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Tuesday, 26 September 1972
Page: 1870

Dr SOLOMON (DENISON, TASMANIA) - I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question which is supplementary to one asked some weeks ago by the honourable member for Lalor relating to offences against the National Service Act. What now is the position in relation to that draft-evading gentleman from Victoria who seeks to represent the Australian Labor Party in this House, with the goodwill of the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, if not that of the Leader of the Opposition?

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - The position with regard to Mr Barry Johnston who, of course, is the opponent of my colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise in the electorate of Hotham, shows no change, notwithstanding the fact that, behind the scenes of course, there has been very considerable activity in seeking a solution to a problem which has bedevilled the Leader of the Opposition and which continues to bedevil him because that solution is outside his persona] control. The case of Mr Barry Johnston m Victoria shows without any shadow of doubt whatsoever the incapacity of the Leader of the Opposition to bring strength to bear in a situation in which he realises, above of all other people in his party, that Mr Barry Johnston's continuing to stand for the seat of Hotham is a matter of absolute embarrassement not just to himself personally or as Leader of the Opposition, but in fact to the whole of the Australian Labor Party.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I suggest to the Minister that while his remarks are most interesting to a great number of members of the House they are outside the ambit of the question that was asked.

Mr LYNCH - I accept that indeed, Mr Speaker. The point that one is seeking to make is that this is not just a matter of interest to the House: It is a matter of very great significance to the Australian electorate. So far as the specific question which is posed by the honourable gentleman is concerned, there is in fact no change. Mr Barry Johnston is in default of the National Service Act. He is subject to a warrant of apprehension by the Commonwealth Police. Members of the Commonwealth Police have been searching for Mr Johnston but they have not been able to ascertain his whereabouts. No doubt, in that sense there are persons on the other side of the House who could be very helpful if they were prepared to be.

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