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Friday, 25 September 1970

Mr McEWEN (Murray) (Minister for Trade and Industry) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I proceed to get the debate back to the matter before the House. The state- ment which we are debating is the verbatim report of a Press conference which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) voluntarily held and which eventually was tabled in the House. It is upon the content of that report that this debate turns. The incident, as 1 understand it from the Leader of the Opposition, arose from the fact that he was offering certain advice to the Labor Caucus; that subsequently he learned that a rumour, which was incorrect, was around the place, and he called a Press conference and proceeded to state publicly to the Press what he had been saying to the Labor Caucus. So the fact that we are in possession of the report is in fact an accident.

The Leader of the Opposition had set out to speak, as one does speak, secretly in the Party room, but now what he said is a public matter. As the Leader of the Labor Party he was putting the view to the Caucus that the advice to be given to young men who objected to the Vietnam war was that they should disobey and defy military authority, put in the mildest terms, that they should break the law. Applying this as he did in one sense to hundreds of men and in another to thousands of men, an advice to break the military law is advice to mutiny. There is no doubt about that. That is the policy line that the Leader of the Opposition advocated, that young men who say that they hold a conscientious belief in respect of the Vietnam war, should be advised to break the law. We know that the law provides for the man who claims that he has a general conscientious belief against war. If this course, as advocated, is accepted by the Labor Party as policy - and the debate here today makes it clear beyond doubt to my mind that this course has been accepted as the policy of the Labor Party - then in the future every member of the Labor Party will follow it. the land is, you should set out to break it.' This totals up a complete picture of the attitude to law and order of today's Labor leaders and today's Labor Party. This is the constant thread running right through Labor Party's attitude all the time. Labor says: 'If you do not like the law - whether it is civil or military - break it.' This Labor Party is the alternative government of Australia. If it were to become the government, the logic of its present position is that even if it, in government, made laws, it would allow people to break them if they so desired. That is the pure, undeniable logic of it, and it is completely ludicrous for Labor-

Dr J F Cairns (LALOR, VICTORIA) - I do not know whether now is the correct time to claim to have been misrepresented by the Minister, but, Mr Deputy Speaker, would you indicate to me when is the correct time?

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