupations. page 976 There has been not the slightest curbing by censorship in any of these disputes, and it has been a wide-open season for Press reports and comments.344
Government's policy thus was to relax censorship through inactivity, without altering the regulation or cancelling most of the directives.
The Auckland Star on 1 May 1945 drew attention to a further complaint, of the New Zealand Journalists' Association, that it was increasingly hard to obtain information on the work of government departments, the heads of some having been instructed by their ministers not to make statements of any kind to the press. This reticence was attributed to the influence of the Director of Publicity, whose work was ‘one of the necessary evils of the war’. He had required to see public statements from government officers, such as members of the Price Tribunal, before publication, and there was danger of this supervision spreading. This criticism would suggest that censorship by the Director seemed to be being taken over by ministers.345
When the war in Europe ended Paul wrote to editors that many matters could then be published which previously would have given valuable information to the enemy; even Japan was a diminished danger, and ‘my policy has long been the progressive relaxation of censorship in relation to the immediate danger to the Dominion.’ It was now possible and desirable to give publicity to matters such as the former luxury liners, exotics in New Zealand waters, that were carrying troops—‘many New Zealanders are of course aware of the coming of the big ships and descriptive articles and photo graphs relating to their voyages would make interesting reading’, though the Navy asked that shipping references should be checked before publication,346 Moreover, British naval authorities required silence about some shipping until the Japanese forces had surrendered and it was 4 September 1945 before this last restriction ended.347
Fraser, on 15 August, immediately after announcing the end of the war with Japan, said that press censorship would end right away. The Dominion saluted this news with a brief recapitulation, giving a few examples. It summarised the regulations, explaining that through Paul security-risk material had been submitted to the Services concerned, by whom much of the physical act of censorship was carried out. Dozens of events were never described, such as the crash of an American bomber near Whenuapai early in 1942, killing about page 977 12 men and damaging houses, while even the presence of Americans who arrived in June 1942 was not admitted by the press until November. Japan's entry had greatly extended restrictions: camps could not be named nor the sites of air raid shelters, beach defences, tank blocks; new weapons were taboo. Also ‘there were many instances when the security applications were not so obvious’, such as the Woburn workshops' dispute about Saturday morning overtime in March 1941, police pay claims in January 1943, and policemen doing outside work or their wives being employed in November 1943; shortages were not to be mentioned to avoid panic buying and hoarding. In all ‘much that happened from day to day in New Zealand during the war was never published.’348
Over the years, how easy or rigorous was New Zealand's censorship? It seems clear that it started harmoniously, with editors thankful that their censor understood newspapers, their routines, values and deadlines; several, during 1940, referred to the censor as helpful, courteous, a friend. They fully accepted the need for silence on what could be useful to the enemy and as Paul himself said, censorship was possible only through the active co-operation of the newspapers in general, working on the ‘honour system’;349 such slips as that leading to the prosecution of the Auckland Star350 and the mentions of biscuits351 and bacon352 showed that newsmen could sometimes miss implications. Obviously some suppressions as well as those dealing with shipping, troops and defences were necessary: news that the Niagara carried ammunition would have been interesting to the enemy and knowing of the furlough controversy might, besides obvious propaganda value, have caused the Division to have been written down as a fighting unit. But in attempting, to the extent described by speakers such as Fraser, Nash and H. E. Combs, to present an almost totalitarian unity for the sake of Dr Goebbels, ends did not justify means. Nor were suppressions complete or consistent: the railings of, say, the Press or the Otago Daily Times against censorship, in the non-specific terms permitted, could well have provided material for Goebbels's team; there had been no attempt to suppress grumbling columns on the shortage of eggs and honey.
Paul was 65 years old when the war started. It could be expected that as he grew used to power and as pressures multiplied, he would page 978 become less patient, more anxious, more crabbed, his sense of proportion sinking under obsession with detail. It must be remembered that he was very close to Fraser who, despite his intelligence, was often in his protective devotion to the Labour government as intolerant as a religious fanatic. At any hour of the day or night, the telephone could bring the Prime Minister's disapproval of a disparaging passage. Meanwhile pressmen, as the war physically receded, were increasingly impatient with restrictions for ‘morale’, or for defence of the administration, rather than for security, especially as other Allied countries seemed much more liberal. At the end of 1942 Oliver Duff, a thoughtful witness, said most emphatically that censorship had not been grossly abused.353 By 1944, even allowing for political inclination, criticism was much stronger. Broadly, in the censorship field the theme so familiar throughout the war was worked over: the government felt that complete loyalty was its due in running the war, and any defection should be silenced, while those basically opposed to the government's administration felt that, for the sake of the war effort, their criticisms should be heard.
However at the end, on 26 June 1945, the editor of the Christchurch Star–Sun could write to Paul: ‘We have had our arguments, but both of us have been too long in politics to confuse persons with principles. I ought to say now that the editors were fortunate to find a censor as tolerant and as helpful as you have been. We might so easily have had a censor with a military mind and no understanding of journalism.’354
As a postscript, it might be worth looking at the end of February 1946 annual meeting of the New Zealand Press Association for a view on wartime censorship and its aftermath. Sir Cecil Leys, Association chairman, acknowledged appreciatively that, through the action of the Prime Minister, censorship of collected news had been removed very soon after the war, its only real justification, ended. He regretted another form of censorship that in fact remained, the censorship of news at its source. This was a hangover from the war, a conception of news as something that was issued by an official at times and in circumstances of his own choosing. Leys saw this as the enemy of good journalism, and he held that the public interest was superior to the interest of public officials. Neither was he happy about the creation of the Information Section of the Prime Minister's Office in the room of the wartime Director of Publicity, with the task of centralising and controlling the issue of official news. Local bodies, too, were attempting to control the flow of information to page 979 the press. It was essential, said Leys, that a strong, free press should give the public all the information that they were entitled to have, without regard to sectional interests, great or small, that would suppress it, colour it, or tone it down.355
Post and Telegraph censorship was closely entwined within normal Post and Telegraph functions. Under the Controller of Censorship, George McNamara, a retired Director-General of the Department, two senior departmental officers were respectively Chief Postal Censor and Chief Telegraph Censor.356 Overseas telegrams, both incoming and outgoing, were concentrated on Auckland, the cable terminal, and Wellington, terminal of radio channels to the United States. Together these offices employed 16 full-time trained operators as censors. At other overseas telegraph censorship points selected officers, as an extra duty, handled these telegrams, which were reviewed at Auckland or Wellington.357
Postal censorship, a larger matter, with district centres covering the country, employed at the peak about 250 officers. At first they were almost all permanent Post and Telegraph staff, but as these were eroded by conscription censors were recruited from retired civil servants, bank officials and schoolteachers. Letters in foreign languages were sent to a special section in Wellington, where a supervisor, a clerk and up to six full-time translators worked, assisted by part-time translators. Of these only the supervisor, a retired chief postmaster, actually censored letters.
Except in French, linguists where far from plentiful in New Zealand during the 1940s. Early in the war post office notices advised aliens to write only in French, German or Italian, but some could not even read the notices. Apart from language ability, censorship work demanded political reliability and personal integrity. The translation section was able to muster several persons with good knowlege of German, the most important language for refugee letters; one Hungarian translator; at least one with command of Italian and Spanish; another with thorough knowledge of one Slav language and enterprise to tackle the rest, especially the Serbo-Croat of New Zealand's Yugoslavs. There were also several part-time translators such as the Chinese and Greek consuls, but it was often neither satisfactory nor fair to place the correspondence of a small national group before one member of it. Of 44 languages encountered, 22 page 980 were handled by full-time and seven by part-time translators, while Thai and three Indian languages were forwarded to British censorship overseas. The remaining 11, including such impenetrable languages as Latvian, Welsh, Maltese and Arabic, were variously treated according to the section's knowledge of the sender: returned as non-transmissable where the sender was unknown; forwarded with more or less delay when the sender was known as more or less reliable; forwarded for overseas censorship if it was thought that translation might be informative. Letters from overseas were usually passed, with or without delay; internal letters, especially between known correspondents, were usually passed promptly.358
The correspondence of each alien was allotted to one translator, who kept a record of it, gradually building up a case history very useful in ascertaining the alien's good faith or otherwise. There was consultation with other translators where multi-lingual aliens made this necessary. This casework, possible only where aliens were relatively few, enabled censorship to extract the maximum of both information and reassurance from correspondence and made up for halting knowledge of some minor languages. Translators, who in time learned which people had long been exchanging innocuous letters, could pass these more quickly, concentrating on more doubtful ones. Early in 1944 a ‘frank’ system was authorised, whereby translators could pass unread any correspondence which could reasonably be regarded as innocuous, and this made two translators redundant.359
Not all outgoing mail was censored; except in 1942–3, probably less than half the letters in English were examined.360 All airmail was opened, including letters to servicemen. Censorship was complete on mail for Europe from early 1940 onwards, and on Far East mail from 1941, but surface mail with the United Kingdom was examined less. United States mail was scarcely touched until 1942 when, to prevent the relatives of American servicemen from learning that their units were in New Zealand, all States-bound mail was opened. Americans' letters were supposed to go through their camp censors, but some might use ordinary post offices, or get New Zealand friends to write home. Censors stopped hundreds of letters such as: ‘Dear Mamie, Excuse me being so familiar as I do not know you, but this is just to say that I saw Sam yesterday, he is OK and wants me to tell you, etc.’361 Surface mail with Australia and the Pacific islands went freely for the first two years, but thereafter all was examined. The years 1942–3 were high-pressure ones for censors, page 981 with a routine delay of about a fortnight on all mail leaving New Zealand. In 1944 examination of surface American mail was again reduced to token level.362
There was also personal censorship on about 2200 people, mainly enemy aliens. It began with the 1650 Germans who were not exempt from registration in the early days of the war. After June 1940, New Zealand's 800 Italians and far less numerous French were included, also Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians on account of German Balts among them. Czechs and Poles were added so that censorship would cover all refugees, as were, in due course, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Finns and Thailanders.
Mail to or from particular countries was readily collected, but with internal mail collection was more difficult. Letters written by a listed person to non-listed people within New Zealand were not discovered, but each postman (or woman) was expected to memorise listed names on his round, and take any letters to these which did not already bear the censor's stamp back to the post office for examination. Postmen changed often and some uncensored mail slipped through their hands by mistake. Generally, censored mail would be delayed a week or so, especially if it were in a foreign language which required reference to Wellington.
Postal censorship sought to extract information militarily and economically useful to the war effort, including information on local aliens, and to withhold such information, plus money in any form, from the enemy, remembering that when many letters were read together seemingly innocent references could add up to useful information. Withholding information was the main function of censorship in New Zealand. Repression of propaganda helpful to the enemy was another purpose, more difficult in perception and varying between censors. Pacifist literature published in the United Kingdom, diatribes against the New Zealand government, criticism of New Zealand, especially New Zealand in the war, were some of the subjects that taxed judgment. Dr Lochore, senior translator, wrote:
It took us some time to realise that the truth or untruth of a statement had nothing to do with its censorability, but in time we learned the necessity of cutting the truth and passing lies on occasion. An untruth was never suppressed on the ground of its untruth, but only on the ground of adverse military or propaganda effect. At times we even found ourselves cutting pro-Allied page 982 sentiments from mail destined for Germany for the protection of people of anti-Nazi sympathies in enemy territory.363
At the outset no clear statement was made to officers on what was or was not permitted and in the early weeks censors, too anxious about enemy propaganda or encouragement, were over-busy with their scissors. On 5 December 1939 a memorandum from the Chief Postal Censor went forth:
Difficulty may be experienced at times in deciding to what extent criticism of Government policy is permitted in censored correspondence. In this respect each case is to be considered on its merits. The Controller of Censorship has laid down that generally most of the views expressed in letters which have so far come under notice are merely personal views. Where, however, these views are likely to mislead, are exaggerated, or are likely to damage the reputation of the country, the portions should be excised.
A different political opinion is of no moment if it is not likely to be damaging to the country's standing, and what might be passed in domestic exchanges might be open to objection if addressed to business firms overseas.
