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Tuesday, 29 September 1970
Page: 1811

Dr MACKAY (Evans) - After the irrelevancies to which we have just listened let me recapitulate what we are doing here at this moment. We are here debating a motion of want of confidence in the Prime Minister which has been moved on the grounds that he has been responsible for falsified photographs of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) at the recent Moratorium in the presence of Vietcong flags. A want of confidence motion is a motion of high seriousness in Parliament. Governments have fallen and Ministers have been dismissed in time past because of the moving of such a motion. Is this such an occasion? If it were, the time taken in this House today would be justified. We have not had question time. No Government business has been enacted. Perhaps even the heat of the accusations of this day would be justified, but this is not such an occasion. This is a pseudo-occasion. This is one of the low points of my experience in this Parliament. Why?

Let me recapitulate the chain of events, which is brief enough, that has led up to this day. The Leader of the Opposition made 3 statements. Firstly, he advised young servicemen, having enlisted in the Services, to refuse active service. Secondly, he went on record as sneering at ex-soldier policemen as being corrupted by their military service into a species of thugs. Finally, more recently, he extended his advice to troops already serving in Vietnam. What was the reaction of the nation to these 3 statements? There was widespread and uni versal condemnation. In the Press, including those newspapers which generally do not give much comfort to the Government but which could be thought to be supporting the Opposition on many occasions, there was utter condemnation. Then came this sequence of events: A series of puerile charges forced into Parliament and the deliberate reduction of this House on many occasions to a species of bear garden or circus ring. There were the tones and trappings of seriousness, but the content of empty and hollow nonsense.

What was the gravamen of the charges levelled, the supposed grounds of a no confidence motion? They too were 3 in number: Firstly, that the Prime Minister bad falsely charged the Leader of the Opposition with speaking under the Vietcong flag at the Moratorium; secondly, that he had tabled or caused to bc tabled falsified photographs showing a Vietcong flag in the vicinity of the Leader of the Opposition at the Moratorium; and thirdly, that he had wrongly brought about the use of the services of the Australian News and Information Bureau for partisan political purposes.

Mr Morrison - 1 raise a point of order. The honourable gentleman is reading his speech.

Dr MACKAY - I have notes but I am certainly not sticking to them verbatim. To return to the first issue about the Vietcong flags and the Moratorium, let us be sensible and forget mere semantics. Let me ask these questions of the House and the nation: Were Vietcong flags prominent at this Moratorium? Were they significant to its purpose? Did the Leader of the Opposition know of this purpose and this demonstration of enemy colours? Did he speak so as to condemn or to encourage their presence? These are the questions that this nation wants answered. The people know that the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) publicly stated his purpose - to invite Vietcong leaders to this country for this occasion. They know too that Senator Wheeldon is on record in Hansard as having said: l personally, I do not deny, do support the Vietcong ... If anyone accuses me of being around when somebody was carrying a Vietcong flag, 1 will not apologise. I will not withdraw. I will not say that I was not there. I will not say that I would have left the march if 1 had seen the Vietcong flag being carried. I did see some people carrying Vietcong flags and I did not withdraw from the march.

The senator says that he supports the Vietcong and will not withdraw or apologise for being with the Vietcong flag. But what does the Leader of the Opposition do? He, as usual, tries an evasion tactic:

I did not see any Vietcong flags in my vicinity . . .

But, did he know of the pro-Vietcong purposes of the Moratorium? Did he not read the many placards bearing inscriptions of this kind: 'Victory to the Vietcong'? Oh, no! He shrinks with horror from such a suggestion! Then, why did he advise young Australian men to desert if required to fight the Vietcong? Why did he call men who fought the Vietcong thugs'? Why did he call on servicemen in the face of the Vietcong at this moment to refuse to fight? Is he under a Vietcong flag right now, in every sense of the phrase that matters?

J served, as did both my parents and many other members on both sides of the House, under the Australian flag. I do not know that we ever looked up to see whether it was vertically above us or to recognise its colours at every specific moment, but we served, as so many did, under the Australian flag in spirit, loyalty and determination and in our abiding allegiance. In championing the Moratorium, the Leader of the Opposition knows that this Moratorium with its Vietcong flags and its Vietcong slogans has received since the grateful thanks of Hanoi, In a separate talk on the Vietnam Moratorium in Australia, Radio Hanoi said - and I quote from a report:

The current anti-war movement in Australia is providing practical support for the Vietnamese people's . . . fight for national salvation.

Yes, the thanks of Hanoi are heard for those who took part in this demonstration. So, was the Leader of the Opposition serving under the Australian flag or under the Vietcong flag? This is the kind of issue that the nation will be asked to judge.

I turn now to the second charge that was levelled against the Prime Minister. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition charges that the Prime Minister tabled a falsified photograph in this House. Falsified! With what purpose was it falsified? Was it falsified to show that the Leader of the Opposition was nearer than in reality to a Vietcong flag? How was this achieved? Was it achieved by trimming off the surrounds, allegedly removing evidence of a roadway between the man and the flag? But that is humbug because every version of the photograph shows a vehicle on that roadway between the man and the flag. What then was the falsification? Was it because persons carrying out their professional activities of trimming prints left a little more in one print than another? That is all. That is precisely all. No more, no less. This is the basis of the charge of supposed high seriousness that we have heard today as the basis for the call for a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister and the Government. What a contempt of Parliament there must surely be behind such trivia being masqueraded and paraded as one of the most important motions which can be moved in this place.

