18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. j. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (-by Mr. am=) agreed to -
That the House, at ite rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Use OF Airstrips.
– Has the Minister for Air yet received a report from the officer of his department who investigated an allegation that aircraft had been illegally using’ aerodromes in the Northern Territory? If so, is it correct, as stated in the press, that certain members of the Royal Australian Air Force admitted making secret moonlight landings on some of the old airstrips to keep rendezvous with farmers’ daughters? What action, if any, followed receipt of the report?
– The report which I received on this matter proved that the allegations appearing in the press were complete fabrications. The suggestion that certain members of the
Royal Australian Air Force were landing on airstrips for the purpose of keeping appointments with farmers’ daughters is a rather strange one. Having visited many of these airstrips I can assure the honorable member that I have not seen a farm sufficiently close to any of them to enable even airmentokeep appointments with the daughters of any one.
Compulsory Acquisition of Land - Hostel Accommodation at Industrial Centres.
– I wish to ask a question of the Prime Minister concerning persons whose land has been acquired by the Commonwealth for various reasons. Though they may have been paid for the land, they have, in many instances, been leftwithout the building allotment for which they have been saving for many years. In view of the present difficulty of acquiringland, would it be possible for the Australian Government to confer with the State governments with the object of giving to persons whoso land has been so acquired some special advantage in regard to the occupancy of homes built by the various State housing authorities?
– I shall consult with the Minister for the Interior and the Minister forWorks and Housing, who deal with this matter, and furnish the honorable member with a reply as early as possible.
Mr.RUS SELL. - The Government has intimated that it proposes to assist in stepping up the production of basic materials by constructing hostels at Port Kembla to accommodate displaced persons who are to be employed in industries there. I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will also consider the advisability of erecting hostels to accommodate persons who are to be employed in basic industries at Whyalla.
– The Minister for Works and Housing, the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Immigration have been examining the possibility of providing accommodation for displaced persons adjacent to industrial establishments where labour is required. A num ber of consultations have taken place, and onseveral occasions a cabinet sub-committee has considered the position. The Government hopes to make some satisfactory arrangements to meet conditions at Port Kembla, and, perhaps, Newcastle. Consultations are now taking place regarding the provision of accommodation at Whyalla for the purposes which the honorable member has suggested. Some difficulties have arisen in respect of the kind of workmen, skilled and unskilled, who are required at Whyalla, and there is no certainty that skilled labour among the displaced persons is of the kind that the company requires. However, the matter of providing accommodation at Whyalla for this labour is now the subject of consultation among the Ministers to whom I have referred.
Mr.FALKINDER.- What is the pre sent position in regard to the appointment of the board to be established under the Apple and Pear Organization Act of 1947? Have appointments yet been made from the various States? If not, when will such appointments be made?
– Under the legislation empowering the establisment of the Australian Apple and Pear Board, I recently gave instructions that all preparatory work be undertaken to enable a poll to be taken at an early date in relation to the constitution of the board. A board must be available if the acquisition of apples is not continued in Western Australia and Tasmania during the next exporting season. It should not take more than seven or eight weeks to have the result of the poll available, and the Government will then proclaim the constitution of the board to enable it to function, should the occasion arise.
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -
Proposed erection of additions to the telephone exchange at Hamilton, New South Wales.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me whether the Government has yet considered a report from the Standing Committee on Agriculture relating to ways and means of expending the Commonwealth grant of £250,000 for the dairying industry? If so, what was the Government’s decision? If not, when can the industry expect to receive some assistance under this particular scheme?
– The report of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and various submissions made by primary producers’ organizations are still being considered. Every effort is being made to expedite a decision as to how the £250,000 will be expended.
Enlistment of British Personnel
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether- any consideration has been given to accepting officers and other ranks of the British Army as members of the Australian Regular Army, should they desire to transfer to this country? If so, what procedure will be necessary for these men to make application for such enlistment?
– Letters have been received from British officers, some of whom are in Australia and some of whom are in the United Kingdom, stating that they are desirous of joining the Australian Military Forces. Inquiries are being made to see whether transfers can be arranged. When the inquiries are completed, I shall supply the honorable member with the information for which be asks.
Comment by “ CHRISTIAN Science MONITOR “.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs read newspaper reports of an article that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, which is a most reputable journal, concerning Australia’s failure to support the resolution proposed by the United States delegate at a recent international conference in
Geneva expressing regret at Dr. Sychrava’s enforced absence from the conference? Dr. Sychrava was the editor of a Czech newspaper who was dismissed as the result of the recent Communist coup in Czechoslovakia. Does the Minister agree with the observation of the Christian Science Monitor that his failure to support the resolution did not reflect Australian public opinion on the matter? Further. does he agree that this action was dictated by sympathy with political ideologies rather than by the best interests of the free press throughout the world?
– I shall deal with the last part of the question first. The suggestion is entirely untrue. No sympathy of any kind with Communist ideology has been shown by the Australian Government or by myself as Minister. At the San Francisco conference two years ago Australia led the fight against the undemocratic methods of the Eastern group of countries in the use of the veto. The suggestion that any other course was adopted is untrue. I do not think it is right for an honorable member of this House, in the guise of a question, to spread false slanders against the representatives of. his country. The comment of the honorable member is untrue and unfair. With regard to the other two matters, as I explained recently, the Australian delegate received no instructions on that point. At the end of the conference he was asked to support a resolution expressing regret at the absence from the conference of a Czech delegate who had been excluded by his own government. Mr. Watt, the Australian representative, thought it was not within the province of the conference to express an opinion of that kind. He did not support the Russian group of countries, but abstained from voting. The comment appearing in the Christian Science Monitor is the comment of an individual journalist. Only the other day, in connexion with this very matter, that paper indicated a general sympathy with the attitude adopted by Australia at that conference, which was, while asserting to the full the principle of the freedom of the press and freedom of criticism, to insist that, as far as possible, there should be fair and accurate reporting of international affairs and that the press should not become an instrument of propaganda.
Branding of Lamb
– In view of the recent removal of control of the price of lamb and the necessity to see that consumers are not exploited by having offered to them as lamb meat other than lamb, will the Minister for Commerce and. Agriculture again consult with the State authorities in an endeavour to ensure that all lamb marketed in the States is adequately branded ?
– As I have previously stated, the branding of lamb is a matter that comes within the jurisdication of of the State governments. The problem has been discussed at various times at premiers’ conferences and at meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council, but it has not been possible to get unanimity among the States. Some of them refuse to operate a branding system that would protect the consuming public. I shall direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the subject-matter of the honorable gentleman’s question, and he may see fit to have it listed for discussion at the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers.
– I have received from the Lord Mayor of Newcastle a letter directing attention to the fact that the population of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley is about 250,000, and stating that it is most desirable that the King and Queen and the Princess Margaret should spend sufficient time in- the locality to give the people there the opportunity of seeing them during their visit to Australia. The letter also states that it is rumoured in Newcastle that the Royal party will spend only two nights and one day in that locality. I ask the Prime Minister whether he will have the itinerary recast in order that people in the Newcastle and Hunter River district may have an adequate opportunity of seeing the Royal tourists?
– I preface my reply to the honorable gentleman’s question by expressing my gratitude to the honorable member for “Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) and the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) for having, on behalf of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, assisted the Government in deciding the time that the King and Queen and the Princess Margaret will spend in each State. The State Premiers have been notified of the decision. I make it perfectly clear to the honorable member, in order that he may adequately reply to the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, that, subject to advice from the Australian Government, details of the itinerary are the responsibility not of the Australian Government but of the various State governments. The Minister in charge of the New South Wales section of the Royal tour is the Deputy Premier, Mr. Baddeley, who represents a part of the district referred to in the honorable gentleman’s question. Any representations made by honorable members- in respect of the Royal tour will be passed on by the Commonwealth Minister in charge of it, Senator Armstrong, to the appropriate State Ministers. If the honorable gentleman gives me the letter that he has received from the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, I shall ask Senator Armstrong to place it before Mr. Baddeley, with, if necessary, a suggestion to that gentleman.
– The press has recently reported that production of the Australian motor car, which was expected to reach the market towards the end of this year, will be delayed for about eighteen months. In view of the shortage of motor cars, can the Prime Minister state accurately when it is anticipated that the Australian car is likely to be placed on the market ?
– The company undertaking the manufacture of the Australian motor car, General Motors-Holden’s Limited, has naturally experienced considerable difficulty in its venture. The model to be manufactured is of a new type and is not based on any types manufactured by the company in other countries. The company has had difficulty in obtaining the services of sufficient technicians of the desired quality, but it has made excellent progress. It did hope that cars would be coming off the assembly line about September next. I have seen
A statement in the press that production will be delayed until after then, but.I have no official information to that effect. Once the teething troubles of the new undertaking have been overcome, the company will produce, at the start, 20,000 cars a year, and, ultimately, I understand, 40,000 a year. The Government is most anxious to have the work pushed on with as quickly as possible, and, to that end, the Secondary Industries Commission has given all possible assistance to the company. I have had conversations with the representatives of the company in the last few months, but they did not tell me about any delay of the nature of eighteen months. I shall ascertain from the company what delay is likely to occur and inform the honorable gentleman.
Branch Offices in Country Centres.
– In view of the difficulty experienced by country residents in getting replies to communications, and in obtaining advice on taxation matters, will the Treasurer consider the establishment of branch offices in the larger country centres? If that is not practicable, will he arrange for senior officers of the Taxation Branch to visit the larger centres from time to time?
