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Thursday, 2 December 1965

Mr JESS (La Trobe) .- I remember seeing once upon a time a film called " The Mouse that Roared ". It now comes to my mind. It is very interesting to hear a speech from a member of the Opposition who, not many weeks ago, made a pronouncement in this chamber on certain things that he considered were inadequate in respect of Vietnam and said that he had the right to bring them to the notice of the people and that it was his duly to do so. And so he went on. However, tonight he refers to the reply that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) gave to a question this morning. The Prime Minister's reply was to the effect that he considered that the Australian Government, which is the Government of this country and not the Communist Party or the people who associate with Communists, had the right to give to schools a fair and true account of the Vietnam situation as the Australian Government sees that situation and on which it has made its decisions. The honorable member stands up and says that that is a wrong use of the taxpayers' money.

Let me assure him that' the reason why [ asked the Prime Minister the question was that I was telephoned by the parents of certain children and asked whether the Government was doing anything to protect the minds of young children against views which those parents considered were not the views of the Government or the correct views in respect of the Vietnam situation.

Mr Reynolds - I will bet that Hitler said this sort of thing.

Mr JESS - Perhaps he did. I have no idea. What is the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) protecting? I do not wish to discuss the merits or demerits of the booklet concerned. I know, the honorable member knows, and you know, Mr. Speaker, that it is advertised in all the Communist newspapers as one of the best booklets on Vietnam. I do not say that that necessarily makes it wrong. We also know that certain members of the Labour Party are appearing at certain functions. They hire music halls and town halls. They appear with people who are putting forward the Communist view which, in this case, appears to be similar to the views of sections of the Labour Party.

Now the honorable member for Barton stands up and says that not only the Labour Party's view but also the Communist Party's view and everybody else's view should be put into schools or put to young children. I am not objecting to the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) doing this, if he is doing it at his own expense. But I would like some proof that other people are not bearing some of the expense. I do not know whether they are. Let these views be put into schools. All that I asked was whether the official viewpoint of the Government of Australia, on which the relevant decisions are made, is put into schools. The headmasters and masters may make the decision on how the material is used.

The honorable member for Barton says that that is a misuse of government money. In my opinion, if the Government did not ensure that some counteraction was taken to the play that is being made in Australia for the minds of young people by people who, in my view, are not acting in the interests of Australia and unfortunately are being supported by some very weak-kneed people who have not the courage to stand up and oppose them, it would be failing vi its duty.

I am not endeavouring to prevent the honorable member for Yarra and those who support him putting pamphlets into the schools, but I do say that the Government of Australia has a responsibility to see that its view is made known. While we remain the government we have this responsibility and when the Opposition becomes the government - if it ever does - it also will have that responsibility, and I hope lt will take the action that I have suggested should be taken on this occasion.

In the Western Australian newspapers, which I just happened to look at in the Library, I noticed that a member of the Labour Party - a man whom, on the case printed in the newspapers, I respect - had received or had read a pamphlet which had been prepared by the Labour Party, apparently in Western Australia, about Vietnam. I presume that he considered this pamphlet to be subversive so he sent it to the Army Commandant in Western Australia, Brigadier Hunt. I understand that leading dignitaries of the Labour Party in Western Australia, including Mr. Chamberlain, are now calling him before the Executive because he has broken his vow or pledge or whatever secret undertaking has to be given by members of the Labour Party. In all honesty and as a good Australian, this gentleman has taken the view that the article is subversive and he has taken it upon himself to place the pamphlet before the people who are responsible for the defence and security of the Australian people, including of course honorable members on this side of the House, honorable members on the other side of the House and all the children in the schools. But is the Labour Party supporting him? No, it will take action against him.

Free speech has been mentioned. I remind the House that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was asked to appear on a television programme in Victoria. I know that in Victoria his name does not rate too highly with his confreres. I regret this because I think he is a man with a future if only he will stand up occasionally and apply his ability. But the Victorian Executive said: "No, you will not appear on television in Victoria. We will put up one of our Victorian members." So a Victorian member who supports this outstanding Victorian Executive which, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said on many occasions, appears to have associations with Communists, is to appear. Apparently the Victorian Executive feared that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would say something nasty about the Communists.

If the Labour Party wants to talk about free speech it should permit its own members the right of free speech. It should permit the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to appear on television in Victoria. It should permit this gentleman in Western Australia - this man of honesty, decency and courage - to stand up and say that what has come from the Labour Party in that State he, for one, will not endorse, but will forward to the authorities to see whether any action is necessary. The Labour Party should permit these things before it preaches about what this Government, which is responsible for the defence and security of Australia, should do.

The Labour Party should consider its own position. It has no record of which it can be proud. It need only take heed of its own members. I do not wish to quote statements made by various people because I am fed up with doing that; but the Labour Party need only take heed of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the former President of the Victorian Executive who resigned because of Labour's co-operation with Communists; it need only take heed of the Labour clubs including university Labour clubs which are now writing booklets about Labour's association with Communism. Even if the Labour Party, as the Opposition in this Parliament has no sense of responsibility in regard to the protection of this country, this Government has.

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