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Tuesday, 14 May 1957

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- It is rather flattering for the Australian Country party to have attributed to it this great power over the Government that has been referred to by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). Only recently members of the Labour party were saying that the Australian Country party counted for nothing and that the Liberal party, with its great numbers and its major representation in the Cabinet, just swept the Australian Country party to one side on any contentious matter. However, when it suits Labour, the Australian Country party is given great kudos as being a great power in the Government and able to override the Liberal party. The whole suggestion is ridiculous. The two parties work together in a way that is not understood by the Labour party. As Labour cannot understand the working of the two parties, it looks for ulterior motives when certain legislation is before the House. It must be rather disconcerting to those few thinking members of the Labour party to find the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Grayndler referring all the time to exemptions. Every one should know that every youth who reaches a certain age - just before eighteen years - has to register and that when he registers he is never exempted; he is only deferred. If necessary, all those men, no matter where they live, can be called up as trainees.

The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said that boys working in the cities and towns should not be called up while country lads had the chance of exemption. But it is not altogether a matter of distance. Foodstuffs are vital. Every one knows, of course, that when the farmer is doing his job, the rest of the country is all right. As has been pointed out by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), it is very necessary that the farm worker should pursue his occupation of producing food so that if war does come this country will have sufficient supplies to meet its needs. Another point that will not please Opposition members who represent vast metropolitan areas is that a boy working in the country in the wide open spaces and attending to machines such as tractors is much easier to train for military purposes than a city-bred boy. He is harder. He is used to the weather and to an outside life. He is not used to the 40-hour week. He is used to working as a soldier would have to work when fighting an enemy.

If one sums up this measure one must agree that, under the circumstances, the Government has done the best that could possibly be done. The system of ballots is not new. The Labour party must be completely isolated from world affairs if it thinks so. Large nations of the free world have used this system for years and it has been working admirably. The honorable member for East Sydney has a peculiar way of changing his ideas to suit a debate. Now he is asking for something akin to court-controlled ballots, whereas, on all previous occasions in this House, he has been opposed to such ballots. I cannot understand it. He is like a man on a flying trapeze. He somersaults and changes his attitude with every debate that takes place. We know that the honorable member's opinions should not be taken very seriously, because he is opposed to court-controlled ballots. The honorable member for Grayndler is afraid that the ballot may be like the old bar-room game of Crow that he knows so well, and that the correct names may not go into the hat. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) could not have been more fair. He has said that he would invite a responsible member of the Australian Labour party - if he could get one - to attend each ballot. He has publicly invited the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) to make the draw in the first ballot. When all these things are summed up, it appears that Labour members have shown up poorly in this debate. They should consider matters more carefully before they debate them in this chamber. If they cannot do that, they should let men who know the facts and can understand this bill, and who know something of military training, and especially of national service training, debate this measure.

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