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Thursday, 18 July 1946

Mr MORGAN (Reid) .- Today the Sydney Daily Telegraph published an article entitled " A.B.C. Disclaims Duty to Give Right to Reply". It refers to a request by Mr. Jeffrey Blaxland to the general manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, Mr. Moses, that he be permitted to broadcast a reply to what he described as an attack that I had made upon him in this House. Mr. Blaxland's request arose out of a question which I directed to the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) on Tuesday regarding the activities in Australia of the advertising firm, J. Walter Thompson and Company. The fact is that I did not refer to Mr. Blaxland, or make any attack upon him. I did mention a plot which was being hatched to betray supporters of the Labour party at the forthcoming elections. Mr. Blaxland is playing a very minor part indeed. I find it peculiar that the press allotted very little space to my questionand the Minister's answer, but provided a column, with prominent headlines, for Mr. Blaxland's complaint. J. Walter Thompson and Company, which employs Mr. Blaxland, is a well-known advertising firm - one of the biggest in the world - and has ample opportunity to reply to any of my statements over the commercial broadcasting stations or through sections of the press which it influences from time to time through their advertising columns. As a matter of fact, a campaign has been in progress for some months to build up political opposition to me. and belittle myown candidature, while I have been attending to my parliamentary duties in Canberra. In addition, paid organizers and "whisperers" have been working in my electorate for twelve months in the employ of certain interests to whom I . shall refer later. Smith's Weekly has published a full-page article - the author, I understand, was employed by Australian Consolidated Industries - and other inspired articles to build up opponents to me and belittle my candidature. I understand that these articles are sponsored by this advertising firm in conjunction with persons associated with the Century newspaper. It is remarkable that this firm is handling the advertising for the Liberal party in Victoria for the forthcoming election campaign, and for the opposition to the referendum on behalf of the Lang party in New South Wales. It also sponsored Lang's broadcasts over what is known as the " Freedom Radio ". I understand that in the coming campaign this firm will manage the advertising for the Lang party, which, of course, will oppose the Government. The articles in the Century are being sponsored, and paid for at advertising rates, but are not appearing as advertisements, so the reading public is being seriously misled. I make no attack on Mr. Blaxland, because I believe that he is playing a very small part in the whole unsavoury business. He is probably being used as an innocent tool. But this is a poor way to use the so-called "new blood " of the Liberal party. If Mr. Blaxland is coming into the fight on a fair basis. I welcome him. I trust that we shall have a clean fight. Smith's Weekly headed one of its inspired articles " Gloves are off in the Battle for Votes ", which suggests to me that a rather dirty fight is likely. That article made reference to my own campaign, and referred to the candidature of Mr. Blaxland, who, it was said, would advocate that the second preference of his supporters should be given to the Lang party. To my mind, this is a most unworthy procedure, which will put the "'new blood" candidates of the Liberal party in a very false light. Apparently, the Liberal party candidates will give their second preferences to the Lang party candidates in certain metropolitan seats in consideration of the Lang party candidates giving their second preferences to the Liberal party candidates or Australian Country party candidates in border line seats. This policy has nauseated the local committee of the Liberal party in my electorate, which objected to Liberal party candidates being required to advocate the giving of second preference to the Lang party candidate. The Lang party, as everybody knows, has done a great deal for many years past to undermine the Labour movement, and it has been associated with tin hares, fruit machines and other undesirable affairs. The bosses of the Liberal party, Mr. Spooner and Mr. Bridges, are apparently forcing this policy on Liberal party candidates in metropolitan seats. The Lang party candidates are engaging in the same sorry practices which they followed when they undermined the Scullin Administration. It is deplorable, in my opinion, that the Liberal party should ' engage in this propaganda, which is entirely contrary to the customary practice of the respective political parties. It is, indeed, a peculiar situation. The Liberal party is apparently prepared to sacrifice its so-called " new blood " in order to bolster up the . decadent Lang party, and it is more concerned to bring about the possible entry into this Parliament of destructive Lang party candidates, who will set up a disruptive cave in this House. Such tactics ill become those who claim to stand for stable government.

Although I first mentioned this matter in the House only the other day, I learned of the proposal about two years ago. Tn fact, it comes down to us from the last State elections in 'New South Wales, when certain anti-Labour candidates exchanged preferences with the Lang party. I refer honorable members to the Standard Weekly of the 1st June, 1944A in which they will find reproduced facsimiles of several " How to vote " cards under the heading "Lang's Treachery Proved". These "How to vote " cards relate to the Dulwich Hill, North Sydney and .Bondi electorates. I refer particularly to the Bondi situation, in which a person named Hallett, the Lang party candidate, authorized the giving of bis second preference to Frank Browne, the United Australia party candidate. Browne happens to be an employee of the firm of J. Walter Thompson and Company, and so is a fellow-employee of Mr. Blaxland, who is campaigning against me in the Reid elec,torate. It is a serious .commentary on election procedure that, in both New South Wales and Commonwealth election campaigns, Liberal party candidates should be advised to give their second preference to Lang party -candidates. This relates particularly to the metropolitan ' constituencies . of Reid, West Sydney, Cook and Dalley. I understand that a man named Harold Coote was selected as the Liberal party candidate for Reid, but when he discovered that he was to be regarded as a " stooge " or a " tool ", and that he would be expected to advocate the giving of his second preferences to the Lang party candidate, he protested, and, under pressure from the Liberal party bosses, withdrew his candidature.

We all. know, of course, of the dieclosure to the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) that, for a consideration of £3,000, an attempt was made to "sell - out " 200,000 Lang party votes during the last referendum. The negotiations were conducted, I understand, between Mr. Sommerlad, M.L.O., and Mr. A. C. Patterson, of the Century. The money was paid by cheque, and a receipt given by the Century.

Mr Calwell - There were four separate cheques, three of £1,000 each and one of £400.

Mr MORGAN - It was rather unfortunate for the parties concerned that those negotiations came to light. It is a remarkable feature of current party politics also that representatives of the Century newspaper are overseas at present negotiating with certain isolationist interests. It would be against the best interests of this country if such isolationist interests secured a footing in Australia. The advertising firm of J. Walter Thompson and Company already seems to have a "leg-in". It claims to have power to buy and sell governments. From what I have heard of its activities iri Europe before Hitler marched in there may be something in its claim; but I do not think that it is likely to succeed with its tactics in this country. I have heard that it is going to use its influence in every way possible to bring about my defeat at the next general elections, and will even go so far as to purchase local newspapers in my electorate. In effect, the " heat " is going to be turned on me in the coming campaign. It has been said that I should not use my privilege as a member of this House to defend myself against such attacks. Yet, while I am attending to my duties here, articles attacking me are being published, and organizers are going around the electorate attempting to undermine me. In order to show that this matter concerns not merely myself individually, but also the Labour movement as a whole, in the coming general election campaign, I quote the following from Smith's Weekly. of the 13th July last, from notes appearing under the heading "Political Form Guide":-

Lang's prospects are worthy of a little study because the appearance of Lang in Canberra would provide news, entertainment and trouble, and the trouble would be for Chifley.

The writer who, apparently, has inside information, adds -

I am informed that the Liberal candidate, J. F. Blaxland, will invite his supporters to give their preference to Lang and not Morgan.

Although Mr. Blaxland rushes into print to-day there has been no denial of the statement made by this apparently informed writer.

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