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Tuesday, 28 May 1968

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock - Order! There are too many interjections. This is an important debate and I would be reluctant to take action which would preclude any honourable member from further taking part in the debate. However, if the constant stream of interjections persists, 1 will take action.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - I rise to order. You, Sir, have agreed, rightly I think, that this is a very important debate which should continue. I have a feeling that the Minister for Immigration proposes to gag the debate -

The CHAIRMAN - There is no substance in the point of order.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - I therefore ask you-

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member for Yarra will resume his seat.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - I ask you to take into account-

The CHAIRMAN - Order! I call the Minister for Immigration. [Quoroum formed]

Mr SNEDDEN - I was making the point that the necessary projection of the proposition put by the Opposition is that if a man not yet in the Service is entitled to invoke selective pacifism, it follows that honourable members opposite must argue that a man in the Service is entitled to invoke selective pacifism.

Dr Everingham - Yes.

Dr J F Cairns (YARRA, VICTORIA) - Yes.

Mr SNEDDEN - Yes' says the honourable member for Capricornia. 'Yes' says the honourable member for Yarra. There is no doubt about the attitude of the honourable members to this matter. But I want honourable members in the chamber to understand the necessary projection of the proposal. I for one cannot foresee a situation in which an Australian armed force, committed to battle, is likely to have within it individuals making the point that they propose not to engage in a particular action. It would make the defence of this country completely untenable and I for one am not prepared to commit myself to any proposal which has that far-reaching effect, for that effect it must inevitably have.

Honourable members opposite say or do they? that this is a matter of morals. I have put to the Committee - I believe it to be true - that what honourable members opposite argue is not on a moral base but on a political base. There can be no doubt about that. But let honourable members opposite now state, if they believe that the moral issue is so overwhelmingly in their favour, that they would abandon national service. Would they go further and withdraw the entire Australian commitment from Vietnam? If this is what the Opposition now says, why does its policy not state this fact? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) have been vacillating on Labor's policy in order to attract votes. This is what they have been seeking to do. They have been evading the issue.

I pay a tribute to the former Leader of the Labor Party, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) and the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) for at least not leaving any doubts as to their attitude. But the Labor Party, led by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, constantly vacillates on policy in the hope that it can hoodwink the Australian people into believing that Labor's policy is different from what it is. This is done in the hope of prospering at election time. When we are talking about the defence of the country the careers of young men are too important for politics.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The Minister's time has expired.

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