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Tuesday, 26 February 1980
Page: 351

Mr SCHOLES (Corio) -During Question Time the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) quoted, accurately I think- I have not had time to check -

Mr SPEAKER -Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented and wish to make a personal explanation?


Mr SPEAKER -He may proceed.

Mr SCHOLES -The Prime Minister quoted remarks that I made as part of an assessment of the problems in Afghanistan. I indicate that, as far as I am able to ascertain, the remarks were quoted accurately. However, the Prime Minister then placed an interpretation on those remarks namely, that in assessing some of the reasons for the Soviet Union's entry into Afghanistan I was making excuses for the Soviet Union. It is, I think, dangerous for an honourable member, or for anyone, to make judgments based on inaccurate information. The Prime Minister has said that on this matter we should have a bipartisan approach. Such an approach could be possible if the Prime Minister were prepared at least to participate in such an approach. However, this type of statement, wherein he seeks to attribute false motives to me and to other members of the Opposition, gives no opportunity for a bipartisan approach. The Prime Minister in deliberately trying to make political capital and to denigrate the character of honourable members who try to make an honest assessment of the situation, who therefore examine all the facts, and arrive at a conclusion similar to that of the Prime Minister on the Soviet invasion, does a disservice to any suggestion of a bipartisan approach.

I wish to refer to another instance of misrepresentation. The Prime Minister has indicated that members of the Opposition have had the opportunity to participate in a bipartisan approach. That is not correct. Members of the Opposition, including the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden), have been offered no access to security briefings or Government information on this matter. That has been deliberately withheld- for obvious reasons- because, on the Government's agruments, we could not agree with the Prime Minister.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman is now debating the matter.

Mr Baillieu - Who asked for a briefing?

Mr SCHOLES - We should not have to ask for it on a matter as important as this.

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