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Tuesday, 29 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I think it is a matter of common knowledge that I attended an election meeting in connection with the Kooyong by-election in the Kew Town Hall last night. It was a remarkably well attended meeting in the sense that there was not sufficient seating room nor, for that matter, leaning room for all those who wished to hear what I had to say. At least, some wished to hear what I had to say. As sometimes happens in political affairs, there was a mixed reception. Undoubtedly, there had been an organised attempt to prevent me from making, on the Government's behalf, a statement of its policies and the facts related to those policies. This situation was in marked contrast to that at the meeting at which the Leader of the Opposition opened the campaign for the Australian Labour Party. He was given an attentive hearing in an electorate which is well known to be one of the strongest Liberal electorates in the whole of Australia. Quite obviously those who were seeking to prevent me from making my statement were supporters of the Australian Labour Party. That became quite quickly evident.

Mr Calwell - They were kids from two universities. We did not organise them; we did not send them.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The honorable gentleman says that they were kids from two universities. He knows rather more about it than I do. I was asked whether I said that our policy was one of conscription and that we would fight the election on that issue. I said that the two principal issues raised in the campaign were the Government's participation in South Vietnam in resistance to Communist aggression, and the introduction of a national service scheme to ensure that Australia's Army was adequately supported and was kept at the strength which our military advisers had told us was necessary if we were to carry out the defence policies of this country. Sir, that issue stands as one on which this Government is prepared to be judged by the people of Australia, and I hope that honorable gentlemen opposite will see to it that when this Government does set out to make its views and the facts known to the people it will not be obstructed by persons who are encouraged by honorable members opposite to indulge in the kind of tactics we witnessed last night.

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