It is appreciated that Censors have cases which are difficult to decide. They can only use a wise discretion, submitting to this Office any letter about which they are uncertain.364
In January 1940 the Auckland Chamber of Commerce asked for a guiding list of topics to be avoided, alleging that passages of no military significance had been deleted and that censorship in New Zealand seemed to be more severe than elsewhere. One overseas firm had advised that none of its mail from Canada or Australia was censored but every one of four letters from New Zealand had been opened. The Controller replied that deletions were largely determined by the general tenor of the correspondence. It would hardly be practicable to outline what topics should be excluded but ‘no reference must be made, of course, to any matter which would be likely to prejudice the steps being taken in the Dominion to assist the armed forces of Great Britain.’365
A few days later, under the heading, ‘What are the Rules?’, the Dominion featured a letter from England which complained strongly of political opinions (for instance, on the social security scheme) having been cut out of letters from the writer's parents in New Zealand. It claimed that the excisions suggested unpleasantly that page 983 protecting the government from criticism was seen as protecting the security of the State.366
Fraser, seeing this, declared that the government had given no instructions for censoring political opinion, nor could he imagine circumstances in which it could be justified. ‘Such extreme and unwarranted interference would be an intolerable perversion of the intentions of the censorship, and if it had occurred it was entirely opposed to the wishes and directions of the Government.’367
The Controller explained that not all deletions from letters referred to military matters and it was difficult to set out the censorship rules for the information of the public. New Zealand's censorship was based on rules embodied in a 200-page book issued by the British Government as guidance for the Commonwealth. In those rules the only reference to political matters appeared under the heading ‘Preventions’: ‘Political—containing matter inimical to national interests, especially propaganda.’ There were many censors in New Zealand and possibly a few had interpreted this rule somewhat widely. Very few—not a dozen—complaints had been received; often excision of indiscretions carried away less disturbing passages on the reverse side of the paper. He concluded: Political opinions for or against the Government are of no interest to the censorship. I desire to say that the censorship is being conducted as far as practicable in accord with the British Governments rules, and that the Government has not directed me at any stage to have references to political affairs eliminated from cables or letters.368
The Controller, on 5 February 1940, drawing the attention of all censors to this exchange, instructed that ‘legitimate criticism of the Government is not a matter for censorship.’ He again quoted the British prescription for elimination from letters of what would be classified as political and continued: ‘Note should be taken that “National interests” is not to be confused with “party interests,” and criticism of the Government from the point of view of the opponents of the Government should not be eliminated so long as it does not affect the interests of the nation.’ On the other hand, references to ‘corrupt Government’, to ‘tricky Government’ and to ‘trickery land’ were cited as definitely damaging to New Zealand and dangerous to British interests. References to shipping and to the forces must be course be cut out and if this excision removed news on the other side of the paper it would be annoying but unavoidable. page 984 ‘Censors are enjoined to avoid permitting their personal opinions to intrude into their work. The Censor must always act impersonally and remember that every person has the right in New Zealand to express his own opinion on political matters. It is only when in doing so the writer suggests misbehaviour in administration that action is necessary in the nation's interests.’
In order to check on what officers were doing, all censors should for a while show objectionable passages, marked in pencil, to the senior on duty. ‘New Zealanders are not likely’, concluded McNamara, ‘to take kindly to censorship, and complaints are likely to come in thick and strong—some no doubt justifiably and some as an indication of annoyance. So far the work has been well done, but perhaps some Censors have been a little hard in their “cutting” of matters criticising the Government.’369
To recollect, or to guess, what the censor had cut out was difficult. As the Press of 6 February 1940 said, ‘nobody remembers clearly what he wrote or did not write on page 3 of a weeks-old letter; and the clues reported by a correspondent peering through the obliterant are more likely to stimulate imagination than memory.’ The time elapsed could be much more than a week and there were carbon copies of few but business letters. The New Zealand Herald gave two instances of early cutting. The sentence, ‘Business as far as I am concerned is in chaos, and I hope there will be a change of Government’, was cut from a letter written by an Auckland importer. A woman sent to the Herald two almost unreadable letters, returned by her son in England, which had mentioned prices, restrictions on sending money out of New Zealand, government spending, rationing, and difficulties anticipated with rents and interest when many firms were reducing staffs.370
A month later the Herald, recalling Fraser's spirited rejection of ‘intolerable perversion’, claimed that the carbon copies of businessmen's letters proved deletion of passages with only political significance. Fraser should ‘see to it that the questionable zeal of departmental officers is sensibly curbed.’371 Late in August 1940, when W. A. Bodkin said in the House that whole pages were reportedly cut from letters, Fraser replied that censorship deleted only references to defence and shipping. At first in some confusion, censors had cut letters unreasonably, but since his inquiries months ago nothing had been cut ‘except references dangerous to the war effort.’372page 985
Unless newspapers were unusually silent, complaints did not come to them ‘thick and strong’ as the Controller had feared. A few he answered firmly in their columns. In September 1940 a writer to the Evening Post told of a letter taking 17 weeks to get to England and complained of political censorship, saying that the Prime Minister's remark about ‘intolerable perversion’ had produced some improvement which had since disappeared.373 McNamara in reply charged that the writer was listening to rumours, then pointed out that New Zealand's quick mail service had been impaired by the war and that the censor had ‘power to amend’ any letters containing information likely to be of value to the enemy. Criticism of ‘the socialist Government’ did not concern the censorship but ‘if A.A.C.W.'s letters arrive in England cut to pieces he must be one of the many people who want to tell their friends about the nice ships we occasionally see in our harbours.’ Further he should make his complaints ‘direct to me’, either personally or by letter.374 In August 1942 there was complaint that a letter from abroad had been opened and stamped by the New Zealand censor; as it had arrived safely in New Zealand there was no possibility that it could be captured and injure the Allied cause. McNamara replied that ‘for certain very good reasons’ censorship was not confined to outward correspondence. The answer to the complaint was ‘governed by conditions, such as the name of the addressee, where the letter came from, and certain other conditions.’ He would always be glad to investigate.375
In May 1940 the Minister of Defence found it incredible that after eight months of war, in letters to and from New Zealand forces, most dangerous references to military matters were still coming under notice. He was more precise in his prohibitions than McNamara had been: there should be no reference to the names of ships, dates of sailing, projected routes or destinations, numbers of troops, composition of a convoy, or any other matter which might assist the enemy to locate a ship or trace its movements. Letters with such references would be delayed and prosecutions might be necessary to impress on people the gravity of the offence.376
In May and June 1940 there were three convictions for evasion of censorship by sending letters bound for England with travelling friends to be posted in Sydney, where they had been opened by the page 986 Australian censor. One was an attempt to hasten despatch in the mail and another had sought to avoid import restriction.377 The third contained trenchant criticism of the New Zealand censorship which the prosecuting police stated would never have passed the local authorities, while admitting that it did not refer to the war and would be unlikely to assist the enemy. Defence counsel declared that in this the censorship authorities condemned themselves.378 The Herald noted on 18 May that criticism would not get past the local censorship, recalled the Prime Minister's statement that criticism of the government was not matter for deletion, and pointed to an ‘obvious discrepancy’ between the censor's practice and the Prime Minister's policy; a supporting letter-writer vouched that there was political censorship in New Zealand.379
Meanwhile the censor had increasing work in deleting security indiscretions. On 18 June 1940 the Prime Minister advised those writing to servicemen overseas to avoid references to ships, troops and ports of call, also to write clearly in ink, post early, give the sender's name on the back of the envelope and leave a clear margin on the front of it for the censor's label. It was usual during the first two years of the war for censors to post out printed notices to indiscreet writers, saying that security deletions had been made in specified letters. This led some people, keen to make their letters interesting, to rely on the censorship to decide what was dangerous and what might go forward, as some later explained in court.380 In March 1942 prosecutions began for references to shipping, troop movements or defence works,381 20 Mar 42, p. 6 and early in August McNamara stated that about 75 prosecutions had so far been taken by the police.382 The courts accepted that thoughtlessness, not disloyalty, had led to the transgressions, but stressed that as the censors could not read every letter, each writer should be responsible for avoiding what should not be read by the enemy. Awareness of what could not be written was greatly increased by magisterial admonitions and by fines. The departmental view was that people must be trained to avoid any reference, no matter how innocuous, to Service and shipping matters, since they had not the expert knowledge to judge whether it would be of use to the enemy.383
Although McNamara in February 1940 had said that it was difficult to set out the censorship rules for the public, it was expected page 987 that all references to ships and to defence and Service matters were to be avoided. Paul, Director of Publicity, commenting in November 1942 on the frequent postal prosecutions of recent weeks, said that defence counsel, besides pleading their clients' unquestioned loyalty, usually claimed that no definite instructions had been issued for public guidance on what was or was not permitted. They were not, Paul said, charged with disloyalty; one of the censorship's functions was to prevent unintentional disclosures by loyal subjects. The fundamental principle of censorship had been stated many times, by press, radio and in the courts; he went on to give one of the clearest press statements thereon:
A duty has thus been imposed on the public as a whole to weigh every written word and to leave unwritten anything which could be even remotely construed as information useful to the enemy. In the main, instructions to the public regarding censorship have had to be in general terms, but the Government and the Service authorities are entitled to expect in wartime a sensible application of general instructions to particular instances.
