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Thursday, 28 May 1942

Mr RIORDAN (Kennedy) .- I take this opportunity to refute certain allegations that were made on Wednesday by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) during the debate on the uniform taxation proposals. The honorable member said that the Premier of Queensland (Mr. Forgan Smith) had exerted pressure on certain members of this Parliament from that State in order to compel them to cast their votes in a particular way. That is utterly untrue. I, as a member from Queensland, say that I was not directed by Mr. Forgan Smith to vote- in any way, nor did he attempt to influence my vote by coercion or cajolery. It is true that the subject of uniform taxation was discussed by the Queensland central executive of the Australian Labour party, which placed its views before honorable members from, that State. However, it did not make any request or issue any direction to us. I formed my own views regarding uniform taxation when the present Leader of the Opposition brought down his budget last year, and I have been a member of the Labour party long enough to be thoroughly conversant with its policies. It is regrettable that a member of the Labour party in this Parliament should make false charges against a State Labour party, leader. If I remember correctly, the honorable member for Hunter spoke of Mr. Forgan Smith dictating to honorable members from Queensland. I do not know how the honorable : member formed that view. If a man demonstrates qualities of leadership he should not be branded as a dictator. Mr. Forgan Smith is capable of defending himself, but, because the charges made against him arose from statements which I made, I consider it my obligation to reply to them. Mr. Forgan Smith is a national figure. He has achieved fame and distinction unequalled by any other Labour leader. I admire his gifts of leadership, his ability, and his qualities as a plain man. I know what he has done for Queensland in the past, and I am grateful for what he is doing for that State to-day at this time of crisis. He has the respect, affection and confidence of the people of Queensland. He has been Premier of that State for ten years. It is ridiculous to suggest that a man of such standing in the community would go about covertly coercing people to do certain things. The honorable member for Hunter also launched an attack on Mr. Fallon, the president of the Australian Labour party in Queensland, and its central executive. He said that Mr. Fallon came to Canberra. That is true, but he did not come here for the purpose asserted by the honorable member, who claimed that he visited Canberra in defiance of a decision of the party that State executive officers should not interfere with Commonwealth Labour parliamentarians. Mr. Fallon did nothing like that. He did meet certain honorable members from Queensland, and subsequently he consulted with senior Ministers, but he came here for the purpose of ascertaining the views of Federal Labour parliamentarians on the subject of uniform taxation, and to see whether he could remove any points of conflict between them and the State .executive of the party. He did not come here to dictate to us, It is strange that the honorable member for Hunter did not mention another gentleman who accompanied Mr. Fallon on his visit to Canberra - the secretary of the State executive of the party. I have often seen Labour party executive officers from other States in this place. Some of them have held numerous interviews with honorable members. However. I shall not stress that point. I strongly resent the charges made against Mr. Forgan Smith and Mr. Fallon by the honorable member for Hunter. His remarks implied that they had, in some way, intimidated me and coerced m« into adopting a certain stand. Nobody can coerce me into doing anything. Mr. Fallon is one of our foremost industrial leaders ; he is the leader of one of the largest unions in Australia. I cannot understand why the honorable member for Hunter attacked him. I strongly resent the allegations made by the honorable gentleman.

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