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Friday, 9 October 1931

Mr CROUCH (Corangamite) .- I wish to refer to a matter raised this afternoon, but more particularly to an interjection made by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) when I was speaking on the tariff the other day. On that occasion the honorable member for Wilmot said, in an interjection -

The honorable member for Corangamite is supporting a Government which somersaulted inconnexion with an export duty on sheepskins. That decision was reached by the party of which the honorable member is a member.

In reply, I said that I was always against such a duty, and helped to secure its repeal. The only purpose of such an interjection by the Leader of the Opposition was to create an impression that I supported theexport duty on sheepskins.

Mr E RILEY (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member ought to have supported it.

Mr CROUCH - But I did not. On the contrary, I opposed it strongly, and I have the permission of the Prime Minister to say that, in caucus, I did all I could to defeat the proposal. The right honorable gentleman was present at the meeting of the party, before he went to England, and expressed his opposition to the proposed export duty. On the 17th December, 1930, when the honorable member for Wilmot was Acting Treasurer, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton), who was Acting Prime Minister and Minister for

Trade and Customs, introduced a tariff schedule providing for an export duty of1s. 2d. per lb. ou sheepskins in wool. That was done by the Government of which the honorable member for Wilmot ( Mr. Lyons) was a member. As soon as the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) returned from abroad, and after the honorable member for Wilmot had ceased to-be Acting Treasurer, and ho and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) had left the Labour party, the right honorable the Prime Minister appointed the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) as Minister for Trade and Customs. On the 5th March, 1931 - after he had been deserted by those two members ofhis party - he announced the cancellation of the export duty on sheepskins, and intimated that the moneys that had already been collected would be refunded. I cannot remember the actual attitude of the honorable member for Wilmot on the occasion to which I have referred ; I cannot remember him supporting or opposing that duty.

Mr Gabb - He opposed i t.

Mr CROUCH - I know that the Acting Prime Minister stated at the time that the Government, of which the honorable member for Wilmot was a member, had considered the proposal, and intended to give effect to it. I did not know that such an export duty was to be collected. The point 1 wish to make is that the honorable member for Wilmot has no right to infer that I was a party to the imposition of an export duty on sheepskins.

Mr Fenton - The honorable member was silent in the matter.

Mr CROUCH - What does the honorable member infer?

Mr Fenton - I shall tell the honorable member if he likes, and also the country.

Mr CROUCH - If the honorable member says that I at any time supported an export duty on sheepskins, and that I did not take every opportunity to oppose such a duty, he is making an incorrect statement.

The honorable member for Wilmot has now adopted a different attitude with respect to another matter. I do not know why I should be the victim of his mis statements. Last Friday night he attended a community singing entertainment at Colac, in my constituency. I was not invited to attend the gathering, probably because I am not a humourist. The honorable member for Wilmot, however, took part in community singing, and later was given an opportunity to speak to those present. The speech which he is said to have made was not actually that delivered, as I find that the report which appeared in the press was handed in in typewritten form by some one else on his behalf.

Mr Latham - This is a very serious thing !

Mr CROUCH - It is. I remember an occasion on which the report of a speech delivered in this House by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham), at 4.30 p.m., was published in the Melbourne Herald at 3 o'clock that afternoon.

Mr Latham - That is merely untrue.

Mr CROUCH - The members of the Opposition have got the ears of the press, and consequently they can have whatever they like published.

Mr Latham - That is untrue.

M r. SPEAKER (Hon. Norman Makin) . -Order !

Mr Latham - It is untrue, and the honorable member knows it.

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