– Requests of this kind have been made on previous occasions. The honorable member for Bass has asked that a branch office be established at Launceston, and the honorable member for Hunter has also made representations on the subject. One of the difficulties in the way of adopting such suggestions is that the returns and files of taxpayers are kept at the central office. In some instances, officers of the Taxation Branch have been sent to various centres for certain periods so as to be available to help people in connexion with taxation matters, and I have discussed with the Commissioner of Taxation the possibility of extending this service. From time to time, he has arranged for taxation officials to visit a particular town or city, and- to stay there for some time so that the public may discuss taxation matters with them in a general “way. It would be expensive, and would involve duplication, to establish self-contained branch offices in country towns to receive assessments and deal with them, as well as with appeals and requests for deferred payments. I do not think that it would be administratively practicable to institute such a system. However, as arrears of work in the Taxation Branch are overcome, the Commissioner for Taxation will consider making available the services of an officer for most of the time in some of the bigger centres, at the request of public bodies or representative persons, to arrange for an official to visit particular districts. If it is the wish of the honorable member that a taxation official should visit Orange, or some other part of his electorate, I shall take the matter up with the Commissioner of Taxation.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House what persons or establishments are permitted to obtain petrol, tobacco and liquor without paying excise and customs .duties thereon? Is the Governor-General’s establishment granted the same privilege in this respect as are members of the diplomatic corps? Have instructions been issued that goods obtained on such conditions must be used only in connexion with official duties, and not be made available to other members of the household concerned for purposes outside official duties? Will the Prime Minister investigate published reports of “joy-riding” around Goulburn in a car bearing the crown?
– So far as I know, it has been the practice for some years to grant certain privileges, including exemptions from the payment of excise and customs, duties on liquor and, I think, tobacco, to the Governor-General, and to the staffs of diplomatic establishments. I think that this also applies to officials such as the administrator of Norfolk Island. I am not able to furnish offhand a detailed list of the persons to whom the privilege applies. The granting of such a concession is not new. Members of the diplomatic staffs enjoy certain other concessions such as immunity from the sales tax. If the Governor-General, or a member of a diplomatic staff, or the Administrator of Norfolk Island gave his chauffeur or gardener a glass of beer, he would not, in my opinion, abuse the privilege accorded to him. I shall endeavour to make a general statement covering the position as it ha9 applied in the past and as it applies at present.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen a report in this morning’s Canberra Times stating that the New Zealand Prime Minister is amazed at a statement reported to have been made by the Minister for Immigration regarding the admittance of Maoris to Australia. The New Zealand Minister is reported to have said -
If the statement were correct, then there must be even a more serious misunderstanding in Australia of the position, which would be regarded as an insult to New Zealanders.
As this statement follows closely on the reported decision by the Minister to exclude from Australia a Tongan princess, who had been educated and trained in this country, and who is a distinguished representative of another cultured Pacific race, will the Government review its policy on this matter so that there may be no element of doubt among Australians and New Zealanders as to the situation?
– I have not seen the statement. The Minister for Immigration will reply to the question.
– Had the right honorable member for Cowper been present in the House a day or two ago he would have heard my answer to the honorable member for Henty on this subject. I have read the statement reported to have been made by the Prime Minister of New Zealand. In stating his question the right honorable gentleman might have added that the Prime Minister of New Zealand indicated that he had requested the New Zealand High Commissioner to interview me and discuss the matter with me. I have not heard from him yet, but I hope to do so. I am afraid that the right honorable member has tried to use the Maoris in favour of his Tongan princess. People are admitted to or excluded from Australia on grounds other than that of social importance. The attempt by some honorable members to advance the claims of a lady, just because she happens to be the cousin of a queen resident somewhere in the Pacific, leaves us cold.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service indicatewhat steps, if any, have been taken by his department to attempt to settle the strikeof brewery employees in New South Wales? Is the honorable gentlemanaware that this strike has been going on for the last five weeks and that the absence of beer supplies is causing a great deal o.f unemployment among hotel employees? Bottled beer from other States and imported canned beer is being sold on theblack market at exorbitant -prices which, the workers will not continue to pay.
– I am not aware of the latest position in regard to thestrike of brewery employees. The disputewas referred to a conciliation commissioner in its early stages and a conference of the parties concerned was summoned. No settlement has yet been reached. It seems that the maintenance men, who are the only employees on strike - they are, however, loyally supported by otherbrewery employees-are working in otheroccupations, and do riot seem to carewhether or not they go back to the breweries.
– It appears from a report in the press that in replying to a questionasked in the House of Commons a few days ago the Prime Minister of Great Britain said that conversations had been in progress with Dominion Prime Ministers with the object of arranging a conference of Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth to be held in London. Will the Prime Minister indicate whether representatives of the Australian Government have participated in these discussions? Does the right honorable gentleman not agree that, having regard to the important economic and diplomatic problems now facing the British peoples, such a conference is most desirable and that it should be held in the very near future? Is be able to advise the House of the approximate date upon which such a conference is likely to be held?
– The last discussion regarding the possibility of a conference of Empire Prime Ministers in London occurred just prior to the marriage of Princess Elizabeth. As most of the Dominion Prime Ministers attended that function it was thought that opportunity should be taken of .their presence in London to have informal talks on matters affecting the Empire. For various reasons it was not possible for either the Prime Minister of New Zealand or myself to be present at that time. I understand that informal discussions took place between representatives of the British Government and Mr. Mackenzie King and Field Marshal Smuts, but that the principal subjects associated with :general Empire affairs were not touched upon. Since then no suggestion has been made that a meeting of Empire Prime Ministers should be held. Almost every day or every second day, however, I am informed by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, and in some instances by the Secretary for the Dominions, on all phases of Empire affairs. I am also informed of the general position in a direct personal way by verbal communications. I can only say to the honorable member that no suggestion, either official or unofficial, has been made that a conference of Empire Prime Ministers should be held. I realize, of course, that on the economic side a very grave position has developed. I have touched upon some aspects of that in this House on other occasions. I realize how delicate is the position, and that it affects not only the United Kingdom but also ourselves and other countries with which the United Kingdom is associated. It may be necessary for me or some other Minister conversant with the economic aspects of the affairs of the Empire to visit London; but no recent suggestion has been received that such a visit should be arranged.
– According to reports, considerable quantities of petrol, which were stored in the Northern Territory during the war, have not yet been used. If these reports are correct, will the Prime Minister inform me whether the petrol is suitable for release for civilian or aviation requirements?
– The Minister for Air will answer the question.
– There are some stores of petrol in the Northern Territory which were left over from the war. Such quantities as were available to the Royal Australian Air Force as aviation spirit have been declared to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. What will be done with petrol stored in the Northern Territory is largely a matter of economy, because considerable quantities of the fuel are located at places so distant from Darwin that the cost of removal to other places where it could be consumed would be excessive. The matter is in the hands of the Administrator of the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, which has either sold most of the petrol or endeavoured unsuccessfully to do so.
-(Hon. J. S. Rosevear). - I have received from the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
Statements made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory in a letter dated 28th April, 1948, addressed to the Eight Honorable the Prime Minister and subsequently made available to the press, and the urgent importance of complete public investigation into such charges.
.- I move-
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– This is one of the occasions when one submits a motion under some emotional stress. The events which have led to this action to-day are no secret to the Parliament, but yesterday for the first time my name was publicly mentioned in relation to them. For some time, it has been obvious to me, although the feeling was not expressed in words, that honorable members on this side of the chamber considered that I should make some remarks on this subject. They believed I was implicated, and that view was correct. I have a knowledge of certain matters in connexion with the case, and in view of the letter addressed to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and others yesterday, the Opposition parties jointly considered last night that in the absence of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) I should raise this subject.
If the Government had shown any desire to have this matter satisfactorily settled, it allowed the opportunity to slip. The matter could have been settled satisfactorily only by a public unqualified and unequivocal apology to this House; but instead of taking that course, the Government finally allowed the matter to be considered by the Privileges Committee. The report of that committee, no doubt, led the honorable member for the Northern Territory to write the letter to the Prime Minister. When I examine the composition of the Privileges Committee, the first point which I notice - and I do not blame the House for this because it had the right of choice - is that all the members were drawn from New South Wales - a complete “ show “ right down even to the enginedriver, I believe, who was included so that it would be a “going concern”. The second point which I notice is contained in the minutes of the proceedings of the committee. I refer to a striking omission, or failure to come to a conclusion. According to the official report, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) moved -
That evidence be called from Messrs. Gleeson, Johnson and Hart, referred to in evidence by Mr. Mulcahy on the 20th January, 1948.
That further consideration of the motion be postponed.
The committee further deliberated.
The committee adjourned.
At the next meeting of the committee, which was also its last meeting, there is no record of the committee having considered evidence. That has special point because of the fact that you, Mr. Speaker, from the chair, in answer to a question, said that the reason for the delay in the presentation of the report was that furtherevidence would be called. Obviously, that was the intention of some members of the committee, but the evidence was not called.
I turn now to the composition of the committee. The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) had been named by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy). According to the evidence, which I have read carefully a couple of times, the honorable member for Darling was the only member of this Parliament whom the honorable member for Lang could name as having been present, in his opinion, when certain statements were alleged to have been made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory.. However, the honorable member for Darling sat as a member of the committee, and did not say “ Yes “ or “ No “ to that statement. If he were a material witness, and he became a material witness the moment he was named by the honorable member for. Lang, I contend that it was his bounden duty to resign from the committee.
I come now to the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams). I have read his examination of the honorable member for the Northern Territory. In view of the questions which he put to the honorable member for the Northern Territory and which were subsequently repudiated on oath by the honorable member for Lang, I should like to know why the honorable member for Robertson was a member of the committee. His attitude appeared to me to be that of a prosecutor against the honorable member for the Northern Territory. The first witness was the honorable member for the Northern Territory, who stood in the position of a man who was accused of having done something. Instead of the man who made the accusation being called upon to produce his proof, the man against whom the accusation was made was called upon to prove his innocence.
That is bad law and bad practice. The evidence which was produced showed that the Japanese did not secure possession of the gold pass of the honorable member for the Northern Territory through any act on his part. It was handed to the Japanese by certain officers, one of whom was a gentleman under whom I served in World War I., Captain S. S. Woods. The honorable member for the Northern Territory was not consulted, and did not know until some time later whether the Japanese had the gold pass or not. Those are the facts. Although the committee came to a unanimous decision which exonerated the honorable member for the Northern Territory from having committed any breach of privilege while he was a prisoner of war, there is nothing in the committee’s findings to say that any retraction should be made by the honorable member for Lang. Furthermore, the Government itself has not taken any action in the matter.
