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Tuesday, 18 April 1972
Page: 1139

Senator POKE (TASMANIA) - Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that delegates to the annual conference of the Victorian Country Party expressed the desire to abolish the ballot system for national service and the wish for all young men to serve instead 6 months in one of the armed Services? Is the Minister aware that abolition of the ballot system for national service is also the Australian Labor Party's policy? Did the Minister also notice that the conference decided to press for an amendment to the legislation to make service outside of Australia voluntary, which is again the policy of the Australian Labor Party? How does the Government now reconcile its policy on national service with that of the Victorian Country Party? Is that expression of opinion likely to place further stresses on the already strained relations between the 2 parties of the coalition Government?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON One of the wonderful things about the coalition Government is that it has stood the test of time, which is evidence of good faith on both sides. Lest there be any doubt about it in the minds of the expectant government I point out that the coalition will continue in office for a long time in the future. I do not think that it would be wise, for the Opposition to develop a debate at question time about resolutions carried at conferences. I should have thought that, in view of the resolution that was carried by a State branch of the Australian Labor Party over the weekend, the Opposition would be. as silent as Dean Maitland. Democracy does exist under the coalition, which is contrary to the situation in some other areas that we know of in this world. Resolutions are carried and it would not be unique for a resolution to be carried on a subject on which the Labor Party and the Government were in agreement. For example, I know of an occasion when they were in agreement on parliamentary salaries. So let us not get things out of perspective. The Government's policy on national service and defence has the respect, admiration and confidence of the people of Australia. Anybody who has any doubt about that need wait only until the next general election is held to find out that I was right in what I said.

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