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Tuesday, 21 March 1972
Page: 695

Senator JESSOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Can the Attorney-

General inform the Senate whether he has had any indication, following the Australian Labor Party Federal Executive meeting in Adelaide last week, as to the official ALP attitude towards continuing support for the draft resisting ALP candidate, Mr Johnston?

Senator GREENWOOD - I personally have not received any intimation from any member of the Australian Labor Party Federal Executive following its meeting last week; nor have I read any statements made by either the Federal Secretary of the ALP or any of its many leaders as to what decisions were taken at the conference last week. I am aware, of course, that certain apologists for the ALP Federal Executive meeting who wrote regularly in the Press suggested that all the controversial issues were shelved and that no decision was taken which might cause controversy. However, I was interested to read that the statements made by these persons were in the nature of apologia because today a letter appeared in the Melbourne Age' which was written by Mr Hartley, a member of the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party. He said that the Executive was not afraid to discuss the issue of whether it supported Mr Johnston, who is a Labor Party candidate and who is also a person who will not appear in court to answer a charge of whether he is a draft resister. Mr Hartley thought fit to write to the newspapers. He said:

The decision was not made because of a warning that 'they could come under strong criticism for their support of Mr Johnston if the matter was raised on the Executive'.

He went on:

Rather, discussion with other executive members indicated that the excellent declaration of support made by the Federal executive at Launceston last June, prior to Mr Johnston's endorsement, could not be bettered.

The official text of that declaration reads:

W.   H. Hartley moved, R. J. Hawke seconded: "That the Federal executive declares its support of Victorian Australian Labor Party members Barry Johnston and Tony Dalton, due to face court proceedings on Friday, June 18, for breaches of the National Service Act which could result in 2-year terms of imprisonment.

This executive again emphasises the ALP's opposition to the principles of the National Service Act, and declares its support for all those young men who have refused to be conscripted for the undeclared war in Vietnam.

This executive asks all members of the party in Victoria to protest in their own way in favour of Barry Johnston and Tony Dalton and others who are refusing to comply with the provisions of the Act."

One can only assume in the light of that letter from a member of the Federal Executive who was present and who participated in the decisions of the Federal Executive that he views the attitude of the Executive as fully in support of the Victorian Branch's endorsement of Mr Johnston. I emphasise that it must follow also that he regards the Federal Executive indecision as supporting Mr Whitlam's statement that draft dodging is not a crime and as generally supporting the attitude of the Australian Labor Party in seeking to give support to a person who defies lawful processes. One can only say that the current attitude of the Federal Executive seems to emulate the person of whom it was said that he never said a foolish thing nor ever did a wise one.

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