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Thursday, 13 October 1955

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member for Herbert must be given a chance to make his speech.

Mr EDMONDS - I assure you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the interjections are not worrying me. Both honorable members implied that Mr. Piatt and Mr. Dougherty were fighting to retain the positions that they now occupy.

Mr Keon - Hear, hear ! It was the New South Wales executive that said that.

Mr EDMONDS - Apparently the members of the corner group think that they have the sole right to be antiCommunist in this community, and that anybody who does not support their thoughts is a Communist. Do they accuse Mr. Tom Dougherty of having any association with communism ? If they do, they do not know what they are speaking about, or they are misstating the facts, because there is no one in the trade union movement to-day who has resisted and fought communism more valiantly than Mr. Dougherty has done. So Mr. Dougherty is fighting to continue to keep his position ! He is not a fit and proper person to be a member of the Australian Labour movement, because, for some reason,, he has found himself in opposition to the industrial groups and the things that they espouse and support ! I, too, was once a supporter of the industrial groups, as was Mr. Dougherty and many other trade union officials in this country. We all changed our ideas for the same reason - because we found that the industrial groups were not correcting the things that we thought they would correct, and which they still claim to be correcting.

Nobody in. this House can justifiably attack Mr. Dougherty as having any association with communism. If the honorable member for Yarra, the honorable member for Fawkner, or anybody else is prepared to smear a man's character merely because he is in opposition to them on any particular set of conditions, it is time that they got out of this House once and for all. I have the authority of Mr. Dougherty - I was in touch with him.

Mr Keon - Ah !

Mr EDMONDS - He is my friend and my mate, and if I am not entitled to get in touch with him about these terrible smears that were thrown around the chamber, then no other honorable member is entitled to do so. I have Mr. Dougherty's authority to inform both of those honorable members - particularly the honorable member for Fawkner - through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that he challenges them to repeat anywhere in this country, outside of this chamber, the statements that they made yesterday. If the honorable member for Fawkner is sincere and knows that he is speaking the truth, he will have nothing to fear by repeating outside the smearing accusations against Mr. Dougherty, that he made yesterday. That is the challenge that Mr. Dougherty makes. Mr. Dougherty is as good and as decent a citizen as any other man in this community. He has worked hard all his life and has worked his way up through the Australian Workers Union. It is a strange thing that the Australian Workers Union which, for years, has been a bulwark against communism, should be thought to have some association with communism merely because honorable members of the Anti- Communist Labour party say so.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member's time has expired.

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