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Wednesday, 25 February 1942

Mr SPEAKER - It is now past the usual hour for the suspension of the sitting for dinner. I should like to know whether the honorable member for Melbourne proposes to speak at any length.

Mr CALWELL - Not for more than five minutes, Mr. Speaker.

Thisafternoon, I asked whether details of thereport which the Minister for the Army expected to receive in regard to the Japanese attack on Darwin might be communicated to honorable members, either in secret meeting orpublicly.

Mr Curtin - Practically the whole of the details of the attack were communicated by me in the statement that 1 read to the secret meeting. Amplification of details would be only in respect of particular works.

Mr CALWELL - I have no doubt that the Prime Minister gave all the information which he then possessed. Probably, there will be amplification of that detail in the report which the officers will present; but in addition, various rumours are circulating in regard to certain matters relating to the defence of Darwin, and it is possible that those officers will furnish some additional information.

Mr Curtin - That is right.

Mr CALWELL - If that beso, it is the duty of the Government to give to the House at a private meeting any additional facts which may be gleaned from the visit of those officers. I hope that the Prime Minister will do this, [ cannot state the subject of the rumours that are circulating, but I shall tell the Prime Minister privately what I have heard. If the rumours should be substantiated by subsequent investigation, the Parliament ought to be told everything. I am not insinuating that the position at Darwin was so bad as it was discovered to be at Pearl Harbour; but there are nevertheless some aspects which need elucidation. It seems remarkable that certain things could have happened if the garrison and every body else associated with the defence of the town had been prepared for an attack. On the promise of the Prime Minister that we shall have ample opportunity next week to discuss matters of general administration, I shall postpone until then the further remarks that I desire to make in regard to the laxity of administration which existed at Darwin prior to the Japanese attack. 1 listened with very great interest to the eloquent, earnest, and thoughtful statement that was made this afternoon during the course of another debate, by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Baker). I compliment him upon it.

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