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Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 2692

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) - I have not delayed the House or the Committee very often or for very long in the years since I retired from the leadership of the Australian Labor Party, but there is something I want to bring to the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). I presume that he is the responsible Minister. I have here some exhibits which are a product of William Butler Tobacco Co. Ltd, 50 Marshall Street, Surry Hills, Sydney. The brand of the tobacco is Dr Pat. It is an Irish mixture. It is just a lot of stalk which Australians are expected to smoke. I will hand these to the Minister.

Mr Daly - Put them in Hansard.

Mr CALWELL - 1 well remember the day when a very distinguished colleague of mine, the Honourable John J. Dedman, got the permission of the House to erect a blackboard in this House in order that he might explain his economic theories. That was a famous occasion. This sort of rubbish, which T have produced, is being sold to the Australian people. I remember before I came to this House, back about 1940, when Australian pipe smokers were able to get pure Virginia leaf. After that time, and during the war, the Australian tobacco manufacturers chopped up the stalks, impregnated them with something or other, and included them with their products. The situation has followed that pattern ever since. I do not want to anticipate a debate or a measure that is coming forward, but I have a very strong feeling that many thousands of dollars - perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars - are being spent by the tobacco interests to try to save themselves from the Government's legislation. I know that a lot of commercial television stations will lose many thousands of dollars a year if the Government's legislation is passed, and I hope it will be passed.

I have a telegram from a very good friend of mine, MacAlister Blain, who was a member of this Parliament for many years. He went to the war and he was a guest of the Japanese. He holds very strong feelings about it all. I cannot do what he wants me to do, and that is to read his telegram in full. But he said:

My hearty congratulations your stand multiracial.

Then he says:

Give those white corpuscle vote cadgers their medicine.

Well, I have tried to do that. He wants me to mention his name - MacAlister Blain of 40 Tombonda Drive, Kiama. He said further:

Disgraceful black power salute -

I suppose he was referring to what happened at Government House in Melbourne -

.   . proves our policy and American dilemma. Multi-racial for sooth i should know. Kind regards from your friend another red blood.

But I rose to continue a little debate that I have had with the National Civic Council. I put a question on the notice paper on 2nd December last and I was told by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) that all the records had been destroyed. There was no reference to the fact that I had made any representations to the government of the day for an exemption from national service for Mr Santamaria and 2 other people. The Melbourne 'Herald' did a very good job on this matter and produced a very good documentary report. I do not want to go over it all, but I did say in the course of my remarks that I had made representations to the Government for the exemption from national service of Mr Santamaria who is the President of the National Civic

Council which I said was a predominantly Roman Catholic organisation which claims that it has about 5,000 members devoted to fighting communist influences in unions, politics and other areas.

In the course of my remarks I said that 3 persons had been exempted from service and that I had made representations on behalf of each of them. Mr Santamaria denied all this but he would not submit himself to an interview by representatives of the Press nor would he appear on television to discuss the matter. 1 had a feeling that he was prevaricating at the worst and equivocating at the best. Being rather tenacious as well as having a sense of history I thought I should pursue the matter further. The other 2 people involved were Mr F. K. Maher and Mr Kenneth W. Mitchell. All I said was that the late Bishop of Sale, Bishop Lyons, who was formerly the Vicar-General in Melbourne, had asked me to have these 3 gentlemen exempted because their work was equivalent to that of a chaplain in the forces or a person pursuing some work in a spiritual sense of interest to the nation. Mr Santamaria said that I had claimed to have sought military exemption for Mr Maher, Mr Mitchell as well as himself. He then said that both Mr Maher and Mr Mitchell had informed him that they were beyond military age and the call-up did not apply to them. The truth of the matter is that at that time Mr Mitchell was 37 years old.

I remember that dreadful period well, when the Japanese were almost breathing down our necks. The government of the day decided that all men who were eligible for service could be conscripted in 5 classifications and among these classifications were married men and widowers without children, aged 18 to 35, and married men and widowers with children, aged 35 to 45. It is true that at that time Mr Mitchell was 37 years of age but had the war situation deteriorated further it is certain that he would have been called up, so he was never really exempted by virtue of his age. I made application on behalf of these 3 persons and they were exempted. Mr Maher came out of this business very well. He said he thought he had been exempted because he was a member of Catholic Action. He said that Archbishop Mannix might have had 'some discussion with him' about an exemption from service. He said also: 1 think I was too old for military service, and the service would have been with the Allied Works Council. I am not sure if I applied for any exemption, but it would have been because of valuable work I was doing in the Church.'

