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Wednesday, 26 April 1972
Page: 1351

Senator WHEELDON (Western Australia) - I wish to return to the matter which has been raised this evening by Senator Murphy. I do not intend to get into a discussion about the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party, although there would be occasions when I would be prepared to debate that in the same way as I would be very interested to have a discussion about the resignations within 1 month of 2 State leaders of the Liberal Party, Mr Steele Hall in South Australia and Mr Bethune in Tasmania. I would be very happy also to debate the creation of a new break-away Liberal movement in South Australia. I would be happy to debate the recent resignation of the Western Australian State President and State Secretary of the Australian Democratic Labor Party and many members of the executive of that party. I would be happy to discuss the charge made by the former State Secretary of the DLP, Mr Martyr, who was previously State Secretary of the National Civic Council, that he had been removed from his office by the

Federal Executive of the DLP because Mr Charlie Court, the State Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, had been to the Federal Executive of the DLP and had asked it to freeze funds because Mr Martyr and the State Branch of the DLP were running dead against the ALP.

All these matters would be very interesting to debate. I am sure that we could have a most fruitful discussion on them. But I do not want to debate the matter involving Mr Martyr and the DLP for one reason: I believe that it is sub judice. It would be sub judice because the officials of the State Branch of the DLP have issued a writ against Mr Martyr, their former Secretary. It would be most improper for us to canvass the merits of their dispute. Indeed, I think that it would be unsportsmanlike to canvass the unfortunate predicament in which Mr Steele Hall and Mr Bethune have found themselves over the past month.

I would like to return to the matter that has been raised this evening by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy). It has arisen from some articles which appeared in the 'National U\ the organ of the students of the Australian National University, and also from some documents which we endeavoured to table. I would have thought that if the Government or the DLP had any serious interest in the matter they would have been very happy to see us table the documents relating to a meeting of an organisation known as Peace with Freedom. It has been said, quite erroneously, by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) that the documents are anonymous documents. One of the documents of which we have photostat copies is signed in the name J. McAuley of Melbourne and is addressed to the members of the organisation. It sets out '.he arrangements for a seminar to be held on 26th and 27th May 1969.

Senator Little - Tell us more.

Senator WHEELDON - I do not think Senator Little clearly understands what is being said, but if he would like to see me after the Senate adjourns I would be prepared to explain to him what it is all about.

Senator McManus - Tell us about Mr Martyr.

Senator WHEELDON - I wish Senator McManus would not keep bringing up the matter of Mr Martyr and the DLP in Western Australia because that is not what 1 want to talk about.I want to talk about this matter. Wehave these documents before us. What is the substance of the allegation which is made resulting front these documents? I cannot claim to know of the veracity or otherwise of the documents. What is alleged? What is alleged is that there is in existence an organisation called Peace with Freedom. The goals of the organisation are to pursue--

Senator Little - Is that the only piece of material you have?

Senator WHEELDON - M r Acting Deputy President, could I appeal for a little order from the DLP senators? They are being very difficult.

DLP Senators - Oh, oh!

Senator WHEELDON - As long as that is appreciated by all honourable senators

Senator Poyser - We can all shout.

Senator WHEELDON - All right, if we can all do it. The goals of the Peace with Freedom organisation appear to be political goals and they could be described fairly as being of an extreme right wing nature. The documents-- (Honourable senators interjecting) -

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order!I ask Opposition senators not to interrupt Senator Wheeldon.

Senator Keeffe - Get someone who can run the place.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT -I want Senator Keeffe to understand that no permission was given by me for anybody to interject. 1 called the Senate to order and asked Opposition senators not to interrupt Senator Wheeldon.

Senator Keeffe - You were writing a letter or buying mining shares or something.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - I ask Senator Keeffe to withdraw that reflection upon the Chair.

Senator Keeffe - Withdraw what?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT - That I was considering buying mining shares while I was in the chair. I ask

Senator Keeffeto withdraw that remark.

Senator Keeffe - I withdraw.

