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Thursday, 9 December 1965

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) . - I should like to read to the House something from a Socialist journal called "Spotlight". I do not, of course, endorse this journal's principles. However, the quotation appears to be relevant to something said recently in this House. The article is entitled " The Silent Mr. Cairns ", and states -

Some of our readers have written to us to find out what happened to our challenge to debate Jim Cairns on the Vietnam conflict along Socialise lines. We can only tell them that we have not heard from Cairns.

Although he has come down from his negative stand on debating Knopfelmacher, he is reluctant to accept our challenge. It must be that he is caught with his yellow streak showing. It could be, which is closer to the truth, that he knows how vulnerable he would be by discussing this item along the lines taken by the Socialist parties Of the world.

Jim knows that practically every Socialist, genuine Socialists, that is, takes an opposite view from him.

Apparently he has taken Michael Stewart's latest words on Vietnam literally. Stewart summed up this situation rather pointedly when he said: " The Communists want unconditional surrender, while the West wants unconditional negotiations".

Not even Jim Cairns can question the sincerity of Stewart as a Socialist. Not even Jim Cairns can question the wisdom of this learned and respected member of the British Labour Party.

If the ALP had leaders comparable to Stewart, especially with his courage and sophistication in world affairs, they would be sitting today in Canberra as the 'Government, not the floundering and ambiguous Opposition.

Jim, we are still waiting to hear from you. Surely you are not that busy to ignore a genuine proposition to debate an item which is near and dear to you.

Last night we had the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. Cairns) flinging challenges right, left and centre around this House, but from his own side - his own Socialist side - from the Socialists who are not proCommunists, he has a challenge to debate. This challenge has been open in the Press for some time and he refuses to accept it. I think this might be brought to the notice once again not only of the House but of the honorable member for Yarra. We see from yesterday's " Hansard " that some £600 was spent on his egregious pamphlet. We have heard from the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) tonight that the Communists are recouping some of this money to the honorable member for Yarra by buying his pamphlet and distributing it as their own propaganda, as indeed they might, because the line is indistinguishable from the line they have been following.

As I say, 1 do not subscribe to the Socialist platform in "Spotlight". "Spotlight" takes the line of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions - the non-Communist international trade union body - whereas I understand that the honorable member for Yarra adheres rather to the World Federation of Trade Unions - the Communist and proscribed association of trade unions. I think that he might at least do his Socialist friends the courtesy of meeting them in debate on a matter where they differ in relation to Vietnam.

I leave that subject and apologise to the House for reading a document of quite a different character. I have in my hands a letter from a lady who during her lifetime has done honour not only to herself but to all Australia. I will not give her name, although I have given it to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair). Her letter reads -

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