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Wednesday, 20 March 1968

Mr DALY (Grayndler) - This is the first meeting of the Parliament following the tragic death of the former Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt). 1 take this opportunity, therefore, to express publicly my sympathy to his family and my regret at the sudden and unfortunate ending to his distinguished parliamentary career.

The Governor-General's Speech was disappointing, uninspiring and uninformative. This is no reflection on His Excellency, who carried out, with dignity and clarity, the difficult task of reading a dreary document. One fortunate aspect of the Speech was that it was short, even if it was not sweet. The proposals outlined dealt sketchily with the great issues facing Australia and offered no solution to the many great national and international problems. The Speech was all the more disappointing because it was, in effect, the first statement of policy by the new Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), a distinguished and, so we were led to believe, forthright and progressive Prime Minister with an exhilarating programme of social and economic reforms which would transform political events in this great country of ours.

The new Prime Minister was elected - and 1 am pleased that the Minister foi Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) is in the House - in an unsavoury atmosphere of political machination, sordid intrigue and public displays of disunity within the ranks of the Government parties. It could be said - and you would know this, Mr Deputy Speaker, as you belong to one of the parties - that the new Prime Minister was not able to say, as the former Prime Minister had said, when elected: 'I did not walk over anybody to get the job!' The new Prime Minister walked over not only his Senate colleagues but also over every member of the Liberal Party of Australia in this House. That statement is no personal reflection on the Prime Minister, because these things happen in politics. But it is indeed a reflection on his ministerial colleagues and members of the Government in this House that not one of them was considered worthy of the position. There are eighty-odd of them. However I exclude the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), whose great capacities, energies and abilities were somewhat less than appreciated by his beloved colleague in the Australian Country Party, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen), who stated that he would lead the Country Party out of the Government if the Treasurer were elected Prime Minister. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) also said that he would not support the Treasurer. That shows how bitter the campaign was. This was a mortal blow to the Treasurer and indicated to the world at large that all was not harmony and goodwill in the ranks of the Government parties and that the days of ring-a-rosy were evidently in the past.

Mr Turnbull - Mr Deputy Speaker, do I have to sit here and listen to the honourable member say things that are untrue? I rise to a point of order.

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