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Thursday, 6 December 1973
Page: 4408

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Luchetti (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In view of the special circumstances the indulgence is granted.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - This morning during question time the honourable member for Calare (Mr England) asked me a question that was, as I said at the time, inaudible to me. I now realise, after reading the green copy of the Hansard report which gives a correct account of what the question was about, that I should have asked the honourable gentleman to repeat his question so that I could hear it instead of speculating as to what it was all about. I apologise now so that any of the Press who may see fit to publish what I said this morning will have the decency - and I hope that all of them are decent enough - to publish my apology with the report because it would be unfair to the honourable member if what I said today were published today and an apology were published on some back page tomorrow or the next day. It would have to be today, because we do not meet again until next week. The honourable member asked me whether I was aware of the type of assistance that was practically non-existent in country areas. He was referring to the shortage of female assistance for overworked housewives in country areas. The honourable member for Calare asked:

Will he discuss this matter with his colleague the Minister for Immigration and point out that the most favourable place for a migrant girl to become proficient in the English language and to learn of the Australian way of life is in the shelter of an Australian home.

I deeply regret that I did not hear the question, because the last part of it really gets down to the nub of the whole matter. The honourable gentleman was correct, at question time, in asserting that an Australian home is the best place for a migrant girl to learn the language and, more importantly, that it is also the best place to learn the Australian way of life.

I apologise quite sincerely to the honourable gentleman for having replied in a vein that was fair enough if it represented a reply to what I thought he was talking about. I honestly thought that he had referred to servant girls, although I did not hear the word 'servant' - in fact, it was not used - in the same context as the matter had been raised earlier this week when reference was made to bringing, I think, New Guinean girls into Australia to act as servant girls. When it was mentioned earlier in the week it was in the context of a very poorly paid or almost non-paid situation. I thought that that was what he was talking about. The honourable gentleman has not asked me to apologise. I think he could have asked for an apology there and then. But he was big enough and strong enough in his own character not to bother about asking for an apology, and that is all the more reason why I intend to give him one. He deserves an apology, especialy because he is not a member who is given to engaging in unfair criticism of another person. I have never known him to do that. He is and always has been moderate in the presentation of whatever case he presents to the Parliament

Whilst that is true of the honourable gentleman and for that reason I give him this unqualified apology, it is also true that there are some other members of the Parliament who deserve whatever is dished out to them - I am probably one of them - because those who give it or hand it out ought to be prepared to cop it. However, usually, they are the ones who are not prepared to cop it. The honourable member for Calare does not deserve to have it dished out to him. He did not ask for an apology and that gives me all the more reason to tender him an unqualified apology. I hope that the Press will see fit to publish my apology, together with any reference it may see fit to make to my reply.

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