Last year, the Privileges Committee of the House of Commons conducted two investigations into the conduct of Labour members. A Labour government was in office, and a Labour majority ruled. One member, Mr. Brown, was censured. The other member, Mr. Allighan, was expelled from the House, and I do not know whether he contested the subsequent byelection. In each of those two cases, the evidence was published in full - question and answer - and the only time when the proceedings were not published was when the Privileges Committee decided to deliberate in camera on certain matters. There is a striking contrast between the conduct of a Privileges Committee of the House of Representatives and a Privileges Committee constituted by the House of Commons. There is nothing in the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives concerning the setting up, the conduct of the proceedings or the report of a privileges committee. In the absence of such a standing order, I assume that the procedure followed has been that of an ordinary select committee.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory mentioned my name in the letter that he addressed to the Prime Minister yesterday. It is well known to honorable members of this House that, as far as I was able to do so, I performed certain political duties for the honorable gentleman during his term as a prisoner of war. I did so without his instructions or knowledge. Possibly it is that association - a voluntary association on my part - between myself and the honorable member that has brought me into certain matters which are the subject of dispute. One question of great importance is whether there wa9 any adverse report on the conduct of the honorable member during the time he was a prisoner of war. I know that a warrant officer named Wallace escaped from Sandakan in North Borneo. I met him and I heard his story. I believe that he delivered to this Hou=e certain letters sent out of Sandakan by the honorable member for the Northern Territory. We learned fairly late in the war that the honorable gentleman was imprisoned by the Japanese, under shocking conditions, at a place in North Borneo called Sandakan. That information came to my knowledge in a special way, but it was also known officially by certain members of the Opposition who sat on the Advisory War Council. As soon as the Japanese surrender took place, I called on you, Mr. Speaker, and asked whether you would appreciate some information about whether the honorable member for the Northern Territory was alive or not, which was something that neither you nor I knew. You said it would be very helpful if the information could be obtained. I then went to the Prime Minister, who was good enough promptly to say that he would frank a wireless message to be sent to Singapore if I would draft it. That message was despatched. It contained four bits of information. The first was that the honorable member had been reelected, the second was that Mr. Speaker’ would appreciate hearing his .whereabouts at the earliest possible moment, the third was that I was endeavouring to do certain work on his behalf, and the fourth was that he should refrain from making any statement on politics until his return to Australia. The honorable member received that message, but nothing was heard from him for a long time. -I discovered afterwards that when he endeavoured to reply to the message, which was one with a high priority that could not have been sent unless somebody in authority had franked it, he was prevented from doing so. I believe that he was in fact “ carpeted “. I am told that there was certain criticism of the honorable member for trying to disclose his whereabouts to this House. All I have to say about that is that if the matter were carried to its logical conclusion, any person who prevented the honorable member from communicating his whereabouts in those circumstances was guilty of contempt of this Parliament.
– By the Australian authorities.
– By the Australian military authorities?
– Yes, by men who were sent from here to look after the prisons, if my information is correct.
We saw the condition of the honorable gentleman on his return. There are only three honorable members of this House who know what it is like to be under either a conqueror or a captor. One of them is the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), who was a prisoner of the Turks, but the Turks were not conquerors. The other two are the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) and the honorable member for the Northern Territory, who were captured fit Singapore. It was part of my job for so long as I remained in the Army to read the translations of Japanese documents. I realize what these men had to suffer. It is one thing to see the glint of steel or to know that a bomb or shell is coming at you, when whatever you are going to get will be delivered quickly, but it is another thing to go through three and a half years of hell, as these men did, and to return starved, broken, mutilated and diseased. I use each of those words deliberately. The honorable gentleman had not been home for long when a question arose of his placing a question on the notice-paper. I had nothing to do with it. I was-made aware of the allegations contained in the question long before then, find so were certain other honorable mem bers. On this occasion, the first person who saw me was the Clerk of this House, acting in his official capacity as the representative of Mr. Speaker. Everything that the Clerk did was perfectly open. and aboveboard. Finally, I was asked, to see the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). It is not an overstatement to say that I had discussed this very question with the right honorable gentleman years before then. The actual incident occurred either in 1942 or 1943, but I did not memorize the date or keep any records. The allegations contained in the question put on the notice-paper by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, and formerly conveyed to me and to other honorable members by several people in Sydney, were that the Attorney-General had broken the law in regard to building regulations and that a summons had been issued and withdrawn at his instigation. Instead of raising a “ hullabaloo “ about it in the House, I went to the right honorable gentleman, as man to man, and talked it over with him, when he told me the position. I am not perhaps so well versed in the classics as the Attorney-General, but I do know the history of the emperors who carried the surname of Antoninus. It is always the case whilst Caesar may not know what is going on Domina does something else. Apparently the right honorable gentleman’s good lady, without his knowledge, issued instructions for certain work to be done, not being aware of the building regulations in force at that time. I accepted- the right honorable gentleman’s explanation and took no further parliamentary or other action. I was asked to persuade the honorable member for the Northern Territory to see the Attorney-General in his room, but my first attempt was unsuccessful. The honorable member sat back in the :< breeching “ and would not move. At the second attempt I persuaded him to go to the right honorable gentleman’s room. After some discussion, I told the honorable gentleman that I felt he was still a very sick man, that he had great arrears of work in the Northern Territory and that I could not possibly represent his electors as well as he could do it himself. I said that I thought he should confine hi3 attention to matters affecting the Northern
Territory and that he should not interfere in a case such as this because - and I am perfectly sure of the expression I used - there was not a bit of gristle left on it or a bit of marrow in the bone either. The honorable gentleman and the AttorneyGeneral then shook hands, and I left. I should not have been brought into that matter had it not been for the relationship between myself and the honorable gentleman’s electorate during his absence.
Later on a question arose in regard to Mr. Dalziel, and I saw the AttorneyGeneral again. There were certain conversations between me and the AttorneyGeneral. The right honorable gentleman has told me that he regards them as privileged, so I will not refer to them. I did not communicate anything about those conversations to any one other than one man, and he was the man who acted as the attorney for the honorable member for the Northern Territory during his absence. He is Malcolm H. Ellis, of 252 George-street, Sydney. I told him what I understood to be the position. Some time later - and this matter has to be cleared up in the interests of every one - Mr. Ellis was invited to luncheon by Brigadier Galleghan, who was the officer in command in Malaya, and who, I am sure, will state on oath that he informed Mr. Ellis of certain things about the honorable member for the Northern Territory, and told him that it would be wise in the honorable member’s own interest to keep his mouth shut and not ask awkward questions. Mr. Ellis asked Brigadier Galleghan whether he was tendering that advice of his own accord or on instruction and, if on instruction, on whose instruction. His answer, I am informed by Mr. Ellis, was that he was doing it on the instruction of the Attorney-General. Subsequently a man named Hart was in touch with Mr. Ellis, and he made a similar statement that he had had certain information conveyed to him by the Attorney-General. When the matter of the reference of the “ Blain incident” to the Privileges Committee arose in this chamber, it was one of the few occasions on which I have been absent from the House, but one man who might have been material to the committee’s investigations, the officer in command in Malaya, Brigadier Galleghan, left Aus tralia under Government instructions, for Germany just before the case was called on. [Extension of time granted.] The feeling exists in certain returned soldier circles, with which I perhaps am not so well acquainted as are some people, that some one should have ensured the presence at the inquiry of the officer in command in Malaya, Brigadier Galleghan or “ Black Jack “, as he was known. I do not know the facts. All I say is, as other honorable members on this side of the House - I cannot speak for the other side - have said time and again, that many people one meets just casually say, “ What are you fellows going to do about the Blain case? When are you going to get this case cleaned up ? “ The letter addressed to the Prime Minister yesterday by the honorable member for the Northern Territory puts an entirely new slant on the matter. Certain statements are made in it, which, according to your ruling made before the House met, Mr. Speaker, cannot be mentioned at this stage. I do not challenge your ruling; but, in the interests of all concerned, this matter must be cleaned up. I have no feelings of animosity on this matter towards the Attorney-General or any one else. I do not know whether the statements that have been made to me are correct or not, but I do know the character of the people who have made them. Therefore, some thorough inquiry of a type entirely different from the inquiry made so far is worth while from the Opposition’s point of view. As far as I am personally concerned, I have nothing to worry about in any inquiry. I sincerely hope that that is the position of every other honorable member, but I am afraid that there will bc some awkward moments if bedrock is reached. I put it to the Prime’ Minister that a matter of this description cannot be allowed to rest where it is. It has to be cleaned up, and cleaned up satisfactorily, by some competent authority who is capable of giving judgment against which there shall be no question, who will examine witnesses in the light of day, and who will have witnesses confronted by other people interested in the case. Only by that method will the truth come out. I say to the Prime Minister and to the
Attorney-General that until that method has been adopted there will be a widespread and deep-seated feeling in the community that justice has not been done and that justice does not appear to have been done.
– One speaks on the matter raised by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) with, of course, a great deal of diffidence. The Government has no desire to burke a discussion of the matter, but it is desirable to deal with it as delicately as possible, because the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) was a gallant soldier who suffered greatly for this country. Consequently, an attack on him on what may appear to be paltry grounds would be most ungenerous. Yet, one cannot let pass what has been said, particularly in the letter written by him to me yesterday, without letting the public know that some of the claims made are utterly ludicrous. From the moment the trouble between the honorable member for the Northern Territory and the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) arose, I have tried, in the interests of decency and harmony in the House, to achieve a satisfactory reconciliation between them. The honorable member for the Northern Territory says in his letter to me that I begged him to settle his difference with the honorable member for Lang. I did not do any begging. That is a complete exaggeration of what happened on the afternoon I went to the honorable member for the Northern Territory, for whom I have great personal respect and admiration, and suggested quite frankly to him that we should try to settle the trouble in some satisfactory way. I did not beg at all, and I had no desire to do anything that might be regarded as an attempt by the Government to shift blame from itself. The Government has nothing to hide, and if any one has a charge to make against it, the charge will be dealt with in the open. It may be that I have a peculiar temperament, but I confess that owing to the tendency of some people to heap ridicule on politicians and on the democratic system, I do not like it to be thought by the people that their representatives spend their time in petty personal quarrels.
