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Thursday, 3 July 1941

Senator FRASER (Western Australia) . - The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat declared that this Parliament was not held in very great respect by our soldiers. I do not subscribe to that view; but if it be justified at all, it is because of such incidents as occurred in this chamber last evening. One Minister said, " Let us get on with our war effort ". For two hours last evening this chamber witnessed a disgraceful exhibition on the part of a Minister and a supporter of the Government.

The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the motion.

SenatorFRASER. - This is a democratic Parliament. The ballot for the election of the President on Tuesday last was conducted strictly in compliance with the Standing Orders. We on this side have been attacked by these newspapers because we accomplished what the Labour party has not been able to accomplish for many years.

Senator Spicer - Who accomplished it?

SenatorFRASER.- I do not know how the honorable senator voted. I know for which candidate I voted. The newspapers concerned have denounced certain honorable senators on this side because, allegedly, they voted for the Labour party's nominee.

Senator Gibson - Did they not do so?

SenatorFRASER. - I am not prepared to say whether they did or did not. My personal opinion is that the ex-President is a thorough gentleman. I have no hesitation in saying that. The facts are quite plain. Because the result of the election was not what had been expected, these newspapers have endeavoured to discredit certain honorable senators on this side of the chamber. They would destroy these gentlemen politically, because of their alleged action in recording their votes in favour of the Labour candidate for the presidency. That is the type of unwarranted attack which we must scotch on every possible occasion. It is typical of the constant assaults that are being made on our democratic rights, not only in this chamber but also throughout the country.

Senator Spicer - Apparently honorable senators opposite object to criticism.

SenatorFRASER. - I do not object to criticism, but Senator Spicer knows as well as I do that the attack was made on a political basis.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Was not the President elected on a political basis? Honorable senators opposite took advantage of the absence of a sick man.

Senator FRASER - I remind Senator A. J. McLachlan that the President was elected in accordance with the Standing Orders of this chamber.

Senator Sampson - He could not have been elected in any other way.

Senator FRASER - Of course not, yet Senator A. J. McLachlan says that we on this side of the chamber took advantage of the situation. We should have been doing something in contravention of the Standing Orders had we not taken the course which we followed. Senator A. J. McLachlan made an eloquent speech in opposition to the motion, but I suggest that, had he been on this side of the chamber, he would have been just as eloquent in support of it.

Senator Sampson - Why make a fuss?

Senator FRASER - I am not making a fuss. The point is that because of their political affiliations these newspapers are seeking to destroy the very basis of democracy. They have gone out of their way to denounce three honorable senators on this side of the chamber. The three honorable senators concerned are the only ones who know how they voted. If lives are to be sacrificed overseas for democratic ideals, the press should not be permitted to indulge in a vendetta against individuals in this way. If the capitalist press of this country is to be free to discredit individuals, democracy will gradually be worn away, and those who £ire perpetuating this system will have the most to lose. I support the motion and [ shall have something further to say when a similar motion is moved later.

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