Any New Zealander could see large and important defence works, troop movements or ships, and must have the good sense not to write about them. Many thoughtless people hurried to send such news overseas and many had been prosecuted. No great exception could be taken to ‘Jack is in the Army but has not gone overseas’, but if Jack's unit were named, or its strength or location given, full penalties would be deserved for stupid thoughtlessness. Fundamentally, no letter should contain anything which might directly or indirectly convey information about Service movements, operations, plans or dispositions, or the movements or projected movements of British or Allied merchant ships or hospital ships; or the location of defence works or about munitions programmes or establishments; or any other information which might be of value to the enemy.384
In August 1943, Luxford, a senior magistrate, dismissed a charge for the mention of a hospital ship, saying that serious censorship breaches had been treated as such but ‘far too many technical and venial charges’ had been brought. He appeared to think that the Director of Publicity was responsible, which Paul denied, while ‘respectfully’ dissenting from Luxford's views on over-many technical and venial charges and the mention of hospital ships in particular. Luxford, dismissing another charge against a young woman who had written that someone might have been missing had he been on a certain ship, asked who was responsible for these prosecutions. The police replied that in future more consideration would be given to page 988 such cases, and Luxford suggested that sometimes a police interview, without a court appearance, would suffice.385
Some months later another magistrate, during a press censorship trial, spoke out against the reticence of postal censorship authorities on forbidden topics:
How are the public to know how to keep within bounds if the papers do not tell them? It means waiting till some innocent person oversteps the mark and then they are brought before me and I am asked to put a penalty on them. I know of a case where a letter was returned by a censor because it contained an unfavourable reference to the Prime Minister, or some other functionary. It is causing comment all over the country the way the censorship is exercised not specifically in the interest of public safety or the war effort.386
While the Controller avoided listing topics, apart from the obvious ones of shipping and military news, that should not be mentioned, he gave other advice. Notably, in October 1942, he suggested that letters should be kept to ‘reasonable’ length, hinting that the overlong would be suspected of hidden meaning and be set aside for special examination, perhaps missing a mail.387 Four marathons mentioned, each of more than 100 pages, were clearly excessive, but, said the Auckland Star, the ‘censor is on dangerous ground when he says that “what the correspondent overseas wants to know mainly is whether his family and friends are well and happy. That does not need a great deal of writing.” What qualification or right has a censor to make such a pronouncement?’388
Other difficulties arose over pen-friend letters. In 1942 London authorities advised that pen-friends should be discouraged: enemy agents in neutral countries were trying to cultivate pen-friends in British countries. In October a press statement to this effect appeared, adding that though no penalties would be imposed on the writers very few such letters would pass the censorship: all pen-friend correspondence, even that of long standing, should stop immediately.389 Meanwhile patriotic, religious and educational organisations were urging people to adopt lonely soldiers as pen-friends. At some post office branches anxious censors, wrote Dr Lochore, began submitting pen-friend letters to the Controller's office in such overwhelming page 989 numbers that these branches were told, by telephone, to detain pen-friend correspondence without consulting Wellington. At the end of the war more than 50 bags of detained outward pen-friend correspondence were destroyed—‘probably nine tenths of it favourable to the war effort, probably not one per cent of it intended for neutral countries, and probably not a single letter directed to an enemy agent. Other branches which used their discretion in the matter received no instructions to detain, and held up only an infinitesimal proportion of pen-friend mail.’390
Few people were aware that internal letters, apart from those to aliens, were censored, until inquiries by the Press in August 1941 drew this disquieting information from the Controller. He said that he could not disclose how many internal letters were opened, though they could be but a small percentage among the daily thousands; the only persons totally exempt were the Governor-General, ministers of the Crown and consuls in New Zealand. McNamara's statement, despite its official imprecision, was not soothing:
I do not think it is necessary to state the reasons for this course of action. Some letters are opened just at random, and others quite deliberately. Of course we might be definitely chasing somebody; at times we are working under orders from the Army, and Navy, or the Police Department. However, no letter is ever opened without proper notification on the envelope.391
Internal security in New Zealand is just as important as the security of the British Empire, and the general public does not understand the dangers of the information that is being sent by post. When we realise what people do say, then we must realise that it is necessary to have some sort of check.392
The phrase ‘at random’ was disturbing and, despite the statement that all censored mail was stamped, many people if letters were delayed or crumpled would believe that they had been opened surreptitiously. Nash, enquired of as Acting Prime Minister, was also imprecise, if milder. He said that it was not desirable, necessary or possible to censor all internal mail. ‘There are no instructions as to which letters should be subject to censorship, and there are no rules’, but it might be necessary to open certain letters, for example to or page 990 from aliens living in New Zealand, ‘if such action is considered advisable or information reaching the authorities makes it expedient.’393 Meanwhile Australian authorities stated that though they had power to examine internal mail they would not do so unless Australia became a theatre of war.394
Editorial response varied. The Otago Daily Times, though restive against press censorship, was not perturbed: these were abnormal times, and the enemy could derive much from the trivialities of correspondence. Self censorship was best, and one should avoid all reference to shipping, military matters or rumour.395
The Press accepted the need for censorship to intercept, check or trace any leakage of information to the enemy and thought that it was better to take one chance in a million, a random dip, than none at all. Censorship, however, should be closely watched and any abuse brought out into the open. Early in the war, complaints that in overseas mail fair comments on the political and economic situation were being cut had led to inquiry, admission of error and correction. Certainly internal censorship was open to abuse through private or commercial information being improperly used; in any such case protests should be strong and driven home.396
The Evening Post thought that while people might not be disturbed at knowing there was power to open private letters, they were disturbed at letters being opened ‘just at random’, surely neither useful nor justifiable. The public should be told why this censorship was done, by whom and under whose instruction.397 The Auckland Star, while agreeing that the police should have power to intercept a suspected hostile document in the post, was perturbed that ‘we’ may open letters at the order of unnamed persons in three departments without apparently any reason being given. If so, the system was plainly open to abuse and should be tightened. The prior permission of the Postmaster-General or the Minister of Police should be necessary before any letter was opened. Opening letters ‘just at random’ was thoroughly objectionable and suggested that some officials had not enough to do. From the Acting Prime Minister's statement that there were no restrictions and no rules, it appeared that the government had given loose authority for a practice without realising its undesirable possibilities. ‘If a censor may, under “orders,” page 991 or “just at random,” open any letter, to whom is he authorised to communicate the contents?’398
Two members of Parliament, J. A. Lee and H. S. S. Kyle, inquired with temperate disapproval whether postal authorities dipped into mail bags and took odd letters at random for censoring, suggesting that this might be very unproductive and might encourage fraud. The Postmaster-General, P. C. Webb, with characteristic imprecision, answered that censorship was controlled by the censor, who by law was entitled to investigate mail and had nothing to do with the Post and Telegraph Department; he could not say how many letters had been opened, and while it might appear that inland censoring was wrong, he was sure that if members saw some of the letters they would say that it was fully justified.399 The Auckland Chamber of Commerce, again seeking clarification and holding that inland censorship could be justified only for letters addressed to persons suspected by the military or the police, sought assurance that this was what happened.400 Dr Lochore believed that most non-partisan people shared the Chamber's view, ‘and in the main’ this was the case. The chief supporters of inland censorship were the Army and the police. The Army thought it necessary to prevent hypothetical enemy agents in Auckland and Wellington from communicating by mail with the hypothetical enemy agent possessing a transmitter. The police profited by a wealth of miscellaneous information, useful though not very significant, concerning aliens, Communists, pacifists, black markets, Army and ship deserters, all of which information had at least a remote connection with the war effort. Concerning matters further afield, the censorship attitude was that any evidence of serious crime discovered in correspondence would have to be communicated to the police; such a case probably did not arise. But the Controller refused to communicate to the police evidence of minor offences by British subjects, such as bookmaking or tax evasion.401 In October 1944 Sidney Holland said that censorship should not be used as a branch of the Police Department; members perhaps did not know that the censor sent information from letters to other departments which might be interested. He thought K. J. Holyoakes interjected phrase ‘A departmental pimp’ came very near the mark and urged that such practices should not be tolerated for another day.402page 992
Within this framework, it was not surprising that a letter from the Auckland Carpenters Union to the secretary of the local anti-conscription council should be opened;403 or that a letter by a conscientious objector, written the day after his successful appeal and revealing insincerity, should have sent him to prison.404 A well known Communist, A. J. Birchfield,405 stated in August 1942 that despite protests every letter and parcel that he received was censored, adding: ‘when special attention is paid to the correspondence of certain members of the bitterest anti-Axis agency, it is more than a joke.’406
Dr Lochore could not see that the war effort was helped by censoring the mail of John Hogan, Social Credit publicist, this being the only case of political interference of which he was aware.407 However when J. A. Lee, guardedly referring to Hogan, inquired into government policy on interfering with and detaining inland mail, Fraser answered that the censor could legally open, delay or detain any postal packet, but only those in conflict with censorship regulations or the laws of the country need be concerned.408 The vigilance with which postal censorship was applied to Hogan was indicated by two abortive court charges. A well known Social Credit party member of the Matamata area who sent a 2s 6d subscription intended for Hogan not to his own address but to a contact was summoned to answer a censorship evasion charge on 5 August 1942. A similar charge had been laid against a Hawera resident to be heard on 22 July. When the New Zealand Democracy Association wrote to the Minister of Justice about the Hawera case, Mason replied on 20 July that his office had nothing to do with the prosecution, which would not proceed; on 4 August the Matamata case was also withdrawn.409
The ‘random’ aspect seemed dominant when a letter from the Mayor of Dunedin to a naval officer arrived four days late and censor-stamped.410 Similarly, W. P. Endean, member for Remuera, thought it unnecessary that an envelope printed with the name of a reputable insurance company should be opened.411 The most resounding mistake with internal mail at the censor's table occurred page 993 in January 1943 when an airmail letter-packet from the Leader of the Opposition, posted in the South Island to his secretary in Wellington, arrived marked ‘Opened and passed by Censor in New Zealand’. According to statements of censorship officers, it had not actually been read. In the interest of air safety, it was a long-standing post office practice to examine parcels and letter-packets going by inland airmail. With censorship pressure easing as the war improved, this was sometimes done by the censor's section, Holland's letter-packet was thus given the routine post office examination, but marked with the censor's stamp.412 Holland naturally made the most of it. On 22 January he entered the ‘strongest possible protest’ against this interference. Fraser agreed that he had every right to indignation, adding that his own correspondence had been opened by censorship on several occasions, obviously by mistake. McNamara said that there was ‘very little censorship of inland mail’ and that only by accident would a tired censor inadvertently open letters to or from members of Parliament, which were not subject to censorship; the letter, clearly on official paper, should never have been opened.413
The Opposition's proposal, arising from the Holland letter, for an inquiry into postal censorship,414 was not taken up. A year later, after debate arising from articles intended for the New Statesman which the censor, instructed by the Director of Publicity, refused to transmit,415 and from other postal complaints, an inquiry was instituted. A committee was set up on 25 March 1944416 to inquire into and report upon the allegations made by members of the House on the operations of postal censorship. These terms restricted inquiries, keeping them well away from the Director of Publicity in the narrower, less controversial postal field, where undue censorship would in the main have destroyed evidence of itself. Not many people would produce New Zealand letters that had been censored, or precise descriptions of excisions.
The Committee reported seven months later, on 13 October 1944. It found that there was some confusion in the minds of its members as to the division of authority between postal, press and military page 994 censorship. In some postal complaints the evidence was inconclusive, for some there were adequate explanations; in others it was admitted that censors had exceeded their duty; eight examples were published, along with the only written instructions to censors, dated 5 December 1939 and 5 February 1940.417 The Committee found no evidence of serious departure from these instructions; no instructions had been given by the non-functioning Board of Censorship authorising the excision of political matter from letters; it was clear and was admitted that some errors of judgment were made by the censors, but postal censorship, in all, had been carried out with the maximum of consideration for the convenience and susceptibilities of the public, having regard to the vital duties involved.418
The report did not excite much public notice. Though originally allocated an hour of Parliament's time, its debate took most of a Friday. Some papers, such as the Otago Daily Times, the Press and the New Zealand Herald, reported it very briefly; others, including the Dominion, Evening Post and Auckland Star, gave it about two columns. There was in fact very little to bite on; apart from the eight instances examined Committee members had had to fall back on their own experience and hearsay. Lowry remarked that he had never sat on a committee where there was such a paucity of evidence on such an important subject; Oram spoke of a ‘mass of material’ cut away but of this there was not, nor could there be, concrete evidence. Sheat419 maintained that there was no reason to believe that the cases mentioned to the Committee were the only instances of political censorship. Many letters from men overseas complaining of censorship would not have been kept and in other instances parents would be reluctant to bring forward complaints for fear of consequences for the boys overseas.420 The Evening Post thought that there were several reasons for this paucity:
The scope of the inquiry was strictly limited, and there were probably a number of people who were prevented from giving evidence on this account. Little publicity was given to the fact that the committee was to sit, and the proceedings were not reported in the Press. Also, the committee confined its sittings to Wellington, and some people in other centres who should have given evidence probably considered it not worth their while to come here. However, the fact that the question has been raised and fully discussed in Parliament should go a long way towards page 995 removing cause for complaint in the future. There is one aspect of the question which must be watched very carefully. The Prime Minister stated yesterday that the Censorship Board would not stand for any curtailment of political expression. Any criticism of the Government which did not damage the country should be allowed. This is very wide. Who is to decide what is damaging to the Government without being damaging to the country? During the depression years members of the present Government, then in Opposition, were very severe in their criticism of the then Government, and it would have been easy to make out a case for suppression of many of their statements on the ground that they were damaging to the country. … as soon as the need for security has passed all forms of censorship should be abolished. In the meantime there should be the greatest vigilance to assure that, while full effect is given to security needs, censoring does not encroach on free expression.421
Criticism by the Auckland Star of 14 October, in an editorial headed ‘Snooping to Continue’, was stronger. The war, against both Germany and Japan, was far away and there was not the slightest prospect of it coming nearer. If the postal censorship, based on British regulations, were ever justified in New Zealand, ‘which is doubtful’, how could it be justified now? Britain was a few minutes away from the enemy, was a great base of military operations, and its population included thousands of various nationalities; leakage of information could bring quick and deadly consequences. In contrast, in New Zealand the population was remarkably homogeneous, there was no disaffection, no organisation hostile to the war; opportunities of transmitting information to the enemy were few and easily controlled. Yet censorship of both overseas and internal correspondence was continued and the House had considered only how much the officials concerned had abused their powers without asking why a censorship should be continued at all. The report, said the Star, had lost much of its whitewash when the Opposition members spoke. Oram had said that the Committee's function did not enable it to make a complete report and its members were thrown back on personal knowledge and hearsay. ‘Moreover there was no proof— how could there be?—of the type of matter excised–. A committee which did not, or was so circumscribed that it could not, take account of the strong conviction (especially among servicemen abroad and their relatives at home) that letters are examined and censored for page 996 political opinions, or… that the effect of this conviction on servicemen who have been long abroad is harmful, might as well have used otherwise the time it spent on the inquiry.’ Instructions had been issued that party interests were not to be confused with national interest; government members had stressed the difficulty of finding competent staff; yet this staff had to distinguish between political remarks that were not in the interests of the nation and those which might pass.422
The Star's, indignation was not echoed widely. Perhaps hope that the war and its censorship would soon be over eased irritation. A month earlier, in September, Broadfoot in the House had asked when internal postal censorship would cease, saying that in the Albany and Silverdale districts numerous letters had been opened. The Prime Minister answered that the Postal Censorship Committee could give a good explanation. It was considered important that news about certain operations in that area should not go out and ‘those in authority’ felt justified in opening letters. Otherwise he did not see any reason for continuing strict letter censorship at all.423
McNamara, however, did not shed his responsibilities lightly. In April 1945, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, which had asked for relaxation of postal censorship on the grounds that Australia and the United States no longer found it necessary, stated that the Controller had replied that there had been considerable relaxation during the past six months. There would be more from time to time, but for security reasons the extent could not be made known, nor could the examination of certain classes of mail be discontinued.424 A few days later McNamara corrected this report, saying that there had been no general relaxation; the change was in volume. As the war receded the number of offending letters diminished, partly because New Zealanders were no longer tempted to mention camps, aerodromes or shipping. Meanwhile, as countries were released from the enemy letters could be sent to them, for instance to France. Internal censorship had decreased also—‘the authorities, now knowing the troublesome correspondents, being able to confine the work more than earlier in the war.’425
Early in June it was stated that as New Zealand was in the Japanese war zone censorship could not be relaxed beyond certain limits, but that internal censorship had been dropped soon after hostilities ceased in Europe. Censorship of mail for liberated and Allied-occupied territories on the Continent would be reduced progressively, as page 997 their governments became firmly established. Restrictions on sending to Europe books, newspapers, photographs and other goods ordinarily posted had, following a British decision, recently been lifted.426 Thus, piecemeal, with no unseemly haste, postal censorship withered away.
