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Friday, 5 April 1946

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - I had hopes of learning something in this House, but I have learnt little. All I have heard is party bickering. We have in this country great resources, only the surface of which has been scratched. We have men ready to work in factories and fields to produce the secondary and primary goods we need, but, instead of settling crown to develop this country, honorable members waste their time by harking back to what happened years ago. The honorable member for Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) and I have been cut of civil life for three and a half years. When we came back into it we wanted to know what had been done, but all we have heard from members on both sides - I do not confine myself to the Government side - is the history of what some one or other said in disparagement of another years back. Day after day that is about all we hear. It would save time if a short history of each honorable member were pasted up somewhere for honorable gentlemen to read if they so desired, at their leisure, instead of members having to listen to it here, when we should be going about the nation's business in as statesmanlike a fashion as is within our capacity. This party bickering will get us nowhere.

I desire to review the bills briefly; but, doubtless, like every other honorable member on this side, as soon as I start to do so I shall be subjected to a barrage of interjections from honorable gentlemen opposite of this type : " What are you going to do about it?" "What is your attitude? " " Are you supporting the bills or not? Answer " Yes " or " No ".

Mr Conelan - Yes.

Mr TURNBULL (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - It is like the question - "Do you still go home drunk and beat your wife? Answer 'Yes' or ' No ' ". It is impossible to answer directly in the affirmative or the negative, because every right-thinking man and woman will favour some of the proposals, but will realize that others, if carried to extreme lengths, will wreck the foundations on which we are building this great nation. How far these powers will be .carried we do not know. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) may give assurances that the powers will not be taken to extreme lengths, but our old earth keeps on turning, and the right honorable gentleman, who gives the assurances in all sincerity to-day, may not be here to administer the act. Legislation' must be definite. Verbal assurances that these powers will not be exercised beyond a certain point are obviously ridiculous. Civilization is based on the confidence that men have in each other, and in their ability, integrity and honesty. The AttorneyGeneral, in giving 'an assurance that the powers contained in these bills would not be exercised, beyond a certain limit, would be honest and sincere - I have not lost my faith in human nature so much a.s to disbelieve him - hut he will not always administer the powers conferred by the referendum proposals. At some future date, his assurances may be meaningless, and as evanescent as mist. When I make a constructive proposal,

I endeavour to avoid party politics, and honorable members opposite do not like it-

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