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Friday, 15 May 1970

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - We have heard a lot of argument from both sides of the House, both on Friday last and today, on what was said and what was done at various meetings with State Ministers and what has happened since. After listening to the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the statements made by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), 1 feel that irrespective of words there has been room on both sides for an honest difference of opinion or interpretation as to what was said or what was intended by the words that were said.

Personally, I agree with the interpretation of the honourable member for Farrer; but that does not mean that I will vote for the amendment - the vote of censure - put forward by the Australian Labor Party. The Opposition, as a matter of tactics, has moved a vote of censure and has been loud in its demand foi State rights. But everybody in this House knows that the Federal policy of the Labor Party is to wipe out State parliaments and to put all power in the hands of the Federal Parliament. Therefore, it is almost a comedy to hear members of the Labor Party standing up and supporting State rights. They have no real sympathy with the States, (f this vote of censure were carried, it might well lead to a further erosion of State powers.

But this does not mean that I will vote for the Bill. I believe that the States should be consulted further on this matter and that there is room for considerably more discussion. I believe that, if that occurs, as the Prime Minister has now promised - I take it from his statement in the House today that there will be further discussions with the States - these matters, which are of great importance internationally and nationally, can be settled amicably and reasonably. Therefore, I reserve my decision on the Bill itself until the results of those discussions are known. In the meantime, if members of the Opposition think ! am a political donkey to be attracted by a bunch of their carrots, they have another think coming.

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