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Wednesday, 8 December 1965

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - It was printed for the Australian Labour Party by the Industrial Printing and Publicity Co. in Melbourne. The pamphlet was priced at 6d. It was advertised through the ordinary branches of the Australian Labour Party. The newspapers in the capital cities reported on it and we notified people that, if they would like copies of the pamphlet, they could get them at a cost of 6d. We had very many requests and copies of the pamphlet were supplied at a cost of 6d. It was not a give away job like that of the Government.

Mr Bryant - It was not done at public expense, either.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - As the honorable member says, it was not done at public expense. It was done at private expense. It was published with the authority of the Australian Labour Party, printed by Industrial Printing and Publicity Co., sold for 6d. and 30,500 copies have been distributed, most of them being sold. The cost of more than £600 has been more than recouped in the sale of the pamphlet. The pamphlet I wrote was sold. It was bought by people, a number of whom thought it was worth more than 6d.

Mr Turnbull - That was before they read it.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - The honorable member for Mallee is a great humorist at this hour of the night. We hardly hear anything of him during the day.

Mr Turnbull - Was it before they read it or not?

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - Has the honorable member read it?

Mr Turnbull - No.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - He should get a copy and form his own judgment of it. In contrast to the way my pamphlet was produced, the Government, with all the resources of the Commonwealth at its disposal, has chosen to publish at public expense a document that contains nothing but extracts from a few speeches made by

Ministers. It is a party document. It consists of speeches made by a number of politicians, a number of members of the Parliament. It has been distributed at government expense to teachers and to other people in the community. It has been distributed at the expense of the people of Australia. The suggestion was made that this was done because my pamphlet had been distributed in the schools. 1 should think that some teachers have asked for copies of my pamphlet. If they have, they have received them. But we have taken no action whatever at any stage to distribute the pamphlet that I wrote to teachers or to children in schools. It was not part of our intention to do so. But an attempt was made to justify the circulation through the schools of this drummed up job of extracts from politicians' speeches, produced at the expense of the public, by making the completely unfounded claim that my pamphlet was circulated through schools. If this is the basis on which the Government and the honorable member for La Trobe seek to justify the circulation of this political document through the schools at public expense, their justification disappears completely.

Let me mention two other matters. First, I thank the honorable member for La Trobe and the Prime Minister for the wonderful advertisement they have given to the pamphlet that I have written, because we have had hundreds of requests for it. Most of the requests have come from teachers who, in letters that they have written to me, to my office and to the Australian Labour Party in Melbourne, have said that, if they are asked to distribute this document, this piece of paper that the Government has produced at public expense, they will also ensure that they distribute my pamphlet as well. Every second letter I open these days and have opened for five or six days contains a request for copies of the pamphlet that I wrote.

Mr Swartz - The honorable member knows that is not right. That was corrected by the Prime Minister.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - What was corrected?

Mr Swartz - The allegation about distribution.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - May I state the position as I understand it?

Mr Swartz - A copy was sent to the headmaster of each school.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - Copies were sent?

Mr Swartz - One copy.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - Two copies in some Instances, because I know that is the number that was received. The Prime Minister said the headmasters could have more copies if they wanted them.

Mr Swartz - That is right.

Dr. J.F. CAIRNS__ What did I say that was contrary to that? Perhaps the Minister can tell me. This is not the first pamphlet that I have seen distributed in schools. I remember that in the course of a teach-in at Maribyrnong High School in Victoria, I suppose six weeks ago, I saw a couple of hundred leaflets that had been published by the Liberal Party. They were ready for circulation to the boys and girls in the leaving and matriculation classes at Maribyrnong High School. They had been taken there by former Senator Hannan. So, if any precedent is wanted for the circulation of political documents in schools, there is one. The point I make is that there is no justification for the position apparently taken by the Prime Minister. He seeks to justify the circulation to headmasters at schools of the Liberal Party's pamphlet - that is all it can be called - which was produced at public expense and which contains the speeches of a number of Liberal Party members of this Parliament, by alleging that my pamphlet had been circulated to schools. But this is completely false, because my pamphlet never has been.

I said that I thank the honorable member for La Trobe and the Prime Minister for the publicity they have given to my leaflet. I hope they will do the same for a book I will have published on 14th December. It is called " Living with Asia " and will be available through booksellers in the ordinary way. I hope that the Prime Minister, the honorable member for La Trobe, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) and anyone else who wants to discuss the book will take advantage of the opportunity to do so. I believe it is most important that the war in Vietnam should be discussed. I believe it is important that pamphlets and books should be written about it. I approve even of the publication of the views of the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), but not at public expense. If honorable members opposite want to answer what I have done, let them to do it their own expense. They have a darn sight more money than I have. If they want to put their point of view to teachers or to anyone else in the community, let them do so at their own expense. That is precisely what we do.

I welcome the publication of pamphlets and books. More of them on this subject have never been published; there, is now a flood of them. The other day someone sent me the titles of three books that had been recently published and said: "I hope you will make sure that they are in the National Library because, if these three books and most of those that have been published on Vietnam could be read even by members of the Liberal Party, I think the truth would eventually sink into their heads too." I hope that every pamphlet and every book that has been written on this subject receives the widest publicity. I hope that we continue with this great national debate on the question of Vietnam which began with the teachins at the beginning of this year. I hope that what has been made available to university students in the form of teach-ins will be made available to the people of Australia. I conclude by challenging every member- of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party in Victoria to meet me in a debate on Vietnam in their own electorates between now and the time that the Parliament reassembles next year. I formally issue a challenge to every member of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party in Victoria to meet me in debate in his own electorate in a teach-in for the people on the vastly important subject of Vietnam.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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