Mr. Blain. ; The right honorable gentleman would not describe this matter as petty?
– There is a great deal of pettiness in the matter. The honorable gentleman’s letter to me covered thirteen pages. It is not usually my practice to read letters of more than three pages, because, if any one cannot say in three pages all that he has to say, he is wasting words; but I carefully read the letter. If the letter had not come from a gentleman whom I know to be a very decent fellow I should have believed it to be written by some one who was slightly unbalanced. That is the plain fact of the matter. I know the honorable member for the Northern Territory, and I know of his sufferings. I know that he feels very keenly. One would have thought that the proposal to refer this incident to a privileges committee had emanated from the Government. Indeed, the honorable member practically suggested that the Government had arranged to refer it to the committee. I point out that the motion for the appointment of a privileges committee was moved by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). It was not the suggestion of the Government. The committee consisted of seven members of this House, and I assume that representatives of the Opposition had the right to make some sort of report, or to issue some statement.
– At any rate, the committee presented its report to the Parliament, and the report completely exonerated the honorable member for the Northern Territory of the charge of dishonorable conduct.
– But did not reprove his accuser.
– That only brings me to the point that some persons are interested in trying to obtain political advantage from the situation. All this talk about justice has as its basis a mean, spiteful desire to use the case of the honorable member for the Northern Territory as an excuse for political propaganda, and that knowledge makes me suspicious. I do not like to see a man of the standing and valour of the honorable member for the Northern Territory used as a tool by those who are engaging in political propaganda. I at once accept the statement of the honorable member that he wrote the letter of his own volition, and without advice from any one else. I am sure, however, that when he himself reads the letter later, he will see that many paltry matters are dragged in in an attempt to discredit the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) as his “mortal enemy”. I have known the Attorney-General longer than the honorable member has, and he is too tolerant to have a mortal enemy anywhere. I will not say that the right honorable gentleman would not have “ rows “ - he has had some with mo at times - but I cannot believe that he would be so vindictive as to cherish a hatred of any one, particularly of the honorable member for the Northern Territory, or that he would try to discredit the honorable member. It is true that [ went to the ‘Leader of the Opposition and suggested to him that, in the interest of political decency, we should appeal to the two honorable members in an attempt to effect a reconciliation, so that an end might be put to this fish-wife talk, this dredging of the gutters. It is lamentable that the honorable member for Barker, himself a man of high honour, should repeat in this House conversations which he had with the Attorney-General. What would be the result if I, as Prime Minister, were to repeat in the House conversations which I have had with the Leader of the Opposition or with the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) ? If that became the practice, Ministers, and even private members, would have to decline to take part in private conversation with other honorable members, and such a situation would be deplorable. I have had many conversations with the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) about the business of this House, and it would be deplorable if such semi-private and personal conversations were to be repeated in the House.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory made allegations about certain breaches of the building regulations. So slight breach of the regulations, of which the AttorneyGeneral was unaware, are said to have occurred at the instance of an -unpaid agent acting on” his behalf. I examined the particulars of the case, as I am just as jealous of the honour of this Parliament as any one can be. I saw that the matter had been dealt with by the shire council concerned, and that the explanations offered had been accepted. It seemed to me that, in the circumstances, nothing had occurred of which the Attorney-General had any reason to be ashamed. An unwitting breach of an unimportant kind had taken place, nothing more.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory has suggested in hia letter to me that I should arrange for a panel of three High Court justices to inquire into his case and, in effect, to draw up their own terms of reference. I appeal to the honorable member’s own common sense - does he think there is any possibility that such a proposal could be accepted? I cannot speak for the High Court, but is it likely that High Court justices would agree to it ? I do not intend to accede to the request. The letter contains a tirade of abuse against the AttorneyGeneral, a respected and admired member of this Parliament and of the community. Although some honorable members may disagree very strongly with the opinions of the Attorney-General, does any member of this House doubt his sense of honour and decency? I do not think so. It was further suggested that Brigadier Galleghan had been given instructions of some kind. This gentleman served his country gallantly, and he had a distinguished career in the Army. No one who is acquainted with Brigadier Galleghan would believe that he would agree to become the tool of the AttorneyGeneral. Probably no finer man ever served in this country’s military forces, and the honorable member for Barker will agree with that. Further charges were made that some one is associated with the Communist party, or is a “ fellow traveller “ with the Communists. A charge was made against Mr. McAlpine, general president of the Australian Labour party, and also against the Speaker of this House, who was elected to his position by honorable members themselves. The letter also describes a committee elected by this Parliament as a star, chamber committee. I say to the honorable member for the Northern Territory in the most kindly possible way that nothing can be gained by charges of that character. If reflections continue to be made by the honorable member on this House or on individual members of it or of its committees, his very gallant record will be very seriously blemished. People will begin to doubt the accuracy of any statements which he makes. I do not desire to burke the question as to whether Mr. McAlpine, some ten, fifteen or twenty years ago, was a member of an organization which the honorable member suggests had some association with communism. Charges of that kind are thrown around this chamber every day. I dealt with many of them during the recent discussion of the censure motion, but doubtless they will be repeated. This is a most discreditable business. The motion for the appointment of the Privileges Committee was submitted by the Opposition. The charges made against the honorable member for the Northern Territory were examined by the committee which completely exonerated him from any suggestion that he had been guilty of the allegations made against him. In its report the ‘committee declared that the honorable member had an unblemished army record. What more than that could the committee do? This incident could well have been disposed of on the day on which it occurred. I ask honorable members to give the Attorney-General an opportunity to say a few words on this matter before the debate is closed. The letter written by the honorable member for the Northern Territory attempts to impugn an honorable man who has represented his country in some of the highest posts it has ever offered to one of its citizens. I do not believe that any member of this House, or of the general public, would believe one word of the charges levelled against the Attorney-General. I have tried to deal with this matter as temperately as I can, but I must confess that I feel so strongly about it that, but for my great admiration of the services of the honorable member for the Northern Territory, and, if I may say so, my per- sonal affection for him, I should have had some very scathing comments to offer in regard to hia> letter. If such a letter had been written by a member of the public I should deal with it in an entirely different way. In the interests of decency in this country, I hope that when the Attorney-General has spoken in this debate this incident will not be further discussed.
.- The speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) on this issue must have struck honorable members as a very extraordinary one delivered on a very extraordinary occasion. The right honorable gentleman himself characterized this debate as a discussion of issues which impugn the honour of a Minister of the Crown. Around those words he built a story designed to play down the whole incident as something of little consequence on which it ill became the Parliament to waste its time. Apart from slanting imputations and attempts to make political capital out of this matter, he went to little pains to hide the fact, that he desired further to smear the name of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain). He said that if the honorable member were not a man for whom he has some affection he would interpret the honorable member’s letter as coming from a man slightly unbalanced. He said that this incident could have been settled on the day on which it arose. That is true. It should have been so settled. For what reason was it not settled? The Prime Minister used the word “ decency “. Had the G overnment possessed an element of decency it would have settled this matter on the day on which it arose by insisting upon a withdrawal and an apology on the part of the honorable member who made such unwarrantable charges against the honorable member for the Northern Territory. I believe it would have been settled then had I been permitted to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House. I could then have said that to my own certain knowledge as a member of the War Council the allegations against the honorable member for the Northern Territory were completely without foundation. I am sure that what I could have said in a speech lasting less than a quarter hour would have been sufficient to . have settled this matter; but the Standing Orders were invoked to prevent me from speaking. Eight throughout this whole business there has run a continuous thread of obstruction on the part of the Government which was designed to prevent a settlement. The Prime Minister attempts to place obloquy on the Opposition by saying that I proposed the motion for the appointment of the Privileges Committee, It is true that I did so. That was the only device I could think of which would enable the honorable member for the Northern Territory to clear his name. It is known, of course, that when I resorted to. that procedural device, my motion was placed at the bottom of the notice-paper, and that only under extreme pressure did the Government allow it to be debated. When the motion was discussed the Government did not indicate that it proposed to allow it to be carried, thus enabling the inquiry by the Privileges Committee to proceed. I knew that the kind of evidence I could present to the committee would clear the name of the honorable member for the Northern Territory. Having resorted to that procedural device, I suggested to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that he should move an amendment to my motion inviting the House to record its recognition of the gallantry and courage of the honorable member for the Northern Territory. Who prevented the House from doing that ? The Prime Minister himself did so, notwithstanding that the carrying of such a motion would have settled this matter. The Privileges Committee met, heard evidence and presented its report, but- we were not permitted to debate the report. Was it the Opposition which prevented us from debating the report? Not at all. Not a rank-and-file member of one of the parties in this House, but the Leader of the Opposition himself, a man who had been Prime Minister of this country and who has never wrongly used his parliamentary position, then gave notice of a motion of the most extraordinary character, and one of a kind that to my knowledge had never been previously moved in this Parliament, in which he alleged that the action of the Government in relation to this matter was part of a scheme of intimidation against a member of this House. Who prevented that motion from being debated?
– Does the honorable member say that any one has prevented it from being debated?
– Yes. That a motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition and a former Prime Minister was not dealt with forthwith is without precedent. Time was found for a “ Grievance Day “ debate-
– Let the honorable member be perfectly fair. Had the motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition been left on the notice-paper, an opportunity to discuss it would have been provided in due course.
