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Wednesday, 12 April 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins) (Treasurer) (12:15 PM) . - The House has witnessed a fantastic exhibition to-night from the Opposition. Its members have ranted and shouted, wobbled and weaved ducked and wriggled. They have done everything except face up to the issue which was brought before the House by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) and supported by other speakers from this side of the House. The issue is simple enough, surely. The leader of a party which seeks the right to govern this country should face that issue and state just where his party stands in relation to unity tickets in trade union elections.

Do honorable members opposite deny that unity tickets exist? I do not imagine for a moment that they deny their existence. Do they approve of their existence? The honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) - and I give him credit for this - was the only one of all those who have spoken from the Opposition benches to declare quite frankly that he was opposed to unity tickets.

Mr Duthie - The party is opposed to them.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The Opposition Whip says that his party is opposed to them. I am glad to have that statement in the authoritative voice of the Whip. We did not get such a statement from the leader of the party, nor did we get it from one of the members of the executive in the person of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). He put us into orbit and took us for a run around the world in a sputnik - anything to get away from this issue.

The really important matter for this House to study, Sir, is not just the unity ticket, which itself is merely a symptom, but whether there exists collaboration with the Communists by the Australian Labour Party or any significant sections of it. The unity ticket issue is important in itself, of course, but it is more important because of what it stands for. It is a symbol. The essence of the situation is that in the eyes of many people inside the Labour movement, and in the eyes of Labour men who were formerly members of the Labour party but who no longer belong to it, the unity ticket is an expression of a collabora tion which is either now accepted or condoned by those who remain members of the party. It was the reason for the retreat or expulsion from the party of these former members.

Where, Sir, are the seven Victorian members who used to sit in this place and who were expelled from the Australian Labour Party? Why were they expelled? They were expelled because they believed they were being taken by the leadership of the Australian Labour Party into a closer association with communism than they could tolerate. Where is the former honorable member for Adelaide? Where is the former honorable member for Kalgoorlie? Why are they no longer in this place? They are no longer here because they could not tolerate the degree of association with the Communists that they found in their ranks.

The real issue which honorable gentlemen opposite must face and which, indeed, the Australian public will demand that they face before they go to the polls, if they intend to present themselves as an alternative government, is where they stand on this matter of collaboration with communism. We have heard many denials from honorable gentlemen opposite. They are the remnants of what was once a larger party which included men who have been expelled or who have retired from the movement. Why is there such a section of the Labour movement in Australia to-day as the Australian Democratic Labour Party? The existence of that party indicates recognition by former Labour men that they could no longer associate with the Australian Labour Party because of its attitude to communism.

Let us have a look at the composition of the Australian Labour Party to-day, not merely at honorable gentlemen who are sitting opposite. I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) is either a Communist or a Communist sympathizer. I do not think that the honorable member for Lalor is a Communist. I recognize them for what they profess to be - dedicated socialists. They make no bones- about the fact that they believe in the socialist programme and in the socialist philosophy. I hope that the Australian people realize that if ever they come to office, it will be a socialist programme and a socialist philosophy that will go with them, and that they will have alongside them as collaborators and allies the Communist forces in this country. I can produce evidence enough to convince most thoughtful people that the federal president of the Australian Labour Party has gone on record as saying - and he has never denied the fact - that he gives his voting preference to the Communists over members of the Liberal Party and members of the Democratic Labour Party. He said that in 1960 at the Australian Labour Party conference in Victoria and he has never denied it. The strong man of the A.L.P. - the present federal secretary - has indicated where he stands in relation to Communist China. He wants to see the people of Formosa thrown away as expendable in order that the interests of Communist China can be advanced.

Mr Calwell - Mr. Speaker, I ask that that remark be withdrawn because it is unparliamentary and untrue. Mr. Chamberlain never said that the people of Formosa were expendable. It is a contemptible lie, whoever said it.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! First, I must ask the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw the words that he has just used.

Mr Calwell - I withdraw them. The words that I want the Treasurer to withdraw are that the federal secretary of the A.L.P. has stated that the people of Formosa are expendable to the Communists.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! That will be entirely in the hands of the Treasurer.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I do not think the term is unparliamentary, but if it offends the sensitivities of the Leader of the Opposition

Mr Calwell - It is not true.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - My time is limited, as the Leader of the Opposition knows, but let me say this: I refer the honorable gentleman to the report I quoted from Homer Bigart, a man who has been awarded the Pulitzer prize for accuracy in journalism, of an interview he had-

Mr Calwell - I rise to order again. Mr. Chamberlain has categorically denied that he made that statement and Mr. Bigart said, " Well, if he denied it, I leave it at that ". Mr. Bigart did not repeat it. I ask that the statement be withdrawn.

Mr SPEAKER - The point of order is not upheld.

Mr Calwell - Then I leave it to the Treasurer's sense of decency and ask him to do the right thing.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I have quoted Mr. Bigart. Mr. Chamberlain can make his own explanation.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He made a complete denial, and you know it. Why do you not have the decency to do the right thing?

Mr Calwell - The Treasurer will not withdraw, so I move -

That the honorable member for Higgins (Mr. Harold Holt) be not further heard.

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