The third charge is that the Prime Minister misused the services of a Government department for purely party political purposes. This, too, would be serious if it could be substantiated. The Prime Minister has given, long weeks ago, his reasons for the use of photography in terms of evidence of reality to offset deliberate attempts to frame the police. Now, I do not fully share his attitude at this point. The use of different lenses and different camera fittings can change perspectives. We must be very careful indeed of this kind of thing. But photographs have been used for a very long time in legal evidence and there are rules and methods for avoiding their misuse. No suggestion of misuse can be made in this case, however, because there are dozens of eye witnesses who are prepared to swear to the facts that are depicted in the photographs. This is what actually happened on this occasion. I quote from a memorandum prepared by the Prime Minister's Press Secretary setting out the chain of events. It reads: o The Prime Minister wanted a record of the Moratorium in case of disturbances. o At the Prime Minister's direction, this office - the Press Secretary's - requested the News and Information Bureau to take a photographic record of the Moratorium. o As there were no particular incidents, the Prime Minister did not seek prints, nor did he sec any prints. o At the end of Moratorium Day, the Press Secretary advised ANIB there was no requirement for prints, and negatives were to be put on file.

The first time that prims were called for were on the following Thursday morning (24th) when the House was debating whether or not there were Vietcong flags at the Moratorium.

The Press Secretary asked the Bureau to send over a set of prints, and the picture as tabled was amongst them.

No directions had been given on the trimming of the print.

At the request of the Press, further prints of the picture as tabled were obtained from the Bureau.

The honourable member who tabled the photograph did so as described by the Press Secretary in the chamber without consultation with the Prime Minister. This is the totality of the situation. I personally accept that entirely.

If the Bureau took many photographs for its own purposes, that is its own affair, lt has long been its practice to photograph occasions such as this for purposes not remotely connected with party political purposes. For example, I hold up to the House this magnificent publication entitled Two Centuries' which sets out to show all facets of Australian life and of the Australian people including people engaged in protest demonstrations, lt was printed many, many months ago and no doubt it has pride of place in the private libraries of most honourable members. Honourable members will see, if they look through it, photographs taken by the Bureau of protest occasions.

So, I suggest to the House that all three charges can be seen to be hollow and trivial, as they must have been seen to be by those who concocted them. But they were desperate men indeed. They were desperate to throw a smokescreen over the dangerous and destructive self -revelation of their Leader during the past week. The real questions before this House are indeed questions of credibility and veracity. Is the question of this bour, the question of most concern to Australia, the question of the propriety of what the Prime Minister has done, or allowed to be done, in this case or is it the question of the propriety of the actions of the Leader of the Opposition on Wednesday night last and following days? ls it a question of the credibility of the Prime Minister when he asserts plainly his reasons for asking for a photographic record of the Moratorium, or is it the credibility of the Leader of the Opposition when he says: '1 saw no Vietcong flags . . .'? Is it a question of confidence in ihe Prime Minister to lead this nation is die face of Communist motivated actions at home and abroad, or of confidence in the honourable member for Werriwa to lead any longer what I still prefer to call Her Majesty's Opposition? I leave the nation to decide and I am confident what that decision will be.

Perhaps the crowning provocation of this charade this afternoon was the appearance before the despatch box of the honourable member for Lalor. This is the man who took over the first Moratorium from the parsons. Honourable members will recall the events at the National Methodist Memorial Church in Canberra on 25th November last. The then Reverend John Lloyd convened a meeting which was attended by 12 senators of this Parliament. The objective was to organise a moratorium to campaign for two things: First, the withdrawal of Australian and all other foreign troops from Vietnam and, secondly, the repeal of the National Service Act. A co-ordinating committee was set up under Mr Lloyd's leadership. On 9th December last year, it agreed to hold the Moratorium on 1 8th April. Later, the honourable member for Lalor, who took over the chairmanship of the committee, announced that the dates had been changed to 8th May and 10th May. On 9th February, much dispute took place about the change of date. But what did the honourable member for Lalor do? What could he do? The decision to make 8th May the date appears to have been taken already - and elsewhere - overseas.

The Executive Bureau of the WFTU - that is, the World Federation of Trade Unions; a Communist front with which the Australian Council of Trade Unions is not in communion - met in Khartoum from 24th to 26th February, lt published an Appeal to the Trade Unions and Workers of the World' to make 8th May a 'day of action for world peace'. The date would of course have been decided long before the Federation met in session. Did it choose the date because it had heard of Dr Cairns' choice of 8th May, did the honourable member choose it, was he told to arrange it by persons in common or was it mere coincidence? Perhaps we will never know.

What is known, however, is that the honourable member told demonstrators at the Moratorium:

This is the only way to express the will of the people. There are so many people who appear not to know what democracy is. Democracy is action by the people - on the farms, in the factories and in the streets. If it does not start there we will have no democracy at all.

He added that anyone who believes that democracy starts in Parliament is subject to 'a great delusion'.

So that is perhaps why we have been faced with this farcical situation today, why the work of Parliament has been set aside for today; why the most serious processes of Parliament have been prostituted to try to provide a smokescreen over the actions of the Leader of the Opposition who, on his own admission, has gone out to advise young men to ignore the decisions of this Parliament, to flout the provisions of Acts democratically enacted by the Parliament for the nation's defence, to scorn the law enforcement bodies and especially those in them honourably discharged from the Queen's service and to advise the troops in the field in the face of the very enemy, to refuse to continue to fight. There is a pattern to all of these things. It is a pattern that this nation will ignore at its dire peril.

We now have an Opposition revealed in all its facets - the trade union section some months ago calling for mutiny in the field; its left wing, represented by the honourable member for Lalor, and now its Leader and its Deputy Leader and his heir apparent all united in support of actions giving aid and comfort to our enemies. Those are the true issues of the confidence vote tonight and I leave the House and the nation to judge.

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