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Thursday, 27 June 1946

Mr CHIFLEY (Macquarie) (Prime Minister and Treasurer) (1:10 AM) . - Some of the remarks that have been made in this chamber to-day are not to the credit of the Parliament. I have listened to some of the statements made during this and previous debates and, in my opinion, they do not reflect credit on the Opposition.

Mr Bernard Corser - Or on the Government.

Mr CHIFLEY - At times, each of us may have offended in some way, but I have always tried to treat the Parliament,, which is the instrument of democracy, with respect. I certainly thought that an appropriation bill would not have led to the demonstrations that have occurred in this chamber to-night. Although I greatly deplore what has taken place, I wish to make it clear that I see no purpose in raking over the dead ashes of the past. That opinion is held by men occupying higher positions in theworld than I hold. If it could be shown that men have been guilty of corruption, dishonesty or treason, I could understand a request for inquiries to be made. I do not impute those crimes to any member of a previous government or of the present Government, or to any of the military leaders of this country. Some of them might have been guilty of stupidity, or a lack of foresight; but in my opinion such things do not constitute a good reason for raking over the dead ashes of the past. If the British Empire were to do that, it would want to know all about what happened at Dunkirk, Malaya, the Middle East, and elsewhere. There would be endless inquiries into the actions of all sorts of people, many of whom have rendered honorable service, and their names would be besmirched because of the accusations made against them.- I do not propose to be a party to any inquiry into what might only have been military mistakes. The G overnment will not support any motion for such inquiries because there could be no end to the .things that might be inquired into. The British Empire and its allies suffered many disasters in the war in which they were recently engaged, and endless inquiries could be instituted to find out what really happened. I do not believe that any of those mistakes were due to treason or corruption, although probably there were instances of lack of capacity, and of failure, to realize the potentialities' of the war position. After all, human beings, are fallible. I shall not order a survey of what has happened in the past, or be a party to the making of charges against people who, although they made mistakes believed at the time that they acted for the So far as I am concerned, there will be no inquiry at all.

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