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Thursday, 4 April 1968

Mr UREN (Reid) - Politics is a tough game. Public life is a very difficult arena. I believe that basically what we should try to do in this House is to deal with policies instead of personalities. In the words that were uttered by the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Jeff Bate) tonight, certain accusations were made against the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). I was not in the chamber when the Leader of the Opposition made the comment which I read in the newspapers which was attributed to him. As I understand it, he was dealing- with a matter of policy. How it is expressed is a matter of each man's personality. Each man says what he wants to say in his own way. But he was dealing with a matter of policy.

Dr Forbes - A mongrel cur.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The Minister will withdraw that remark.

Dr Forbes - I withdraw it.

Mr UREN - The honourable member for Macarthur scraped the bottom of the barrel in making himself an exhibitionist and in trying to attack the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Howson - Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. Is the honourable member for Reid referring to a previous debate? He is now really mentioning a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). Therefore he must be referring to the recent 'Voyager* debate.

Mr SPEAKER -I remind the honourable member for Reid that any reference to a previous debate would be out of order.

Mr UREN -I thank you, Mr Speaker, for your guidance. Over the last 2 weeks I have been deeply disturbed by a personal attack made within this House - not just an attack on an individual, but a deep personal slur on the loyalty of a man in regard to his actions to his country. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen) in fact has made a personal accusation or charge against Mr Maxwell Newton. He went to the extent of saying that Mr Maxwell Newton was a secret paid agent of the Japanese* Government. In my opinion that was a very serious charge. I know that honourable members on the other side of the chamber have made accusations against people on this side being paid agents or dupes of the Soviet Union or China. We could make accusations about people on the Government side being paid agents of the United States or Great Britain. This is just nonsense.

Nobody has a deeper respect for the Deputy Prime Minister than I have. I think he is a fine Australian. But for some reason or other he seems to have an Achilles' heel as far as Mr Maxwell Newton is concerned. It seems that Mr Maxwell Newton's great sin is that he criticises the policies of the Australian Country Party. For criticising the policies of the Country Party he is accused and abused. The rights of this House have been abused in this personal attack. I am not talking only about personal attacks on Maxwell Newton. I deplore personal attacks on any person. I want to see honourable members referring in this place to policy and not resorting to personalities. I know there are extreme circumstances when one has to deal with individuals, but these should be minimised. We should guard against using this House to blacken anyone's character.

Reference has been made to Maxwell Newton holding a position in the Press gallery. The terrible sin that he has committed has been to attack the policies of the Country Party. One can think of Press correspondents who have vilified the Australian Labor Party. What would be the position if we attacked the Press and made personal accusations about its members being pawns and dupes for some other country? Surely there should be some realism about these matters. Smearing accusations are made against the Labor Party. After all, the Press of Australia is not the friend of the Australian Labor Party.

I do not agree with the policies of Maxwell Newton. But that is not to say that I believe he is a paid agent of the Japanese Government. I disagree with the economic policy put forward by Maxwell Newton. As a matter of fact, I disagreed with his policies when he was the editor of the 'Australian'. I thought he made a fine contribution to Australia when he was the financial editor of the 'Australian Financial Review', because he brought out many of the facts relating to government and big business in this country. I have deep disagreement with him in relation to his economic policy. But having said that, I am appalled that personal attacks are being made on him in such a manner. Why is this taking place? Why do we have this continued vilification of one man? Why do not the Government and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) face the real issues of trade? We have had a deficit on the balance of current account with the United States of America during the administration of this Government. This deficit has been of the order of $4,900m. Between the United Kingdom and tha United States we have had a deficit of over $9,000m during the period of this Government's administration. Our overall deficit has been about $6,200m. This means that we have had a favourable balance with some countries to the extent of about $2,800m. The great bulk of that credit, of course, has come from trade with Japan. As a result of trade with Japan we have been able to bring down our deficit on current account to about $6,200m. But what has the Government done to pay for this? It has allowed indiscriminate foreign investment to eat the heart and soul out of this country. As the Deputy Prime Minister said a few years ago, we are selling a bit of our heritage every year. But the Deputy Prime Minister only uses words. He has taken no legislative action to rectify this matter.

What does the Deputy Prime Minister do to try and counteract our deficit? He makes personal accusations. He takes one man as his punching ball and tries to lay all the sins in the world on him. He tries to blame one man for the trade deficit. When is he going to face up to his responsibilities? When is he going to stop talking and start acting? When is he going to get the Government to undertake some economic planning? When is he going to try to rectify the balance of payments position? I point out once again that our overall trade deficit during the administration of this Government has been about $6,200m. When is he going to be as tough with the United Kingdom and the United States as he has been with Japan, with whom we have a favourable balance of trade? After all, I am not one who should praise the Japanese Government. I suppose that I have suffered as much under their barbarism as any other person here, but I do not indulge in personalities. I think it is about time we took stock of one another in this House and stopped resorting to personalities. Let us confine ourselves to the consideration of policies. When we do, we will be a better Parliament.

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