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Thursday, 31 August 1972
Page: 591

Senator YOUNG - Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that on a television show last night Mr Whitlam said that the Labor candidature of draft resister Barry Johnston is an embarrassment and that Mr Johnston should withdraw his nomination? If Mr Whitlam believes, as his statement strongly suggests, that Barry Johnston's candidature raises certain ethical principles, is it not the clear responsibility of Mr Whitlam to dissociate himself and the Australian Labor Party from Mr Barry Johnston and call upon the Victorian ALP Executive to withdraw bis candidature? If Mr Whitlam does not take such action, are not his words a hollow pretence and a condemnation of his own inability to lead the Australian Labor Party?

Senator GREENWOOD - I saw with great interest the television interviews last night. I can say only that Mr Whitlam's statement is a curious one. I must say that it is not the first time that he has made that statement.

Senator Georges - What about telling us your policy on the election?

Senator GREENWOOD - It may have some relevance, when the election comes around, to know precisely the view of the Australian Labor Party on this matter. Mr Whitlam has said that he feels that Mr Johnston should give himself up to the police and that Mr Johnston's candidature is an embarrassment to him and to the Australian Labor Party. If I recall his words correctly, he said: 'Ask any other Labor candidate'. Mr Whitlam expressed these views before he went to the meeting of the Federal Executive of the ALP in July of this year. But the Federal Executive indicated that it did not agree with Mr Whitlam, because it was from that meeting that a telegram was sent to the Prime Minister which accused the Government of acting mercilessly towards Mr Johnston and asked the Government to provide an amnesty so that he would not be arrested. That is quite inconsistent with Mr Whitlam's view.

When one considers the public statements which have been made by so many members of the Australian Labor Party within the parliamentary Party - Mr Bryant, Dr Everingham, Dr Cass and Mr Kennedy - the statements which have been made by the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party, the Victorian State President and the Victorian State Council of the Party and the fact that members of the ALP are providing regular financial assistance to keep Mr Johnston in hiding, it seems incredible that Mr Whitlam as the leader of the ALP can say that the candidature of Mr Johnston is an embarrassment and yet is unable to do anything about it. It raises the very real question - it may be in the election con tex to which Senator Georges and other Labor Party senators have referred - of how much credence can be placed upon what Mr Whitlam says and his ability to persuade the governing bodies of his own organisation to give effect to what he says, because this is one clear example of his being out of step with his own Party.

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