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Friday, 18 September 1942

Mr FADDEN (Darting. Downs) (Leader of the Opposition) . - I express my disgust at an incident, which occurred in committee this afternoon while the budget was being debated. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Pollard) read a letter written by me, which he admitted was marked, " Strictly confidential ". He stated that it was addressed to him. Whether it was or not, I cannot say. I make no apology for the contents of that letter. I do not believe that the Prime. Minister (Mr. Curtin), or any other reasonably minded member of the Government,, will raise any objection to it. The honorable member for

Ballarat used the letter for the purpose of supporting an argument that this side of the House was not co-operating wholeheartedly with the Government in its war effort. I do not think that any unbiased person could suggest that the letter contains any evidence of a lack of desire by the Opposition to co-operate with the Government. When the Prime. Minister was Leader of the Opposition he stated, on more than one occasion, and rightly 30, that, it was the duty of an Opposition to he vigilant, critical and constructive. It was for the purpose of assisting this Opposition to be vigilant, critical and constructive that I addressed that confidential letter to the members of my party.

Mr Menzies - No doubt the Prime Minister when Leader of the Opposition had confidential communications with the members of his party.

Mr FADDEN - Knowing the organizing ability and effective leadership of the Prime Minister, I have no doubt that he took_ similar action when he was Leader of the Opposition, but no one doubted for a moment his desire to co-operate effectively and properly with the government of the day in connexion with the war effort. I challenge any honorable, member to prove that, in any respect whatsover, this Opposition has not whole-heartedly cooperated with the Government in the making of an effective war effort, and that it does not desire to continue to do so. That does not mean that the Opposition should be a rubber-stamp, and so fail to discharge effectively its duty and responsibility to the people of Australia. This Opposition represents 50 per cent, of the people of Australia, and it has a duty to criticize the administration of the Government and to scrutinize the legislation submitted to Parliament. It was with the object of discharging that obligation that I wrote the circular letter which was improperly, unfairly, and without warrant quoted by the honorable member for Ballarat this afternoon.

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