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Thursday, 5 November 1992
Page: 2733

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Mr REITH —My question is directed to the Treasurer. Yesterday the Prime Minister vetoed you from attending the Senate inquiry before, in the Prime Minister's words—

  Government members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is too much noise.


Mr REITH —`this unrepresentative» «swill' , for which I am pleased to note that he has been censured by the Senate today.

  Honourable members interjecting


Dr Hewson —The first time. The first time in history.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is far too much noise. The House will come to order.


Mr Tim Fischer —Be a man and apologise.


Mr Costello —He is too arrogant.


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr REITH —I ask the Treasurer: will he allow the Treasury officers involved in preparing chapter 4 and table 19 in Budget Paper No. 4 to appear before the Senate inquiry on the Loan Council; and, if not, why not?


Mr Dawkins —I answered my part of that question yesterday, but I yield to the Prime Minister to answer his bit of it.


Mr KEATING —Mr Speaker, I am quite happy to.


Mr SPEAKER —Does the Prime Minister wish to add to the answer?


Mr KEATING —Yes, I do. Let me just make it clear—


Mr Tim Fischer —Will you apologise?


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr KEATING —that the attempts by the Opposition to talk as though in some way the Senate is behaving in a way conducive to the ongoing business of this country is belied by the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has already foreshadowed that he believes that there will be Senate obstructionism of him as a government and has already told us he has plans for a double dissolution of parliament.


Dr Hewson —What?


Mr KEATING —You have already told us you have plans for a double dissolution of parliament in the face of what you believe to be Senate obstructionism.


Mr Tim Fischer —Do you apologise?


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr KEATING —You are already saying that. This person, who is now feigning indignation, and all those people over there who commit calumny, detraction, defamation—


Mr Reith —I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Sit down. Sit down!


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister will resume his seat.


Mr Reith —Now, sit down.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! I call the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on a point of order.


Mr Reith —Sit down!


Mr KEATING —Don't you tell me to sit down.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will come to his point of order.


Mr Reith —Sit down.


Mr KEATING —Are you asking me to sit down, Mr Speaker?


Mr SPEAKER —I am asking the Prime Minister to resume his seat. The Prime Minister will resume his seat.


Mr Reith —Let me thank the Prime Minister—


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows how to take a point of order. It is not to come to the despatch box and harangue other members. Does the Deputy Leader have a point of order or not?


Mr Reith —Yes, I do, under the standing order relating to relevance. The question simply asked whether or not the Government would allow Treasury officers to appear before the Senate inquiry. The Prime Minister is not answering that question.

  Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Treasurer was asked a question about a Senate inquiry. He answered part of the question. The Prime Minister is adding to the question and talking about the Senate.


Mr Reith —He is not answering it.


Mr KEATING —And, Mr Speaker, he referred to my references yesterday to the Senate. He referred in his question to my references yesterday to the Senate. This House, which specialises in calumny—


Mr Tim Fischer —Apologise!


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr KEATING —detraction, defamation under privilege, which takes—


Mr Tim Fischer —Apologise!


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr KEATING —people like the Tax Commissioner, the public servant of a generation, and tries to claim of him that he has been rewarded with a government job for favours to the Government—that cowardice is the sort of thing that has brought the Senate into disrepute.


Mr Tim Fischer —I raise a point of order. I draw your attention to standing order 75 which states:

No Member may use offensive words against either House of the Parliament or any Member thereof . . .

  Honourable members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! Members on both sides will cease interjecting.


Mr Tim Fischer —I ask you to rule that the Prime Minister has now breached standing order 75 and to direct him to apologise for that breach.

  Opposition members—Hear, hear!


Mr SPEAKER —Order! People do not ask people to apologise for breaches. Honourable members should be aware of standing order 75 which says that you do not cast aspersions on either House of the Parliament and, if a person casts aspersions on members here, that member can raise the matter. I call the Prime Minister.


Mr KEATING —Mr Speaker, on this supposed inquiry—


Mr Connolly —He should apologise.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Bradfield will cease interjecting.


Mr Connolly —Apologise!


Mr SPEAKER —Order! I warn the honourable member for Bradfield.


Mr KEATING —into the question of approvals for loans for Victoria, Senator Bishop has been named by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives as one of the serving senators. The blatant party nature of the House is illustrated by Mr Reith's press statement naming the Opposition senators who will serve. Senator Bishop, so named, said this morning, not with even the pretence of impartiality about what she may find from objective evidence taken at this inquiry, `The Loan Council issue is a cover-up'. That is from someone who is proposing to go on the Senate inquiry before she has heard one shred of evidence.

  Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Dr Bob Woods —You are not political! Ha, Ha!


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr KEATING —Before she has heard one witness, before she has received one bit of paper, she has said, `It's a cover-up'. That is how jaundiced and prejudiced and how party conniving this process is.


Dr Bob Woods —And you are not?


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Lowe!


