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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 3987

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) - I wish to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER -Does the Prime Minister claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr WHITLAM - Yes. The honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) claims that I misrepresented him. I do not believe that I did. I did not knowingly misrepresent him. I want to explain to him and to honourable gentlemen the reason for my making the reference that I did. It is true that the 'Age', which I shall quote in detail in a moment, reported the honourable gentleman under the heading Fraser backs bid for union peace'. The Melbourne 'Sun' also reported the honourable gentleman under the heading 'Fraser backs Labor move'. Each newspaper reported him last Monday. On page 3 - not a bad position for him these days - the 'Age' had this to say:

The Federal Liberal spokesman on industrial relations (Mr Fraser) yesterday backed the Minister for Labour (Mr Cameron) in convening a 'peace conference' between employers and unions.

The Federal Opposition Leader (Mr Snedden) claims the conference will achieve nothing.

Mr Frasersaid he wanted to indicate 'general support for the Minister for Labour (Mr Cameron)'.

We need to defuse the industrial debate and take the political heat out of industrial relations,' he said.

This is terribly important to all of us.'

The article continued:

Mr Frasercongratulated Mr Cameron for asking the chairman of the. Arbitration Commission (Mr Justice Moore) to chair the peace conference.

Mr Cameronsaid earlier that he did not want too many politicians around and I am pleased to see that he is following his own principle, Mr Fraser said. When Mr Cameron announced the conference earlier this month Mr Snedden said he did not want to discourage the move, but he insisted that it would do nothing to resolve the present industrial turmoil. Mr Snedden attacked the Federal Government . . . When he announced his peace conference proposal, Mr Cameron said he would be putting a package deal to the meeting. This includes the restoration of costofliving adjustments to wages . . .

Mr McMahon - On a point of order. This is not a case of a personal explanation on the ground that the Prime Minister has been misrepresented but rather that he had been badly informed by his own Department or his own officials. He has not been misrepresented by my colleague. He has taken the information in newspapers without checking and it is the usual rule in this House that a check should be made before misrepresentation occurs by the Prime Minister or any other member of this House.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Prime Minister has made a statement and a personal explanation is offered in reply. The Prime Minister is now explaining why he made that statement.

Mr WHITLAM - I submit that I am entitled to clear myself from the allegation that I misrepresented an honourable member. At page 7 of the Melbourne 'Sun' the following report appeared:

A senior Victorian Opposition MP last night backed the Federal Government's industrial peace conference. Mr Fraser, labour and immigration spokesman, said he generally supported the plan by the Labour Minisster, Mr Cameron. The plan was to try to establish a better industrial climate, Mr Fraser said . . . Mr Fraser's statement is the strongest from the Opposition yet in favour of the meeting. The Opposition Leader, Mr Snedden, has said the conference would not help solve the present industrial problem. Mr Fraser said there was a need to defuse the industrial debate, 'and take the heat out of industrial relations'.

This is terribly important for all of us,' he said.

Mr MALCOLMFRASER (Wannon)- Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.

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

Mr MALCOLM FRASER - Yes, Mr Speaker. I would only emphasise to the House that the statement issued - and a copy would be available to the Prime Minister if he wanted it - indicated support for the objective in pursuing industrial peace. I repeat the word objective*, which the statement in the Melbourne 'Age' left out. I think it might have also been left out of the article in the Melbourne 'Sun' but it was not left out of the statement that I made.

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