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Thursday, 9 December 1965

Mr JESS (La Trobe) . - I understand that last night the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), on the motion for the adjournment, made some reference to what he called the war of the pamphlets. I understand also that he made some challenges to all members of the Govern ment to join him in battle on the subject of Vietnam. I would not like the Parliament to conclude this present session without replying because it is noticeable indeed that sometimes when honorable members on this side of the House raise questions of importance in which, perhaps, the honorable member for Yarra is involved, that they do not get a terrific amount of Press coverage. But, whenever the honorable member for Yarra rises in this House he is guaranteed headline news in certain newspapers in Australia. I only hope that my reply to the honorable member's challenge may perhaps be given the same privilege.

Mr Bryant - You have to give it the same quality.

Mr JESS - I will try to do that. First of all, let it be made clear that this matter was raised with me by parents whose children attend a school in my electorate. They rang my office and stated that certain teachers had been giving out the booklet produced by the honorable member for Yarra. The objected to it and they asked whether it was not possible for the Government to produce some booklet giving both sides of the case. It was not suggested that the booklet of the honorable member for Yarra should be banned or anything of that kind. The honorable member for Yarra said last night, and his statement is reported at page 3804 of " Hansard ", that the booklet cost him personally something like £600. One must be carried away with admiration for the enthusiasm and the high principle which drove this man with his parliamentary salary only - he has, I am sure, I hope, I think, no other income - to spend £600 on this venture. Now he is selling the booklet and it is being distributed throughout Australia. He tells us that the requests for the booklet have become almost overwhelming. I have received a letter from a person living in his electorate. I shall not give the name or address of the person but shall be quite happy to show the letter to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) if either of those gentlemen wishes to see it. I would not reveal the address of this person, Mr. Speaker, because I hate to think what could happen if some of the people who support certain views found that a person in this area was writing letters in opposition to the popular attitude. The letter reads, in part -

I was interested in your question in the House last week about a pamphlet by Dr. Cairns about Vietnam being distributed to State school children. I don't think Dr. Cairns' statement that people bought 30,000 copies of the pamphlets was in accordance with the facts. One of the pamphlets was put under my door by a woman who 1 know helps the Communist Party. This woman, a Russian Jewess, has told me that she helps the Party with typing and journalism. Whether Dr. Cairns is associated with this woman I don't know but I do know that he is associated with another Communist nearby . . .

The letter goes on for three pages. I will not read the whole of it because in 10 minutes I would not be able to. But at least there is one woman in the honorable member's electorate who is slightly concerned.

The honorable member for Yarra is a member of the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labour Party. I think he said in his speech last night that this pamphlet was put out with the endorsement of the Australian Labour Party. As I understand the position, it has the endorsement of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party but it does not have the endorsement of the Australian Labour Party. I say this because, as I said in a speech earlier, one of the front bench members of the Australian Labour Party in this House told me, when I spoke to him about this booklet, that the honorable member for Yarra had nor right to put it out are representing the policy of the Labour Party because this was indeed not true. Of course there are a number of people who say certain things outside the Parliament but who will not get up and say them inside the Parliament.

Let me repeat what I said about the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labour Party. Not only is the honorable member for Yarra a member of it; the Leader of the Opposition also is a member. We have heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition talking about the Communist influences on the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labour Party. The fact that the Executive is exposed to these influences is well known. It is certainly not denied by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. An article appeared in the Melbourne " Sun " of Saturday, 31st July 1965, headed " A.L.P. Going to the Left- Holt ". That did not refer to our distinguished Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) but to a man who was at that time the President of the A.L.P. in Victoria. The article commenced -

The Labour Party was swinging to the Left and would come under Communist influence if the swing was not checked, the former president of the Victorian branch of the A.L.P., Mr. R. W. Holt, warned today.

We all know that he resigned later. Another article appeared in the same newspaper on that day under the heading "A.L.P. Man Quits Party Committee ". The article said -

Mr. RossTerrill has resigned from the foreign affairs committee of the A.L.P. State Executive.

Mr. Terrillsaid he agreed with the Executive that anti-Communist crusades were abhorrent and self-defeating, but he put the A.L.P. first and if that meant opposing Communists, he will oppose them.

It is a pity that this attitude has not infiltrated into this House. I have said before that I do not wish to quote persons outside the Labour Party because my purpose can be readily served by quoting those within the Party. However, I do wish to direct attention to statements by Mr. Cyril Wyndham as reported in the " Daily Telegraph " of 7th December 1965. I understand that Mr. Wyndham is the Federal Secretary of the A.L.P., but how long he will last in that position, so help me I would not like to hazard a guess. The newspaper report shows that what he contends to be the policy of the A.L.P. - and he is, after all, the Federal Secretary - is completely different from what the honorable member for Yarra and other honorable members have said is the Party's policy.

Only last week I read out what Mr. Morrison, a distinguished former Minister of the Labour Government in the United Kingdom, said about people being able to put forward in the Parliament views purporting to be the views of the Party when this was not in fact the case. I am not saying that the views put forward in this Parliament are the views of the Communist Party in Australia, but I do say that they bear great similarity to those views. This Parliament is a most effective vehicle for the dissemination of views and opinions. Any man can stand up in this Parliament and put forward Communist policy time and time again. If anybody criticises him he is accused of smearing. But when one considers the similarities that I have men,tioned and when one reads statements made by honorable men holding position in the Labour Party who have then resigned from that great Party one has reason for concern.

I suggest also, Mr. Speaker, that when we listen to some of the speeches that will come later we should keep a clear mind, an unprejudiced mind, and see how those speeches fit into the propaganda that is coming from Hanoi, from Peking and from all the other Communist fronts. I do not object to the Communist Party gaining office by legitimate means, but the Communist Party has never yet gained office by legitimate means in any country. Those people who say that there is nothing to fear from Communism should remember what happened in other countries in which the same view was held and in which people woke up one morning to find that the Communists were indeed in power. In those countries persons who said nothing when they may have known plenty were then imprisoned, or, if they were not, they must surely have carried for the rest of their lives a terrible weight on their shoulders knowing that they had sold out their country.

Let me conclude by answering the challenge made by the honorable member for Yarra. He has challenged any member to meet him in his electorate at any time to discuss the subject of Vietnam. I met the honorable member for Yarra in the Ringwood Town Hall on 20th July. I had no idea that this meeting was being held until that very afternoon because I had just returned from South America. I attended the meeting and I heard the honorable member challenge the audience as he is prone to do. When nobody replied he said: " Nobody will meet my challenge ". I stood up and he had no option but to meet me because the crowd made it clear that they wished to hear the Federal member - as I was and am - for that district. I went on to the platform and when a vote was taken on the voices two-thirds of the audience showed without doubt that they were completely opposed to the honorable member for Yarra and his policy. He was not able to put the motion that he had intended to put, which was to this effect: "That this meeting condemns the Government". Something similar happened at Yallourn and also at Hamilton where members of the Government Parties were present. The same kind of thing happened in the Dandenong Town Hall, and the honorable member afterwards complained that all these meetings were being stacked by people who did not agree with him.

I would not appear on the platform with the honorable member because in most cases - certainly on the last occasion - invitations to me are issued by Communist front organisations. I would not provide the honorable member with the vehicle he needs to disseminate publicity for the Communist Party. The Communists always require a vehicle by means of which to spread their progaganda throughout the country.

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