As stated earlier,427 the regulations on 1 September 1939, which created the several engines of censorship, set up as supreme authority the Censorship and Publicity Board, with the Prime Minister as chairman. The Board seldom met. Its last meeting was on 26 April 1940, although it was referred to in correspondence for much longer; supreme censorship control passed quietly to the Prime Minister. At that last meeting the Prime Minister inquired as to the nature of communist and pacifist literature entering the country by post. The Controller of Censorship, McNamara, replied on 8 May:
The volume is fairly heavy and is continuous. As most of it is definitely antagonistic to British ideals and of a subversive character, it is being detained, but some may be reaching the country in larger packages as cargo.
All of it is aimed at converting our people to Communism or other isms, and is definitely against the war effort.428
On 26 June the Controller sent the Prime Minister a list of publications of a ‘more or less subversive character which have been received by post from overseas and which are being withheld from delivery.’ He asked what action government desired on this literature and anything similar in future,429 and on 15 July he sent to the Prime Minister, as requested, a typical selection, varying from ‘outright communistic propaganda to matter of more or less pronounced pacifist leanings.’
So far, booksellers had not been told that such imports were being withheld, and did not know whether non-arrival was due to errors by the publishers, to shipping delays or to enemy action. In due course bills and invoices showed that goods had been shipped, and it could be deduced that packages were either in the censor's office or in the sea. The Customs Department made the issue more clear at the end of July 1940 by telling importers that books and periodicals deemed subversive under the regulations430 would not be page 998 delivered and must not be purchased under import licences. Newspapers reporting this noted that the definition of ‘subversive’ covered a very wide range, which was described briefly.431 Meanwhile, parcels of withheld books were piling up in censorship offices.
Nash took charge of this branch of censorship, under Fraser. He was Minister of Customs and was interested in books—he had once been a bookseller's agent. To advise on the entry of doubtful publications, he set up an ad hoc and invisible committee of four responsible officials in relevant departments, all more informed in the literary field than were most leading public servants: A. D. McIntosh, Assistant Secretary in the Prime Minister's Department; G. T. Alley432 of the Country Library Service; J. S. Reid,433 private secretary to Nash, and, originally, G. R. Laking434 of Customs. A high degree of discretion marked all book censorship and the existence of this committee was not made known.435 With a view to releasing as much as possible, the committee was first to tackle the substantial backlog of books and periodicals held under the Controller's policy of stopping all publications connected with Communism, wherever published.436 Further incoming questionables were to be referred to it as they arrived.
The committee's first report was made in October 1940.437 Some publications were to be released immediately, sometimes with the remark that they should never have been withheld. Such were the periodicals New Statesman and Nation and New Republic, H. P. Adams's Karl Marx in his Earlier Writings (Allen and Unwin, 1940), ‘academic and not propagandist, by reputable author [and] publisher and sponsored by Birmingham University’; Freedom Calling, the Story of the Secret German Radio, ‘a pro-Ally pamphlet’; Rebels and page 999 Reformers (Allen and Unwin, 1917) by Arthur (Lord) and Dorothy Ponsonby, ‘A book for young people giving short biographical sketches of twelve great scholarly men. No possible justification for stopping it’; Rosa Luxemburg (Gollancz, 1940) by Paul Frolich— ‘Must be dozens of copies in the country. It is not only a biography of a Communist heroine but an attack on Hitlerism. No point in stopping it’; Karl Marx (Cassell, 1940) by L. Trotsky—‘A highly reputable work setting out the main points in Marxian economics and philosophy. Its author should be an added commendation.’ India Today by R. Palme Dutt (Gollancz, 1940) ‘could reasonably pass’. It was ‘Factual history and statement of case for Indian independence—naturally anti-British in sentiment but not violently so. Greatest objection must be the author whose anti-Imperialist writings have vogue and influence.’
Some material was banned, notably anti-imperialist propaganda urging trade union opposition to the war, such as War and the Labour Movement by Harry Pollitt, secretary of the British Communist party, and several 1940 items from the Workers Library Publisher, New York: W. Y. Z. Foster's The War Crisis, Ernst Fischer's Is this a War for Freedom?, V. I. Jerome's Social Democracy and the War. Other banned categories were advocacy of the Russian regime as in several periodicals, such as Soviets Today, published in Australia, Moscow News, published in Russia, Labour Monthly, from Britain, Communist International and New Masses from the United States, and pacifist anti-war propaganda, such as H. R. Shapiro's What Every Young Man should know about War. On this the committee's comment was: ‘A most pernicious book in present circumstances—a collection of war horrors … given out in the form of questions and answers. Designed to weaken morale of soldiers or recruits’.
Other books were on the borderline, hardly warranting suppression but unhelpful in existing circumstances, and were to be held for decision by the government or the Censorship and Publicity Board. A number of works by or about Lenin and Marx were in this group. So was The Land of Socialism Today and Tomorrow: Reports and Speeches at the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, March 10–12, 1939, from the Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, but with the comment, ‘Very useful publication— would recommend its purchase by Parliamentary Library.’ Molotov's Soviet Foreign Policy, the meaning of the War in Finland (Workers Library Publisher, 1940) was noted: ‘Text of Molotov's speech. In conformity with present policy towards official propaganda from the Soviet Union, this could also be held.’ Other examples were J. R. Campbell's Questions and Answers on Communism (Lawrence and Wishart, 1938)—‘Communist propaganda—not subversive except page 1000 in so far as Communism may be regarded as subversive’; Steven MacGregor's Truth and Mr Chamberlain (Fore Publications, London 1939)—‘Anti-Chamberlain—fair enough but unwise to circulate it just now’; Falsehood in War Time by Arthur (Lord) Ponsonby—‘First published in 1928—an analysis of lies circulated throughout the countries engaged in the last war. This highly respectable book had a very wide circulation and there may still be hundreds of copies in New Zealand in libraries and on sale, but insofar as it throws doubts on the authenticity of official news and the integrity of official propagandists, it may do harm now.’438
It should be remembered that in 1940, with long-standing suspicion of Russia exacerbated by the pact with Germany and the war with Finland, many people felt that Britain would yet be at war with Russia and Communists were regarded as the enemy within. The publications committee suggested that long-established doctrinaire works could be permitted unless they had direct harmful application to existing circumstances, which should not occur often. The main test was the use likely to be made of them: ‘it does seem reasonable to assume that the importation of hundreds of any one title can only be for proselytising purposes and the dissemination of large numbers must be regarded as a serious matter, even though these are well-known doctrinaire publications of some age.’ Thus 20 pamphlets by Lenin on Communist doctrine and history, printed in the Little Lenin Library series (Lawrence and Wishart, New York) and sold for sixpence, were highly dubious. There were also considerable numbers of more substantial works by Marx and Engels and their disciples, selling at about 2s 6d, in the Marxist–Lenin Library series, published by the Co-operative Publishing Society of Foreign Writers, Moscow. Each group should be judged as a whole. They were already classics, largely of historical interest, and likely to be studied only by enthusiastic Communists and left intellectuals, but communist believers opposed to the war would doubtless derive much comfort and guidance from them. They were not subversive under the regulations, but if it were government policy to prevent people from getting communist literature these publications should be withheld. ‘If it is not considered worth while using the censorship for such purposes then they could be passed after perusal by the censor.’ Meanwhile, as examples, The Communist Manifesto, The Poverty of Philosophy and Critique of the Gotha Programme by Marx and Engels along with Lenin's The State and Revolution, Imperialism, Religion and Letters from Afar were withheld from their importers, pending the decision of higher authority.page 1001
Contemporary works on Communism should each be judged on its merits, stated the report. Many came from Russia. Some were factual analyses and descriptions of Russian economic and social conditions, some were theoretical expositions on Communism, others were well produced propaganda with no direct reference to politics. ‘It does not seem that any reasonable objection can be sustained against the release of these publications unless it is decided to ban all publications from Russia. If this is not to be the policy of the Government, then a small proportion of this propaganda material could be released.’439
Periodicals were a pressing and serious problem. Some which should never have been stopped were already months out of date. Others which should be banned were a loss to traders who, if told earlier that they were prohibited, could have cancelled their orders. The committee suggested that where those finally released had become unsaleable through official delay, the trader should choose whether to take them or to send them back to the publisher, with the government paying postage; if the publisher refused to make a refund, the government should compensate the bookseller for his loss. With those prohibited, he could choose between destroying them or returning them at his own expense.
For the future, the committee recommended that when publiccations were withheld the bookseller should be informed and given the option of returning them to the publisher at his own expense. A confidential list of those prohibited should be sent to postal censorship and customs authorities for use in checking applications for import licences as well as in arresting parcels.
The situation at the end of 1940 boiled down to this: booksellers repeatedly asked to be told what titles were proscribed; censorship, showing much skill in dodging questions, refused this information and was itself uncertain about many books and periodicals on which it awaited higher direction. Postal and customs authorities had further confused the issue by withholding some obviously virtuous books, guilty only by association in packages with suspected ones, thereby increasing the bewilderment and exasperation of booksellers.
The traders most concerned were the Progressive bookshops in Auckland and Christchurch and Modern Books in Wellington. These represented book demands which were in varying degrees leftist or intellectual. In Modern Books during 1940 a leftist group had gained page 1002 dominance on the management committee and had stepped up orders for communist literature. On 15 November 1940 the manager, Roy Parsons,440 sent to several Labour members of Parliament a statement of the difficulties and anomalies created by current censorship. Forwarding a copy to Nash on 21 November, J. C. Beaglehole441 explained that the incoming committee had been ‘directed to mobilise New Zealand against the censorship, but has preferred to go a bit more quietly for a start. This letter has been sent to a few Labour M.P.'s, four or five in all I think (none of the wild men) in the hope that the matter may be brought up in caucus in a reasonable way.’442 Parsons's letter described the bookshop's uncertainties and losses, pointing out that even its enlarged communist material orders (196 copies of Stalin's Foundations of Leninism, 100 of Lenin's The State and Revolution, 53 sets of Readings in Leninism) were still only a minor part of its total trade, and that these books did not themselves transgress the censorship regulations. He claimed that the current process wasted both the trader's money and sterling funds, and strongly urged that government should make its censorship policy known, inform importers promptly when their books were withheld for more than a week for examination, allow them to return prohibited ones immediately, and publish in the Gazette, as during the last war, a list of those refused admission. He added that the Wellington Co-operative Book Society Ltd's (Modern Books') annual general meeting had criticised current censorship, stressing the paradox that in England, so close to the battle, there was more freedom to read and to write than there was in New Zealand, and holding that any standards established in England should be the absolute maximum here.
The publications committee,443 regretting the delay and the retention of innocuous books, accepted that importers should have full and immediate opportunity to return forbidden books. But it was disturbed by the influx of cheap pamphlets designed to educate people in Marxian ideology, even though these in many cases did not offend against the regulations and for that very reason had been page 1003 held for ministerial ruling. As Communists and pacifists opposed the war, they were hardly reasonable in expecting their literature to enter freely. The committee did not wish to give publicity to banned books by listing them in the Gazette444 remarking further that ‘objections to the adoption of the rule that all literature which circulates in England should be freely admitted here are obvious.’
