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Thursday, 20 April 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) (Treasurer) - My colleague, the Minister for Trade, has already replied, at least in part, to the question raised by the honorable member for Warringah. I am quite certain that members of this Parliament, wherever they sit in this place, will resent tactics of the kind to which attention has been directed, and will deplore the fact that they have been indulged in by a body which has previously enjoyed a reputation for responsibility in public affairs.

Mr Ward - You resent the advertisement only because it is directed against your Government.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I would not expect the honorable member for East Sydney to have any feeling for Parliament as an institution, or to resent the employment of tactics designed to weaken the function of Parliament as an institution. Dealing with the points raised by the honorable member for Warringah, the Minister for Trade has said that it is open to any citizen in a democracy to make his opposition to government policies publicly known. The tactics to be employed in that process become a question of judgment, good sense and good taste. I am sure that it is the common judgment of all thoughtful members of this Parliament that the Victorian chamber has exceeded those bounds in this instance.

I agree with the honorable gentleman's contention that attempts in ways which go beyond the bounds of good taste and good judgment to exert pressure on governments to alter policies not only defeat their own purpose but, as in this case, add to the difficulties which members of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures claim to be experiencing at present.

I would like to say a good deal more on this matter, and indeed I intend to do so when an opportunity is provided later in the morning on the Grievance Day discussion, but I think in fairness to Mr. Gordon More, the president of the Victorian chamber - a man whom I believe to be wellmeaning and conscientious in his service to his members but who, in my judgment at any rate, is inexperienced in the handling of matters of this kind - I should say that he has sent a telegram to all Government members, the text of which was notified to me this morning by the Associated Chamber of Manufactures of Australia. The telegram is in these terms -

Victorian chamber disassociates itself entirely from outlays of proposed newspaper advertisements circulating in Parliament. Victorian chamber has no intention of using these in future advertising campaign. Report in Sydney Morning Herald of Victorian chamber's use of radio and TV media completely inaccurate. No commitment for future advertisements either by press radio or TV have been entered into.

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