– By his interjection the Prime Minister has merely added to my story. He has used the phrase “ in due course”. Though this matter could not be completely suppressed there was a continuous pattern of delay. We all are aware that public interest in any incident abates with the passage of time. A murder revolts the public mind at the time it is discovered, but if the murderer is not apprehended for five years the public has lost interest in the case by the time he is brought to trial. The psychologists of the Labour party are well aware of that. The investigation of the charges made by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) was delayed by every means within the Government’s power. The appointment of the Privileges Committee was delayed ; the hearing of evidence by that body was delayed; and, finally, the presentation of its report was delayed. Yet the Prime Minister now says that an opportunity to discuss the motion of the Leader of Opposition would have been provided in due course. Of course it would,, but only months after the allegations had been made, the Government being first assured that other matters would by then have grasped the public mind and that it would escape the just censure of the people for its culpability. For charges of this character to be allowed to remain uninvestigated constitutes a revolutionary departure from traditional practice in British parliaments. It is an historic fact that under the British parliamentary system allegations against Ministers holding high executive positions are not allowed to remain uninvestigated. In the Mother of Parliaments, Ministers do not continue to administer their departments while charges affecting their honour or integrity remain uninvestigated. In hia speech to-day, the Prime Minister sought to justify the continuance of that pattern of delay which has shown itself right through the fabric of this incident, and, indeed, through other incidents that I could mention. Undoubtedly, the delay that has marked the settlement of this matter is inspired by the hope that public interest in it will fade. “With meticulous exactitude the Standing Orders were invoked to prevent certain matters relating to this incident from being discussed in this House.
– Am I to take that as a reflection on the Chair ?
– . The honorable member should make that clear. I remind him that the Chair prevented him from speaking in regard to this matter only when it would have been distinctly out of order for him to do so.
– I have not disputed that, nor do I do so now. With meticulous exactitude, the Standing Orders have been invoked-
– Order ! The Chair applies the Standing Orders.
– The chairman of the Privileges Committee meticulously exercised his right to prevent a certain course from being followed by that body.
– To what course does the honorable member refer?
– He prevented the public from being admitted to the hearing.
-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am very glad to have an opportunity to speak on this matter. I think the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) put his finger on the main point when, in his opening sentences, in referring to the conduct of the Privileges Committee of which I was chairman he said that but for that these other matters would not have happened and the letter written by the honorable member for the Northern Territory would probably never have come into existence. Frankly, I have no desire to go into every aspect of the work of the Privileges Committee. Honorable members know the work that a Minister of the Crown has to perform. I have always been a member of the Privileges Committee. When the incident involving the honorable member for the Northern Territory occurred, I was not in Australia, and I knew nothing of it until I returned to Australia and ascertained that it was to be investigated by the Privileges Committee. I was unanimously elected chairman of the committee by the four members representing the Government and the three members representing the Opposition. It astonishes and appals me to read in the letter which the honorable member for the Northern Territory wrote to the Prime Minister the statement that I am his “mortal enemy”. The words are grandiose, and are not those which the honorable member would ever use. The statement is not true, and the honorable member has done a grave injustice to me.
When a privileges committee is appointed, the members should determine to do what is right and just, control any private feelings that they might have, and, generally, do their utmost to ensure that justice is done. That is what I did from the beginning to the end of this inquiry. The statement by the honorable member for Barker about the honorable member for the Northern Territory being placed in the position of a defendant is not correct. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), I think, drafted the resolution which came before us, and according to the view which was taken, and which I took, we were confined in our inquiry to the question whether the charge or imputation made against the honorable member for the Northern Territory was correct. The Privileges Committee, in difficult circumstances, carried out its duty fearlessly. The inquiry completely exonerated the honorable member for the Northern Territory.
Its finding was unanimous and without qualification.
The honorable member for Barker referred to what he described as the “ failure to call certain witnesses “. That proposal was not pressed to a vote by the member of the committee who had suggested it. That is the only reason why it was not voted upon. The letter which the honorable member for the Northern Territory wrote springs from his feeling that the decision of the committee should have gone further, and that the committee should have done something which, in my view, was outside its competence, that is, to express an individual censure upon an honorable member. I do not consider that it was a part of the committee’s function to do that. I may be wrong. This is a matter upon which opinions may differ, but from my understanding of the position it was not within our terms of reference. In my opinion, we completely fulfilled our functions. “ We made our finding, and completed our work. The honorable member for the Northern Territory suggested that the Privileges Committee was a star chamber tribunal. That is not correct. Three or four years ago I was a member of the Privileges Committee which inquired into a matter raised by the honorable member for Barker. He had claimed privilege arising out of certain censorship matters during the war. On that occasion, as on this occasion, the same course was followed, in that the report of the committee was not published. On the present occasion, by the unanimous decision of the committee, the report was made available to every honorable ‘member ; but because certain names had been bandied about during the inquiry, the committee considered that the document should not have a wider circulation. I do not desire to deal in detail with the work of the committee, but I believe that we did our job conscientiously and honestly. The honorable member for the Northern Territory, in his letter, professed dissatisfaction with the committee’s finding because it did not go far enough. Because of that, and because I was chairman of the committee, the honorable member wrote his letter to the Prime Minister.
He feels, as his letter shows, that I am animated by malicious feelings towards him. I absolutely deny it. I have exactly the same feeling towards him as that which the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has expressed. I agree with the Prime Minister that, by volunteering for service with the Sth Division of the Australian Imperial Force, the honorable member showed gallantry, and that everything must be regarded from the standpoint of a man who suffered in the service of his country. I have never taken any other view. Otherwise, I could not have been on any terms with him. As every honorable member knows, there is gossip among honorable members, and relationships of confidence are established between them, some on the Government side of the House and some on the Opposition. The honorable member for Barker referred to one of those instances which is featured in the letter which the honorable member for the Northern Territory wrote to the Prime Minister. He did bring to the attention of the House a suggestion that I, as AttorneyGeneral, had acted improperly in connexion with a required building permit for certain repairs which were done to our home while I was abroad. The suggestion was quite wrong and unjust. The Prime Minister said that, if there were a breach of the law, it was of a technical character. The matter did not come to me as Attorney-General. Responsibility for recommending any action for breaches of the law in such circumstances rests with the appropriate department, and that was not the Attorney-General’s Department. It was never suggested that either my wife or I had been guilty of any breach of Commonwealth law.
– It should have been left unsaid.
– It is very distressing for me to have to refer to it again. I dealt with this matter in the House a long time ago, and there is little to add to what I then said. My recollection is that the local authority complained mainly about the construction of a couple of stone steps from the verandah into the garden. It asserted that the work involved structural alterations, and that, technically, a permit should have been obtained. After correspondence between the council and the gentleman who acted for my wife while I was abroad, and for me - I am not trying to shift the responsibility on to anybody else - the council accepted the explanation.
Honorable members will now perceive the real sting of the matter. The speech of the honorable member for Barker was characterized by moderation and fairness, except that he referred to a certain conversation between the honorable member for the Northern Territory, himself and myself. The substance of what the honorable member for Barker said was that he had told the honorable member for the Northern Territory, in my presence, that there was nothing of political discredit in this matter. The work involved repairs rather than structural alterations. The home had been let to tenants, and a great deal of cleaning and renovation had to be done pending our return. No rooms were constructed. The whole wretched thing is so absurd to anybody who knows the locality and the place, it is almost phantasmagoric. [Extension of time granted^] However, the honorable member for the Northern Territory publicised that incident. As a rule,, he does not attend to the interests of the district in which my home is situated. Of course, he has- the right to raise in the House any matter that he likes, but some persons must have suggested this to him. As the honorable member for Barker said, either the matter was raised among Opposition members before the last election, or at least those who- sit on that side of the chamber knew of it before then. I do not remember the exact words that were used. The honorable member for Barker gave his recollection of them, and the import is, clearly, “ There is nothing in this matter. There is no political capital to be made out of it against the Attorney-General, and we on this side of the House are aware of it”. That was the substance of the conversation, and I feel that reference to it now, in order to show that I feel malice towards the honorable member for the Northern Territory, is unjustified.
The next matter is the attack which the honorable member made on Mr.
Dalziel. The suggestion in the letter was that he is a Communist, or a Communist worker. I am sure that that is absolutely untrue. Mr. Dalziel is known to many honorable members, and he has already made a statement in relation to this accusation. He is a loyal and honorable man. Any suggestion that he is in any way disloyal to his country is completely false. However, Mr. Dalziel’s name was mentioned for the purpose of finding fault with my administration of the Attorney-General’s Department. This part of the letter broadens out into an attack either on the Clerk of the House or myself. The Clerk, acting for Mr. Speaker, drew my attention to the question relating to Mr. Dalziel. I did not tell the Clerk at any time that Mr. Dalziel was dangerously ill or was suffering from tuberculosis. I have confirmed my recollection of the matter with the Clerk, to whom I mentioned the subject this morning. But I did object, and I do object, to slanderous imputations being made against public servants without due cause. I considered that the Question was of that character, and I still think so.
The letter goes even further, and refers to my “ amenability to Communist influence “. Again, that is false. Reference is also made to the inquiry into the Australia First Movement, and the letter states, also falsely, that I was responsible for the decision to intern certain members of that organization. The truth is that I had nothing to do with it. It was entirely the responsibility of the Army, and the Army’s advisers, and the action was taken on their advice. I had -nothing to do with the matter until six or seven months after certain members of the Australia First Movement had been interned. Then, for the first time, I was asked to review the action taken and I gave an immediate decision in favour of a number of the persons concerned. Those are the facts. The letter suggests that it was as the result of Communist influence that I took this action. That is absolutely without foundation. The documents show the contrary. I took the view that Mr. Justice Clyne’s inquiries should be completely full and open, and that he should make any investigations he thought fit.
