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Tuesday, 29 September 1970
Page: 1791


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - As I said earlier, I cannot ever recall a more serious, more solemn and more distressing circumstance than the one which we now have to face. Never before, as I said, can 1 ever recall this sort of thing happening in the Parliament of the Commonwealth in the whole history of the Commonwealth. I searched the records as quickly as I could and I can find no reference at all to where a Prime Minister's integrity or his word of honour has been under impeachment as it now and where people are doubting the integrity of the man who holds the highest position in the land. I want to know some very important and most relevant things. I am now going to ask the Government speakers who follow me to answer these questions. Who gave the photograph to the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) which he tabled?


Mr Giles - That is none of your business.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -It is very much the business of the Parliament to try to get to the depth of a charge of faking photographs which have been taken by a Government agency and which are now being used for party political purposes. It is very much my business and it is very much the business of this Parliament to get to the depth of this matter. I notice that the honourable member for La Trobe has disappeared. I wish someone would bring him back and invite him to stand up in this place I would prefer him to stand at the dispatch box - and tell this Parliament where he got the photograph. I am informed that he got it from an officer of the Prime Minister's Department - a member of the Prime Minister's staff. Now that I have made that allegation it is the bounden duty of the honourable member for La Trobe to deny it if it is not true. If it is true. I do not believe the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) when he says that he knew nothing of the photograph until it was tabled in the Parliament. The Prime Minister twitted the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) for saying that, as far as he could recall, there was no Vietcong flag in the vicinity of his meeting and that he could not recall speaking anywhere near a Vietcong flag. Realising the weakness of his position the Prime Minister said: 'Oh, look, let us forget about the phrase "under the flag" and let us deal with the matter in isolation from the statement.' How can we do that? It is that very statement which the Leader of the Opposition has challenged and it is that very statement on the part of the Prime Minister against which this Parliament ought to take umbrage if it is untrue.

At a Liberal Party convention last Saturday week the Prime Minister said:

It is all very well for the Leader of the Opposition to make soothing noises as to what is going on, but yesterday-

Listen to this - we saw him speaking to a crowd - an orderly crowd - but a crowd with Vietcong flags flying above them, and above his head-

That is, above the head of the Leader of the Opposition - as he spoke to them.

Is that not saying that when the Leader of the Opposition was speaking to the crowd a Vietcong flag was flying above them - above his head? That statement was

Untrue. Since we are now dealing with the integrity and the probity of the Prime Minister, it is possible that it was a lie.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock (LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES) -Order!


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am in order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! 1 suggest that the honourable member for Hindmarsh is aware of the Standing Orders and also that, in a debate such as this, he should keep the debate within the Standing Orders.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - My time is running out so 1 cannot argue.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - But what is significant in recounting these incidents is that after the event took place the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) on This Day Tonight' repeated the same statement. That was a falsehood. 1 cannot say 'lie'. The grinning Minister for Social Services knows that it was a falsehood. But that was not the end of it. The Government Whip, the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox), then got up in his place at question time and asked a question which is known in this place as a 'Dorothy Dixer', which means that he knew the answer before he asked the question. He received an answer prepared by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) which tried to lend colour to the false allegation made by the Prime Minister. If it is true, as the Prime Minister now says, that he had not seen the photograph until it was tabled, how was it possible and on what basis did the Prime Minister state to the Liberal Party conference beforehand that the Leader of the Opposition was standing under a Vietcong flag? The Prime Minister was not there himself, and yet he now tells us that he did not see the photograph until it was tabled. How can he truthfully have told the Liberal Party conference last Saturday week that the Leader of the Opposition had been standing under a Vietcong flag? Somebody is lying. I do not know whether or not it is somebody from the Parliament, but somebody is lying. 1 would like to know who held the only Vietcong flag that appears in any of the pictures. Why was it there? Was it there by arrangement with the Prime Minister's Department? Was it there by arrangement with the Australian News and Information Bureau? Is this just another Petrov affair to try to get the Liberal Party off the hook and to try to make the pensioners forget about their 50c increase in pensions? ls that why it is being done? I would like to remind the House that the Liberal Government won an election once before by bringing forward a red herring - the Petrov red herring. It did not prosecute anybody, although immediately after the affair was first mentioned one would have thought that nearly everybody was going to be indicted for some heinous offence against Commonwealth security. But nothing was done. Now we find the Government using an agency of the Government, which is being paid for by the people of Australia, including those who voted against the Government and those who believe in the philosophy for which my Party stands, for party political purposes and for indulging in this scurvy, miserable, despicable attempt to make political capital out of a faked photograph.

