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Wednesday, 22 March 1961

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- I rise because the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Chresby) was good enough to invite the attention of myself and the nation to the remarks he was about to make. Apparently, his remarks stem from speeches which were made earlier to-day concerning the conduct of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in connexion with various matters during the recent meeting of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers and in the various post mortems thereafter. He traversed certain events in respect of which he said that the Chief Justice of New South Wales, while a Justice of the High Court and later Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, had advocated certain policies which would, as I understand the honorable gentleman, have put Australia in the position that South Africa is now in - outside the Commonwealth of Nations.

He made several references to the Statute of Westminster. I know the honorable gentleman's great interest in legal matters, but I must say with all respect to him that I think his understanding of that statute is astray because sections 8 and 9 make it quite plain that there can be no change in the method required to be used to alter the

Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia or of our six States.

Mr Chresby - I would be happy to debate that with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

Mr WHITLAM - I will see whether I can find the time to do so. Mr. Speaker, the method of altering the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia and of the six States is not affected by the adoption by this country of the Statute of Westminster.

Mr Killen - Is it not a fact that the United Kingdom Government at one time altered the Australian Constitution with respect to a Geneva convention?

Mr WHITLAM - To which Geneva convention are you referring?

Mr Killen - The convention dealing with the amelioration of the sick and wounded of armies in the field.

Mr WHITLAM - Are you referring to the four Geneva conventions that we ourselves adopted by our own statute two years ago?

Mr Killen - No.

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