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Thursday, 19 February 1959

Mr CURTIN - The hatchet men were there. The situation was too hot for Sir Philip McBride to be associated with it, and he retired. That happened also to a senator in another place. Sir Arthur Fadden could see what was coming, and he got out. One of the most able Ministers in the last Government was dumped. Out he went; he was not even asked to get out. He was prepared to fight, so he was just dumped from the Cabinet. When the Foreign Affairs Committee was re-appointed two other Liberal malcontents were dumped as well. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), one of the Prime Minister's stooges, was appointed to fill one of the vacancies. The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis), another man who was prepared to fight, was removed from the Public Accounts Committee. These things were not just accidents, and members on the Government side need not try to laugh them off.

In an endeavour to soften the blow for the honorable member for Balaclava, the Prime Minister used very good delaying tactics. He said, " Let us set aside the selection of our candidate for the Speakership until the day before Parliament meets ". He was a very wily campaigner, sparring for time. Of course, the Prime Minister was panicky, as any other honorable member opposite would be if he had held sway over the whole of the Liberal party for ten long years and then realized his grip was slipping. But there is always an ending, and the Prime Minister's star is now on the wane. Being a great tactician, he gathered all his stooges together and told them what he wanted. The thought of his domination being challenged upset his nerves. He gave his orders to his stooges and then moved to Tasmania for what the press so glibly described as a couple of weeks' holiday - a fishing holiday with one of his great press friends. This man, high up in the press world, took our Prime Minister up some quiet river so that they could see whether they could change their tactics to remove the present Speaker and install the Prime Minister's personal friend in his place.

If any honorable members on the Government side doubt the authenticity of my remarks, I challenge the Prime Minister and all his stooges who rely on him for endorsement to publish the figures in respect of the Liberal party's selection of its candidate for the Speakership. Those figures were so shattering that the Prime Minister immediately suppressed them. He demanded of the press barons that they refuse to publish them, and they obeyed. The voting for the leadership of the Labour party was widely reported in the press, but what did the newspapers say regarding the elections for leadership of the Liberal party? They said, " The figures were not disclosed ". That is just the difference between fascism and democracy.

I am concerned because I know that there are weak members on the other side of the House who crawl and cringe for their endorsement, men who are not prepared to stand up and say what they think, because they will be threatened if they do. Talk about the old gangs from New York or Chicago! The thugs of the past have got nothing on the thugs who are in control of the Liberal party. The Prime Minister might have been brought back to the field, and he would not like it. He does not like to be interfered with. So we have the spectacle of the free people's press, these doughty fighters for freedom, for a voice to be heard, deciding that it is not the right thing to announce that there is a cleavage in the Liberal ranks. 1 would like to know why these people are so silent, and I would also like to know why the passage to Australia was arranged at a moment's notice of a certain gentleman who is the High Commissioner for Australia in London. Any one can fly to Australia from London to-day in three or four days. Why the remarkable organization? Why the fear that this Prime Minister would be displaced? Of course, the bureaucrats in Canberra were previously organizing the weak members of the Liberal party to get in behind the Prime Minister. This gentleman from London was brought out post haste. Being an old friend of the Prime Minister of years gone by, as a reward he was given five years-

Mr Daly - Where, in Long Bay?

Mr CURTIN - Not where the Prime Minister should be, in Long Bay, but in London as our High Commissioner. He was brought out post haste.

Mr Joske - On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker: I do not know whether you realize that the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith said that the Prime Minister should be in Long Bay.

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