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Tuesday, 14 September 1971
Page: 1297

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) (Minister for Social Services) - Let me assure the honourable members for Sydney (Mr Cope) and Hunter (Mr James) that I have listened very carefully to what they have said on the matter of social services and I shall give their remarks serious consideration. I really rose tonight to put the record straight because I feel that the honourable members for Riverina (Mr Grassby) and Reid (Mr Uren) had seriously misrepresented their colleague, the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster). Both of those honourable gentlemen said that the honourable member for Sturt had done nothing more than protest against the secrecy. The Hansard record shows that that is not true. I draw to the attention of honourable members page 1085 of Hansard of 9th September, where the honourable member for Sturt is reported to have said:

A Mr Klass has gone on record on that programme and has spelt out in quite clear terms what we on this side of the House have suspected because of what we know and because of what we have picked up in certain American journals, that is, the existence in this country of bases of a type that we should not have here.

That statement goes far beyond the view that the honourable member for Riverina and the honourable member for Reid have put in this House tonight. I will not quote at greater length from the speech of the honourable member for Sturt. The passage I have quoted shows and the rest of his speech confirms that he did not protest simply against the secrecy; he protested against the bases.

Mr Bryant - And so he should.

Mr WENTWORTH - I am indeed indebted to the honourable member for Wills who a moment ago in this chamber openly took the same line. Let me correct the honourable member for Reid and the honourable member for Riverina. 1 will rot accuse them of trying to cover up for the honourable member for Sturt. Perhaps he, like the honourable member for Wills, would say that he does not need to cover up and knew what he was saying. However, it is important not to allow any misrepresentation of a man in this House, even by his colleagues. I know nothing about the Pine Gap base except what I have read in the Press. I have read the book and the statements of Mr Klass and on that basis - and that is the only basis for the remarks of honourable members of the Opposition - let us try to analyse the position.

Mr Klasshas said that the Pine Gap base is used to get information about a possible sneak attack by the Soviet Union upon the United States of America, or indeed, upon us - a sneak attack from anywhere. This then is a base, if Mr Klass is right, to keep the peace and not to make war. If there is one thing more than another which is likely to lead to war it is the belief by the Soviet Union that it could launch a sneak attack and get away with it. The one purpose of this base, if one accepts what Mr Klass has sard, is to prevent a sneak attack by the Soviet Union on one of us. It is a base to keep the peace and not a base for aggression, if Mr Klass is right.

Since the only information that honourable members of the Opposition had was what Mr Klass had said, they are coming out openly in favour of aggression by the Soviet Union. They want to help the Soviet Union to perpetrate aggression. The only purpose of the base as set out by Mr Klass is to prevent the Soviet Union from launching a sneak attack upon us or upon the United States. I put it clearly that honourable members opposite have not considered the facts. They have spoken at random. In point of fact, whether they know it or not, they have tried to encourage the Soviet Union in aggression. This is what they have done. It is clear on the record although they may not have understood what they were doing. I think that the country should realise that the judgment of members of the Opposition - I will not say they are knaves - is so fallacious as to show that they are dangerous people ever to have power in this country.

Having said that, let me advert to another matter which is distinct from it but somewhat connected with it. 1 refer to an occurrence in this House last Thursday night, 9th September. It will be remembered that the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) said that no Labor man in this House had supported the Cuban revolution. When I pointed out that this was not, in point of fact, correct, he made a personal explanation. I should like to quote that personal explanation, which appears on page 1094 of Hansard. The honourable member for Sydney said:

In the first place, when I rose lo order while the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) was speaking I did not say but I did mean to say in this House'. It was a Party decision in regard to this matter. No member of the Opposition spoke in this House in support of Castro. If he had, he would have been dealt with by the Party, lt was a decision of the Party.

Here is a clear admission that there was a division in the ranks of the Opposition on this matter. Some supported Castro and some did not and, again, that stands on the record. But what happened in caucus? A decision was made to cover up. Members of the Opposition were not permitted to express their views in this House although they could do so outside the House. There was a caucus decision to conceal the existence of a real left wing policy in the Labor Party. This is the kind of thing that is happening and it is something of which the country should be wary. In the Labor Party there are forces which are very real but which can be concealed by a caucus decision. The honourable member for Sydney has revealed a most serious matter - the way in which a caucus decision can be used to cover up the real motives, the real sentiments and the real leanings of left wing members of the Opposition. I think that the House and the country should take note of what the honourable member for Sydney has said and just what that implies.

Mr FitzPATRICK(Darling) (11.43)- I shall try not to keep the House too long, but 1 want to support the statements which have been by the honourable members for Riverina (Mr Grassby) and Mallee (Mr

Turnbull) regarding the seriousness of the locust plague. I thank the honourable member for Riverina for mentioning my electorate. However, there are a few things that the House should know about the seriousness of this plague. It would be true to say that the main hatching is probably in the Riverina district but I want it to be known that there are similar hatchings in my electorate. The honourable member for Mallee seems to think that the greenest belt in Australia is along the River Murray. I can assure the House that at present the area along the Darling River from Wentworth to Bourke is the greenest part of Australia. Some time ago, there was a large bushfire in my electorate and a call was made on the Australian community for some support. Of course, the bushfire had almost burnt out before people outside the immediate area came to the assistance of this area. I hope that assistance will not be lacking on this occasion in connection with the locust plague. At this time we do not expect the Army to come into the electorate because I am told that, to a large degree, the people there can contain the situation if they receive some financial support from the Government.

Honourable members must remember that a lot of these people have gone through a very severe drought. They wanted their area to be declared a drought area but, unfortunately, the New South Wales Government delayed for so long that they had to put their stock on agist ment. They received no support from the Government which would enable them to pay for the transport of their stock. They brought it back under the same conditions because the Government said that the stock was not there when the area was declared a drought area. I hope that a similar situation will not apply in relation to this locust plague. If the plague moves into that area the situation will be serious enough but the plague will go a lot further into Australia than many people think it will because this area is now the greenest part of Australia.

Not very long ago there was a flood through the Paroo River and the Wilcannia district. There is still a lot of water there but as it recedes the herbage is coming up. The electorate is like a large turf oval. Honourable members can understand what will happen if this locust plague is allowed to develop. When the authorities are looking at the position in the Riverina district I appeal to them to investigate parts of my electorate because people there are the hardest hit in the rural crisis. At the present time, many of them cannot afford to restock their own country. They have cattle on agistment. I think this plague would be the final blow. I do not want to delay the House. I hope that the authorities will have a look at this matter and see that my electorate is not forgotten.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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