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Thursday, 2 June 1960

Mr CLEAVER (Swan) .- The Opposition has taken its share of the time which has been made available for this adjournment debate, so I do not need to apologize for detaining the House for a moment or two. I should not like the House to go into recess with the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) thinking he had prompted me to rise to my feet because of what he said. I trust that I shall deal appropriately with the pointed references which he made to myself. I wanted particularly to rise because of the comments of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). My friend and colleague, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) most appropriately and very forthrightly dealt with the despicable attitude of the honorable member for Hindmarsh in and around this place. Apparently, he likes not only to wear a red flower in his button hole but also to introduce into his contributions in this chamber many red herrings. That is what he did a little while ago so that he would have the opportunity to criticize further the legislation in relation to telephone tapping. He is interjecting now. Apparently he does not like things thrown at him in this way. He used the name of a churchman in his usual fashion.

The honorable member for Reid, remembering that I had met and had a friendly conversation with the Reverend Alan Walker in the precincts of this House thought that he had a chance to get me to my feet. I am happy to oblige him and to make the point that my friendship with the Reverend Alan Walker does not necessitate my rising to defend him for anything that he may say. The Reverend Alan Walker is quite capable of fending for himself. If I am to have a friendship of any quality with members of the Opposition, or with people who do not think in politics in the same way as I do, that is all right. The honorable member needs to be reminded that we do not all follow the same line of politics. As all honorable members know, the politics which I follow are widely divergent from those which are followed by the Reverend Alan Walker. But I can still be friendly with him. I can still, in a democratic country and in a Church which is highly regarded, have fellowship with a man whose politics are poles apart from mine. That is the situation.

I am happy to call the Reverend Alan Walker a personal friend. I have been in his home and I have been on his platform, as has the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam); but the difference between the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and myself is that while, last Sunday afternoon, he was using the Reverend Alan Walker's platform in Sydney for political purposes, I was on the same platform a week before as a delegate to a Church conference, and I did not touch in any way on any political subject. I notice that my statement has prompted the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to come to the table, but he may not have the opportunity to reply. I was there as a churchman, my friend, and if you listen to me I hope to do you some good.

Mr Curtin - Ah, I am saved at last.

Mr CLEAVER - Perhaps so. The one point I must make clear is that the Reverend Alan Walker must state his own opinion. He holds no office in the general conference of the Methodist Church of Australasia. That conference concluded about ten days ago in Sydney. He does not speak in the name of the Methodist Church of Australia. I want to remind the honor able member for Hindmarsh, the honorable member for Reid, and all those associated with them - the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) should, because of his long association with the same church, nod his head in agreement with what I say - that such men speak in the name of the church only when they speak in accordance with resolutions that have been carried and sustained by the church in general conference. At the conference in Sydney only a few days ago, there was no resolution at all on the subject of telephone tapping.

The honorable member for Hindmarsh speaks as if telephone tapping is a major item, which is the subject of thousands of complaints. I have not mentioned the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is a close associate of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, but he is in the same category. This is the significant point. The member for Swan has not received one complaint in any form about the legislation to which honorable members opposite have been addressing their comments. I guarantee that there is a host of other members on my side of the House who are in a similar position. This subject, therefore, is a red herring introduced by the honorable member for Hindmarsh so that he could take the opportunity of having another political dig at the government of the day.

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