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Wednesday, 12 April 1961

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) (12:53 PM) .I wish to direct attention to an incident that occurred in the House during the course of a division, but before so doing I want to make a few fleeting references to the break of silence by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) on this issue of unity tickets. There is nothing new about unity tickets. This issue has been canvassed in the House on frequent occasions. I think to-night marks the third occasion when this matter has been referred to in the House at a time when the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party has been held in Canberra. Three years ago when the issue was raised the then Leader of the Opposition with a fervent bleat said that he did not know anything about it. On that occasion my friend the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) suggested that the Leader of the Opposition may know something more about playing a piano. What did the Leader of the Opposition say on that occasion? With a great touch of drama he said that the Labour Party had passed a resolution and would ban unity tickets. He said that anybody who broke the ban would be for it What happened twelve months later when evidence was produced to show that members of the Labour Party had appeared on unity tickets? The Leader of the Opposition said that the Labour Party would take further action. My friend the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) in his own inimitable language said of the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that he skates along a barbed wire fence with a leg on either side. I can think of no imagery that could better capture the position of the Leader of the Opposition.

This evening the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was not prepared to deal in any explicit fashion with unity tickets. The fact of the matter is that if the Australian Labour Party refuses to do something about unity tickets the Australian Workers Union will break its historic link with the party. Honorable members opposite should read " The Worker ". What appears in that publication would open their eyes. The consequences of unity tickets are to be felt in the industrial sphere. They are to be felt in the national sphere. This has been demonstrated in a number of countries.

I come now to the incident that I referred to earlier. I view this matter in a most serious light as I believe that it represents a challenge to our parliamentary institution. During the course of a division this evening, when Government supporters crossed the floor of the House to sit on the Opposition benches, some persons alleged to be representatives at the federal conference of the Australian Labour Party and sitting in the gallery on the Opposition side of the House, set out to intimidate Government supporters. I will press the House for an inquiry into the veracity of the charges that I make because they are of fundamental consequence. I do not propose to quote all the language that was used by those persons, even though I am acquainted with bullock drivers. One of those persons said to one Government supporter: " If you caste your pearls before swine you know what happens ". That was said to a Government supporter by a stranger in the House. Another person said to another Government supporter, " You are like a- "; and then used a three-letter word. Another of those persons threatened to flatten a Government supporter's nose. Another person described a Government supporter as a so-and-so liar. This is a serious matter. Parliament has abrogated its responsibilities when strangers are permitted to come into this House and speak in that fashion to honorable members who are voting in a division. I invite you, Mr. Speaker, bearing in mind the seriousness of the charges that I have made this evening, to call promptly for a full and unfettered investigation into this matter.

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