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Wednesday, 19 October 1949

Mr RANKIN (BENDIGO, VICTORIA) - I ask the Prime Minister whether the Minister for External Affairs has been offered a decoration by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and also whether the Government has concurred in his acceptance of this honour. Did the French Government wish to confer an honour on the retiring Australian Ambassador to France, Colonel Hodgson, and did the Australian Government decline to concur in the acceptance of that honour, with the result that the gesture has been abandoned ? If so, what is the reason for this policy of discrimination which permits the bestowal of honours on a highly placed politician, but forbids their bestowal upon other men who have given service to the Commonwealth and to the world, either in places of distinction in the armed forces of the Commonwealth or in high and responsible positions in civil life? Will the Government review its present policy to ensure that henceforth distinctions of this kind are bestowed on a more evenhanded and democratic basis ?

Mr Chifley - The Minister for External Affairs will answer the honorable member's questions.

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