The letter, which, was issued to the press, and which was even published by a section of it, makes imputations against many persons. Two of them were mentioned a few days ago by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) during the debate on international affairs. They are a Mr. John Fisher, the son of an ex-Prime Minister of Australia, and a lady whose name it is unnecessary to repeat. The honorable member suggested that I had appointed those two people because they were Communist sympathizers, but, in fact, I had nothing to do with the appointments. The Ja.dy in question, who is the daughter of one of the most highly respected residents of Sydney, wrote to me and denied the suggestion of the honorable member for Richmond that she had changed her name from a good Anglo-Saxon one to Alexandrov. I do not suggest the honorable member for the Northern Territory or the honorable member for Richmond originally made that false suggestion, but it was made by some one. The slander was spread and the injury is done. It is said further that the appointment of those persons to positions in the Australian Legation in Moscow was part of a Communist move to which I was a party.
– Who appointed them to Moscow if it was not done in the Department of External Affairs ?
– The honorable member is welcome to see any relevant documents. Appointments such as these are, generally speaking, made by the Public Service Board, and not by the Minister. I am not admitting for a moment that the appointments were wrong. I am only pointing out that the letter written by the honorable member for the Northern Territory repeats the allegations. It is said that the action taken by the Government against members of the Australia First Movement in order to protect the country against the Japanese was a plot to assist communism, that suggestion has been dealt with. I do not propose to mention the names of individuals, but the fact is that the Government’s action was designed only to secure the safety of Australia and at the same time to ensure that no injustice was done to any one.
– The people concerned! have been denied access to the courts tostate their case and to claim damages..
– There could not be appeals to the courts against their internment. The honorable member for Richmond was a member of the Governmentthat brought down the National SecurityRegulations under which they were interned. The whole basis of internment was that it should bo left to ministerial discretion. These men were all interned on the recommendation of military intelligence. I do not propose to drag up individual cases again, because I have dealt with them before. I know that the honorable member for Richmond considers that justice was not done in a particular case; but I ask him to assume that those who differ from that view were acting in what they thought to be the best interests of the country. It has been suggested that I bore animosity to the honorable member for the Northern Territory and should not, therefore, have sat as a member of the Privileges Committee. When the honorable gentleman came before the committee he raised no such objection. I was unanimously elected as chairman of the committee. I did not seek that position, and I would have preferred not to have it, because it was an onerous responsibility. 1 am sure that every member of the committee tried to come to a just decision. I do not wish to prevent the report of the committee from being debated. If the matter is examined carefully, every action of the committee will be found to have been justified. The letter written by the honorable member for the Northern Territory and broadcast with the intention of injuring a number of people, of whom I am one, was largely influenced by the fact that the decision of the Privileges Committee was not regarded by him as satisfactory. I accept the statement of the honorable member that no other honorable member of this House was associated with him in the preparation of the letter, but I contend that it is clear from the language used that other persons must have assisted him. In matters of this kind people will be actuated by differing motives. Some may desire to assist the country, but others may have the basest of political motives. The honorable member for the Northern Territory refers to me in the letter as his “ mortal enemy “. I suppose that two people are necessary for mortal enmity and must each have that feeling for the other. I do not feel any enmity against the honorable member for the Northern Territory, although I justly resent what he has done. Although I do not challenge his motives, I feel that on certain occasions he acted in a way that was not just and that was injurious to certain people.
– What about Brigadier Galleghan’s statement?
– The honorable member for Bendigo refers to an alleged statement by Brigadier Galleghan. I do not believe that the brigadier would have said such a thing. He certainly had no instructions from me in relation to the matter, and he would have scorned to receive them. I say further that I have never on any occasion made imputations against the military record of the honorable member for the Northern Territory. I am completely unaware of many of the details that were referred to by the honorable member for Barker. I was not aware, for instance, that after the Japanese surrender a cable had been sent to the honorable member for the Northern Territory, which he had not been permitted to reply to. I have never on any occasion tried to injure the honorable member for the Northern Territory in the way suggested, and any suggestion that I have done so is completely wrong and unfounded. I bear him no malice. The incidents with which I have tried to deal all stem from the fact that I was chairman of the Privileges Committee and carried out faithfully my duties as chairman. I suggest that the feelings of the honorable member for the Northern Territory towards myself and others mentioned in the letter must have been inspired by other persons who have entirely misled him as to myself and my motives.
-(Mr. Clark). - I call the honorable member for Balaclava.
– The Acting Leader of the Opposition is ignored !
– I am prepared to give way to the honorable member for Wentworth.
– If the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) wishes to give way, he may do so. I call the honorable member for Wentworth.
– The House is discussing statements made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory in a letter dated the 28th April. Those statements, or charges, as they may be called, are of such a nature that they cannot be cloaked by words. I want to correct an impression that may possibly have been created by the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and also to correct a statement made by the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt). The Prime Minister rightly said that the Privileges Committee was called together following upon a resolution moved by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), but every honorable member knows that the charges made in this House against the honorable member for the Northern Territory, and which led to the moving of that resolution, had a sinister undertone of intimidation. The charges made by the honorable . member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) were previously canvassed in other quarters in order to prevent the honorable member for the Northern Territory from pursuing certain lines of investigation. Therefore, the principal question that the Privileges Committee had to decide, and the pivot upon which the charges hinged, was whether some form of intimidation had been brought to bear against the honorable member for the Northern Territory in order to prevent him from pursuing the course of action that he contemplated. One person whose name was associated with these charges of intimidation was the chairman of that committee, the AttorneyGeneral.
– Does the honorable member object to that?
– I do not object to the fact that the right honorable gentleman was chairman of the committee, but I do suggest that he should have exercised his own good taste when questions were directed to the honorable member for the Northern Territory by members of the committee in an endeavour to elicit the fact that attempts had been made to intimidate him. The Attorney-General repeatedly disallowed those questions. When members of the committee tried to elicit this information, on each occasion their questions were disallowed by the right honorable gentleman in his capacity as chairman of the committee. 1 only say that when questions were asked relating to suggested intimidation with which the right honorable gentleman’s name was linked he might have reconsidered his position as chairman of the committee.
The Prime Minister said that this matter should have been settled very quickly. The evidence given before the Privileges Committee showed that the honorable member for Lang was approached by the Prime Minister and was told that he had been double-crossed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), and that he was, therefore, not to rise and tender an apology. The Prime Minister himself prevented a settlement, but he now says unctuously that a settlement should have been made earlier.
Whether or not honorable members believe the allegations contained in this letter to be true, they must take some notice of the statements made by the honorable member for Barker, and because of those statements this matter cannot be allowed to rest where it is. The honorable member for Barker told the House that he was approached by the Attorney-General. He said he could not recount the conversation that then took place because the Attorney-General would regard it as a breach of some personal undertaking, but the speech made by the honorable member places the House in a position in which it can assume only that the Attorney-General sought to cause the honorable member for Barker to take some action relative to the honorable member for the Northern Territory that the honorable gentleman was not prepared to take. The honorable member for Barker has said that a Mr. Malcolm Ellis was invited to dinner by Brigadier Galleghan and that Brigadier Galleghan told Mr. Ellis that he was empowered by the Attorney-General to ask him to cause the honorable member for the Northern Territory to cease the pursuit of the line of investigation he was taking. Very little was said about that in the speeches of the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral, but it is significant that on the eve of the day on which the inquiry was to be held, Brigadier Galleghan was conveniently sent overseas. That, in the light of the statement of the honorable member for Barker, is significant and it calls for further investigation of this matter. In substantiation, the honorable member referred to another person named Hart, who says he was asked to use his influence to induce the honorable member for the Northern Territory to withdraw from the pursuit of his inquiries or take the consequences. We have seen the consequences in the charges levelled against the honorable member, charges that the Privileges Committee reported could not be sustained, but which still stand, because the honorable member for Lang has neither withdrawn them nor apologized for having made them. Charges have now been levelled against the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and Mr. .Speaker. When charges are made against dignitories of the House they cannot be left unanswered. Neither can we ignore what the Attorney- General did as chairman of the Privileges Committee to stifle questions or by the Prime Minister in the House to prevent debate that would have exposed certain matters. A cloak of words will not end this incident. Nothing other than a complete inquiry, not perhaps in the form proposed by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, but one by an authority with full power to summon and examine witnesses and sift all the facts, will satisfy public opinion. The Government’s good name is at stake. However the AttorneyGeneral may take the charges that have been levelled against him, his good- name is at stake. Rumours concerning him are current in Sydney, as they were current years ago. I knew something of them then. Now specific charges have been made against him. Rather than stand up to them, he has sought by devious means to prevent them from being investigated. The honorable member for the Northern Territory has been intimidated.
Obviously the Government must do something to clear the air ‘and satisfy public opinion.
-(Mr. Clark) . - Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I waited on the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), as Speaker of this House, this morning to notify him that I proposed -formally to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance. He ruled that I could not make any reference to Mr. Speaker or any Minister except by a substantive motion. Neither in my motion nor in my speech did I make any reference whatever to Mr. Speaker. I wish to know whether, having ruled that his own case may not be referred to except on a substantive motion, Mr. Speaker, in his capacity as the honorable member for Dalley, will be in order in raising the issues that I have not raised.
– It is not unusual for honorable members who propose to move a formal motion for the adjournment to ask me first, as Mr. Speaker, whether they will be in order. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) this morning brought to me the formal motion for the adjournment that he proposed to move. It involved charges against Mr. Speaker and the Attorney-General. I told him that charges against Ministers, or even private members, to whom the honorable member did not refer in taking his point of order, must be the subject of a substantive motion and that to that degree his motion was out of order. You will notice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the honorable gentleman’s motion directs attention to statements made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory in his letter, and that is all that I intend to deal with.
– Order 1 The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has raised an issue concerning statements made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), and, under the Standing Orders, ‘ the honorable member for
Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) is quite entitled to take part in the debate. I do not propose to prevent him from doing so.
