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Wednesday, 30 March 1966

Mr HAROLD HOLT - Dealing first with the last part of the honorable gentleman's question I should say that, as usual, he is quite inaccurate in his assumptions. When this Government decides - it will be a decision of the Government - that the time is appropriate to go to a general election, it will say so. I stress that the decision will be taken by the. Government.

Mr Calwell - It can be as soon as the Prime Minister likes. We want the election as soon as possible.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I know that the honorable gentleman is in rather an excitable mood. I gather that he has had a difficult morning.

Mr Calwell - A very successful one.

Mr HAROLD HOLT - The subject of elections is apparently very much in his mind. What the honorable gentleman should perhaps make clear to members of the public who will have been listening to his question is that there is a fundamental difference between the way policy decisions are taken by members on this side of the House and the way they are taken by honorable members opposite. Members on this side of the House have the full responsibility, the full authority and the privilege, as representatives of the Australian people democratically elected from representative electorates, to determine what policy they shall adopt. Honorable gentlemen opposite unhappily, and in my view running quite contrary to British democratic tradition, enjoy no such freedom. Their policies are decided for them by outside personalities described by some as " faceless men " and by others as " witless men", and who are, at least, people who have no direct responsibility to the Australian electorate.

In the earlier part of his question the honorable member pointed out that the discussion on this change of policy was conducted in public and that the reasons for it were given at the time. Since the Press apparently did not find it expedient to give any report of this particular aspect of Labour's change of policy, will the honorable gentleman make up for that deficiency by himself stating in this place the significance of the change by which an undertaking to honour and support treaties and alliances into which Australia has entered was altered to a statement that from time to time there would be a review of the treaties?

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