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Friday, 15 May 1970

Dr PATTERSON (Dawson) - I have listened carefully to every word that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has stated in an endeavour to justify his attitude, and that of his Cabinet, for a breach of faith - which is crystal clear - on an undertaking given by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), the previous Minister for National Development, to the States and which was accepted in good faith by those States. The Prime Minister has set out to confuse the issue, to play with words and to deliberately try to misinterpret, by words, the aims and objectives and undertakings given by the former Minister for National Development and accepted by all State Ministers.

The Prime Minister's whole case rests on his statement that the previous Minister for National Development did in fact commit the Commonwealth to further discussions but did not commit the Commonwealth to prior discussions. How absurd and naive. Does the Prime Minister really believe that we are going to swallow that? The Prime Minister is trying to tell this House that the former Minister for National Development did not know the meaning of the undertaking which he gave. More absurdly, he is trying to tell the House that the 6 State Ministers also did not understand the undertaking given - the undertaking which they accepted. The Prime Minister's attempt through stubborness and, I think arrogance to justify his extraordinary behaviour, and that of his Cabinet in a deliberate breach of confidence, of faith, is schoolboyish. It is a disgrace.

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