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Thursday, 2 June 1960

Mr FORBES (Barker) .- 1 had not intended to rise in this debate, but I must say that the protestations of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) about decency and the rights of men make every decent member of this House sick. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has, during the last fortnight, done what I believe to be one of the most despicable things ever to have come to my knowledge during my membership of this Parliament. The honorable member talks about decency and the rights of men, but during the debate on the tapping of telephones he saw fit to drag into the debate the name of a completely innocent junior employee of the Parliament. He was quite willing to bandy that person's name about and to make accusations against him which have caused him deep distress, although, on later investigation, not one single shred of evidence was found to substantiate the honorable member's accusations. The honorable member had not the slightest evidence available to him before making his charge; he made the charge purely for the sake of strengthening the point he was trying to make.

The honorable member has done this kind of thing previously. He probably makes more irresponsible and baseless charges against individuals than any other member of this House, with the possible exception of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Usually they are made against the people who can look after themselves. But this man cannot look after himself. He is a new Australian who, I am reminded by a colleague, came from Latvia. He is in a very humble position. Those two points may have some significance. All of us who know him know that he is a migrant. He is extremely proud of the position that he has established here. He is a small man - the sort of man we welcome to the country and for whom the honorable member for Hindmarsh is always trying to imply the Labour Party stands. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has brought that man's world - the position that he has established here after his former life on the other side of the world was shattered - down around his ears for nothing more than his own purposes.

We know that when this matter was investigated by Mr. Speaker the honorable member for Hindmarsh was unable to produce to him any evidence in support of his allegations. But that is not all. Two members of the honorable member's own party - the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) and the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) - have publicly stated that there is no substance in these charges. I think that all of us, whatever we may think of this Parliament before we come to it, after a little while here - and it does not take very long - absorb some of the atmosphere of the place. All of us feel that, in this institution, there is something worth preserving, and when one of our colleagues makes charges such as these he detracts from the dignity and the position of this place. I suggest, Sir, that as the honorable member for Hindmarsh has taken this course of action, any attempt he makes here in the future to refer to such things as principles, decency, dignity and the rights of man will certainly receive no credence among other honorable members.

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