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Wednesday, 16 February 1977

Mr BAUME (Macarthur) -During the lengthy recess we had the opportunity to get around our electorates on many occasions. Unfortunately I came across a report in one of the newspapers in my electorate, the Shoalhaven and Nowra News, which requires a reply from me. In most matters it is a most reliable and a very sensible newspaper. In fact it has received commendations from the Press organisations for its competence. However, during the recess I noticed an unfortunate article in which the Shoalhaven and Nowra News had unwittingly printed as fact statements made in this House by the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage). If the editor of that newspaper had been more experienced in matters of this House he might have recognised that he was obviously at risk in undertaking such a venture. He would have recognised the reputation of the honourable member, quite generously earned I would imagine, in this House. The honourable member for Chifley, from the fancies of his mind, claimed that I had been a member of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. He outlined this at great length. The only reason I raise this matter tonight is that it appeared as a Press report. The newspaper ran it as fact. At the time I did not consider that the whimsical activities of the honourable member for Chifley merited an answer, because they were obviously so ludicrous. The facts were available to anyone who wished to find out. The honourable member for Chifley is not and has not, to my knowledge in the year that I have been a member, been terribly concerned with facts. I was obliged to deny this report in the subsequent issue of the newspaper. It expressed its regret for having accepted the word of the honourable member for Chifley.

The facts are that contrary to what the honourable member for Chifley said, I left Sydney in 1953 because I had been appointed to a post in the Policy Division of the Department of National Development in Canberra. As a result, I had ceased to be a member, as he alleged, of the Gordon branch of the Australian Labor Party in 1956. 1 had left to come to Canberra in 1 953. The honourable member for Chifley went on at great length about how this branch had split. He obviously knows an immense amount about the DLP. One wonders whether he must have been under some alias or whether he was an undercover agent of it, otherwise how could he possibly have such detailed information? In any event, his speech was a total fancy of his imagination. At no stage did I have anything to do with the DLP. That is in no way a reflection on the DLP, nor will I hope it be taken as a reflection on me.

Mr Martyr - What about me?

Mr BAUME - I am not a martyr to any cause, unlike the honourable member for Swan. But the fact is that the honourable member for Chifley was trying to create an atmosphere of sinister wickedness in my past. I regret that I cannot satisfy the honourable member's desire for drama. I have had a very dull life. Probably one of the dullest things I did during my life was to spend 2 years playing football with the honourable member for Prospect. Apart from that I have no misdemeanours of the order that the honourable member for Chifley finds attractive. I wish simply to place on record that at no stage ever in my life have I been a member, comtemplated or been aligned with such attitudes as one could regard as belonging to the DLP.

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