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Wednesday, 21 October 1964

Senator MURPHY (New South Wales) . - The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) who is the former Minister for the Navy has chosen this occasion to make an attack on the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) no doubt hoping that no-one in the Senate would be qualified to answer him on behalf of Mr. Benson. 1 suggest that the Minister for Works has chosen well in that none of us here are technically qualified to answer him but we will come to the assistance of our colleague. I understand that the Minister challenges Mr. Benson to prove that he has taken part in some kind of operation of the sort that vessels were engaged upon when the " Voyager " disaster occurred.

Senator Gorton - He has to prove that I am wrong.

Senator MURPHY - And that is what you challenge him to do. As I understand the points made by Mr. Benson in the debate in the House of Representatives, Mr. Benson, in fact, said that what the vessels were engaged upon was not what are technically known as naval manoeuvres but was rather a plane guard exercise. Further, and most importantly, Mr. Benson's whole contention was that the turn which was being made at the time of the disaster was not good practice but was bad practice. One can see the falsity of the attack when the Minister comes here and says " Let Mr. Benson say that he has been engaged in an operation of that very nature ", because Mr. Benson's case was that no-one should be engaged in such an operation in such circumstances. It was wrong for the Minister to make this sudden attack in such terms that it can only be regarded, I suppose, as being an unwarranted attack upon the integrity of Mr. Benson.

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