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Wednesday, 21 September 1949

Mr BEALE (Parramatta) .- I wish to refer to a matter which was the subject of a question that I asked earlier to-day of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) who represents the PostmasterGeneral in this chamber. The House will recall that, this afternoon, I referred to Mr. W. T. Dobson. I asked the Minister whether he had made representations to the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) to obtain a telephone for Dobson and whether, in those representations, the Minister had alleged that there were special circumstances in Dobson's case which warranted the installation of a telephone in Dobson's hotel room. I also asked whether it was true that the Postmaster-General had replied that in view of the special circumstances, he had consented to install the instrument within seven days after Dohson had paid his deposit. The Minister replied that he had made representations to the Postmaster-General and that he had considered, from what Dobson had told him, that Dobson was performing work of national importance - I understand that he was a clerk connected with the Australian Labour party industrial group.

Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I rise to order. We on this side of the chamber wish to hear what the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) is saying, but the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and several of his Ministers are interrupting with audible conversation. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to call them to order.

Mr BEALE - The Minister said that Dobson had fooled him and then went on to explain his actions, some of which I have already indicated to the House. At the conclusion of his statement, the Minister said that -

Dobson was in touch with a lot of other people because the night that he dived into the harbour he came straight from the residence of Mr. W. C. Wentworth, a selected Liberal candidate for a Commonwealth seat in the Parliament at the next elections.

I do not object to the Minister saying that Dobson fooled him. Perhaps Dobson did fool him. Perhaps the Minister was easy to fool, because he wanted to be fooled by his industrial friend, Mr. Dobson; but how little I may object to the Minister's confession that he was fooled, I wish to draw the attention of the House to the complete falsity of the rest of the Minister's statement. I have had a communication from Mr. Wentworth on the matter and he informs me that the statements made by the Minister this afternoon are untrue. Mr. Wentworth states that on the afternoon in question, when this man Dobson dived into the Harbour, Mr. Wentworth's wife and children were continuously at their home and that Dobson did not go there at all. Mr. Wentworth also states that he was out in his electorate all that day and evening. If I remember rightly, this incident occurred during the coal strike, and Mr. Wentworth was performing a work of charity occasioned by the strike in delivering firewood to poor people in the electorate.

Mr Calwell - Oh!

Mr BEALE - The Minister cannot take it. He slanders people and says all sorts of things under the cover of parliamentary privilege, but he, himself, cannot take it. Mr. Wentworth stated that he did not see Dobson on the day or night in question. He said that some days before Dobson had come to him, representing himself as an official of the Australian Labour party who was bitterly opposed to communism and was engaged in anti-Communist work. It is well known to honorable members that for many years Mr. Wentworth has been a bitter and vigorous opponent of communism in this country.

Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is why he was attacked in this House.

Government members interjecting,

Mr BEALE - We note the squeals of honorable members opposite. Mr. Wentworth said that Dobson had made these representations to him and asked him for money, but that he quickly packed Dobson about his business and refused to have anything to do with him. That was some days before the harbour incident. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that Mr. Wentworth was not fooled by Dobson as was the Minister, on his own admission. The Minister's statements in this House about Mr. Wentworth were deliberately and wilfully false. They could not be anything else. I make these comments in strong terms because somebody must defend the name of a man who is unable to defend himself against attacks made under the privilege of this House.

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