This comment is explained by events in other areas of censorship. Throughout the war, the Director of Publicity did not accept publication in another part of the Commonwealth as justification for publication in New Zealand.445 Moreover, a few days earlier, on 14 November 1940, Fraser had complained to the British government that it had allowed criticisms of its conduct of the war to be published which he would not have allowed to be released here had his attention been drawn to them previously, and he could not understand why they were allowed to pass United Kingdom censorship.446 Robustly, Churchill replied:
We dwell under a drizzle of carping criticism from a few members and from writers in certain [columns?] of the Press. This has an irritating effect and would not be tolerated in any other country exposed to our present stresses. On the other hand it is a good thing that any Government should be … made aware of any shortcomings in time to remedy them. You must not suppose that everything is perfect, but we are all trying our best, and the war effort is enormous and the morale admirable. All good wishes.447
Any suggestion at this time that English censorship standards should be enough for New Zealand obviously would not have been acceptable to J. T. Paul and Peter Fraser.
The publications committee pressed for decisions on its uncertainties. On 15 January 1941 the Prime Minister decreed that no books or papers should be admitted which would in any way interfere with the war effort, and this would include all literature advocating communism; a list of publications already banned would be circulated confidentially to Censorship and Customs authorities, but page 1004 no public list would be issued. Importers would be warned that their licences would be cancelled if they tried to import subversive material. When stock was withheld, the Controller of Censorship should notify the importer, giving him the option of returning it at his own expense or having it interned till the war's end. For periodicals that should have been released but had been kept overlong, the government paid the wholesale purchase price, and also paid for some publications damaged by rats in the censor's office.448
With this guidance the committee, on which Johnsen449 of Customs now replaced George Laking, worked through more than one hundred parcels of books. Early in May 1941 it sent to the Controller of Censorship a list of 109 banned books, pamphlets and periodicals, together with 91 titles released from suspension. The former included the 20 Little Lenin Library pamphlets and many more recent works on Russia and on communism. Most of Marx was released but not the Manifesto of the Communist Party; pacifist and anti-war publications were banned. Further judgments and revisions were made from time to time. On 22 August 1941 the publications committee gave 19 ‘stop’ and 46 ‘release’ decisions on a list submitted a ‘short time ago’. Some of the cleared titles show the wide-ranging concern of Customs and postal examiners: Nehru's Autobiography (John Lane, 1941); A. H. Arlitt's Adolescent Psychology (Allen and Unwin, 1937); Lust for Life (John Lane, 1940), a biographical novel on the painter Van Gogh by Irving Stone; E. F. Griffith's Modern Marriage and Birth Control (Gollancz, 1940), and Susan Isaacs's The Children we Teach (University of London, 1939). In the political area those released included R. S. W. Pollard's Conscience and Liberty (Allen and Unwin, 1940); S. Hook's Towards the Understanding of Karl Marx (Gollancz, 1933); H. P. Adams's Karl Marx in his Earlier Writings (Allen and Unwin, 1940), which had been on the banned list of May 1941; Maxim Gorki's Culture and the People (Lawrence and Wishart, 1939); J. Strachey's Why you should be a Socialist (Gollancz, 1938); W. Gallacher's Revolt on the Clyde (John Lane, 1940); Post-War History of the British Working Class (Gollancz, 1937) by Allen Hutt; Is this an Imperialist War? (British Labour Party) by H. Laski, and Soviet Communism (Gollancz, 1937) by Sidney and Beatrice Webb. page 1005 Pacifist literature, such as A. Baxter's450 We Will Not Cease (Gollancz, 1939) and publications of the British Central Board for Conscientious Objectors continued under the ban, as did Stalin's Leninism (Allen and Unwin, 1940), Lenin on Religion (Little Lenin Library) and W. Hannington's Industrial History in Wartime (Lawrence and Wishart, 1940).
Censorship procedures in mid-1941 were instanced by the efforts of Modern Books to learn what was being withheld. At an interview between the bookshop's acting-secretary and a censorship official on 19 June no information was given on the points raised, namely, the numbers and titles of books held by the Censor at present and likely to be withheld in future shipments.451 McNamara wrote:
Apparently the writer desires to be informed of the titles of certain publications deemed to be unsuitable for releasal. This information has not been furnished for the reason that Cabinet decision as conveyed to me is to the effect that the list of prohibited publications is (a) to be circulated confidentially for the guidance of Censorship and Customs Authorities, and (b) to be withheld from publication.
It is obvious that the latter direction would be nullified by appraising the writer of the list of banned publications.
It is open to the importers of unsuitable literature to request that it be returned to the publishers. This can be arranged without disclosing the titles of books so returned.452
Nash's committee members held that such reticence was impractical. Importers should be told what books could not be released; ‘Even if the censorship authorities return them, the importer would some time get a credit note, and his knowledge of the titles would only be delayed.’ The committee thought that McNamara was attempting to impose more obscurity than was proposed by Eraser's direction on 15 January 1941 that an importer should be notified when his stock was withheld and given the option of returning it at his own expense or having it held until the war's end.453
Correspondence in 1942 shows that the committee's view was adopted; it also shows that although for nearly a year Russia had been actively in the war as an ally and the Communist party in New Zealand had strenuously reversed its opposition to the war, page 1006 these facts were not quickly reflected in the prohibition or release of books. In June 1942 the Progressive Book Society of Auckland was advised by the Collector of Customs that certain books were being held. These were: the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels; two works by Stalin on Leninism; W. Gallacher's Twenty Years (about the Communist party in Britain); five titles by Lenin from the Little Lenin Library; two of the Marxist Text Book series—No 5, W. Hannington's Industrial History in Wartime, and No 7, British Trade Unionism, a short history by Allen Hutt.454 The manager of Progressive Books stated: ‘Every one of these titles has been passed by the censors during the present conflict either to us or to an importer in another centre. The position seems anomalous.’ Lenin's Imperialism seemed to be the book most consistently seized, although its concepts were widely established in the field of political economy. While press and radio statements were currently paying tributes to Lenin, the ‘present policy of censorship results, however unevenly and irrationally, in restricting access to his writings.’ There were sufficient quantities of all his works in New Zealand for any one taking a little trouble to obtain them; many of the ideas of Lenin are not those commonly accepted in this country but this in itself is no ground for suppression. Mein Kampf, for example, can enter the country freely. It seems to us that the time is appropriate for the free admission of Lenin's works into the country.
Stalin's works were likewise well known and he was the head of a friendly state. The Communist Manifesto, written in 1847, was an historical document; it was a set book at Victoria University College in 1941, but students could not obtain it. In England, censorship prohibited the export of books which were subversive or likely to damage the war effort, and this should be sufficient safeguard for New Zealand.455 In reply the Minister of Customs, on 27 June, regretted that the books listed could not be released; they could be returned to the publisher ‘at your expense’ or held until the end of the war. The suggestions concerning the works of Lenin and Stalin and books exported by the United Kingdom had been referred to the Censorship and Publicity Board.456
Occasional questions in the House on books withheld were adroitly answered by Eraser. On 19 March 1942 Lee said that copies of Sir page 1007 Richard Acland's457 What Will it be Like? (Left Book Club) and H. G. Wells's Guide to the New World; a handbook of Constructive World Revolution were being withheld from Wellington booksellers: was the standing of these authors appreciated? Fraser replied that the House would not expect him to give any estimate of the literary standards and attainments of the Censor; he did not know whether the Censor had ever heard of H. G. Wells or Sir Richard Acland— ‘I cannot honestly vouch for that.’ He had no knowledge of the withholding himself but he would make enquiries. There had been many revelations from H. G. Wells which had not amounted to much, but perhaps this one would be more successful. Fraser was anxious to see both his book and the other by ‘that able writer Acland’, which sounded ‘most enticing’, as soon as possible.458 Again, on 9 July 1942 Atmore, spokesman for the Society for Closer Relations with Russia, asked if the Prime Minister knew that Leninism by Stalin and the cheap books of the Little Lenin Library were not allowed to circulate freely, although the more expensive books by Lenin were not withheld from sale and circulation.459 Fraser replied that ‘the matter is being investigated with a view to its receiving further consideration.’ The government would gladly ensure that any books currently published in or about Russia were given wide distribution. However there were a number of speeches and pamphlets written before Russia entered the war which in the interests of the United Nations were unsuitable for circulation, stirring up undesirable feeling in the community when unity was all important.460
During November 1942, in censorship as on several other fronts, the tide turned. While snow fell on the defenders of Stalingrad, the banned list was shortened. The Communist Manifesto was released, along with the works of Lenin and Stalin, Hutt's British Trade Unionism, Hannington's Industrial History in Wartime and others of the Marxist Text Book series; Questions and Answers on Communism by J. R. Campbell; the Daily Worker (British newspaper) and Hands off the Daily Worker by J. B. S. Haldane; R. Kidd's British Liberty in Danger, W. Holmes's Britain and Russia, and Pat Sloan's Revolution for Socialism and Russia and the League of Nations (these last three published by the Russia Today Society); Political and Social Doctrines of Communism by Palme Dutt, and Serving my Time by page 1008 Harry Pollitt. The periodicals Moscow News, New Masses, Communist: International and Communist Review all became admissible.
The banned list now had only 60 titles. Some were straightforward pacifism, such as C. O.'s Hansard by the Central Board for Conscientious Objectors, or Baxter's We Will Not Cease. Some were anti-war on other grounds, such as Hawkers of Death (on private arms trading) by P. Noel Baker; others by communist writers and publishers exposed the exploitation of the working class in war: Fair Play for Servicemen and their Families by D. F. Springhall, Men behind the War by J. Johnson, Wartime Profits by the British Labour Research Department, The Empire & the War by the Communist party of Britain, Democracy for Whom by L. L. Sharkey. Some were pre-1941 expositions of Russian foreign policy, now embarrassing for everyone; several concerned India, such as India's demand for freedom by the University Labour Federation, and Why must India fight? by Krishna Menon. Lord Ponsonby's Falsehood in Wartime and Steven MacGregor's Truth and Mr Chamberlain were still banned, along with Aldous Huxley's What are you going to do about it?
An unsigned carbon copy of a personal note to the Director of the WEA at Auckland on 24 December 1942, very probably by A. D. McIntosh, tells much about the underground ramifications of book censorship: Just a note to say Merry Christmas and to tell you that it was found possible to arrange that the ban on the Classics should be lifted. Distribution is taking place in small batches so as not to shock—
the general public,
the Censorship Authorities, and
the Prime Minister.
It would be tactful and helpful to me if no public complaint was made about the way in which the said publications were being released; but after all it is better to have a slice of cake than no bread at all.461
Most books were banned for their political content, but one among those condemned in November 1942 was held to be disruptive on religious grounds. No Friend of Democracy; a study of Roman Catholic Politics—their Influence on the Course of the Present War and the Growth of Fascism by Edith Moore (published by Watts and Co., London, 1941) attacked the Church vigorously for its hand-in-glove page 1009 dealing with Fascism. It came into prominence after the censorship authorities confiscated a packet addressed to the Rationalist Association. This ‘stupid seizure’ was the subject of a telegram from J. A. Lee to the Prime Minister, who in June 1943 referred to A. D. McIntosh the task of defending the ban. As it was never intended that the existence of the publications committee should be known, McIntosh suggested that the Controller of Censorship should sign an attached memorandum addressed to the chairman of the Censorship and Publicity Board (Fraser himself). This stated that No Friend of Democracy was withheld because of a direction given in January 1941462 that no books or papers were to be admitted which would in any way interfere with the war effort, and the further direction that no books, pamphlets or documents calculated or likely to cause strong sectarian strife or bitterness should be allowed circulation during the war period. The prohibition was similar to that imposed by the Minister of Customs on 7 November 1940 on Jehovah's Witnesses' literature as subversive.463 Theological and sectarian matters normally were outside the range of the censorship authorities, but what in peace time would merely be subject of controversy in time of war could divide people into hostile camps, thus hampering the unity of the war effort. No Friend of Democracy, giving offence to a large section of the community by impugning its loyalty to the cause of democracy, could harm the unity of the country.464
This memorandum was the basis of a letter from Fraser to Lee.465 Lee in reply claimed that No Friend of Democracy was not sectarian but was factual history and that Fraser's argument would justify the banning of rationalistic literature, a history of the Popes, and attacks on clericalism's support of Franco's dictatorship or its praise of Salazar's466 Portugal. He also claimed that the Witnesses of Jehovah were banned not for criticism of the Roman Catholic Church but for their early anti-war stand.467
Fraser answered with what he held to be the New Zealand attitude. When Catholic boys, equally with boys of all faiths, were away risking and losing their lives, I certainly would not be a consenting party to having the Church they belong to and for which they and their parents have such devoted love attacked in the land for which they are fighting. My page 1010 only test at the moment is, will this publication help the war effort or injure it; will it unite our people or divide them; will it spread good will, friendship, and solidarity in our cause inside the Dominion, or start bitter strife?468 I am convinced that the circulation of this particular book will create disunity, bad feeling and bitterness, and will divide instead of unite the people of the Dominion. I cannot see that in a country where all the Churches are solidly united in support of our cause anything but harm can result from attacks upon any particular Church.
