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Wednesday, 28 October 1970

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - After question time yesterday my colleague the Minister for the Army made some inquiries and later in the day spoke to LieutenantColonel Scott who had been named by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The allegation implicit in the question asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was that Lieutenant-Colonel Scott had asked members of the Battalion whether they wished to serve in Vietnam and that 60 to 80 soldiers had said that they did not want to and had therefore been posted somewhere else. The advice of my colleague, after he had spoken with Lieutenant-Colonel Scott, is that the allegation implicit in the question of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is completely and utterly false. There are in fact, to be quite fair to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, about 60 people who. for medical reasons, because there is not sufficient residual service and on compassionate grounds could be posted out of the Battalion. This is a routine measure which occurs with every battalion in preparation for service overseas, but to mention the lieutenantcolonel in charge of the battalion, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition did, was, I believe, a denigration of the officer in the circumstances at the time. He could have sought the information without mentioning the officer's name. It is quite clear that this was a further attempt by the Opposition in a deliberate campaign to undermine national service and, in- particular, to destroy the discipline of the Australian Army whether in Australia or overseas. There have been a number of instances of efforts in this direction by people from the Leader of the Opposition down. We recall the Leader of the Opposition in a prepared Press statement advising soldiers of the Australian Army to mutiny.

Mr Grassby - That is not true.

Mr Malcolm Fraser (WANNON, VICTORIA) - It is true. We have the very words of the Leader of the Opposition. Evidently honouarble members cannot understand the Leader of the Opposition's own Press statement. He went through a whole rigmarole of advising soldiers that they should give written advice, if they were ordered to go to Vietnam, that they would not obey that order. If a number of soldiers collectively took that advice it would lead to a mutinous situation. Then Senator Wheeldon said - and it is on record in the Senate - that he supports the Vietcong and he claims that he wants the Vietcong to win.

Mr Whitlam - I raise a point of order. I have my own remedy at the end of question time. 1 can make an explanation - and once again I will have to make one. Here is an aspersion being cast on a member of another place. That at least is out of order, and one can take it in this way.

Mr Cope - Mr Speaker-

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