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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 3585

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

Mr PEACOCK - Yes. In answer to a question this morning directed to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) by the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage), the Prime Minister said that I had used a letter which had been forwarded to him by Dr Kissinger in regard to his criticism of the United States administration's international alert to its forces. I did not. In the course of debate yesterday I was critical of the Government for its conduct of foreign relations and dealt with this in specific areas. So far as the AustralianAmerican relations are concerned, I dealt with 2 specific issues. The first was to criticise the Prime Minister for the remarks he had passed about the United States international alert. The second was to criticise the Prime Minister for his criticism of the United States administration's supply of arms to the State of Israel. It was in relation to that second question that I used part of the information contained in the letter from Dr Kissinger to the Prime Minister. It seems clear to me that the Prime Minister is as muddled now as he was at his National Press Club luncheon.

Mr Whitlam - This is not a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member for Kooyong is now debating the issue. In making a personal explanation an honourable member may only explain where he alleges he has been misrepresented. The honourable member cannot open up a debate.

Mr PEACOCK - I understand. So there was the first matter, which was the criticism of the United States administration's international alert to its forces, which Dr Kissinger had answered. He had answered it on 25 October, when he had indicated that the National Security Council -

Mr Whitlam - Mr Speaker, there is no misrepresentation which the honourable gentleman has identified to this stage. I ask you to bring him to the point. I did not misrepresent him at all.

Mr PEACOCK - All right; I will repeat it.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Honourable members on both sides of the House are repeatedly using personal explanations as a vehicle to have a few digs or to have a few words broadcast over the air. If the honourable gentleman has been misrepresented I ask him to state specifically where he has been misrepresented.

Mr PEACOCK - I will return to what I commenced saying at the beginning of my personal explanation. The Prime Minister stated that I had used this letter to which I have referred in the context of the criticism of the United States administration's international alert to its forces. I did not. I deal now with the specific misrepresentation. Having made those points about the international alert, I then said - and I quote from page 3498 of Hansard:

To make it even worse, if that is possible, it follows the occasion

A separate occasion, I might say - last month when the Prime Minister trenchantly criticised the United States Administration for sending arms to Israel, arms that were forwarded subsequent to the massive re-supply by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to the Arabs. I am advised that such criticism

That is, the critcism of the supply of arms, the international alert - caused Dr Kissinger to write to the Prime Minister explaining the true position. I am advised further

As the Prime Minister has indicated today - that it was a temperate letter, couched in diplomatic language, but its message was clear:

Then I went on to indicate some 'further aspects with which I will not deal now. The Prime Minister has utilised my reference to that letter quite incorrectly today as if it was in regard to the international alert. It seems to me that just as the staff of the Prime Minister was wrong -

Mr Uren - Mr Speaker -

Mr PEACOCK - Just a minute. It does relate to the matter I am raising.

Mr Uren - I rise to order. In what way in a personal explanation does the honourable member for Kooyong have a special privilege to say: 'It seems to me . . .'? In what way does this matter relate to the personal explanation?

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Kooyong has no special privilege. As I understand it, this is a very involved matter relating to Dr Kissinger's letter. I think that the honourable member for Kooyong is in order so far but I ask him to bring his point to a conclusion and not to debate the matter.

Mr PEACOCK - I accept that. In conclusion I will say that it is perhaps understandable that the Prime Minister was misled and misrepresented me this morning. It appears that his staff also misled people last night because the report in the 'Financial Review' says that the staff of the Prime Minister indicated that no such letter existed yet also said, according to a report in the Australian', that the letter did exist. The Prime Minister this morning has confirmed that it did.

Mr Uren - I again rise to order. Mr Speaker, what does this have to do with a personal explanation? I am asking you not to give these so-called chosen people special privileges.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! That is a reflection on the Chair and I ask the Minister to withdraw the implication. The Minister cannot say things like that.

Mr Uren - If there is any reflection on the Chair, I withdraw it.

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