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Thursday, 31 March 1966

Mr PETERS (Scullin) .- I desire to make a personal explanation in connection with a happening in this House tonight. Speaking in the debate on foreign affairs, the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) made direct and implied attacks on the Labour Party and on the integrity and patriotism of its members. I think everyone will agree that his was an emergency speech, delivered for consumption particularly in the Kooyong electorate. That, of course, is politics. I waited carefully until the Prime Minister had finished his speech and then suggested that he might propose to those in his Party who are of military age that they should enlist. I agree with the reasoning that those who would force others to go to war should set an example if they are eligible for military service. In other circumstances I would not suggest to any man, whether he was eligible or not, that he should go to a war. That would be his own personal decision, as a Prime Minister of Australia once said.

Mr. Speakerthen called upon the hero for Scullin to remain silent. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) considered that Mr. Speaker was seeking to reflect upon my courage because I had a military career similar to those of the present Prime Minister and his immediate predecessor. Mr, Speaker then said he had made the remark because he was an exserviceman. I take it that that justified the interpretation that the honorable member for Reid put upon Mr. Speaker's sarcastic taunt. I wish to emphasise that I am still of the opinion that I expressed when I suggested to the Prime Minister that young men should not be parties to forcing others to do what they themselves are unwilling or unable to do. I strongly resent the imputation contained in Mr. Speaker's remark and I desire to express my appreciation to the honorable member for Reid.

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