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Thursday, 2 June 1949

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON (Barker) . - The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) has just concluded one of the lamest defences of a colleague that I have ever heard from a Minister in this House. He said that the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) did not make allegations against the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann), but had merely quoted 3ome information which he had received Heaven knows how. If that is to be accepted as a defence there is nothing to stop me from saying that I received an anonymous letter in which it is stated that a Minister of the Crown committed a burglary. Afterwards, I could deny that I had made any charge against the Minister, and was merely repeating what some one had written. Such behaviour could not be defended. If the Minister for Information has the information upon which he based his statement last night he should be prepared to submit it to the investigation of a select committee of the House, which would be empowered toexamine witnesses on oath and to call for papers. I was surprised when the Minister for Information attacked the honorable member as he did, because I did not expect him to go to the limit. I know that he has a strong antipathy to certain persons, but I had not previously suspected that the honorable member for Maranoa was one of them. I am sure that an overwhelming majority of the members of this House agree that the honorable member for Maranoa is one of the most gentlemanly and best conducted members here. Why, he has never even been named yet! I believe that the Minister for Information will, upon reflection, realize that if he used a document last night, the authenticity of which he cannot guarantee, for the purpose of maligning the honorable member for Maranoa, the proper thing for him to do is admit as much. Further, it is the duty of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to protect the honour of the Government, and one of his Ministers is silent to-day because of action that the Prime Minister took with that end in view. Since so grave an allegation has been made against the honorable member for Maranoa, who is a public figure, the responsibility rests upon the Prime Minister to ensure that his case is properly investigated. Matters cannot be left where they are. If it comes to a matter of getting down on to certain transactions of the Ministry, then I ask the Ministry what was Mr. J ustice Ligertwood doing in Sydnry lately but inquiring into certain allegations made by a former member of this House who, as I said on the day after he was sworn in, was of such a character that he should be expelled from the Parliament for treason and blasphemy. As the result of that man's allegations, Mr. Justice Ligertwood has sat for over 50 days to decide whether any imputation should rest upon a Minister of this Government. The Government had sound grounds for instituting an inquiry into those allegations. I was one of those who spoke in this chamber a long time ago, I believe, in opposition to my own party-

Mr Fuller - That is nothing new.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - Perhaps not; but it would be something new for honorable members opposite to do so, except the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Fraser), who seems to enjoy some sort of poetic licence to oppose the Labour party outside so long as he votes for it inside 'this chamber. Some years ago I took the stand in this House that the Prime Minister should take that course in order to have matters of this kind cleared up. What was my reason? I am not concerned about the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) ; I do not worry about him. He is not in my close circle of friends. But every one of us has an obligation to see that the public reputation of this chamber and of the Government is maintained at the highest possible standard and that no imputation against the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) should be made by members, or Ministers, without having it cleared up. If the statement made about the honorable member for Maranoa is founded on fact, he would be the first to admit that he was not entitled to remain a member of this House. But the statement is not founded on fact. I do not believe that there is an atom of truth in it ; nor, I think, does the Minister believe that there is. In this matter, I say emphatically that an apology is called for from the Minister.

I now wish to discuss a matter about which T received a. letter yesterday from the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford), the windy Minister. For some time I have been attempting to negotiate for the establishment of an aerodrome at Naracoorte in my electorate. Everything seemed to be going perfectly and beautifully. Engineers visited the locality. A survey was made, although it was not exactly a theodolite survey. At any rate a reconnaissance in force was made by some of the heads of the Department of Civil Aviation. In addition, I received very encouraging letters on the subject. However, yesterday I received a letter from the Minister which was so long and windy that he would be able easily to fly a fortress in it. This is the gem of the letter -

Ft is regretted that this means a revision of my advice to you on the 11th September, 1947, but the circumstances now are such that, with the many immediate needs for development of aerodromes regularly used by airline services, it is not possible for my department to undertake the development of an aerodrome at Naracoorte at the present time.

I say, emphatically, that it is about time that the Ministry ceased leading people in various districts up the garden path and then dropping them. Naracoorte is in the centre of a growing district. It is situated on an air route, and should be catered for by the establishment of an aerodrome. I leave the matter there. I believe that the Minister, upon reflection, may have occasion to consider the subject further.

The next matter with which I wish te deal relates to soldier settlement. Here, again, we come up against the difficulty that service personnel who enlisted in the forces at an early stage and were honorably discharged because of wounds, injuries or other causes, are told to-day that because they were out of the forces at a certain date they are not eligible for any benefits under the Commonwealth soldier settlement scheme. That is a rank injustice which upon reflection the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) should decide shall not continue. I am sure thai other honorable members have made certain .representations on this matter. It should be investigated thoroughly. ] shall despatch a letter to the Minister giving details of certain cases which were raised by a member of the Parliament of South Australia, who, in the course of his remarks, used this very good Biblical illustration -

Why, even the workers in the vineyard in the Biblical parable at least all got the same reward, those who toiled all day getting like payment with those who came only at the eleventh hour.

In this instance, those who came early in the morning are not to receive anything at all.

Mr Dedman - They did not work all day.

Mr ARCHIE CAMERON - No ; but. according to the Biblical story, those who did not work all day received the full reward. When those who had worked all day complained, the householder said to one of them, "Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst not thou agree with me for a penny ". That should be the attitude of the Minister in this matter.

I am told that because of the shortage of electricity in Sydney, where there were 21 blackouts yesterday - I believe the practice is spreading to Melbourne - when private invitations are sent out to friends to attend social functions, the letters "BYOC" are shown on the invitations in addition to the letters "RSVP". The latter letters are an abbreviation of a French phrase the meaning of which is generally known. Upon inquiry I found that the letters "BYOC" stood for the phrase "Bring your own candle ". That is because people in Sydney never know at what time the suburb in which they attend a function may be blacked out. Persons who are prepared to take part in any conviviality after dark must provide their own illumination.

The last matter to which I shall refer relates to a press report regarding Noah's Ark. It is reported in the cable news from overseas that some Russian fellow some years ago on the slopes of Mount Ararat, a high prominence situated on tie border of present-day Russia and present-day Turkey, discovered what he believed to be the remains of Noah's Ark. Wo should take a deep interest in this matter just as other people are doing. Expeditions of archeologists and scientists have been fitted out in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, and a similar expedition is being fitted out in the Netherlands to go to Mount Ararat to see if there is anything to justify the claim made by that Russian. The Turkish Government,' is whose territory Mount Ararat is, has refused permission to those expeditions to visit Mount Ararat because of representations which havebeen made to it by the Soviet Government. The latter government suspects that those expeditions may include people who may take views inimical to the interests of Soviet Russia, and, therefore, it does not want Dutch, British and Americans at Mount Ararat at all. A matter of this kind should receive the closest attention of the Australian Government. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is at present overseas. Recently he presided at a meeting at Lake Success, the occupants of which, compared with those of Noah's

Ark, are a great improvement in variety and miscellany. Before the Minister returns he should be sent to Mount Ararat to investigate this discovery, because no one can say that in any circumstances he could be looked upon as being even remotely harmful to the interests of the Soviet Union, whilst, as President of the United Nations General Assembly, there is no doubt that he needs to have the backing of all the information he can get from the remains of Noah's Ark in order to keep that useless hulk afloat.

Motion (by Mr. Fuller) put -

That the debate be now adjourned.

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