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Wednesday, 28 February 1973
Page: 96

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) (Minister for Social Security) - The honourable member, who has just resumed his seat affects some distress and some wonderment that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) did not come into the House to respond to him. I point out to him that the Prime Minister, like so many other people on both sides of the House, undoubtedly sees him as a political lightweight and thinks it scarcely worth the effort to come into the House to reply to him. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) certainly has one record - an unenviable one - to his credit, namely, that alone he has notched up the discovery of more Communists in Australia than the sum of all security agencies in the whole of the Western world, including such democratic republics, which he upholds, as South Africa and Rhodesia.

What I was particularly interested to hear him say was that when a Minister handles documents in his office all members of his staff at some stage or other are able to handle and to see those documents. He is effectively saying that in his experience as a Minister this is so and this is what took place in his office. I can assure the honourable member for Mackellar that this is not so in the offices of the Ministers of this Government. We are all cautious about the way in which documents are handled. As a purely personal opinion, I also add that a great deal of the material which is stamped as 'confidential' and restricted' for consideration by Cabinet does not deserve this sort of designation at all. It is material that could be freely available -at any stage to the Press and the bulk of the public, and the community would be no better off and no worse off as a result of this. These documents are stamped 'confidential' in an obsessional sort of way because of the practices of previous governments. 1 find particularly interesting the stress placed by the honourable member for Mackellar on the subject of security and the need to ensure that the security of Australia is not breached. After all he has some expertise in this matter. On one occasion he was able to breach security arrangements in this country, going in but not going out. As the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) has pointed out on more than one occasion, the ex-Minister decided at some stage many years ago to breach the security arrangements at the Garden Island Naval Dockyard. He breached them in gaining entry and was locked up for his trouble. He arranged for the then Prime Minister, Mr Menzies, to be telephoned so that he could be released. The Prime Minister was so impressed by the quality of the honourable member that he informed the people who rang up that he ought to be left in custody overnight. Whether it was to dry out or to dry up I am not quite sure, but he was to be left in overnight.

Of course, there is the classic story of how he provided the Wollongong Cup for Jim Healy, the Communist Party member and leader of the Waterside Workers Federation, whom he used to assail. He suddenly changed his attitude and found many virtues in that man after Jim Healy threatened him with a court action.

Mr Wentworth - I rise to take a point of order. For the benefit of the Minister at the table, I inform the House that the gentleman in question in the incident at Garden Island was the previous member for Macarthur.

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