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Wednesday, 29 September 1971
Page: 1650

Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - One thing has become most apparent during the course . of the debate Contributions by honourable members on the Government side, from the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), who has held a number of other portfolios, to the last speaker have centred around criticism of the Labor Party Opposition. In their criticism, Government supporters have, of course, from time to time made some very serious allegations about honourable members on this side of the House. On 2 or 3 occasions when such remarks have been made some honourable members on the Government side have come across to me and said 'We do not necessarily mean you.' Why I should come in for any different sort of treatment to that received by my parliamentary colleagues, I do not know. But the criticism has been made on the basis that nobody in the Opposition gives one damn about the defence of this country and that nobody in the Opposition in fact gives any consideration to what ought to be done by government in regard to defence.

Of course, honourable members opposite have harked back to the First World War and the Second World War. During the course of their contributions their main theme has been criticism of the Opposition. So at the risk of being considered repetitive, 1 point out that the Hansard records on the ministerial table in this House contain much information of the activities of the Labor Party in both the First World War and the Second' World War. Labor was the governing Party of the Commonwealth during those crucial years around 1914 to 1919 and subsequently in the early and mid 1940s. There can be no validity whatsoever in this most unjust criticism that is aimed at this side of the House by those on the Government side. One searches one's mind for a reason why they should indulge in this kind of criticism. It is almost a hate session directed at members on this side of the House in which it is alleged that we would sell out the country, that we would have no regard for its defence, that by our opposition to this Bill and by our action in putting forward the amendments we would be reducing the armed forces of the country in peace time to such an extent that it could be considered that we were in fact nothing more than treacherous traitors. As I have already stated, this is quite false. Because the defence of this country was so shocking and so deplorable in the country's hour of need in 2 world conflicts honourable members opposite have to indulge in this type of recrimination against honourable members on this side of the House.

A former honourable member for Sturt, is, as far as I can ascertain, the only parliamentarian who has forgone his parliamentary career and enlisted in the Services. I do not see any honourable members on the Government side who were perhaps too young to be involved in the conflict from 1939 to 1945, who have resigned what positions they have held in this Parliament to fight in what they consider to be a just war in Vietnam. I do not believe that one should call upon another to do something that one is not prepared to do oneself if one is fit and physically able to carry out the type of duty to which honourable members opposite have subjected the youth of this country during the time they have been in office.

Mr Giles - What a silly argument.

Mr FOSTER - One hears idle boasts by the Liberal Party machine from time to time that it has gathered to the banners of the Young Liberal Movement large numbers of the youth of this country. I would question the loyalty of these young people because not many of them have gone to Vietnam in accordance with the Government's wishes.

Mr Giles - You do not see them trying to get out of it when they are called up.

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