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Wednesday, 4 December 1974
Page: 3152

Senator DEVITT (Tasmania) - I wish to address a few comments to the Income Tax Bill 1974 and particularly -

Senator Bonner - Senator Missenshould have been given the call.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McAuliffe)- Senator Bonner, I have given the call to Senator Devitt. The practice in this chamber has been that the Whips usually give to the Chair the names of the speakers to be called. Whilst it is not binding on the Chair it has always been used as a guide to the Chair. Senator Missen 's name is not on the list. You interjected to suggest that I should not have given the call to Senator Devitt. Senator Devitt 's name is on the list supplied and Senator Missen 's name is not. I am following the practice established in this chamber for some time. Senator Devitt has been correctly called.

Senator DEVITT - Mr Acting Deputy President,the Bill before us is the Income Tax Bill 1974. 1 want to address my comments to a point made at some length by Senator Greenwood. I want to speak about it because the subject he raised has a particular relevance to the whole of the Australian community. I suggest it has a particular relevance to the members of the Australian Labor Party who now sit in government on this side of the chamber. We would be displaying a dereliction of duty to the name and honour of a very great man if we remained silent without answering things said here tonight. I feel a deep sense of obligation to that great Australian, John Curtin, whose name was raised tonight in connection with the proposal of the nation, not necessarily the proposal of the Australian Labor Party or the government of the day but the people of Australia, to erect a suitable memorial to him.

It will be remembered, Mr Acting Deputy President, that he was the war time leader of this country. He was not the only war time leader but he was the war time leader who had to assume the awful responsibility, that great and crushing responsibility, of conducting this country through a war after his predecessor in office failed, when the defence system of this country was in such a shambles that it had to be revived, resurrected, re-made, so that we could mount the defence of this country. He was the man who saw this country through the most critical period in its history, its darkest hours, in the dark loneliness of the high office of Prime Minister of Australia. It was the first time in the history of this nation that it had come under actual physical attack from its enemies. I think it is significant to remember that he was the man who guided the destinies of this country through that critical period in our history when our own shores were assaulted, when people died on our soil, when we were physically attacked and had to fight back. We needed, if ever we needed it before, the sort of leadership that was provided for this country by that very great Australian, John Curtin.

As I said, the office of Prime Minister was a lonely one but he assumed it and accepted great responsibility after the former Prime Minister and Cabinet of the day failed adequately to discharge their responsibilities to this country. He was the man who stood out against that very great British war time leader, Winston Churchill, and ordered the return to Australia of Australian troops who might otherwise have been engaged in some other part of the world and thereafter the history of this country might have taken a very different turn indeed.

Have we forgotten so soon the man who sent out that impassioned cry across the world to the United States of America- 'in the name of God and humanity send us aid'? That was the clarion call sent out by this very great man to the nation and to the rest of the world. I want you, Mr Acting Deputy President, and the people listening to me, to remember that this great Australian, John Curtin, like the sailors, soldiers and airmen who marched side by side through that war, many of whom died, also gave his life for his country. He died in the service of this country just as surely as some of our soldiers, sailors and airmen died. I think it is fitting that not only we of the Labor Party should sponsor the erection of a memorial, a monument, a perpetual reminder to this country of one of its greatest sons but also that the people of Australia should join us. That is what is happening. Not only is the sponsorship of this memorial coming from our ranks; it is being supported by every section of the Australian community, all elements of it, just as the community did in the case of the erection of McEwen House which stands as a memorial to another very great Australian, John McEwen.

Why should we not honour this very great Australian by erecting a fitting and lasting memorial? Not only should Australia at large honour him, as Australians have done in many ways throughout the country; we of the Labor Party have a double reason for honouring him. He brought honour and lustre to the name of the Australian Labor Party and to the ranks of the Australian Labor movement. Not only Labor people but little people and significant figures in the land are joined with us to provide a fitting memorial to honour and perpetuate the name of a very great Austraiian. He served his country and he died for it. Surely greater love hath no man than this. Therefore it is beneath contempt to introduce this atmosphere into the present debate. I hope that we forget this whole sorry affair as quickly as possible so that we may appropriately honour the name of a very great Australian. I am sorry that Senator Greenwood is not in the chamber now. We had to cop it from him earlier in the evening. I would very much like to stand in front of him now and say that John Curtin was a man who served his country and gave his life for it. Let no man impugn the name of that very great Australian.

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