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Thursday, 17 March 1966

Mr KING (Wimmera) .- Time will not allow me to answer in detail the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden). Suffice to say that if the Government adopted the attitude he suggests in relation to the Vernon report it would certainly be inflexible, because he would have us believe that we should either adopt the Vernon report in full or not at all. By so doing we would have to implement the Vernon report irrespective of current conditions. I mention as an illustration the recent drought in Queensland and New South Wales. Under his proposition there would be no room to enable the State or Commonwealth Governments to provide assistance. I heard an Opposition member interject that there would be no drought. That is exactly what some Opposition members would like. They would like to be able to control the weather, and they would do so if they had their way and could control it.

On 8th March the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) delivered to this chamber a comprehensive report. It was his first in this chamber as Prime Minister. He covered many issues related to our economy, drought relief, rural finance, defence, the Vietnamese situation - and he mentioned the Vietnam medal, which I am sure we were all pleased to hear about - national development and immigration. On 15th March the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) replied to the Prime Minister's statement and moved a complicated amendment. After moving it he spoke at length on the issues related to using conscripts for overseas service. He did not cover all that the Prime Minister mentioned in his remarks a week earlier. I mention this because I believe it is the prerogative and duty of the Leader of the Opposition on occasions like this to cover everything brought forward by the Prime Minister. The Leader of the Opposition is given unlimited time to cover such subjects, whereas following speakers are limited to 20 minutes.

I draw the attention of members to this morning's " Age " and to a leading article headed " Mr. Calwell on Vietnam ". Naturally I have not sufficient time to read out all the report, but I advise anyone who has not read it to do so for his own benefit. Generally speaking the Opposition was critical of the Government's activities in South Vietnam. Likewise it was critical of national service training and of national service trainees being sent abroad. A number of Opposition interjectors during the Prime Minister's statement indicated that they would like the Government to announce categorically that we are officially at war. I remind the Opposition of the situation in the period 1943-1945. The Prime Minister was about to refer to this period this morning but obviously one Opposition member - the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) who is not in the chamber at present - did not like what he thought the Prime Minister was about to say, so he raised a point of order and the message was not delivered to the chamber.

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