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Wednesday, 6 May 1942

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon J Cunningham - Order! Senator Lamp's question was ruled out of order.

Therefore, the honorable senator is not in order in discussing that phase of the matter.

Senator McLEAY - The letter continues -

The address, 44 Bradley's Head-road, Mosman, which he mentions as a " Fascist house " and the possible head-quarters of a secret wireless operating treasonably in the interests of the Japanese enemy, is that of the home of the managing-director and publisher of the Bulletin Newspaper Company Limited, Mr Henry Kenneth Prior.

Mr. Prior'shistory is as follows He is an Australian, and the son of an Australian. Hp was born in Broken Hill, New South Wales, in 1893. In 1914, he received a commission in the Commonwealth Military Forces. At the beginning of 1915, he entered the Australian Imperial Force as a lieutenant, and. shortly afterwards went overseas to Egypt and France

Both his brothers volunteered; one served, the other was rejected on medical grounds.

In France, he commanded the 51st Battery at the battle of Fromelles. He was promoted major, still in command of the 51st Battery. Fifth Division, Australian Imperial Force. He served with distinction. He was invalided home early in 1917, served for a time as artillery instructor at Holdsworthy camp. Although still in poor health, he returned to France and remained there, in command of the 51st Battery, till the end of the war.

Mr. Prioris now serving in the Volunteer Defence Corps.

On the outbreak of the present war, Mr. Prior informed the employees of the Bulletin Newspaper Company, in which he holds the controlling interest, that every man who desired to enlist would be assisted to do so. Every volunteer's position would be kept open for him and the difference between his civil and military pay would be made up in full by the company for the duration of the war. The burden which has been taken cheerfully on his and the company's hands by this decision, may be illustrated by the position of the literary section - only one section of several.

Nearly 80 per cent. of men in the literary section under 50 are or have been on actual service or about to go on service under the generous scheme proposed by the company. They include two of the highest paid men on the staff who, as privates in the Australian Imperial Force, are having their full salaries made up for the duration of the war by the company.

Apart from the literary staff, which is quoted merely as an example, the mechanical and office staffs have been denuded of eligible men who have been encouraged to enlist in the same way, and who have taken advantage of it just as readily and patriotically.

Mr. Prior'stwo young sons followed the example of their father and their uncles so soon as they became of military age, and are now both on active service, thoughstill in their teens.

They have both lived, and still have their homes in the house in which Mr. Lamp declares that he has evidence of the presence of a secret wireless treasonably devoted to the service of the enemy. Some of the larger rooms of that house are, to our knowledge, lent regularly each week under arrangement: to local war workers.

Substantial space on two floors* of thu Bulletin building have also been donated to war working organizations - a large section on one floor to the voluntary body which makes camouflage nets and a floor to the V.E.N.T. organization.

In other ways, both the Bulletin Newspaper Company and its staff have helped willingly in every war activity in which their help has been needed or asked, and have subscribed liberally and regularly to war funds.

We desire to point out that the charge of acting as enemy agents made against us originated with a journal called The Tribune and some others of the other numerous newspapers published illegally in every respect by a body which styles itself " The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Australia ". The Communist Party of Australia was suppressed in June. 1941. as a subversive organization. The ban upon it has become purely nominal since your government took office, and it carries on its many activities and publishes its papers free of the irksome duties of registration, the payment of taxation and submission to the law in general which is imposed on law-abiding citizens.

We ask that you will not only place these facte before Parliament and before the Senate, but that you will dissociate the Government from the' wanton and untruthful slander uttered by Senator Lamp, which reflects upon very member of this staff, as well as upon the company and the managing director against whom it is vindictively aimed.

F have mentioned this matter on several occasions and I think that you, Mr. President, acted correctly in suppressing a question of a personal nature asked under the guise of privilege. I should not have raised this matter but for the fact that the statement appears in a Hansard proof which I have received and it has also been mentioned in the press. 1 suggest that honorable members on both sides of the chamber should not abuse parliamentary privilege, and should not make statements under parliamentary protection without taking every possible care to see that they are correct. I trust that the Senate will set a good example in this regard and that our privileges shall not be abused to malign people who have no opportunity in this chamber to defend themselves. It would appear that the Government will now be forced to make a statement on the subject to clear up the matter satisfactorily.

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