– It is with some diffidence that I speak on this matter. There are only two other ways in which the matter could be dealt with, that is, by a substantive motion laying charges against me or by putting the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) on trial for contempt of the Parliament. I read the copy of the letter sent to me by the honorable member for the Northern Territory and distributed by him to the press. I entirely agree with the Prime Minister that the exaggerated statements in that letter could be made only by a man with a victimization complex. He bases his charges against me and asks for my suspension from the speakership on the ground that I ruled some of his questions out of order, that I had repeated in the House the charge made against him by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) and that I had inveigled him into my quarters in order to trap him. , I propose to tell honorable members exactly what happened. The honorable gentleman’s first question was withdrawn and, of course, I did not rule on that. Subsequently, the honorable member sought to place on the noticepaper a question in a form that neither I nor any former Speaker of the House, regardless of political affiliations, would have tolerated on a parliamentary document. From time to time, we have been perturbed by statements made under privilege by people outside the House. I can see no difference in making similar statements in the House under the guise of a question. I therefore ruled the honorable member’s question out of order. As for inveigling the honorable gentleman into a trap, the last thing in my mind was to have anything at all to do with the trouble that had arisen between the honorable member for the Northern Territory and the honorable member for Lang. A member of the Opposition, a friend of both the honorable member for the Northern Territory and the honorable member for Lang, suggested that I might be able to bring them together in an amicable agreement on the assumption that that would be satisfactory to them and satisfactory to the House. I thought the problem, over and the next morning, without either honorable gentleman knowing my intention, I sent for both of them. They came to my room, and I said that their friends on both sides were perturbed about their quarrel being dragged about the place and featured in the press, and that, in their own interests and in the interests of the good order of the House, the sooner the matter was settled the better. I told them that they had both exhausted their right of personal explanations on the one incident and that I had already stretched the Standing Orders to allow them both to make two personal explanations on the one incident. I told them that there was no certainty of when the notice of motion concerning the incident would come up for discussion. I said that the sittings were nearing their end and that perhaps the matter would have to stand over until after the recess. I also cited some examples of other committees of inquiry from which no party had come out in the best light. I instanced the committee of inquiry into the eviction notice served in Canberra on the wife of a prisoner of war. That committee violently disagreed in its findings, and in the end all the private affairs of both the woman concerned and her husband were dragged around the House for the edification of no one but those who sought sensational publicity in the press. I asked, “ In view of all those circumstances, is it not possible for you two to get together and sec what can be done to come to an arrangement acceptable to you both ? I will find the means “ - I had means in mind - “ of bringing the settlement of your differences before the House “. That was my only interest in the matter. The honorable member for the Northern Territory said, “ I have to leave Canberra within an hour; I have business to do “. I said, “ We do not want to rush it. Let us talk it over again on Tuesday next “. To my amazement, the honorable member for the Northern Territory was in the precincts of the House at 11.30 o’clock that night. I was not perturbed about that because I thought he had altered his arrangements, but to my sur prise on the Monday morning I read in the Sydney Daily Telegraph that I had tried to inveigle the honorable member for the Northern Territory into a trap in my room. That is all that happened. In view of the honorable gentleman’s attitude I, to use the vernacular, “ gave him away completely “. I finished with the matter entirely. Yet, on the ground that I would not allow him to place on the notice-paper a question that no honorable member of this House would have thought fit for thenoticepaper, and that because I had tried to settle the difference between the honorable gentleman and the honorable memberfor Lang, which, I think, every otherhonorable member desired should besettled as soon as possible, the honorablemember for the Northern Territory has told not only the Privileges Committee but also the world at large through the press that I was a party to his victimization, whereas, as every honorable member knows, the honorable gentleman has “ got away “ with things in this House that no other honorable member could get away with, merely because I realize, as do the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), the other two speakers from this side on this motion, that he should be treated with sympathy and not harshness. No other parliament in the British Empire would tolerate the presence to-day of an honorable member who had made the charges made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory in the letter to the Prime Minister and myself, in which he stigmatizes the highest committee of the House, the Privileges Committee, as a star chamber body. What Speaker of a British parliament, if he had any venom towards the honorable gentleman, would not have cited him for contempt of the Parliament in having dragged the position of Mr. Speaker through the press of the country. It is all very well for the honorable member to bask in the sunshine of a bit of publicity, but I remind him, much, as I regret the slur cast on his conduct as a prisoner of war, that he himself called other prisoners of war bloodsuckers and thugs.
– Nothing of the kind.
– I have the press report here.
– Only the racketeers.
– Never mind the racketeers. They came back at the honorable gentleman next day and for a time he disappeared from publicity. They replied, and pointed out that the men who had got food and sold it to prisoners of war, had risked their lives to get it. A military inquiry was held into the activities of these men, some of whom had been caught by the Japanese, and summarily executed. Does the honorable member for the Northern Territory think that the sacrifices which he made for his country entitle him to a higher regard in the minds and hearts of the people of Australia than the sacrifices of those who suffered death trying to get more food for prisoners of war? Yet he described those men as ghouls and bloodsuckers. When the survivors protested against his charges, and replied in the newspapers, the honorable member vacated the field of publicity. I hope the honorable member does not think that he can get away with that sort of thing. I am not threatening, but speaking in defence of myself and of my position. If the honorable member continues on his present course he will find himself in serious trouble, regardless of any other circumstances. [Extension of time granted.] Complaints, were made this morning that the honorable member for the Northern Territory has been the victim of a vendetta, and that he has been victimized in an attempt to keep his mouth closed. I draw attention to the tactics of the honorable member himself in his treatment of other people. For instance, under cover of parliamentary privilege, he has for years attacked a man named Dalziel, and although he has been unsuccessful, he persists in his attack. Yesterday, the honorable member rehashed something which he first raised two years ago in this House regarding the Attorney-General. For the purpose of getting some extra glamour, he also re-hashed certain statements which he made before the Privileges Committee, but which he was by no means able to sustain. I have certainly never been a party to any attempt to victimize the honorable member, nor have I entered into a conspiracy against him. I certainly did not allow him to attack Mr. Dalziel in a question which no Speaker of the House would ever allow to be placed on the notice- paper. I also ruled him out of order on a subsequent occasion, because the question which he proposed to ask was out of order. It is true; I admit, that I, at the request of a friend of the honorable member himself, tried to bring about a settlement of the dispute between himself and the honorable member for Lang. On the strength of that, the honorable member for the Northern Territory concocted a story, that he had been inveigled into my quarters. On that ground, paltry as it is, he suggested to the Prime Minister - thus showing his utter lack of knowledge of parliamentary procedure - that the Prime Minister should suspend me, the Speaker of the House. Having regard to the shortage of newsprint, is there any justification for giving so much space in responsible newspapers to the letter written by ‘the honorable member for the Northern Territory ? ls there any justification for basing a motion for the adjournment of the House upon a document which the honorable member’s best friend would not describe as other than the vaporings of a disordered mind with a victimization complex?
.- The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) did his high office of Speaker of the House of Representatives a great disservice when he attacked the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain). He is jealous in defence of his own rights as Speaker, and under cover of defending those rights he now comes before the House and delivers an attack upon the honorable member for the Northern Territory. I could answer many of the points which he raised, but there is not time. The honorable member for Dalley said that he, as Speaker, had ruled out of order a question which no Speaker would allow to be placed upon the notice-paper. However, honorable members will recall that he allowed to be placed upon the notice-paper by a former honorable member for Swan, Mr. Mountjoy, an infamous question which attacked the character of an innocent person. The honorable member for Dalley knows that, on another occasion, an inquiry was held by a parliamentary committee, in the course of which the private affairs of a resident of this city were publicly discussed. The Government majority on that committee refused to censure the Minister who had given this woman notice to quit the house which she occupied. Speeches ‘by Government spokesmen have thrown this whole question out -of focus. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) cleverly cloaked the fact that the honour of the honorable member for the Northern Territory was scandalously impugned, and that the man who did it has been allowed to go unpunished. There is nothing unbalanced or hysterical about the following motion which was placed upon the notice-paper by the Leader of the Opposition, himself an eminent lawyer : -
That as a matter of privilege and having regard to the report from the Standing Committee of Privileges on Inquiry into the allegations made by the honorable member for Lang as to the wrongful use by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, whilst prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese, of his parliamentary privileges, the appendices to such report, and the evidence given before such Standing Committee, this House is of opinion -
that the honorable member for Lang is deserving of the censure of this House;
that the committee should have heard evidence in public; and
that the committee failed to carry out the duties delegated to it by this House in that it wrongly limited the scope of its investigation so as to exclude evidence of intimidation against the honorable member for the Northern Territory which tended to show that the allegation of the honorable member for Lang was part of a scheme of intimidation against the said honorable member for the Northern Territory.
In the course of evidence given before the committee no mention was made of the fact that the honorable member for the Northern Territory had been twice wounded in the first world war, and that he had had a most honourable military career. We know that certain evidence was excluded by the Privileges Committee.
– The report of the committee was unanimous.
– Only in regard to certain matters. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), in a suave speech, said that he disliked the imputation against a certain public servant, but has he, as an eminent jurist, ever taken the side of the honorable member who was attacked in this affair? He has never said one word in the honorable member’s defence. The Prime Minister, characteristically enough, only made the situation worse. My sympathy goes out to the honorable member for the Northern Territory. If he has over-emphasized certain matters, that is due to the fact that he has been exasperated and frustrated. Evidence was suppressed, and he, the aggrieved party, was, in effect, placed upon his defence. His letter shows the effect of the pressure to which he was subjected. Some of the principals have come into the ring to-day, and testified that they are the injured parties, not the honorable member for the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Dalley said that the honorable member for the Northern Territory should not have a seat in this House because of the letter he has written. I say that the man who first made the charge against the honorable member is not entitled to sit in any British parliament. Nothing but an inquiry by an independent authority can now satisfy the public regarding these charges. I do not say that the authority should consist of three justices of the High Court. The honorable member for the Northern Territory was perhaps asking too much in making that request, but a judge should be appointed to inquire into the matter. If the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) desires to make amends for what he has done, he can do so in this House to-day, but he has never attempted to make amends, and that is a disgraceful thing. Therefore, the inquiry sought by the Opposition should be held, and it should be held promptly because this matter has dragged on for too long. If the Government does not follow that course, I intend to give notice of a further motion upon this matter.
