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Thursday, 20 April 1961

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) .- Mr. Speaker,no one is astonished at the fact that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has spent some time to-night on the issue of unemployment. The fact of the matter is that he is not concerned about unemployment as such.

Mr McEwen - Is he not interested in Cuba?

Mr KILLEN - He is the pretending Leader of the Opposition, and no doubt he will direct our attention to Cuba next week. He is the Australian representative of Fidel Castro. The honorable member is not concerned about unemployment as an issue. What he is concerned with is to use any degree of unemployment there may be as a political issue. The great hope of the Australian Labour Party is that there will be more unemployment. Indeed, its political prayer is, " Give us more unemployment ". That has been its cry throughout the years. Not one honorable member opposite has been persuaded - indeed, I do not think we could kid them with carrots - to rise and explain away the attitude of Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. In this country a great number of people move at one time of the year or another from one industry to another. Many thousands of Australians, for better or for worse, depend upon seasonal employment. The impact of that is to be seen in the eloquently expressed sentiments of my friend, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who thought that a tolerable level of unemployment would be within cooee of 5 per cent. What have honorable gentlemen opposite to say about this? There has been not one peep from them.

The final point to be taken into consideration is that over the last ten years the work force of this country has increased tremendously. That fact, related to the virtually continuing state of full employment, is a remarkable tribute to the sense, understanding and administrative capacity of the Government. Unemployment is the Opposition's political hope. Its cry about unemployment is its political prayer.

I rose really to say something about what is rapidly becoming one of the lasting institutions of this place - the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). May I say of the honorable gentleman, without being impertinent, that he is a person for whom I have a great deal of affection. I am not interested in whether it is on a reciprocal basis. But then, my passions are not spread on the basis of reciprocity. Again I say without impertinence he is a kindly, understanding and human person, but this morning he simply staggered me when he sought the opportunity to make some mean, mischievous political capital out of something that I was alleged to have said. What the honorable gentleman tried to convey to the House and to the country was that irrespective of all considerations, I was prepared1 to commit this country and the whole of civilization to war. That is complete nonsense. But the House does well to bear in mind that there has been unleashed what is called a peace programme. One would judge from the devotees of the peace programme that the only ones who are interested in peace are those who are left of the left of politics.

Mr. Speaker,there is a very wicked and pernicious doctrine being peddled by the most malevolent of minds to the effect that if free people are threatened with the extinction of their liberties, they should prefer the loss in preference to defending them. This morning, the Leader of the Opposition tried to persuade the House to believe that anything was preferable to defending this country. He referred to what I had said some weeks ago concerning Laos. I am not in bad company, because a former president of the General Assembly of the United Nations and a distinguished New Zealand'er, Sir Leslie Munro, had this to say about Laos -

Communist infiltration into Laos held the same sinister significance for New Zealand and Australia as Hitler's seizure of Prague held for Britain in 1939. . . . Sooner or later, we of the democracies will have to take a stand in South-East Asia.

I suppose it is open to legitimate argument whereabouts geographically you are prepared to take your stand. 1 said where I was prepared to take my stand. I said if another free country were to disappear behind the iron curtain, I believed that the democracies and those countries which have an ambition to remain free must declare themselves. Surely I am not to understand that the view of the Opposition has been expressed by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who at a peace conference in Rockhampton a fortnight ago said: "Let us come down to brass tacks. This country can no longer afford, defence." Surely if some pirate hove to off Sydney Heads and said to the government of the day, " I am going to take over ", the Leader of the Opposition, if he were in control, would not say to the pirate: " We are grateful to you for having advised us in advance that you are going to take over. We are not going to have a squabble about this. We want peace at any price."

The political advantage that the honorable gentleman sought to take this morning surprised me. I am disappointed and I regret that he has been driven to these shameful and shabby tactics. If the price of personal political security is that I must say that under no circumstances would I seek to defend the ideals of liberty and that I would allow this country to pass into serfdom, I say to the House and to the Leader of the Opposition bluntly that I have no ambition for that security. None of us wants to see the world plunged into the horror of armed conflict. But surely we have not allowed our sense of fitness to deteriorate to the stage where we no longer feel capable of saying to those who pretend to control this nation that we are not going to surrender without a struggle.

If that is not the case, I say that not only have we lost all guts, but we have lost all moral fibre and we are prepared to trample into the dust a spiritual and material heritage that has been won and protected at great cost.

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