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Wednesday, 20 May 1942

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - It, has come to my knowledge to-day that, in reply to a question asked by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), the PrimĀ© Minister (Mr. Curtin who is Acting Minister for External Affairs, gave certain information to the House with regard to a proposed lecturing tour of the United States of America by a well-knownSydney journalist. The right honorable gentleman said that the Government had no views to express on the matter, and would not prevent the tour. I submit for the consideration of the right honorable gentleman chat Australia's foreign relations in time of war, and particularly during a war of the kind in which we are now engaged, are of the utmost importance, and that any unauthorized person lecturing abroad at present might not represent the views of the Commonwealth Government. At the present stage the relations between Australia and the United States of America are of extreme importance, and, therefore, I contend that the Government should not permit any unauthorized person to convey to the people of the United States of America impressions of the policy and intentions of the Government of this country, regardless of what government may happen to be in power. I suggest that the Prime Minister should review what he said this afternoon in reply to the honorable member for Melbourne. It may be necessary for Cabinet to decide whether individual Australians travelling abroad should be allowed to express their views on various matters without regard to the effect that they might have on the relations between Australia and other countries, and upon thegeneral status that may be acquired by Australia among the nations of the world.

Mr PROWSE (FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - How is this person to be financed?

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - I do not know. I am not concerned about that.

I now submit the matter to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) for consideration from another aspect. I believe that the journalist in question is in a reserved occupation, and holds a certain exemption on that account. Every honorable member of this chamber must have persons in his electorate who are in reserved occupations, and thousands of electors have been called up for various forms of service. Once it is proved that a person is no longer required to carry out the duties that entitle him to reserved occupation status, there is only one thing for the Government to do, and that is to tell him to go on the unreserved list and carry out his duty as an ordinary citizen of this country. That prin ciple should be applied to all citizens, irrespective of their social position, wealth or rank. In this war, we have none too much to play with, and the point that I have raised might well be taken into consideration by the Minister for Labour and National Service, since he has already made certain remarks in this chamber regarding the newspaper with which the Sydney journalist referred to is connected. It is grossly unfair that persons highly placed in the journalistic world should be allowed to go abroad, while others are required to remain in Australia and comply with the obligations cast upon them to serve their country. I ask that the law be administered without fear or favour.

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