Why did the Government dodge the issue a moment ago of having the chief of the Australian News and Information Bureau brought to the bar of the House? Is it because the Government fears the truth coming out? This reminds me that the Prime Minister was not so careful about disguising or concealing the truth 2 or 3 years ago when it was suggested that the permanent head of the Department of Air should be brought before the bar of the House to deal with questions relative to the use of VIP aircraft. On that occasion the action he took was to come clean. In the course of coming clean what he did was to prove that the then Prime Minister was telling untruths and that the then Minister for Air, the honourable member for Casey (Mr Howson), was also telling an untruth. He got rid of the honourable member for Casey when he eventually got the job of Prime Minister. He got this job because death intervened and everybody in the Liberal Party was so impressed with the integrity and probity of the man who showed the Government up for the lies it was telling that they said: 'A man like this is what we need at this moment. Of course we need a man like this.' They needed a man like the man they thought he was, not the man he turned out to be. We are told that these things are only red herrings. If it is true - and I am not saying it is because I am not allowed to say that - this man who sits at the table this minute, this man who struts the political stage as the chief Minister of the Government, is not fit to clean the toilets of Parliament House much less to hold the position of Prime Minister. I say that believing it to be a fair statement of the facts.

The Prime Minister seeks to get refuge from the fact that he did not personally fake the photograph. [ do not suppose he would know how to do it if he wanted to. I am not saying he would not want to but I do say that he would not know how. He carefully avoids saying that he had no part in arranging for somebody else to do it. He does not deny that it was faked within his own Department. He does not deny that a member of his own staff gave it to the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). He does not deny that a member of his staff contacted the the News and Information Bureau to arrange for the photographs to be taken. He does not deny something else, that is, the statement made by the Minister for the Interior who said first of all that he knew nothing of it, that it could not be done because the Bureau could not be instructed by anybody, but who admitted in the radio interview that he did receive a telephone message from the Prime Minister's staff asking whether the photographers were at the Moratorium and he said that he did not know.


Mr Nixon - Has the honourable member ever been on a radio interview?


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - 1 heard the statement by the Minister over the radio and was staggered by it. My wife said: Try and calm yourself down because this is probably something he has done time and time again'.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock - I suggest that the honourable member for Hindmarsh should follow that advice here and now.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - He said that he did not know anything about the photograph until it was tabled. Frankly I do not believe it, because if he did not know anything about the photograph I would have to suggest he was lying to the Liberal Party when he said he saw a flag.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - 1 am not suggesting it.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I suggest, as I have suggested before to the honourable member for Hindmarsh, that in this debate he should remember that this is the Commonwealth Parliament and that he should follow strictly the Standing Orders and the implications of the Standing Orders.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Thank you, Sir. The Prime Minister has sought to excuse the use of the police for taking photographs of innocent bystanders at an ordinary, quietly conducted public meeting, and so has the Minister for Interior, on the basis that in the event of there being a scuffle or any violence it would be necessary for the police to have some record to show that the violence was not commenced or caused by themselves. Since in this case there was no violence and the police were not involved in any scuffle, why was it necessary to take any photographs? Seventy photographs were taken. Why, on the other hand, was it necessary for people who were presumably sent there to take photographs to protect the good name of the police in the event of their being involved in a scuffle to take several photographs of the Leader of the Opposition, who was nowhere near a scuffle, who was nowhere near the demonstration at the time and who had a 50 feet road separating him from the demonstrators and who was seen talking to 3 innocent, harmless university students without the slightest attempt of being attacked by the police or the police being attacked by them? There were no police in the photographs.

