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Thursday, 13 October 1955

Mr KEON (Yarra) , - I do not intend to be dragged through the liquor commission by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam). The statement made by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) in relation to what I said about Mr. Piatt cai;...-, strangely enough, from a member of the party that issued the document from which I quoted. Every word I said about Mr. Barney Piatt's crookedness, about the garage and the cars-

Mr Whitlam - The honorable member said that he was a member of the federal executive.

Mr KEON - What a quibble ! In the course of the debate, I said " executive " instead of " conference ". As the federal conference is a higher body than the federal executive, Mr. Piatt is a person who has even more responsibility than he would have in the position I mentioned. That was only a natural mistake that I made during the course of the debate. Every word I quoted about all the funny business that went on with the union's funds, the garage, the union's cars and so on, and every word about fraud, forg ery and everything else that took place in this union came from a document issued by the executive of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party, which is the governing body of most honorable members sitting on this side of the House this evening. Almost every one of the members of the executive that issued that statement are still on that executive. They are the presidents, secretaries and members of the executives and the members of the honorable member for Herbert's own party. That being so, if there was any slandering of Mr. Piatt, if there was any smearing of Mr. Piatt, the slandering and smearing were done by the executive of his own party. The document which I quoted in relation to that gentleman was the pamphlet issued by the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party, so if he has any complaint to make about smearing or slandering, I suggest that he get the New South Wales members of his party who are represented on that executive to take the matter up with the executive.

Now let us consider Mr. Dougherty, the almighty Mr. Dougherty. Honorable members of the Australian Labour party have talked of smearing and slandering, but there is no .journal in Australia, apart from Communist publications, that contains more smears, slanders and lies against the opponents of Mr. Dougherty, both inside and outside the Evatt Labour party, than does the Australian Worker, which is under Mr. Dougherty's control. There are half a dozen honorable members sitting in this House who, the week before last, were denounced by Mr. Dougherty himself as traitors to Labour, and were charged with having entered a conspiracy against the Labour party. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart), the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Gordon Anderson) and Senator Armstrong were all featured in photographs, and in articles of the most despicable type, which attacked their persona] character, their political purity and their loyalty to the Labour party.

Sir ERIC HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What did they do about it?

Mr KEON - Nothing. Every time Mr. Dougherty opens a door they shiver in their shoes. Everybody knows that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) was in a state of complete collapse during the weeks prior to the holding of the meeting in the Queensland Trades Hall, which was to be addressed by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and Mr. Dougherty. 1 know of the representations that the honorable member for Herbert made to the leader of his party in which he told him that if he went to Queensland and spoke on the same platform as the honorable member for East Sydney and Mr. Dougherty, there would be trouble. In order to pacify the honorable member, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) decided not to go to Queensland. What did Mr. Dougherty, this pillar of loyalty to Labour principles, do when he got to Queensland? He held a public meeting in the Brisbane Trades Hall, and the majority of his audience was whipped up by Gerry Dawson and other Communists. The object of the meeting was to denounce a Labour government, of which he was a pledged supporter, the Premier of New South Wales and the Premier and Treasurer of Queensland, who disagreed with Mr, Dougherty's viewpoint. I suggest to the honorable member for Herbert that if he is as interested in the unity of Labour as he tries to make out. lie should be addressing his remarks not to the honorable members of this House, but to Mr. Dougherty who, by virtue of his alliance with the Leader of the Opposition, has wrecked the Labour party throughout Australia, and is determined to keep it wrecked until he gets his own way. He does not care what happens to the workers or to the unity of Labour, upon which the fate of the workers of Australia largely depends. All' that Mr. Dougherty wants out of the mad campaign on which he has embarked, and out of the smears and slanders in his journal, is to get his own way. If he cannot get his own way he will tear the house down, and the honorable member for Herbert and those who sit with him in this House know that that is the truth. When they suggest, in the face of what has happened in New South Wales and Queensland, that Mr. Dougherty is a pillar of Labour probity and an exemplar of Labour solidarity, the whole matter becomes farcical.

Now, let me deal with Mr. Piatt. Not only have we a New South Wales official statement about this gentleman, but in Mr. Dougherty's publication, which is issued every week, we find attacks on the members of the Labour party, the very people that the honorable member for Herbert pretends to be loyal to. What did the members of the Australian Labour party in this House do about the page spreads and photographs of their colleagues which appeared in Mr. Dougherty's journal? Did they say to Mr. Dougherty, " This is no good to the party? " Did they protest about those attacks and about the personal abuse of their colleagues ? Of course they did not. If they had any real concern for the welfare of the Labour party and for the welfare of the great Australian Workers Union, which is being dragged to destruction by the madman in charge of it, they would be out telling Mr. Dougherty all about it, and not telling the honorable members of this House.

The sincerity of the honorable member for Herbert will be judged by whether he has the intestinal fortitude to tell Mr. Dougherty that he is to stop attacking his colleagues and trying to tear the Labour party in New South Wales apart in his own interests. The best way to describe such people who will not stand up for their colleagues is to say that they have the backbone of an intestinal tapeworm when it comes to dealing with Mr. Dougherty. When anybody suggests to me that we are smearing this gentleman, when anybody accuses us of smearing Mr. Dougherty and Mr. Piatt, all I can do is to refer him to the publications of the Labour party that I have already mentioned. No matter what anybody said about Mr. Dougherty, it could in no way equal the vicious lies that he has told about honorable members of this Parliament, and the vicious slanders that he has published about the members of my party and the members of the Labour party. There is only one person who could match him as a smearer and slanderer, and that is the Leader of the Opposition.

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

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