The Rationalistic movement circulated a petition urging that censorship involved important questions of principle and expedience. Had the Censor acted on sound principles with full appreciation of the proper limits of his authority? Was there pressure upon the Censor from political, religious, social, industrial or other agencies? It asked for a full inquiry into the censorship and its propriety or expediency in regard to civil and religious liberty. It was presented to Parliament on 19 May 1943, signed by 700 persons including, from Wellington, four university professors and three lecturers, a research worker, a librarian, a teacher and a solicitor.469 The petitions committee, on 25 August, made no recommendations. In the ensuing debate, Lee listed other publications which could as reasonably be banned. Fraser read out his correspondence with Lee and said that while there was probably a case to be stated on the petition's basis, ‘over and above and dominating everything is the necessity for preventing sectarian strife among our people, setting creed against creed, when all should be united in the war effort.’470 The petition lay upon the table.
In libraries, censorship was mainly self-imposed.471 In August 1940, prompted by the Customs warning against the importing of subversive literature,472 the official bulletin of the New Zealand Library Association recommended that librarians should themselves censor their stocks by war standards. In these times, ‘what must be ruled out as dangerous to the State comes to include activities which in peace time were considered undesirable but not dangerous. Subversion, instead of being watched and controlled, must be stamped out.’ Before the war, librarians had rightly felt it their duty to allow page 1011 all shades of political opinion upon their shelves, but books and periodicals then not dangerous might become so. The Customs warning should place every librarian on his guard; it was the duty of each to ‘examine his shelves and his periodical files to ascertain what he has which could, if placed in the wrong hands, be dangerous to the common good’. Ignorance would be no excuse, either in law or in ethics.473
Six months later Dr G. H. Scholefield, General Assembly Librarian, in his presidential address to the Association, repeated this theme. Normally librarians opposed censorship and it was their duty to provide fullest information, including works that might in some circumstances encourage defiance of authority; but in war democracy, to save itself, must yield up temporarily some of its privileges and liberties, surrendering to its rulers some of the authority that in the long run belonged to the people themselves. Whether they said so or not, librarians all recognised that it was not advisable nor in common sense to make as freely available as at normal times literature that had a subversive tendency and that might encourage minorities, perhaps of well-meaning and high-minded people, to action inimical to the full efficiency of the State at war. When the whole democratic system was in danger, the individual librarian had a definite responsibility to see that books which clearly tended to wean a reader from his sense of duty and loyalty to constituted authority were not made too freely available in quarters where such peril might arise. It might be said, Scholefield continued, that the librarian was taking too much on himself in judging what was subversive and what was not. ‘We are only human and liable to be wrong, but we cannot surrender our responsibility for seeing that there is not a broadcast presentation of shades of opinion which might make the task of governing and of making war in any degree less effective.’474
This was well considered, well expressed, dignified; but how, without example, should an individual librarian interpret such phrases as ‘books which clearly tended to wean a reader from his sense of duty and loyalty to constituted authority’? Presumably there would be subjective and varying judgments, with the more timid being the most restrictive. Nor was the matter left to the librarian's own conscience or opinion: public-minded citizens could exert pressure. For instance an RSA activist pointed out certain books on the shelves of the Wellington Public Library to Mayor Hislop, who promptly had them removed and informed the Commissioner of Police, who page 1012 was surprised that such literature had been allowed into the country.475
But however willing librarians were to exercise their own discretion they were aware by mid-1941 that others were checking and delaying their imports. The New Zealand Library Association at its annual conference asked the government if any powers were granted under emergency regulations for censoring books, on what principles censorship was based, and to whom it was entrusted. Further, if there was a list of prohibited books, the Association would be glad to receive a copy of it.476 Nash, as Acting Prime Minister, signed a reply drafted by McNamara:
I have to advise that, as a general principle, the transmission is prohibited of all classes of literature which, after careful examination, may reasonably be deemed to be subversive or prejudicial to the prosecution of the war effort in New Zealand. I have also to advise that, at present, there is no specific list of books which are prohibited from transmission.477
This bromide did not satisfy the librarians' secretary, J. Norrie,478 who again inquired firmly ‘to what officers the examination of books is entrusted’, both for prohibiting literature which might be deemed subversive or prejudicial to the war effort and for censorship within the range of the Indecent Publications Act. Were they qualified to judge what they examined, and could the Controller give any further particulars about the principles on which they worked? In several instances, well known classics which should not have been questioned had been delayed for investigation.479 Nash did not sign a brief letter proffered by McNamara, which merely stated that examination was delegated to persons considered fully competent to undertake that class of work; he signed a longer and more amiable letter, explaining that the Controller was assisted by a Government-appointed committee of men considered competent to interpret the regulations fairly and also, through familiarity with a wide range of literature, able to form balanced judgments. ‘You will realise that this matter of censorship is not the easiest nor the most pleasant of tasks and it is with considerable reluctance that the Government has had to exercise this form of supervision, but it is inevitable in time of war. I am quite willing to arrange for you personally to have a page 1013 confidential discussion with one of the officers responsible for this work.’480
On 28 August Norrie, after consulting his central executive, asked for such a discussion. This was authorised by Nash, despite awareness that Norrie's main purpose would be ‘to get the list of prohibited books which Cabinet said was to be kept “secret.”’481 This list, however, was not divulged until two years later. In October 1943 a committee of university and public librarians, charged to recommend the purchase of books which it believed should be available but of which there were no copies in New Zealand, was told by a local Customs authority that a book requested by a university English department was on a prohibited list. The committee's secretary then asked for and received, confidentially, a list showing decisions to date by the Minister of Customs on the importation of doubtful publications.482
Thus as the war moved on, the censorship of books, while remaining almost invisible save to the knowledgeable few, adjusted to several pressures. Booksellers and librarians, reluctant to waste money or to risk import licenses, avoided books which they thought might be withheld. The authorities, while anxious to avoid public controversy, were wary lest dissension should be fanned by communist literature and by this premise were led to check even classics such as the Communist Manifesto. With Russia established as the stalwart ally-in-arms this attitude was less and less tenable, but Nash was notorious for delaying decisions, and the Labour hierarchy's dislike of local Communists remained. Belatedly, however, the forbidden list was shortened and by the end of 1943 was made known, in confidence, to responsible persons.
Thereafter both the press and the files are silent on book censorship. Increasingly, book supplies were severely curtailed at source and booksellers more and more tended to order only ‘safe’ literature, while hoping that the war's conclusion would soon end the problem. People at large were by then, in any case, conditioned to accept many gaps in imports.
1 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap I, pp. 1–12
4 That is, summarised, to bring into hatred or conrempt or to excite disaffection against His Majesty's person, the government or constitution of the United Kingdom or New Zealand or the administrarion of justice; to attempt ro procure other than by lawful means alteration to the constitution, laws or government of the United Kingdom or New Zealand; to raise discontent or disaffection among His Majesty's subjects, or hostility between different classes. It was not seditious to intend in good faith to show that Crown measures were mistaken or misled, to point out errors or defects in the government or constitution of the United Kingdom or New Zealand or in the administration of justice, or to attempt alteration by lawful means; or to point out, for their removal, matters producing ill-will between classes.
5 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap I, pp. 8a, 9
6 Ibid., p. 9, quoting ONS 89, chap IV, p. 3
7 Ibid., p. 10, quoting ONS 89
10 Hall, John Herbert, OBE(‘67) (1897–1975): Ed Hawera Star, 1925, Christchurch Sun 1927, Dominion 1933–7; NZ rep Glasgow Exhibition 1937; at LoN 1938–9; Dep Dir Publicity 1939–40; official war corres with NZ forces overseas 1940–1, PRO 2NZEF 1941, POW to 1945; Publicity Mngr, Rlwys Dept 1945–6; C'wealth Relations Trust bursar in b'casting 1952; exec positions NZBS 1956 to Asst Dir 1962, establishing NZBC news service; official historian NZBC
11 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap II, p. 2
12 McLintock, in NZ Encyclopaedia, vol II, p. 758
13 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap II, pp. 3–4, with note by A. D. McIntosh
15 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap II, p. 9
18 Press, 12 May 41
19 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap II, p. 10, quoting Dir Publicity to Acting PM, 9 May 41, C & P 1/5
20 Ibid., chap II, p. 7
21 Ibid., chap II, p. 10
23 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap II, p. 4, quoting C & P 3/16
25 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap II, p. 5
27 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IV, p. 9
28 See chapter V
30 See p. 213
31 See p. 216
32 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap III, p. 3
33 Henderson, Andrew Kennaway: d 1960 aet 81; Ed Tomorrow 1933–40
34 Copies of this note are bound in many collections of Tomorrow
35 Press, 16 Sep 40, p. 10. Letter by L. A. Efford, a Christchurch pacifist, with comment by H. G. R. Mason, Attorney-General, that he did not have to secure a conviction before seizing a printing press; appeal could be made to the Supreme Court, where decision was final.
36 In Australia, where censorship of the Niagara sinking was less close than in New Zealand, some passengers' reference to ‘a smell of cordite’ led to speculation which Paul thought ‘mischievous and unhelpful’. He explained to an editor: ‘The plain fact in this connection is that we did not want to advertise that Britain was in such sore need that she wanted cartridges from us, and that we sent supplies that were badly needed here.’ Director of Publicity to F. A. Clarke, Auckland Star, 26 Jul 40, Paul Papers, File 432. Later, however, a 1943 publicity pamphlet produced by Paul stated: ‘After Dunkirk we shipped half our rifle ammunition to Britain, where it was urgently needed. Unfortunately this ammunition was lost with the “Niagara”’. New Zealand at War, p. 8
37 Auckland Star, 3 Jul 40
38 Truth, 18, 30 Dec 40, pp. 12, 7
39 Cornish, Hon Henry Havelock, KC('34) (1887–1952): co-founder, first headmaster, Wellesley College, Wgtn; barrister & solicitor Wgtn 1918–30, Professor Law VUC 1930–4; Solicitor-General 1934–44; Judge Supreme Court 1945–50
41 Ostler and Christie both received the maximum sentence, 12 months, upheld on appeal (Press, 18, 19, 21 Mar, 4 Apr 41, pp. 10, 2, 12, 10), and were not allowed bail in the interval, although a petition to the Prime Minister seeking bail was signed by more than 1300 persons. NZ Herald, 4 Mar 41, p. 6
44 Standard, 27 Feb 41, p. 7
45 Press, 26 Feb 41, p. 9
46 Star–Sun, 3 Mar 41
47 Press, 4 Mar 41. The Press stated in conclusion that contrary to the Director's claim ‘part of the report of the case was excised on his instructions’. This referred to Christie's denunciation of the Public Safety regulations as Fascist, deleted from the Press Association report on Paul's order. WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IV, p. 3
48 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IV, p. 4, quoting Dir Publicity to A. Burns, 22 Feb 41, C & P D20
53 Ibid., 10 Mar 41, p. 9
56 This phrase came from the Dominion, though other papers approached the same idea. Actually there were no bodies appointed ready to handle industrial disputes, while betweeen workers and management, representations and refusals could go on for a long time, for months, even years.
