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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Mr ROSEVEAR - That is the inevitable conclusion to which the arguments of honorable members opposite lead. I was interested to hear the honorable member for Kooyong (Mt. Menzies), who usually acts as backstop for the Opposition when things are going badly for them, put forward a specious case on what turned out to be an incorrect newspaper report. After all,, of what use is it to be a lawyer if you cannot put up some sort of an argument even on a bad case? He asked what would people of Australia think of the Minister for Labour and National Service who dared to say that future war loans should be interest free. A few weeks ago, the honorable member for Kooyong told the House that for two years, while he was Prime Minister, he knew that we would have to fight Japan ; yet, during those two years, he forced the waterside workers with threats of gaol and deregistration to load pig iron for Japan. Now he tells us what the people would do to the Minister for Labour and National Service if they had the chance. I would rather hear the people say, "Hang the Minister for Labour and National Service", than hear the Japanese say, " Thank you, Mr. Menzies ", as they have done for his part in providing them with supplies of scrap iron. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) quoted the statement of the honorable member for East

Sydney (Mr. Ward) in 1936 that he did not want to fight the workers of any country, and, incidentally, that he did not want to fight the German workers. Did any one know with any degree of certainty who would be fighting whom in this war until the nations had actually taken sides? InHansard I could turn up columns of rubbish talked by some honorable members about countries which are now in the enemy's camp. The statement of the Minister for Labour and National Service, referred to by the honorable member for Wentworth, was made in 1936, and the people of his electorate have returned him twice since then, and his party has by plebiscite elected him a member of the Government. The same honorable members opposite, who were responsible for selling scrap iron to Japan, were, if I remember rightly, responsible for the attempt to lease the Yampi iron ore deposits to Japan. About the time the honorable member for East Sydney was saying that he did not want to fight the German workers, those other honorable members wanted to provide the Japanese with unlimited supplies of iron ore.

Mr Anthony - It was the State government in Western Australia that proposed to lease the deposits.

Mr ROSEVEAR - If it was the State government which wanted to lease the deposits, the Government supported by the honorable member did nothing to prevent it

Mr Anthony - I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in making misstatements regarding the actions of a previous government? I take the point that the previous Commonwealth government did prohibit the export of iron ore from Yampi Sound.

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