.- The matter now before the Chair has caused a good deal of concern to all honorable members who have a high regard for both the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) and the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain). I do not intend to deal with the proceedings before the Privileges Committee or to refer to later events which have been discussed in this debate, including the allegation, that action has been taken to intimidate the honorable member for the Northern Territory. In order to view this matter in its proper perspective, we must advert to the incident from which it arose. During the debate upon the Banking Bill some time ago, the honorable member for Lang was dealing with a matter concerning an ex-serviceman when the honorable member for the Northern Territory interjected. The honorable member for Lang, for whom honorable members generally have the friendliest regard, replied in a reverent tone that the ex-serviceman had passed away, and he expressed the hope that he was in heaven. The honorable member for the Northern Territory thereupon retorted that the honorable member for Lang was a mongrel of a particular type.
– That is untrue.
– That is a lie. I ask the honorable member to state the facts.
– I have not checked the Hansard report of that incident, but I understand that a nasty term used by the honorable member for the Northern Territory was expunged from Hansard. If the honorable member now denies that he used that word he has lowered himself in my opinion.
– I said that he was a “ dirty mongrel “.
– I said that the honorable member said that he was a mongrel of a particularly nasty type. The honorable member for Lang, who is one of the kindliest and most gentle members of the Parliament, was immediately stung by that interjection into making a certain retort. I do not believe that any other honorable member would have allowed such an interjection to pass unchallenged. Although I have kindly feelings for the honorable member for the Northern Territory, I am certain that had I been placed in the position in which the honorable member for Lang found himself on that occasion I should have retorted in terms equally as harsh.
– Be truthful; the honorable member just said that he had a low opinion of the honorable member for the Northern Territory.
– If the honorable member for Swan desires to engage in a controversy, I shall deal with him fully. In the meantime, let him keep silent. What I said was that when the honorable member for Lang was stung by the interjection that he was a nasty type of mongrel, my statement was denied. I then said that if the honorable member for the Northern Territory denied using the term because it had been expunged from Hansard I should consequently have . a lower opinion of him. The honorable member for the Northern Territory then admitted that what I had said was correct.
– The honorable member is reversing the sequence of the statement and the interjection.
– I am saying plainly that if any other honorable member were called a mongrelin this chamber, with or without an adjective, he would be stung into making a heated reply.
– It was the other way round.
– It was not the other way round. No honorable member who heard the exchange would say that it was the other way round.
– I can prove that it was the other way round.
– The honorable member for Lang used words which he probably regretted, but if the honorable member for the Northern Territory has any respect for himself he is bound as much as the honorable member for Lang to make an apology. I understand that an opportunity to apologize to each other was given to them, but that the honorable member for the Northern Territory refused to do so. It is clear that he is being used in an endeavour to gain party political publicity. That is most regrettable when we have regard to the sufferings and tortures which he endured while a prisoner in the hands of the Japanese; and every re-hash of this matter must affect him acutely in recalling to him his sufferings while a prisoner of war. Obviously, the proper way to settle this matter is for both honorable members to offer mutual apologies. Both of them enjoy the respect of all other members, and I have no doubt that each of them regrets having used the words in the heat of the moment in the exchange which gave rise to the matter.
With respect to the proceedings before the Privileges Committee I understand that the final report of the committee was adopted unanimously, although the Opposition parties’ representatives were in a. majority when the vote was taken.
– Nothing of the kind.
– If the Opposition members of the Privileges Committee were dissatisfied with its findings they could have submitted a minority report.
– No provision is made for minority reports in respect of reports of committees of privileges.
– The Opposition members of that committee had an opportunity when the report was presented to record their dissent from its findings. I believe that all honorable gentlemen deeply regret this incident. I repeat that it can properly be settled by the honorable member for Lang and the honorable member for the Northern Territory making mutual apologies; The honorable member for Lang has invariably conducted himself as a gentleman while he has been a member of this House. All of us admire the honorable member for the Northern Territory for his gallantry as a soldier, and have a high regard for him personally. However, when an honorable member makes statements which seriously reflect upon another honorable member, we cannot completely overlook his offence because of his previous good record. Considerations of pride and prestige should not be allowed to influence the settlement of this matter. How would any honorable member opposite react if, in the heat of debate, or during calmer moments, he was dubbed a “ dirty mongrel “.? Would he not be tempted to reply by the use of some equally offensive expression? It is undoubtedly true that the honorable member for the Northern Territory had no justification for making such a nasty interjection directed at the honorable member for Lang. Irrespective of whose pride was hurt, or whose dignity was offended, this matter can be satisfactorily settled only by a mutual apology on the part of both honorable members concerned.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 257b.
House adjourned at 1.6 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Mr.Chifley. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Consideration of this matter is proceeding and a decision will be reached as soon as possible.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
g asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
Mr.Calwell. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Mr. Leslie C. Haylen, M.H.E. for Parkes (Chairman).
Mr. C. J. Austin, federal secretary, Air Force Association.
Honorable P. J.Clarey, M.L.C., president, Australian Council of Trades Unions.
Mr. W. R. Dovey, K.C., leading Sydney barrister.
Honorable R. A. King, M.L.C., a vicepresident of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and secretary. New South Wales Trades and Labour Council.
Mr. H. R. Mitchell, solicitor, federal councillor of Australian Legion of ExServicemen and Women.
Mr. A. E. Monk, secretary, Australian Council of Trades Unions.
Mr. J. G. Neagle, federal secretary, Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia.
Mr. W. H. Nicol, general president, Australian Workers Union.
Mr.O. D. A. Oberg, former president, Australian Council of Employers Federations.
Mrs. Jessie M. Street.
Mr. E. T. Towner, V.C., Queensland grazier.
Mr. P. R. Wilkins, federal secretary, Associated Chambers of Commerce and Australian Council of Employers Federations.
Mr. L. Withall, director, Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia.
Chairman - ?2 10s. per diem. (This is adjusted with the normal travelling allowance paid to members of Parliament. )
Members (except Mr. Dovey) - ?2 2s. per diem. (This is the usual rate paid to members of government committees serving in an honorary capacity.)
Mr. Dovey ; ?1 10s. per diem.
Mr. Dovey also receives a fee of ?5 5s. per diem for his attendance at each sitting of the council. It will be appreciated that this fee in no way compensates a barrister of Mr. Dovey’s standing for the loss of income that he suffers by attendance at the council meetings. No loss of salary is involved in the case of other members. In addition to the abovementioned allowances, travel facilities are provided for members when they are obliged to attend meetings of the council away from their home towns. 3, 4 and 5. The answers to these questions were given by me in my reply to the honorable member when he raised the matter without notice in this House on 22nd April.
y. - On the 21st April, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) asked whether I would review the decision not to provide dollars for the importation of cyanogas during this financial year. In response to the request the Minister for Trade and Customs has re-examined the matter of granting licences for the importation of cyanogas from the United States of America. There is no question as to the desirability of securing supplies of effective pest destroyers and the only reason for not granting import licences at the present time lies in the scarcity of dollar exchange. No fresh licences can be granted for cyanogas or other dollar goods to be imported before the 1st July, 1948. Provision is being made so as to permit the importation of cyanogas during the next financial year, and thereby supplement Australian preparations which are used for the same purpose. Licences will be available in the near future to cover imports of cyanogas during the first quarter of 1948-49.
Raw Cotton: Sydney Fire.
d. - On the 23rd April, the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) asked whether an investigation has yet been completed into the recent fire among the raw cotton stored in Sydney and if the investigation were completed, would a report be furnished to this House. The honorable member also asked what quantity of cotton, if any, was salvaged. The Minister for Trade and Customs desires me to inform the honorable member that the cause of the fire is still the subject of investigation and the work of salvage is still continuing.
d. - On the 15th April, the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Williams) asked whether provision has been made for the importation from the United States of America of spare parts for industrial machinery and whether I could assist in the provision of spare parts for the Landis boot stitching machinery used by members of the Newcastle Boot Repairers Association. The Minister for Trade and Customs desires me to inform the honorable member that licences are granted for the importation from the United States of America of spare parts for industrial machinery on a level sufficient to provide efficient maintenance of the machinery. In regard to spare parts for Landis boot stitching machines a special allocation of dollar exchange has been made available to permit of continuity of supply of replacement parts for these machines.
Brisbane General Post Office.
l. - On the 9th April, the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. Lawson) asked the following question: -
Will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, ascertain for me the following information? Whendoesthe Postmaster-
General expect to have the plans for the new General Post Office in Brisbane completed? When completed, when does he propose to commence the rebuilding of the first section of the new building?
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information: -
Because of the extraordinary growth in post office services during and following the war years and the changed conditions regarding labour and materials, all plans and estimates previously prepared for the proposed new General Post Office building in Brisbane had to be abandoned. An entirely newset of preliminary plane has, however, been prepared and these are at present under expert examination to ensure that adequate provision is being made for present and future requirements and that the new building embodies the latest developments in postal working. Immediately this examination is completed, the work of preparing the necessary detailed plans and estimates will be put in band and the project brought to the final approval stage. Concurrently with the preparation of plans, it will be necessary to arrange to vacate the Elizabeth-street frontage now occupied by the Parcels Post Section, to prepare the way for the erection of the first section of the proposed new structure. With this objective in mind, negotiations are now proceeding for the purchase of a suitable building in Brisbane to accommodate parcel post activities. As soon as this building has been obtained and necessary modifications effected thereto, action will be taken to vacate and demolish the present premises. Notwithstanding the difficulties to be overcome, it is expected it will be possible to commence work on the foundation of the first section of the newGeneral Post Office building during the financial year 1948-49.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 April 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480430_reps_18_197/>.