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Wednesday, 8 March 1961

Mr JAMES (Hunter) .- My reason for rising to-night is to refer to a visit by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), on 16th February, to an important part of my electorate. At the invitation of the Cessnock Rotary Club, he addressed that club in Cessnock. The attendance was splendid, 94 per cent, of the club's members being present. Following the address, the Leader of the Opposition was invited by the Mayor of Cessnock to visit him on the morning of the 17th. The Cessnock Rotary Club had arranged the honorable gentleman's itinerary, and I was present when he informed the Mayor that he did not know what arrangements the club had made for him, but that we would find time to visit the Mayor before lunch, sometime after 11 a.m.

I was with the Leader of the Opposition when he addressed the Rotary Club, and the following morning I accompanied him and members of Rotary to the vineyards about seven miles west of Cessnock. The honorable gentleman arrived back at the Cessnock Council chambers at approximately 12.15 p.m. The mayor was absent at the time and left an apology for his absence. Although the Mayor kept the Leader of the Opposition waiting, there was printed in the Maitland " Mercury ", of 17th February, one of the filthiest and most rotten pieces of untruthful journalism that I have ever read io my life. The heading of the article reads " Calwell Snubbed

Cessnock Mayor ". That is a filthy untruth. I use those words in this Parliament because I was present and I know the real facts of the visit of the Leader of the Opposition. This newspaper has only recently been taken over by Australian Consolidated Press Limited which sponsors this Government and has kept it in office at successive general elections by leading along the Commo horse which, I understand, is again in the stable at the back of the House ready to be run at the next federal election. The honorable members for Moreton (Mr. Killen), Lilley (Mr. Wight) and Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) have indicated that they intend to run the Commo horse again. If they do I will consider bringing in the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

I take this criticism of my leader very seriously. The article rn the Maitland " Mercury " reads -

Federal Opposition Leader Mr. Calwell today failed to keep a scheduled appointment to discuss Coalfields' employment.

Instead he discussed wine samples at Pokolbin vineyards.

Every member of this House knows that the Leader of the Opposition is a man of sober habits. He is more closely allied to teetotalism than is any other honorable member, and the accusation implied in this article is just as absurd as that which was made against the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) some time ago by a senior criminal lawyer in Sydney. Let me refer again to this filthy article. Before the " Mercury " was taken over by Australian Consolidated Press Limited it did have some principles, but it has none now. The matter has been taken up by Mr. Neilly, the member for the State electorate of Cessnock, with the Ethics Committee of the Australian Journalists Association. This article is repulsive to all decent people on the coal-fields. Many have defected from the Liberal Party of Australia as a result of its publication. It has left a stench in the nostrils of all decent-thinking people and has increased their hatred for the capitalist press. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that my remarks this evening will have some effect on the conscience of the person responsible for this filthy piece of journalism.

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