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Thursday, 15 March 1973
Page: 611

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Labour) - Mr Speaker, it will be comforting to the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) to know that I do not dislike him at all. Indeed, I rather like him; I am very fond of him, as he must have many times suspected. I think it would be unfair for me to hold out much longer the source of my information about the honourable gentleman. My information is that a communist organiser named Frank Graham - would that name ring a bell with the honourable member - was the one who nominated the honourable member to be a member of the Federated Clerks Union which was then under the control of a person whom the honourable gentleman himself described - together with one other whose name I shall give in a moment - as the most dangerous communist that this country has ever seen. This was Mr Hughes. That was the honourable gentleman's description of Mr Hughes.

I always tried to take a very kindly view of the honourable gentleman. He is a nice person. When he was the Minister for Social Services he did try very hard, and he is very good in all fields except in the field of communism; this is where he blots his copybook, unfortunately. But of course one can never tell what is behind a person when he carries on a charade like this. I shall always remember reading a book on Russian intelligence. The very first lesson you are taught if you want to be a Russian spy - this was specially so in the days of Stalin - is to placate your intended victims by making them believe that you are really strongly opposed to Communism. You would get a special dispensation from the Kremlin under which you were permitted, with the knowledge of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Moscow, to carry out terrible tirades of abuse against communism because this would give you an opportunity to sit down and have a cup of tea with people like the late Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes and even with the honourable gentleman who is now folding his arms in relief - the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). In this way you could extract from your colleagues - ministerial colleagues especially - very valuable and important secret information which could then be passed on to your bosses in the Kremlin.

I have never said that the honourable gentleman is a communist spy. I have never said it because I cannot prove it, and I think that if you cannot prove a thing you have no right to say it. But there are some things about the honourable gentleman that makes me very suspicious. For example, it was said away back in 1950 that he was an undercover member of the Port Kembla branch of the Communist Party. The honourable gentleman who was then the representative of the electorate of Kingsford-Smith alleged that he held ticket number 261. The honourable member for Mackellar denied that that was the correct ticket number but until 1967 he did not deny that he was a member of the Communist Party. For 18 years he sat back and was honest enough not to deny the allegations against him. Then in 1967, rather belatedly I would have thought, 18 years after the first allegation was made he made a rather feeble attempt to deny that he was a member of the Communist Party.

There are some things about the honourable gentleman which I think I should tell the new members here because 1 believe that this legendary figure ought not to be allowed to wither on the vine and pass out of history as the forgotten man. We should remember some of his exploits, especially during World War II when he commanded a volunteer defence corps and was asked by his commander to carry on certain exercises at Cronulla in order to demonstrate whether or not an enemy would be able to take possession of the Cronulla foreshore. So the honourable gentleman, with great skill and characteristic attention to detail, decided to blow up the Cronulla bridge to demonstrate just what could be done. It was a perfect example. He then dressed up some of volunteer defence corps members as tram conductors and approached the Redfern police station. Just as the police were changing shift, each of his tram conductors suddenly produced a pistol. They took possession of the Redfern police station and held it for something like 7 hours. After that they retreated from the police station, took possession of Field Marshal Blamey, took him to Leura in the Blue Mountains and held him there incommunicado.

Eventually, of course, there had to be an end to these marvellous exploits. I am told that the honourable gentleman's commanding officer instructed him to mount his motor cycle, upon which he had broken all speed records in previous activities, to disappear in the direction of the Brisbane Line and not to come back again.

I think that the honourable gentleman's repartee is worth recording. In answer to that charge by the late honourable member for East Sydney, he gave the House the benefit of this gem of oratory:

I feel that the honourable member for East Sydney is wasting his talents. He should be out at La Perouse throwing boomerangs.

As I said, I have observed the honourable gentleman with a great deal of attention and affection over the years. I think that the House would like to hear what the Melbourne 'Herald' said about the honourable gentleman on one of his performances. We saw him in action again this morning but this happened many years ago, back in 1954. Honourable members will agree with me that he has not changed very much.

The Melbourne 'Herald' commenting upon one of his contributions to the House very much along the same lines as we heard a moment ago, said:

Mr Wentworth created an extraordinary scene. He moved from his rear seal to the front corner benches and yelled enthusiastic support for Sir Eric Harrison. Then, alternately laughing wildly and putting his tongue out-

That is an extraordinary thing, but he used to do it. The article continued:

... Mr Wentworth began to jump quickly up and down on the seat. He would then stop jumping, pat himself vigorously on the back of his head, stick out his tongue and then resume his jumping.

I ask you, Mr Speaker: Do you not think we ought to take a very kindly interest in this man? I think we will all agree that he is not well, but there is no reason why we should shun him. I think we ought to try to help him. I remember the famous occasion when he was running a newspaper called the 'Illawarra Star' on the south coast of New South Wales. The honourable member will remember that he had trouble with the unions. On one occasion they declared the 'Illawarra Star' black. So he thought to himself: How do I get on side with the unions? Thinking that the unions down there were communist controlled, he got in touch With another communist, a man called Edward Roach, whom he has frequently described in the Parliament as the most dangerous and evil communist that this country had ever seen. But that did not prevent him from inviting Mr Roach to his loungeroom to work out some scheme by which he could get the unions on side. The scheme was that he would present the 'Illawarra Star' Cup to the best team of marchers in the 6-hour day celebration held on the south coast. The honourable member was not worried about a 35-hour week; he wanted a 30-hour week. Sure enough, the Waterside Workers Federation contingent won the cup and was presented with it. In fact, I have a photograph of the honourable gentleman presenting the 'Illawarra Star' Cup to this dangerous communist, Mr Roach. Mr Ward, who was there at the time, assured me that when the honourable member for Mackellar finished shaking hands with Mr Roach, he actually genuflected to Mr Roach. I ask honourable members to remember that there will be another instalment of the exploits of the honourable member for Mackellar during World War II next time he gives us the pleasure of hearing something more about communism.

Mr WENTWORTH Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr WENTWORTH (MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. Not only is what the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) said utterly untrue, but also he knows it to be untrue.

Sitting suspended from 11.28 a.m. to 2.15 p.m.

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