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Thursday, 15 September 1949

Mr CALWELL (MELBOURNE, VICTORIA) (Minister for Immigration) - The honorable gentleman has asked a long question. It contains more mis-statements than any other question that has been asked in this House for a long time. I do not propose to canvas all the mis-statements, but I shall give a general reply to the observations that have been made. Major General C. E. M. Lloyd, was the Adjutantgeneral of the Australian Forces during the latter part of the last war. He was appointed by the International Refugee Organization as its representative in Australia in order to protect its interests in the discharge of its obligations under the agreement that it has made with the Australian Government for the settlement in Australia of 110.000 or more displaced persons. General Lloyd was appointed by the International Refugee Organization, and not on the representation or at the solicitation of anybody inside or outside Australia. The organization wanted a top-ranking Australian to protect its interests. I know of no better choice that could have been made than that which was made. General Lloyd is answerable to the International Refugee Organization and to no other body. Two newspaper reporters, both employed by Sydney newspapers, one the Sydney Sun and the other the Sydney Daily Telegraph - of course, Sydney newspapers have a lower standard than that of newspapers that are published in any other capital city in Australia - went on to a ship months before any question of malnutrition had arisen. They ferretted their way round the galleys and the crew's quarters and tried to get disgruntled persons to tell lies about the captain of the ship, the International Refugee Organization and other persons or bodies. One of the newspaper reporters - I think he came from the Sydney Sun - printed a story that negroes were wandering around the women's quarters on the vessel at night. That was an absolute lie. There were some negro members of the crew who were disgruntled because they had been disciplined by the captain. When that story was published in the Press, denials were made by the captain and other responsible officers, but the newspaper that had offended so grievously did not have the decency to state that it had disciplined its employee for his libellous and mendacious statement. It made no further inquiries to ascertain whether or not what he had said was true. It simply said, in effect, "He has told this story, and we are backing it". If that is the standard of journalism practised in the offices of the

Sydney Sun and the Sydney Daily Telegraph, then General Lloyd, in my view and in the view of all decent people, was justified in deciding that the representatives of such newspapers should not be allowed to board migrant vessels. This poisonous vicious matter, which is printed merely to benefit one paper or the other in the competition for circulation which is now proceeding in Sydney, can only have the effect of damaging Australia's prestige abroad as well as the prestige of the Internationa] Refugee Organization. I am compelled to repeat an observation that I have made many times, which is that there are more fifth columnists in newspaper offices in Australia than in any other kind of organization. Some people do not care if they sink their own country provided they can sell a few more copies of their miserable newspapers and so promote circulation. That is what has happened with respect to the two newspapers that I have mentioned, and' it is upon such filth as they have published that the honorable member for Reid has based his question.

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