59 Auckland Star, 11 Mar 41
63 NZPD, vol 259, p. 73
64 Discussions were obviously going on.
65 Press, 13 Mar 41
67 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IV, p. 7
68 Information supplied to author by the Sec RTA. Feb 74
70 Information from Gen Mngr Rlwys, 29 Apr 75
72 NZPD, vol 259, pp. 73, 76
73 Ibid., pp. 77–80, 82
74 Ibid., pp. 101–3
79 Ibid., 22 Mar 41, p. 13. The Industrial Worker had communist connections: it began after the People's Voice was suppressed and later merged with In Print, which again merged with the People's Voice when it resumed in July 1943. Silverstone later became secretary of the Wellington branch of the Communist party. WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IV, p. 6
80 Auckland Star, 20 Mar 41
81 Press, 21 Mar 41
83 Mansfield, Lord Justice William (1773–1821): Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas 1756–88
85 Ibid., 21 Mar 41
86 Auckland Star, 22 Mar 41
87 Star–Sun, 20 Mar 41
88 Ibid., 29 Mar 41
89 Paul Papers, File 419
90 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap VI, p. 13, referring to C & P telegram files. See chap XI for course of strikes
91 NZPD, vol 261, p. 685
94 NZPD, vol 257, pp. 134–5
96 NZPD, vol 259, p. 610
97 Ibid., p. 668
99 NZPD, vol 259, p. 679
101 Press, 15 Mar 44, p. 2; NZPD, vol 264, p. 378
102 Auckland Star, 11 Aug 44, p. 6; NZPD, vol 265, pp. 345–6
103 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap XI, p. 4, quoting Dir Publicity to Acting PM, 6 Jun 41, C & P 3/5
104 See p. 298
105 NZPD, vol 259, p. 286
106 Ibid., pp. 287–8
107 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap V, p. 6, referring to Officer i/c Publicity to Dir Publicity, 26 Aug 40, C & P 3/5
108 Ibid., chap V, pp. 6–7
109 Ibid., chap V, p. 7, quoting Dir Publicity to Acting PM, 22 Jul 41, C & P 3/5
110 Ibid., chap IV, p. 10
113 Auckland Star, Star–Sun, NZ Woman's Weekly and Farmers Weekly
114 Evening Post, 21 May 41, p. 8. Here Paul was able to reply that while no editor would willingly inform the enemy, that very day under the heading ‘Bacon Congestion Relieved by British Shipment’ a paper had said that 8000 tons would be uplifted within the next three months. WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IV, p. 12, quoting Dir Publicity to editors, 23 May 41
118 Ibid., 4 Jun 41
120 Press, 3 Jun 41. This was the criticism that evoked the letter from Paul to Nash quoted above, p. 914
122 Auckland Star, 10 Jul 41, p. 10
123 Ibid., 7 Aug 41; Star–Sun, 7 Aug 41; Press, 8 Aug 41
124 See p. 578
125 eg, ‘The Roman Catholic Church is at best a dangerous ally to any cause… the supreme opportunist, no less crafty than Nazism….The Vatican sits astride the fence, feet dangling on both sides… ready to pop on the winning side just as soon as it is possible to estimate which will be the winning side. Neither the Church, the Pope, the Vatican, nor any good Catholic is anti-Hitler or anti-Fascist.’ WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap V, p. 3
126 Ibid., chap V, pp. 3–5
128 John A. Lee's Weekly during August and September had several articles accepting Russia as an ally and hoping that both Russia and the democracies might be improved by associating with each other. ‘If Russia stands Europe is free, and Hitler and Mussolini and lesser thug Franco and his evil ring of jackals who deny education and voting rights to common men, will be feeling for their throats.’ (13 Aug 41, p. 9) The articles reviled Franco, put into power by Hitler and Mussolini and by Finance Capitalists more fearful of Russian Sovietism than of Fascism and Nazism. Franco was ‘a beast’, lacking the ‘intellect and dynamism of Hitler–Mussolini, not even like these the beast with the brains of the engineer.’ (6 Aug 41, p. 2)
129 Paul Papers, File 638
131 Ibid., chap VI, pp. 1–2
132 In the Paul Papers, File 682, are diaries for 1940, 1941, 1942 and 1945, with irregular entries. Entries usually record meetings, telephoning, etc, very briefly; on crisis dates they are often very brief indeed.
133 Pollard, John James Weippert (1888–1944): journalist, asst to Dir Publicity
135 Paul Papers, File 461
136 Ibid., File 415
137 Mason, Ronald Alison Kells (1905–71): poet; Ed In Print 1940–43, Challenge 1943–54; 1st Pres NZ–China Soc
138 Auckland Star, 25 Feb 42, p. 8
139 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap VI, p. 3, quoting from note on PM 84/13/8
140 Statements by Dr K. R. Steenson to police, 1, 8 Apr 42, Paul Papers, File 461
141 Naval Sec to Paul, 14 Apr 42, Ibid.
143 See p. 345
144 Press, 4 Mar 42, p. 2
147 Auckland Star, 23 Apr 42, p. 6
148 Truth, 29 Apr, 13 May 42, pp. 14, 12
149 Auckland Star, 18 May 42, p. 3
150 Paul Papers, File 414
151 Memo by Dir Publicity on Army Plan re ‘Publicity–Censorship’, 30 Jul 42, Ibid.
153 Press, 10 Mar 42
157 Auckland Star, 30 Mar 42
158 A US-dominated scheme for a federation of states to control foreign policy, munitions, currency, tariffs, etc.
160 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap VI, p. 9, referring to C & P 3/5; Hogan circular, 30 Apr 42, Paul Papers, File 435
162 Auckland Star, 29 May 42, p. 6
163 Dir Publicity to P. Neilson MP, 27 Jun 42; PM to J. T. Head, Waitemata LRC, 19 Jun 42, Paul Papers, File 435
164 Auckland Star, 7 May 42, p. 8
165 Ibid., 15 May 42, p. 6
168 NZPD, vol 261, pp. 397–8
169 Star–Sun, 27 Jun 42
170 Paul to A. G. Henderson, Ed Star–San, 29 Jun 42, Paul Papers, File 435
171 Press, 15 Aug 42
173 NZPD, vol 261, p. 502
174 McNamara to Paul, 5, 18 Nov 42, Paul Papers, File 435
175 Paul Papers, File 435
176 Lee in 1937 had declared that the debt-free doctrines of the Douglas Credit Movement, of Social Credit, in the 1930s weaned away from capitalist beliefs many people who then turned to the practical proposals of Labour: it was the ‘corridor through which thousands of voters entered the Labour Party’. Lee, J. A., Money Power for the People, pp. 5–6
177 Press, 22 Mar 43
179 Press, 25 Jul 44, p. 4
182 Ibid., 25 Jul 45, p. 8
183 See p. 624ff
184 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap VII, p. 4, quoting Dir Publicity to US–Naval Attaché, 26 Jun 42
185 Ibid., chap VII, p. 1
186 Ibid, chap VIII, p. 7
189 Timaru Herald, 3 Aug 42
192 Auckland Star, 25 Jun 42, p. 4
193 See p. 918
194 Meeting of Publicity Cmte, 24 Feb 41, Paul Papers, File 455
195 Draft, Paul to Wilson, 22 Feb 41, ibid.
196 Dir Publicity to PM, 8 Jul 42, ibid.
198 Paul Papers, File 414
199 Illustrations Ed, Auckland Star, to Dir Publicity, 17 Feb 41, ibid., File 390
201 Dir Publicity to PM, 8 Jul 42, Ibid., File 455
202 Ibid., File 435
204 The day paris was liberated [25 August 1944] and Roumania fell was a big day for New Zealand's National Film Unit. It was their third birthday, for on that day city theatres were screening the 156 edition of their Weekly Review, Undated, unsigned article, Paul Papers, File 151
205 Film Production Committee meeting, 26 Feb 41, Ibid., File 153; Mngr Dept Industries & Commerce to Dir Publicity, 16 Jul 42, Ibid., File 471; Dir Publicity to editors (A 68) May  on article ‘Camera in Battle’, about film ‘Easter Action in Bougainville’, Ibid. ‘The Information Service of the Government’, by R. S. Odell [post-war], p. 2, ibid., File 455; E. S. Andrews to Dir Publicity, 1 Oct 43, 6 Jan 44, Ibid., File 613, 21 May 44, File 441
206 Dominion, 24 Apr 37, p. 12
207 Auckland Star, 11 Aug 44, p. 6
209 McIntosh, Sir Alister Donald, KCMG('73) (1906–78); PM's Dept 1935, Permanent Head 1945–66; Sec War Cab 1943–5; Sec Ext Aff 1943–66; NZ Amb Rome 1966–70
210 Robertson, Hon John (1875–1952): b Scotland, to NZ 1902; associated early Lab movement UK, foundation member ILP 1892; pioneer NZ Socialist and Lab party; MP (Lab) Otaki 1911–14 as only direct Lab rep in Parl, Masterton 1935–43; MLC 1946–; Dom Sec NZ Motion Picture Exhibitors' Assn 1927, served on govt film advisory cmssns, Film Industry Board
212 Paul Papers, File 455
213 Dir Publicity to PM, 8 Jul 42, Ibid.
215 Auckland Star, 6 May 40
217 See p. 418, fn 237
222 NZPD, vol 261, p. 477; Dominion, 9, 11 Jul 42, pp. 6, 6 (editorial). That control of paper supplies could become an avenue of censorship was maintained by R. M. Algie MP in July 1943 when announcing that his New Zealand Freedom League would cease action. It was denied all access to the radio, and regulations about paper for printing made great difficulties: ‘the heaviest blow of all’ was being unable to use the League's own stocks of paper without first submitting ‘to the bureaucracy that dominates us’ a draft of the intended publication. ‘This was an indirect form of censorship which we regarded as being utterly intolerable in a so-called free country.’ Dominion, 17 Jul 43, p. 6
223 Ibid., 16 Jul 42, p. 6
225 Auckland Star, 17 Jul 42
227 Anckland Star, 10 Oct 42, p. 6
229 NZPD. vol 261, p. 637
231 Comment by Dir Publicity, 27 Oct , on statement by Newspaper Proprietors' Association, Paul Papers, File 419
232 NZPD, vol 261, p. 686
233 Ibid., p. 720
234 See p. 407ff
235 NZPD, vol 261, pp. 635–7
236 Ibid., p. 638
237 Ibid., p. 639
238 Ibid., pp. 689 690–1
239 Ibid., p. 689
240 Ibid., p. 690
241 Press, 17 Oct 42
242 Auckland Star, 17 Oct 42
243 Press, 27 Nov 42, p. 6
244 Mulgan, Alan Edward, OBE('47) (1881–1962): newspaperman, author, then Supervisor Talks NBS 1935–46
245 Lawlor, Patrick Anthony, OBE('76) (1893–1979): author, journalist; Sec State Literary Fund 1947–55
246 Wanganui Herald, 7 Dec 42, p. 4
248 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 18
249 NZPD, vol 262, p. 324
250 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap X, p. 1
251 NZPD, vol 262, p. 73
252 Ibid., p. 324
253 WHN, ‘Police Department’, p. 20
255 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IX, p. 3
256 Ibid.; Wood, p. 267
258 Dir Publicity to editors, 22 Oct 43, Paul Papers, File 471
260 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IX, p. 8; Paul Papers, File 471
261 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IX, p. 9
262 Ibid., chap IX, p. 7, quoting from police file S 44/2
263 Paul Papers, File 471
264 Taihape Times, 7, 14, 28 Feb 44, pp. 2, 3, 3
265 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IX, p. 8, referring to Mngr Press Assn to PM, 31 Mar 44, on PM 87/13/4
267 See Wood, pp. 268–70, for these and later events
268 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap IX, pp. 9–10
269 Ibid., chap IX, p. 11
270 Ibid., chap IX, p. 12
271 Ibid., chap IX, p. 13, quoting Dir Publicity to Acting PM, 22 Jun 45, on PM 87/13/14
274 Auckland Star, 15 Nov 43, p. 4
276 WHN. ‘Police Department’, p. 27
277 Ibid., pp. 25, 29
278 Official thinking was made clear by Paul himself later, writing to the editor of the Hawera Star on 6 May 1944: The Commissioner of Police believes that employment in certain places would not be conducive to public confidence in the integrity of the Police Force. If wives were employed in certain places it would quickly be urged that the police were quite familiar with every irregularity or breach of the law which occurred in these establishments'. WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap X, p. 2
279 WHN, ‘Police Department’, pp. 27–8
280 Auckland Star, 16 Nov 43, p. 4
281 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap X, p. 2; Paul Papers, File 471
282 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap X, p. 3; the references defined or provided penalties
283 ie, the Directive of 3 December
285 Ibid., 23 Dec 43, p. 3
287 Billens, Robert Hewitt (1882–1959): Ed Palmerston North Times; Mngr Manawatu Daily Times Co 1951
288 ‘No person shall print or publish in any periodical, publication, or in any other printed document (a) any matter or statement which in any manner indicates, or may be reasonably supposed to indicate, the existence in that document of any omission, alteration, or addition due to the exercise of the powers of censorship conferred by these regulations; or (b) any statement or indication that any matter or kind of matter has been required to be submitted to censorship under these regulations, or that a censor has refused his authority for the printing or publication ol any matter, or kind of matter.’
