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Tuesday, 19 March 1957

Mr MENZIES - I venture to say that that alleged question is the greatest abuse of the procedure of this House I have ever listened to and I regret that you, Mr. Speaker, permitted it. The honorable member for East Sydney has, of course, as we all know, been sitting in a committee and this is a foretaste of the speech he will no doubt deliver to-morrow evening. If so, I will wait and answer it with the greatest pleasure in the world, but at the moment all I do is permit myself to say that if the state of affairs in Australia is as terrible as he now represents it to be, what must it have been like just before he went out of office, because the simple fact is that in these seven years, more than 500,000 houses have been constructed in Australia? On a population basis, the rate of construction of houses in Australia in the last seven years has been greater, I think, than in any other free country in the world, but of course, now the Labour party, driven almost daft by its troubles, casting around, has seized hold of some false claim that there is a crisis - because it is a false claim - and is now seeking to make itself the friend of the people whom, on his showing, the honorable member for East Sydney must have deserted for the whole of the eight years that Labour was in office. Well, sir, I look forward with unqualified pleasure to dealing with this matter to-morrow night.

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