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Friday, 9 October 1931

Mr SPEAKER - Order!

Mr Latham - The honorable member is inventing; it is a deliberate invention.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I shall name the honorable member if he further disregards the call of the Chair.

Mr CROUCH - My statement is correct, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition-

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I ask the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Latham) to withdraw the remark that the statement of the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Crouch) is untrue.

Mr Latham - No objection has been taken to my statement; but I withdraw it.

Mr CROUCH - According to the Colac press, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons) said -

About twelve months ago when ] was Acting Treasurer and during the absence of the Prime Minister abroad, Mr. Latham, as

Leader of the Opposition, urged in Parliament that party arguments should he allowed to disappear in the light of the crisis which confronted us. These suggestions were rejected by a majority of the members of the federal Labour party, who chose to place their own sectional interests above that of the nation. Because I supported the suggestion made by Mr. Latham, I was subjected to every kind of misrepresentation by my own colleagues.

What is the history of this mutter? I find that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition proposed in this House that what he termed a non-party ministry should be formed. He suggested the co-operation of the Opposition in order to assist the Ministry. The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton), who was then Acting Prime Minister, said that the matter would be considered. At that time, the honorable member for Wilmot was in the House. The following day the honorable member for Maribyrnong, as Acting Prime Minister, and when the honorable member for Wilmot was in the House, said, in reading from a prepared statement, that the Government could not accept the suggestion. The honorable member for Wilmot was in the House, and did not contradict the statement.

Mr Lyons - The honorable member knows that I made a statement in the House in reply to the misrepresentation.

Mr CROUCH - There are further points in connexion with this matter which rather surprise me. The Leader of the Opposition submitted his proposition on the 9th December, a prepared statement was read by the Acting Prime Minister on the 10th December, and on the 11th December the honorable member for Wilmot made a personal explanation. In doing so. he denied a statement in the Canberra Times and the Labor Daily, to the effect that he bad supported a national government, and that he had no knowledge of Mr. Latham's proposal. He said-

The statements from beginning to end can only be described as a downright lie - absolutely and emphatically a lie. All I ask is that the press will accept this absolute denial of the truth of the report.

He deniod absolutely that he had anything to do with the proposal for a national government. He was working against the Acting Prime Minister, as he now is against the present Prime Minister. At Colac, when he endeavoured to prejudice me in the eyes of my constituents, he is reported to have said -

Because I supported the suggestions made by Mr. Latham, I was subjected to every kind of misrepresentation by my own colleagues.

In the first place, he did not support Mr. Latham or the Acting Prime Minister who expressed the decision of the Government. In a personal explanation, he said that the statement published was grossly inaccurate.

Mr Morgan - Horrible!

Mr CROUCH -It is. I can appreciate the nauseating feelings of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Morgan) who is being led by a man who would say what he did at Colac. The honorable member for Wilmot should take the first opportunity to correct statements which have been shown to be absolutely untrue.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member must withdraw the word "untrue".

Mr CROUCH - Iwithdraw it. Prior to that meeting the big drum was beaten throughout Colac to announce the advent of the new political saviour. A prepared statement was repeated in all the newspapers in the Western District. It was announced: "Mr. J. A. Lyons will visit Colac to-day, and speak in the Victoria Hall to-night". Then we read " sob-stuff " of this description concerning the honorable member -

The economic conditions of Tasmania during his boyhood were such that at the age of nine and a half years he was compelled to leave school and seek to earn something towards his sustenance. His thirst for knowledge was so evident, however, that two elderly aunts contrived to enable him to return to school and complete his studies. From very early years he showed an aptitude for imparting knowledge to others, and he was made a State school monitor. At seventeen years of age he had qualified as a teacher in the Education Department of Tasmania . . . His true interests, however, are his home and family . . . They have nine sturdy children . . . In his early days, however,he was a keen cricketer, footballer, tennis player and cyclist: indeed, a good all-round athlete.

This statement was sent in type to all the newspapers published in the towns he was to visit. Is that not like a circus going toa town, beating the big drum, advertising, " Here comes the man who has nine children; here is the man who used to be a great athlete; here is the lad of uiue and a half years who became a school monitor " ? Is that fair politics ? Is itnot an attempt to obtain a personal sympathy that the honorable member's politics alone could never win for him ? Is it not an attempt to assuage the public feeling due to his complete somersault from his previous political attitude?

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