292 Foden, Dr Norman Archer: b 1894; Crown Law Officer from 1935; lecturer Commercial Law VUC; Victoria University Councillor 1945–9; NZ constitutional historian
294 In September 1938 the Crown Solicitor had commented that although this clause appeared in the Additional War Regulations of 22 February 1916 and the Censorship Regulations of 23 July 1918, it ‘is perhaps the most oppressive provision in the draft; and unless experience in 1914–18 showed that it was definitely necessary, I suggest that it might without serious disadvantage be omitted.’ Crown Solicitor to Sec ONS, 28 Sep 38, on PM 84/2/1, quoted in WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap 1, p. 16
297 Dumbleton, Eric Vernon (1901–70); Managing Dir Auckland Star 1951, Editor-in- Chief 1954; Dir NZPA
298 Whitlock, William Arthur, CBE('61) (1891–1977): editorial work from 1912; 10 years chmn provincial section Newspaper Proprietors' Assn; Pres NZ. Employers' Federation 1960–1
299 Freeth, Pierce Hugo Napier (1895–1957): Ed Press from 1932
302 Bracken had also said: ‘Solely from the security point of view it might be better not to publish anything at all, but that would keep our own people in the dark’. He spoke of a savage censorship playing no small part in the fall of France, and of the right of people to criticise and demand that wrong things be put right, adding. ‘The censor has to keep the balance between the official wish to publish nothing and the public's right to be acquainted with events. Somehow this has been done in Britain—otherwise voluntary censorship would have broken down.’ Auckland Star, 26 May 42, p. 5
304 Press, 9 Mar 44
306 Truth, 15 Mar 44
308 NZPD, vol 264, pp. 478–9
309 Martin, Kingsley (1897–1969): Ed New Statesman & Nation 1930–60
310 NZPD, vol 264, p. 532. There is a copy of the offending article in Paul's Papers, File 416. It is a bar-room story, straight reporting style, in which the drinking habits of high-country shepherds and their ways with dogs have place along with an American's comments on the accessibility of New Zealand girls, their ‘store teeth’ and their ignorance of jazz musicians, comments which present a credible if unpleasing sketch of the American himself.
311 NZPD, vol 264, p. 542
312 Ibid., p. 543–4
313 War History Narrative, ‘Postal and Telegraphic Censorship’ (hereinafter WHN, ‘P & T Censorship’), p. 30
315 NZPD, vol 264, pp. 578–80
317 Thomson, Rear Admiral Sir George, Kr('63), CB('46) (1887–1965): 2nd member Naval Bd Australia 1937–9; Chief Press Censor Miny Information UK 1940–5
319 Sydney Morning Herald, 19 May 44
320 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap X, p. 12, quoting letters on C & P 3/7/8
322 New Zealand Law Reports1944, pp. 721–2
323 Ibid., pp. 722—3, 726—7
324 Ibid., pp. 733–5
325 Laski, Harold J. (1893–1950): Prof Economics from 1920; leading thinker and writer on political economy
327 NZPD, vol 265, pp. 340—3
328 Ibid., pp. 343–8
330 NZPD, vol 265, p. 345
331 Bowden, Hon Charles Moore, JP (1886–1972): MP (Nat) Karori 1943–54; Min Customs, Associate Min Finance 1949–54, Industries & Commerce 1949–50
332 NZPD, vol 265, pp. 368–9
333 Ibid., pp. 371–6
334 Ibid., pp. 377–8
336 Auckland Star, 2 Sep 44, p. 4
337 Paul Papers, File 682
338 NZPD, vol 266, pp. 135–6; Auckland Star, 7 Sep 44, p. 4; Murdoch, Sir Keith Arthur, Kr('33) (1886–1952): b Aust; journalist; war correspondent 1915–18; Dir-Gen Information Aust 1939–40; dir numerous Aust newspapers from 1942; former chmn Aust section Empire Press Union; founder Aust Newsprint Mills Pry Ltd
340 Auckland Star, 15 Sep 44
342 Aiifkland Star, 22 Sep 44, p. 3
343 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap X, p. 15
345 Auckland Star, 1 May 45, p. 4
346 Undated draft, Paul Papers, File 635
349 Dir Publicity to PM, 8 Jul 42, Paul Papers, File 455
354 Paul Papers, File 454
357 Report by W. G. Cooper, Sec to Controller Censorship, Sep 44, p. 5, in WHN, ‘P & T Censorship’
358 Ibid., pp. 36–42
359 Ibid., pp. 45–7, 50
360 Ibid., p. 51
361 Ibid., p. 4
362 Ibid., p. 5
363 Ibid., p. 11
364 A to J1944, 1–17, p. 1
367 Ibid., 5 Feb 40, p. 6
369 A to J1944, 1–17, p. 2
371 Ibid., 5 Mar 40
372 NZPD, vol 257, p. 932
374 Ibid., 10 Sep 40, p. 6
375 Ibid., 11 Aug 42, p. 4
376 Ibid., 30 May 40, p. 6
381 Auckland Star,
382 Ibid., 5 Aug 42, p. 6
383 WHN, ‘P & T Censorship’, pp. 24–5 and App G, p. 4
387 Auckland Star, 13 Oct 42, p. 4
388 Ibid., 15 Oct 42
390 WHN, ‘P & T Censorship’, pp. 11–12
391 Dr Lochore wrote: ‘The surreptitious opening of letters as practised by some overseas British censorships was never countenanced in NZ. On the other hand, the writer has seen a supposedly responsible officer open a letter surreptitiously in order to get an idea whether it ought to be opened officially, in a case where he was not willing to accept the responsibility for either passing it unopened, opening it overtly, or delaying it to await the decision of the Controller. The cases of this nature which occurred were not numerous enough to form a regular practice.’ Ibid., p. 17
392 Press, 27 Aug 41, p. 6
394 Ibid., 29 Aug 41, p. 6
396 Press, 6 Sep 41
398 Auckland Star, 3 Sep 41
399 NZPD, vol 260, p. 535
400 Auckland Star, 4 Sep 41, p. 8
401 WHN, ‘P & T Censorship’, pp. 28–9
402 NZPD, vol 266, p. 771
403 Union Record, 10 May 40, p. 2
405 Birchfield, Albert James (1905–): Pres Wgtn Tramway Workers Union 1942–3; 2½ years' service Middle East, Italy; member NZ Communist party from 1932, member Nat Cmte & Wgtn District; branch sec NZ. Workers Union
406 Truth, 26 Aug 42, p. 1
409 Hauraki Plains Gazette, 2 Sep 42
411 NZPD, vol 260, pp. 536–7
412 WHN, ‘P & T Censorship’, pp. 29–30
413 Press, 25, 26 Jan 43, pp. 4, 4. McNamara did not trouble to reconcile this statement with his earlier assertion that only the Governor-General, ministers of the Crown and resident consuls were exempt. see p. 989
414 Ibid., 6 Mar 43, p. 4
416 There were 10 members, four National and six Labour: Doidge, Bowden, Oram and Sheat; Clyde Carr, Coleman, Lowry, T. H. McCombs, Combs (chairman) and the mover, Fraser.
418 A to J1944, 1–17, pp. 1–3
422 Auckland Star, 14 Oct 44
425 Ibid., 11 Apr 45, p. 6
428 Controller of Censorship to PM, 8 May 40, PM 25/2/4
429 Ibid., 26 Jun 40
432 Alley, Geoffrey Thomas, OBE('58) (1903–): librarian & tutor Rural Adult Education Scheme from 1935; Dir Country Library Service from 1937, Nat Library Service 1945–64; Nat Librarian 1964–7
433 Reid, John Stanhope (1901–): asst Parly Law Draftsman 1937–41; acting solicitor to Treasury 1942–3; joined Ext Aff 1943, served Washington, Djakarta, Tokyo; Asst Sec Ext Aff 1949; UN rep Indonesia 1952–3, chmn UN Mission E Africa 1954; NZ rep UN bodies 1946, 1960; Amb Japan 1956–62; HC Canada 1962–4
434 Laking, George Robert, CMG('69) (1912–): joined Customs Dept 1929; to Organisation for Nat Security, PM's Dept 1941 & War Cab Secretariat; to Gen Ass UN 1946, 1949–52, NZ member UN Mission E Africa 1951; Counsellor NZ Embassy Washington 1949, Min 1954; Dep Sec Ext Aff 1956; Amb EEC 1960; HC (acting) London 1958–61, Amb USA 1961; Sec Foreign Aff, Perm Head PM's Dept 1967–72; Ombudsman 1975–77, Chief Ombudsman from 1977
435 A. D. McIntosh to Controller of Censorship, 4 Jun 43, PM 25/2/5
437 The report itself bears no date but a memorandum for the PM, dated 19 Nov 40, refers to ‘the report presented to you last month by Mr Nash's Committee’. Both on PM 25/2/4
438 These last three titles moved on to the banned list later, in May 1941.
439 An annotation in Nash's hand reads: ‘Selected illustrated periodicals could be realised [sic released]’.
441 Beaglehole, Or John Cawte, OM('70), CMG('58) (1901–71): author, editor, historian; lecturer, senior lecturer VUC 1936–48; historical adviser Dept Int Aff 1938–52; senior research fellow & lecturer in colonial history VUC. 1949–63, Prof Brit Commonwealth History 1963–6; Pres NZ Council for Civil Liberties 1952–71; edited The Journals of Captain James Cook on his Voyages of Discovery, 1955, 1961, 1967
443 Notes with Parsons's letter, 15 Nov 40, on PM 25/2/4
444 Apart from the attention and curiosity that public banning always fastens on a book and its often heightened underground circulation, Labour had in the past opposed censorship. About four years earlier, in 1936, Nash had rold rhe Associated Booksellers: ‘We have the law of the land, which is supposed to be the will of the people in a democratic community. The law should be sufficient. We need no censorship…. It is a restriction on the right of the subject to suggest that a citizen should not have access to books which some board of censorship says are not for him.’ Press, 17 Jan 36, p. 10. Public banning could have been embarrassing as well as ineffective.
445 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap II, p. 9
446 GGNZ to SSDA, 14 Nov 40, No 458, PM 84/2/10, pt 1
447 Ibid., Churchill to GGNZ for PM, 18 Nov 40, No 365
448 Recommendations approved by PM, 15 Jan 41, on PM 25/2/4
449 Johnsen, John Peter Douglas, CBE('59) (1897–): Asst Comptroller Customs 1946–54, Comptroller 1954–7; member Bd Trade 1957–9, chmn 1959–62; dep chmn Tariff & Development Bd 1962, chmn 1966–9; Sec Tariff Cmssn 1933–4
450 Baxter, Archibald McColl Learmond (1881–1970): farmer; LRC delegate 1940; author We Will Not Cease, Autobiography of a Conscientious Objector 1939
451 Acting Sec, Modern Books to Acting PM, 5 Aug 41, PM 25/2/5
452 Ibid., Controller of Censorship to J. S. Reid, 14 Aug 41
453 Ibid., J. S. Reid to Nash, 20 Aug 41
454 In the Book Society's letter ‘British Trade Unionism’ and ‘Marxist Text Book No. 7’ appear as separate titles, presumably a slip
456 Ibid., Min Customs to Sec, Progressive Books, 27 Jun 42
458 NZPD, vol 261, p. 87
459 Ibid., p. 518
461 [A. D. McIntosh] to P. Martin-Smith, 24 Dec 42, PM 25/2/5
463 This followed the declaration on 21 Oct 40 that Jehovah's Witnesses was a subversive organisation. NZ Gazette, 24 Oct 40, p. 2752
464 Enclosure with A. D. McIntosh to Controller Censorship, 4 Jun 43, PM 25/2/5
465 It was later read in debate on 25 Aug 43. NZPD, vol 263, p. 1021
466 Salazar, Antonia de Oliveira (1889—1970): Portuguese statesman; Prime Minister and virtual dictator 1932–68
467 NZPD, vol 263, p. 1021
468 These tests were suggested, in very similar words, in McIntosh's memorandum for the signature of the Controller of Censorship
470 NZPD, vol 263, p. 1022
481 Ibid., note, 6 Sep 41, initialled by McNamara, annotated by Nash