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Thursday, 13 October 1983
Page: 1735

Mr MILTON —Mr Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented.

Mr SPEAKER —The honourable member may proceed with a personal explanation.

Mr MILTON —Thank you, Mr Speaker. I claim to have been misrepresented in two respects. Firstly, I was misrepresented in a speech made by the honourable member for Bruce (Mr Aldred) in the adjournment debate last night. Secondly, I was misrepresented in an article appearing in the Age of today which compounded the gross inaccuracies contained in the honourable member's speech. In the first place, the honourable member is so lacking in knowledge of the members of the House that at the beginning of his speech he mistook the honourable member for Casey (Mr Steedman) for me. However, that is not a mistake that causes the honourable member for Casey or me any problems at all. It causes no concern whatsoever.

The inaccuracies, however, are more serious. I have made inquiries and it would appear that the honourable member for Bruce was purportedly quoting from a copy of the Higgins Australian Labor Party federal electorate assembly newsletter which contained a report of the meeting of the Camberwell ALP branch on 2 August . By quoting the selected extracts of what was, in any case, a precis of what I had to say at the meeting, the honourable member has grossly misrepresented the substance of my talk. The opening comment of my talk was not:

I have not come along to support the Government.

In fact it was:

I have not been invited tonight to necessarily support the Government but to talk about Federal policies and the implementation of those policies by the Government.

Secondly, I did not say, as the honourable member said I did, that I:

. . . could not understand why the terms of reference for the Hope Royal Commission were not extended by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) with a view to getting rid of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation completely, as that was ALP policy.

To get rid of ASIO is not ALP policy. What I did say was that I would have liked to have seen the terms of reference extended so that the incompetence of ASIO could be revealed with a view to changing ALP policy in relation to it. I did not say that the Prime Minister-to quote the honourable member again-'was applauding the military dictatorship'. But I did say that the Government by not strongly expressing its abhorrence of Indonesian occupation of East Timor was indicating support for a military dictatorship. The whole tenor of the honourable member's speech is totally inaccurate in the attempt to portray me as a Government member attacking the Prime Minister. The final and most gross of the misrepresentations of what I had to say was this comment:

He told people at the meeting that they should stay and fight the Prime Minister because the members in Caucus who were against the Prime Minister needed the support of the rank and file.

If that comment actually appears in the report of the meeting, it is inaccurate. In fact, I urged the members to stay and fight for the implementation of ALP policies. I did not urge them to fight the Prime Minister. Obviously, the Opposition is very worried about the popularity of the Prime Minister in the broad electorate and it has to stoop to allowing the honourable member for Bruce -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order! The honourable member will comply with the Standing Orders and simply deal with the matters which he claims have been the subject of misrepresentation.

Mr MILTON —I am endeavouring to do that, but I have to put up with this nonentity of the lowest order. I turn to the article appearing in the Age which was even more inaccurate. Firstly, it describes me as the honourable member for Hotham. Again, I do not mind being mistaken for an esteemed and distinguished friend. However, the Age article not only compounds the inaccuracies of the honourable member's speech but also adds its own flavour. Thus, the heading read : 'Labor MP told ALP meeting of disillusionment with Hawke'. That is totally inaccurate. The article goes on to ascribe to the honourable member the comment 'that Mr Milton had spoken for the Socialist Left at a meeting of the Camberwell Branch'. In fact, I was invited to the meeting as the Federal member for La Trobe to talk abut the implementation of ALP policy by the Government. The article then quotes the honourable member as saying:

. . . the reason that Mr Milton had given for the necessity of staying and fighting despite disillusionment with Mr Hawke must have been to replace him with Mr Hayden.

I did not make such a statement. In view of the high popularity of the Prime Minister in the electorate it is obviously a figment of the distorted and convoluted imagination of the honourable member for Bruce.