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Tuesday, 10 October 1972
Page: 2295

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Leader of the Opposition) - by leave - The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has steadfastly adhered to the principle he announced for himself on this subject last March - "What I have never done is fix a date until I have made up my mind what the date is likely to be'. We have not only had speculation on the election date, we have even had just as much speculation about the day ;hat the date would be announced, and as that day approached we even had speculation about the time of the day on which the date would be announced. Who ever again will he able to say that the right honourable gentleman cannot keep a secret? Who will ever again say that he cannot grasp the nettle? The date announced - 2nd December - places the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) in a quite extraodinary position. He appeared to intend to hold his own election on 25lh November - the ultimate gesture of Country Party independence. Certainly one now has a magnificent example of the trust, the confidence, the comradeship between the 2 leaders of the coalition. As the Deputy Prime Minister said: 'He told me he would not tell me so I did not ask him'.

So now we have the date, and I must say that I think it is jolly decent of the Prime Minister to let us know officially.

The second day of December is a memorable day; it is the anniversary of Austerlitz. Far be it from me to wish, or to appear to wish, to assume the mantle of Napoleon, but 1 cannot forget that 2nd December was a date on which a crushing defeat was administered to a coalition - a ramshackle, reactionary coalition. There was really no reason for the Prime Minister to wait this long because there is no Budget legislation awaiting passage. Every piece of welfare legislation was put through both Houses on the day it was introduced. Every piece of taxation benefit similarly has been put through. The only bills which are long standing on the notice papr are the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill, the Fisheries Bill and the Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Bill. They have been on the Notice Paper since April and May of 1970 and 1971 and nobody really thinks they will be brought up for debate if the right honourable gentleman can help it. The only Budget measures which still have not been passed are the Appropriation Bills (No. 1) and (No. 2). There are uncharitable people who suggest that the delay in passing the Budget formally is to defer the contingency motion in the name of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton).

The only thing that I would like to say about the date chosen is that I must tell my colleagues - at least 26 of them - that there will be no Christmas holidays for them this year. My Party - both the members in the Parliament and its officials outside - has been ready for this election for many months, whenever it was to be held and whenever it was to be announced. Despite some statements made by Ministers, particularly the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) who is the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and who of course also was not consulted on the date, I may say that Labor's campaign will not be American style either in method or in purpose. It will be based from beginning to end, through the length and breadth of this country, upon the public meeting when we shall not only talk directly face to face to the people but also answer their questions. Nor will our campaign be presidential. The Labor Party will win this election because of the known qualities of its team and its policies, because it has men better prepared for office than any who have sought to gain office at any election since federation, and because our policies are the best prepared and most thoroughly scrutinised ever presented by any party at any election since federation. It is on these facts and our faith in the good judgment of the Australian people that we rest our confidence on the outcome of the election now announced to be held on 2nd December.

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