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Wednesday, 15 September 1971
Page: 1378


Mr FOSTER (Sturt) - I wish to refer to the members of the colonial Cabinet who, when they are all present, sit along the front bench opposite. Last night I could not attend in the chamber because I had to be in Adelaide, but the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) saw fit to reply belatedly to me on a matter I raised in the House last week. I am a little surprised that a Minister of the Crown, who enjoys advantages in the House at all times, should hide behind the adjournment debate to introduce the matter he raised last night. Where is his courage? 1 challenge him to stand here tomorrow and make a ministerial statement about the Pine Gap installation and we on this side of the chamber will most certainly debate the matter; not in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House tomorrow night, but during the course of the day. The Minister for Defence is yapping to the Minister for Housing (Mr Kevin Cairns), who does not know anything about housing. He would be better occupied listening to me. The fact is that at no time did I suggest that we on this side of the chamber would not have any consideration for anything the Americans would want to do.

The Minister also had a bit of a crack at me about the fact that I have said I am almost a complete pacifist. I remind the Minister of another pacifist, and I also remind the honourable member for Angas, that great ex-member of the Royal Australian Air Force who is now interjecting from the back benches. In fact, this week they could have attended the John Curtin Memorial Lecture, named after the greatest Prime Minister that this country has ever seen. John Curtin, a pacifist, led this country at its time of greatest peril during World War II. Honourable members opposite have very short memories.

I do not think I need do more now than quote from an article which appeared in the 'Sunday Australian' of 22nd August. It states:

Mr Fairbairncould not by any stretch of the imagination be thought to pose any kind of competitive threat. ... he was so pedestrain I don't think it could have occurred to anyone that he could lead a government.

That article was written by the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), the previous Prime Minister. Let us have another look at the article written by Mr Gorton. The honourable member for Farrer, the present Minister for Defence, had gone to the then Prime Minister looking for a plum of office in London. He went looking for a plum job, after suggesting to the Prime Minister that Paris was not good enough. A couple of days after the elections, when he had not done too well, he began to think 'Perhaps London is a little remote and possibly I could win the leadership of the Liberal Party'. He was the first among those who started stabbing in the back.

I do not want to waste a lot of time on the honourable member for Farrer. I repeat my challenge. I ought to be allotted 20 minutes in this debate tonight because 1 missed out on 10 minutes last night, not that it would take all that long to do the Minister over. I challenge the Minister to stand here tomorrow morning and make a ministerial statement on Pine Gap. I say to him: Do not hide behind the adjournment debate. Use the privileges of this House open to a Minister of the Crown. Stand up and see whether we will debate the matter of Pine Gap. Let us see whether we are not capable of amplifying what we consider to be the correct policy in contradiction to what the Liberals say. You in fact last night in attacking me agreed with what I had to say in regard to the matter, that is, that the bases did not afford any defence to Australia. That is what you did last night. You should read your own report in Hansard. You went off on me last night after I had gone to Adelaide. You say to me: 'AH right, you would like to be extended the courtesy of the House-







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