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Thursday, 5 March 1970

Mr COPE (Sydney) - In the life of each Parliament since I have been here I have listened quite attentively to the many insulting remarks levelled at members of the Opposition by way of innuendo by the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). I have a little story about the Minister. I think it is always worth while repeating. It is about his collaboration with the Communists. Just let me read a few little excerpts from speeches. In substantiation of the claim that he is insulting, I shall cite an editorial which appeared in the Sydney 'Daily Telegraph', which is selfstyled as a paper you can trust and which is recognised by all as the mouthpiece of the Liberal Party. I quote the following passage:

Mr Wentworth,well meaning but unbalanced, is a persistent thora who can embarrass the Government as much with his uncontrolled vehemence against the Labor Party as with his criticism of his own Party.

It is interesting to note that not once did the Minister for Social Services criticise his former colleague and friend, ex-Senator McCallum, a Liberal Party senator from 1955 to 1956, whose daughter, Mrs Curthoys, was and still is one of the leading Communists in New South Wales, having contested the Senate elections as a candidate on two occasions for that Party. Conversely, one could well imagine the tirade of smearing abuse by the Minister if she bad been a Labor parliamentarian's daughter involved in similar circumstances.

Let us examine some of the exploits and statements of the Minister for Social Services. During the course of an interview on the 'Meet the Press' programme conducted by TCN Channel 9 in Sydney, in answer to a panel member, he stated that there were one or two Communists employed by the Department of External Affairs. The Department viewed this charge so seriously that it sought and was supplied with a recorded tape of the interview. This unwarranted statement was made without one iota of evidence in substantiation. The implication was that there was a spy or spies in the Department supplying a foreign power with information. This means, of course, that the officers of the Department would appear in the eyes of the public to be under a cloud of suspicion.

The honourable member for Mackellar was at one time consultant to Sir Bertram Stevens, an ex-Premier of New South Wales, better known as the 'Budget Faker'. Stevens was responsible for nearly sending New South Wales bankrupt. In consequence, he was sacked as Premier by his own party. In 1938 at a United Australia Party congress held in Sydney the Hon. L. O. Martin, Minister for Justice in the United Australia Party Government, called the police to silence or eject the honourable member for Mackellar. Judge Ambsberg, the Royal Commissioner in the Doyle case, rebuked the honourable member for having approached witnesses during an adjournment of the court, and the judge informed him that he had acted in bad taste. In 1960 the honourable member for Mackellar was an alternate delegate to the United Nations. The leader of the Australian delegation banned him from appearing on television in the United States. The Sydney 'Daily Mirror', commenting on the honourable member's visit to the United Nations, said:

He has made as much impact on the United Nations as would a prisoner trying to get out of Alcatraz with a nail file.

Now I come to the daddy of them all. Years ago, before he was elected to this Parliament, the honourable member for Mackellar operated a newspaper in the Wollongong-Port Kembla area called the Illawarra Star'. During the famous pig iron dispute he was very critical of the trade unions. As a result the unions placed a black ban on his newspaper. As honourable members would be aware, at that time in an industrial and strong union area such as Wollongong-Port Kembla a black ban carried on for any length of time could spell ruin to a newspaper. What did the Minister do? He made a donation of £10 to the strike fund as a softening up process. In addition, he donated a trophy, which he called the Illawarra Cup, for presentation to the best marching unit in the May Day procession. The judges awarded the prize to the Port Kembla branch of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, controlled by the Communist Party, and the Minister had the honour of presenting the cup to Mr Roach.

In conclusion, I would like to say that it is well known that the Minister looks under his bed every night to see if a Communist is there, and by a strange coincidence that is where Mr Roach kept the Illawarra Cup.

Mr WENTWORTH(Mackellar- Minister for Social Services) - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER - Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr WENTWORTH - ^ Yes. Although I have said it before in this House, I think I should say again that the incident in 1938 or perhaps it was 1939 - a long time ago, anyway - to which the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) referred, occurred at a time when I did not know what the Communist Party was up to.

Opposition members--Oh

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I know that the hour is late and I appreciate that we have had some amusing interludes, but I would suggest to the House that it should come to order. The Minister is endeavouring to make a personal explanation.

Mr WENTWORTH - At that time I was so concerned about a possible attack upon Australia by Japan that-

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is this not an apology rather than an explanation?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I suggest to the Minister that he explain to the House in what way he has been misrepresented.

Mr WENTWORTH - I am trying to do that, Sir. At that time I was so concerned about the possibility of a Japanese attack upon Australia that I did not realise that the Communist Party was in the plot itself. I believe that it was honest in its opposition to Japan. I was disillusioned very much.

Mr Barnard - I rise to order, Mr Speaker. The Minister is now endeavouring to debate the subject. If he wishes to speak-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! What is the point of order?

Mr Barnard - The point I make, Mr Speaker, is that the Minister is now debating the subject and is not making a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER -The Chair will decide the matter. The Minister is going beyond the bounds of a personal explanation. I ask him to explain in what way he has been misrepresented.

Mr WENTWORTH - Yes, Sir. 1 say that in detail and in substance the remarks of the honourable member for Sydney are not in accordance with the facts.

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