I apologise to the House and to the nation, and say that had I known what was going to happen in the future I would never have applied for exemption for these people. Mr Santamaria is now 56, Mr Mitchell is 66; and Mr Maher is about 68. Mr Maher told the truth much more than did the others. 1 am sure from what I saw at Rowville in the war period, with men of 35 with three or four children conscripted and in training, that had the Japanese managed to land anywhere in Australia and had they bombed Sydney these people would have been called up. In fact, the Japanese did enter Sydney Harbour in submarines and they shelled Vaucluse from the Pacific Ocean.

Mr Cope - They shelled Bondi, too.

Mr CALWELL - Yes, they shelled Bondi. They also put a shell into the Broken Hill Pty Ltd works at Newcastle, but the shell failed to explode.

Mr Cope - They missed the Speaker when they shelled Bondi.

Mr CALWELL - Yes but he was away and performing his duty in the forces very meritoriously and he did not apply for an exemption. What I said on the former occasion was quite true. I did not have an answer to the question that 1 asked in the House on 9th December last. The Minister said that no records were available. 1 thank the Minister for Defence for what he has done in this matter. He was not satisfied that all the records had been destroyed and he pursued the matter further. Subsequently I received from the Minister for Defence a letter dated 23rd March 1972 which reads:

In my written reply to your question on notice concerning exemptions from military service in World War 11 for Messrs Santamaria, Mitchell and Maher, I informed you that Commonwealth records relating to individual exemptions were destroyed over 20 years ago. This was bas:d on written evidence to my Department that relevant records bad been searched.

I have now been, advised that, although records relating to exemptions have been destroyed, some papers relating to applications for deferment have been held on a sample basis. These include records showing that, apparently al the behest of the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, the Right Honourable J. H. Scullin. M.P., sought a deferment for Mr Santamaria and another person, and that in December 1941 a deferment for at least 6 months was given by Army authorities. This deferment was given to enable consideration to be given to alternative arrangements for the performance of the duties carried out by these 2 people.

Mr Santamariasaid he had been approached by a Mr Malcolm, Director of the Rural Affairs Division of the Victorian Branch of Labour and National Service. A spokesman for the Department said that papers relating to incidents and people of that period were not of permanent interest and were discarded, on the advice of the Commonwealth Archives, when the economy moved off a war footing. The Department's spokesman said also that the department had no idea who Mr Malcolm was and had no record of a Mr Malcolm having approached a Mr Santamaria suggesting that he could offer better service out of the Army by looking after rural matters and encouraging the production of food. Mr Santamaria is reported as having said:

Mr MALCOLM FRASER (WANNON, VICTORIA) asked me, as secretary of the Catholic Rural Movement, to assist in the organisation of the war agricultural committees and in organising work connected with the fruit harvest in the Goulburn Valley and Mildura.

I think the Minister for Defence has given the lie completely to Mr Santamaria's pretensions and I hope that now he has been exposed he will at last agree to be interviewed by the Press and to appear on television and answer questions, perhaps on This Day Tonight', or for that matter on any other day or night or even tomorrow on a television programme. Things were done during the war that perhaps should never have been done in the matter of exemptions from war service and I admit that in a way I was a party to what happened in the cases I have quoted.

I do not want to harm the future prospects of Mr Maher in semi-retirement, because he is a good man, nor of Mr Mitchell, but Mr Mitchell should have told the truth. He has 2 sons aged 31 and 30 who might have served in Vietnam so I suppose it pays to belong to the National Civic Council or the DLP - the demented lunatic party.

Mr Cohen - How many members of the Democratic Labor Party served in World War II?

Mr CALWELL - None of those in the other House.

Mr Cohen - Were they air raid wardens?

Mr CALWELL - I do not know how many members of the DLP served in World War II but whenever I look at Senator Gair on television I look at an animated toad that croaks like a frog.

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