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Thursday, 1 March 1973
Page: 133

Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted.

Mr McMAHON - During the debate on the motton of censure this morning the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) made 2 statements which were inaccurate and by using the word inaccurate' I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that I am using the most modest language that can be applied to a statement of the kind made by him. We were dealing then with breaches of security and there were definite statements made about a breach of security by the Prime Minister. He then said that on 2 occasions I had been guilty of a similar type of breach. This statement is wrong and I want to emphasise that. The first occasion related to a gift of Sabre aircraft to the Indonesian Government. For some time there had been negotiations for a gift of these aircraft together with civil and military aid to the Indonesian Government. When asked a question in the House about this matter I naturally gave the correct answer that we were negotiating and that we would in fact give the aircraft if the Indonesian Government wanted us to do so. There was no secrecy about this and no reason for it to be regarded as confidential. There was no reason in the world why it should be classified in any way. If the honourable gentleman chooses to regard this as a breach of a security classification then heaven help the kind of open government that he will insist on during the time he happens to sit on the other side of the House.

Similarly in my answer to a question relating to the opening up of intelligence discussions between the Indonesian Government, myself and my relevant departments, it is true that we did open up the discussions and we had a long period of negotiations about them. I felt at the conclusion of the discussions that it was wise that there should be full and complete discussion and full and complete co-ordination between the Indonesian intelligence authorities and the Australian intelligence authorities. There was no reason whatsoever why this matter should have been regarded as even classified in the most humble way. I want to point out to the House that in both of these cases the honourable gentleman has trampled on the truth and has not lived up to the reputation for accuracy be seeks to achieve for himself.

The last misrepresentation concerns the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison) and the discussions I had in Indonesia relating to the Post-AMDA Arrangements. As I hope the Minister will remember, the word is 'Arrangements' and not agreements, pact or treaty. This word was used deliberately in the five power arrangements so that we could overcome the idea of it being an agreement which constituted a definite problem relating to a military commitment in the 2 parts of Malaysia - whether in the peninsula or East Malaysia. When quoting me the Minister obviously did not read what I had said. In taking a quote from one of the newspapers he omitted certain words. I did say that the arrangements were a voluntary agreement and that it was an agreement to consult only. It did not in fact amount to a precise commitment to undertake activity of an operational nature if we considered it to be necessary. But when we look at the words we find that whilst I said that it was not necessary to have a pact or arrangement - and it was a pact that we were talking about - I said:

But the Arrangements are all the more valuable because they trust us and we trust them.

There I paraphrased the words of Sir Robert Menzies in this House on 25th September 1963.

Mr Hurford - I rise on a point of order. The right honourable member for Lowe is debating the question.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! There is no point of order. The right honourable member is making a statement by leave, not a personal explanation.

Mr McMAHON - I consulted with the Prime Minister before I asked for leave to make my statement. If there were people here with any sense of history - and I believe that the Prime Minister has a sense of history - they would have known thatI said there was no necessity for an agreement because we in the Commonwealth countries had trust and confidence in each other. I was paraphrasing the words that the then Prime Minister used in the House somewhere about the 23rd or 25th September 1963. I have not been able to verify the exact date because unfortunately someone took the precaution of locking me out of my room over the luncheon adjournment. But I will check up the exact date. If you will agree, Mr Speaker - and I hope that the Leader of the House will agree - I will put the exact date in Hansard so that those honourable members who want accuracy and who wish to know the historical background against which the statement was made will be able to read it. I make this confirmatory statement: On both occasions the truth was not followed accurately. In fact there was such a diversion from the truth that although it is past history I felt that it was wise not only that we should test the accuracy of the statements made by the then opposition but to establish the truth as well.

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