Senator WHEELDON - The documents which have been produced make allegations that there is an organisation which has certain political goals. The membership of the organisation includes a number of people such as the Director, or whatever his title is, of the National Civic Council, various academics of, to say the least, a conservative persuasion, and the present Minister for Housing, Mr Kevin Cairns, who in 1969 was a back bench member of the House of Representatives. The allegation is that during this period these people discussed various steps that they should take relating to the Federal election in 1969, one of their goals being a substantia! reduction in the majority which the Liberal Party and the Country Party held in the House of Representatives at that time and an increase in the Democratic Labor Party vote. The purpose of the operation was the replacement of the so-called Freeth-Fairhall policies on defence with the Fraser policies on defence and a change in the Liberal Government. That is what is alleged. In itself, this is probably a political motive which anybody could have. But the serious aspect of the charge, whichI cannot confirm or deny, is that a member of the Liberal Party who is now a Minister, Mr Kevin Cairns, was a party to the discussions.

The purpose in bringing the matter before the Parliament is that it can be placed on the public record so that the people of Australia will know that in the national legislature attention has been drawn to clandestine activities which were directed towards securing a change in the composition of the Government without an appeal being made to the people of Australia. We believe that the matter is a serious one. I do not think that anybody would have any doubt that during the year 1969 members of the Government parties were seeking the removal of the then Prime Minister, Mr Gorton. Indeed, they succeeded. I do not think that there is anybody who does not know that there was a very intense and systematic campaign against the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr Freeth. I think that a number of senators would have heard only last week an interjection by Senator Gair congratulating himself on the success of his Party in removing Mr Freeth from the Federal Parliament.

Senator Little - Hear, hear.

Senator WHEELDON - 'Hear hear' says Senator Little. He is an excellent straight man. He is probably the best straight man that we have ever had in Parliament - a noisy one but a very good one. We do not believe that that is why Mr Freeth was defeated. We believe that it was because of the excellence of our policy, the bankruptcy of the Government and the superb candidate whom we had representing us in that electorate. Nonetheless, the Democratic Labor Party congratulates itself as having been responsible for the elimination of Mr Freeth. There is no doubt that in DLP and similar circles there was a concerted campaign against Mr Freeth, in the same way that members of the Liberal Party were campaigning quite openly against their then leader, Mr Gorton.

We say that the matter is a serious one for the Government. If a man who is now a Minister was involved in this conspiracy - because conspiracy I think it has to be called-

The PRESIDENT - Order! I have made rulings on this.

Senator WHEELDON - I withdraw the word 'conspiracy' and replace it with the word 'discussions'. If he were involved in these discussions - perhaps I should say this without any perforative implications - or common purpose of removing the then Prime Minister from his office and the then Minister for External Affairs from his office, it is a serious matter. Having ventilated the allegations, our part in the matter is complete. If members of the Liberal Party are totally satisfied, if they believe that Mr Cairns is not the kind of person who would go to a meeting with other persons to discuss the removal of Mr Gorton, that is entirely up to them. One can congratulate them on their holy simplicity, but I do not think that one can look upon them as being very perspicacious. If that is what they believe, that is entirely up to them. If they believe that there were not discussions involving members of the Liberal Party as well as other people about the removal of Mr Gorton and about a change in the Federal Government's policy, that is entirely their business. But we do say that if there is any concern among some members of the Liberal Party that their affairs should bc conducted as openly as the affairs of the Australian Labor Party are conducted and if there is some concern among members of the Liberal Party that people holding high office in their Party should not have entered into negotiations with other persons in order to bring about the loss of scats of certain Liberal members of Parliament, I believe that they should broach this matter with Mr Cairns. If he gives a simple denial and if he says that he knows nothing about the documents or that they were forgeries or that if they are authentic Professor McAuley had no right to use his name, they are perfectly entitled to accept those assurances. But I do suggest to them that they do make some inquiries. They could find that there are much more serious problems existing in the Federal Liberal Party, albeit latently, than those that have been revealed already in South Australia and Tasmania. If this were to be established I would think that they should thank us for having drawn the matter to their attention

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