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Thursday, 9 May 1957

Mr BIRD (Batman) .- After listening to the melancholy dirge of the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), it is quite apparent that the Government is facing a most perplexing situation. There undoubtedly has been a palace revolt in the Government ranks, because up to the moment, every honorable member opposite who has spoken, with the exception of the Minister who introduced the bill, has been most critical of many of its phases. If there is such great dissatisfaction with the propositions contained in the measure, I am surprised that the discontented members have not moved an amendment for the purpose of referring the bill back for reconsideration, and also for the purpose of investigating this matter of civil defence. However, apparently honorable members opposite are so firmly under the thumb of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Cabinet that they are content to confine their protests to a splurge of verbal opposition, and to let it go at that. One honorable member after another on the Government side, both in the debate on defence and the current debate, has risen in his place and castigated the Government for many facets of its defence preparations, lt is quite apparent that on this subject the Government does not speak with a united voice. Government supporters on many occasions have hurled across the chamber allegations of disunity in the Labour ranks, but I cannot remember an occasion when there has been so much divergence of opinion on one side or the other since I have been a member of the Parliament. As a matter of fact, this bill is a classical example of the disunity on the Government benches. It is hypocritical for Government supporters to say to us, to-night or any other night, that we are a divided party, because this bill shows beyond doubt that there is a welter of disunity amongst Government supporters as to the proper approach to national service training.

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