In my opinion this shows beyond all doubt - in fact it is conclusive proof to me - that the photographers were sent there deliberately for party political purposes, that the Vietcong flag may have been put there by an agent of the Government and that an attempt was made to have this flag taken in the same photograph as the Leader of the Opposition in cheap, scurvy, miserable political point against the Leader of the Opposition. Members of the Government fear him. They know that he is an upstanding man of great probity and dignity. They know he would look more like a Prime Minister than their own leader does. Therefore they have to do every possible thing to drag him down and destroy him. They used to say the same thing about Mr Chifley when he was alive. On the very day that he died the 'Sydney Morning Herald' had him described as an agent of the Kremlin, ft did not know he was going to die while the article was being printed. The next day it described him as Australia's finest son.

So it is with our present leader. When honourable members opposite fear the Leader of the Opposition most they stoop to the lowest, shabbiest, dirtiest tricks to try to destroy him. No-one can destroy a man whose integrity is as high as that of the Leader of the Opposition. They then seek to say: 'Why did the Leader of the Opposition appear at the rally at all?1 The Leader of the Opposition has a right, a duty and an obligation to appear at a rally when called upon to do so. He has no reason to run away from anybody. He represents a Party that has a firm policy on conscription, compulsory national service and the Vietnam war. It was his duty to stand up fearlessly and defend that policy, as he has always done. He did not make the policy. He perhaps did not necessarily agree with it, but once the policy was made it was bis bounden duty not to shirk any opportunity that might present itself to state what the policy was. I venture to say that the policy stated by the Leader of the Opposition to that demonstration would not have pleased everybody at the demonstration. It certainly did not please the Government agents who were walking around with Vietcong flags in order to be photographed and thus give a photograph bearing a resemblance of a man talking to a bunch of Vietcong agents. Of course it did not please them.

Let me remind the Prime Minister of a statement made by that outstanding commentator, Mr Frank Chamberlain, easily I would think the best commentator on radio today. My friend the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) reminded me of his remark a moment ago. He said that one of. the things that Churchill was most shaken by in dealing with the Axis powers was the way in which the Nazi Party had resorted to the use of photography to damage and destroy its proposed victims. One of the things to which Churchill referred was the photographing of innocent people in the streets. Churchill thought that this was one of the most abhorrent things he could imagine.


Mr Armitage - So it is.


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Of course it is. He also referred to the tapping of telephones, something which this Government has authorised and given legal effect to by legislative means. I remember Sir Robert Menzies, when he was Prime Minister, coming back from an overseas conference on the Suez crisis in 1956 and giving a report to Anthony Eden on what he had discovered on his trip up the Nile with the late President Nasser. He said that Egypt had all the hallmarks of a police state, and he quoted 3 of the things that gave Egypt the hallmarks of a police state. The first thing he mentioned was the tapping of telephones. If honourable members on either side think that is not a correct statement of fact, let them read Anthony Eden's memoirs and they will find it there stated.

I believe we are marching headlong towards a police state. The reason why we fight for our country and spend millions on defence is to prevent this country from becoming a police state. The reason why people light and die for their country is to prevent this country from becoming a police state. What will we have achieved, what will the enormous wealth we have poured into defence have meant and what will the lives of those who have died have meant to us if, after their sacrifice, we finish up with a system of government with all the evil features for which we have every right to condemn those countries which are police states.

Mr GORTON(Higgins - Prime Minister) - Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a very short personal explanation. The honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) has just suggested that it would have been impossible for me to go to the Liberal Party meeting and say that I had seen those crowds and seen those flags and seen them flying above the crowds and above the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) unless I had seen the picture to which he refers. The explanation I would like to make is that this is quite wrong because I have a very good view through my window of what happens out there and it was on that that I was reporting. For the rest, Mr Deputy Speaker, he also indicated that 1 was seeking in some way to avoid anything to do with the presentation of that particular photograph to this House. This is true. But if 1 had known of it and if 1 had seen it, I would have thought that it would have been a very proper thing to table in this House in view of the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition.







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