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Wednesday, 17 September 1958
Page: 1366


Mr PETERS (Scullin) .- I object to sitting here continually and listening to masters of defamation and calumniation from the other side of the House attacking members of the Labour party and the Labour party generally. After all, these people are masters of this method of attack. At the present time, as my friend the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) pointed out, they are fighting amongst themselves. They have in existence a committee, the object of which is to depose the leaders of their own party. Every one on the other side remembers the time when the late William Morris Hughes said of his leader, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), that he could not lead a flock of homing pigeons. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), speaking of the leader of the present Government, said he was a man without honour. The present member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) said this -

Mr. Menziescan neither call nor command as a leader. Under his leadership the party broke up, and yet he refuses to co-operate under the leadership of anybody else.

In these circumstances the greatest national service he can render the party and Australia would bc to quit politics.

Those of us who stand for a more vigorous policy are anxious that Mr. Menzies' inevitable failures should not block the path of future progress.

That is what the honorable member for Mackellar said. The point is that that gentleman continually vilifies and reviles every person in public life in this community with whom for the moment he disagrees. He reviled the man who to-day is his leader. He is, as I have said before, the Robespierre of the Liberal party. He is a man who would abolish all that stands in his way - the Labour party first, the Country party next and then those of the Liberal party who are furthest from him, until ultimately he controls the whole destiny of the organization. If he does not do that, or if he has not the capacity to do it, it is not because he has not got the attributes or the desires of a Robespierre.

He has indulged in vilification of the Labour party. We come here with a policy to put before the people. I could stand up and vilify the members of the Government. I could say of the honorable member for Mackellar that he reminds me of a clergyman. I apologize to the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock). The honorable member for Mackellar reminds me of a pseudo-clergyman, a confidence man who dons the garb of the clergy in order to have some appearance of respectability and then seeks to delude all the people with whom he comes in contact.

What does he stand for in public life? He talks of us standing for communism. He is a representative of vested interests. He is the jumping-jack of the private banking institutions of this country. He stands for predatory capitalism in its worst form. He seeks to enrich the rich at the expense of the working section of the community. He talks of unity tickets in trade union elections, as though the trade unions contained only members of the Labour party. We have heard the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) say, " We would not be in control of the government of this country if it were not for the fact that we secure the votes of trade unionists ". That is quite right. Deluded trade unionists are members of the Liberal party. What are those deluded Liberal party members of the trade unions doing under the organization of the honorable member for Mackellar to rid trade unionism, on the one hand, of communism, or, on the other hand, of the influence of capitalism and the employing section of the community? What are those Liberals within the trade unions doing to promote the real interests of the workers of this country? They are not fighting communism,nor are they fighting capitalism.

Our friend from Mackellar sits and smirks. He thinks that Parliament should be a place that gives him the privilege and the right to attack every member of the community who is opposed to his ideas. He says, " Ah, yes, there may be some who are decent citizens, but, of course, they are consorting with people who are not decent citizens and the ultimate result is they become tainted like the rest ". If honorable members opposite wish to deal with questions of policies on an economic or a social basis, or if they desire to fight on the basis of the ideology of private enterprise versus socialism, well and good, but if they seek to do the things that the honorable member for Mackellar seeks to do, then they become tainted, just as he is tainted and just as hi lieutenant, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and some others are tainted. At the present time, just because an election is appearing on the horizon, those people think they are entitled to use any lie or make any defamatory statement, no matter how ridiculous or absurd, in the hope that it will help them in the days near at hand when they face their masters, the electors. Let me assure the honorable member for Mackellar that the intelligence of the people of Australia is awakening. They are not going to be deluded by the red herring that he has drawn across the trail so often that to-day it stinks to high heaven.

Question resolved in the affirmative.







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