Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 13 April 1961

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - The Opposition opposes this amendment for three reasons. First, the statements contained in it are not factual. Secondly, according to the evidence available, the amendment was drafted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies)' himself and was handed to his supporters to move. Thirdly, no honorable member on the Government side thought of moving an amendment until after the Opposition had introduced its own. The amendment has been dragged in at the end of the debate to try to obtain from this Parliament a vote of confidence in the Prime Minister. Although our amendment was defeated, we are still of the same opinion that the Australian people - the great majority of them, at any rate - have no confidence in the Prime Minister as Minister for External Affairs. They think that the policy which he pursued after the Prime Ministers' Conference did do harm to Australia's relations with other member States and did do harm to Australia's relations with other countries, particularly the countries of South-East Asia. Believing that, we could not in honesty vote for a resolution of confidence in the Prime. Minister.

If honorable members opposite had a free vote on this issue, they would vote with us. I challenge the Prime Minister to have a secret ballot on this question. Let us have a court-controlled ballot, if you like, and then see how many votes the Prime Minister gets. Of course, all the loudmouthed stooges on the back benches would vote for him, and a few more who hope to get into the Ministry would attach their visiting cards to their votes so that the Prime Minister would know on whom to call when he wanted another Minister for the Interior or something of the kind.

Mr Cleaver - You are going downhill.

Mr CALWELL - And you are going out of the Parliament altogether. In fact, you are very lucky to be in the Parliament at all - you know what I mean by that. If justice had been done you would not be here.

This amendment is not properly before honorable members. The amendment has not been circulated in the way of a parliamentary paper and every honorable member would have to get a copy of " Hansard " to find the terms of it. We are voting in the dark. In those circumstances, and for the very good reason that we have no confidence in the Prime Minister's administration of his portfolio, no confidence in his Government, and no confidence in his supporters we shall vote against this amendment.

Mr Menzies - Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a personal explanation. I do not propose to vote on the amendment. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has made two statements each of which is utterly untrue - I hope not deliberately untrue. The first statement that he made was that I had drafted this amendment. I had nothing to do with the drafting of the amendment, and if the honorable member has some of his old decency left he will acknowledge that and withdraw the suggestion. In the second place,, he called for a free vote and suggested that there was not a free vote on this issue. I have made it clear from beginning to end that there is no compulsion in respect of this vote. I want a genuine expression of the feeling of this Parliament, and I say here and now that I hope no one will vote for any motion or amendment on this issue unless he genuinely subscribes to it.

Suggest corrections