Mr KEATING —Let me say this about Senate obstructionism: the Leader of the Opposition says that he may be obstructed by the Senate were he to become the Government by the implementation of a goods and services tax. Let me tell him this: in the very unlikely, unhappy event of the Opposition becoming the government of Australia, and in the event of his having as a centrepiece of his campaign the goods and services tax—


Dr Hewson —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order under standing order 145 relating to relevance. The question was quite specific about whether or not Treasury officers would be allowed to appear. This is just part of the cover-up that is going on at the present time.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister was asked a question about his remarks and about the Senate inquiry. The Prime Minister is answering the question.


Mr Downer —No, he is not.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister is answering the question.


Mr Downer —He is not answering the question.


Mr SPEAKER —If the honourable member for Mayo interjects again, I will name him.


Mr KEATING —I am telling this objectively to the Leader of the Opposition if he will give me the chance. In the event that the GST remains the centrepiece of the Opposition's policy—

  Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr KEATING —I say to the Opposition that, in the unlikely event of its becoming a government, the Labor Party would not obstruct the passage of the GST legislation in the Senate. I want it made totally clear that a vote for Hewson is a vote for the GST. No Democrats or any other group will save Australia from that.

  Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order.


Mr KEATING —Let us not have the Leader of the Opposition hiding behind—


Mr Reith —Keep going. Go, Paul!


Mr SPEAKER —Order! I warn the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.


Mr KEATING —a feigned pretence of Senate obstructionism—


Mr Reith —Look behind you, Paul.


Mr SPEAKER —If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition interjects again, I will name him.


Mr KEATING —that you can vote for Hewson but in some way you will not get the GST.

  Opposition members—Bye, bye, Paul! Thanks, Paul!


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order.


Mr KEATING —The fact is that if, in the unlikely event of this country supporting—

  Honourable members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! Honourable members on both sides will cease interjecting. The House will come to order. The Leader of the Opposition!


Mr KEATING —Even though the Labor Party regards this as an inequitable, vile, vicious tax, if the Opposition secured—

  Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister might resume his seat again. The House will come to order. Members of the Opposition will cease interjecting.

  Honourable members interjecting—


Mr SPEAKER —The House will come to order. Honourable members on both sides will cease interjecting.


Mr Peacock —This is amazing.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! If the honourable member for Kooyong interjects again, I will name him.


Mr KEATING —Let us make this quite clear. The Leader of the Opposition wants to take the view that he can somehow hide behind the Democrats and that you can vote for Hewson but not get the GST. The fact is that if the public of Australia decides, in the unhappy and unlikely event, to elect a coalition government, if they can establish a mandate for the GST—

  Dr Kemp interjecting—


Mr SPEAKER —The honourable member for Goldstein!


Mr KEATING —notwithstanding the Labor Party's primary objection to a GST, we would not obstruct it in the Senate.

  Opposition members—Hooray!


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr Chaney —This is wonderful!


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order!


Mr KEATING —That is right. You will not hide behind Senator Coulter or the Democrats. If you go to a poll and promise the GST and you win the election, the GST is what the public of Australia will get. There will be no hiding behind Senator Coulter and the Democrats—

  Honourable members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Prime Minister might resume his seat. The House will come to order. There is far too much noise. Honourable members on both sides will cease interjecting. I will name the next person who interjects.


Mr KEATING —Members of the Liberal Party are talking about Senate obstructionism. They are anticipating it by saying that they will have a double dissolution of parliament immediately after the Parliament is formed. They are saying, `if our GST is obstructed by the Democrats'. Many Liberals will hope that people vote for them on the basis that they can vote for Hewson but not for the GST. We are saying that, if you secure a mandate for it, despite the fact that we regard this tax as totally objectionable and inequitable, we will not obstruct it in the Senate.

  Opposition members—Hooray!


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr KEATING —A vote for Hewson means a vote for the GST unambiguously. We are making that quite clear. We are making it quite clear that there is no way you are going to hide behind Senator Coulter or the Democrats or talk about Labor obstructionism. Let us be rid of the humbug—

  Honourable members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order.


Mr KEATING —that the Senate is not an obstructionist chamber. Let us be rid of the humbug when the Leader of the Opposition is already talking about a double dissolution within weeks of what he hopes will be a coalition victory.

  Dr Hewson interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.


Mr KEATING —The fact is that the Senate has no right to obstruct the policies of the Government in the lower House.

  Opposition members—No, never!


Mr KEATING —That is the principle. The Senate has no right to obstruct the principal policies of the Government in the lower House; that is our view. It ought to be your view. In the unlikely event of your winning, if you can claim a mandate for the GST, we make it clear that a vote for Hewson will be a vote for the GST. There will be no hiding behind the Democrats.

  Government members—Hear, hear!


Mr KEATING —You, in your own silly way, understand the deadliness of that remark. You know what it means. Laugh with your silly feigned giggle, but you know that you are always hoping that many people will vote for Hewson thinking he will not go through with the GST and he will not get a mandate for it; that somehow in the processes of the upper House the Democrats will campaign, `Vote for us to stop the GST'.


Mr McGauran —Your members are just stunned.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Gippsland will cease interjecting.


Mr KEATING —The fact of the matter is that I do not believe the public of this country will vote for the GST. But in the event that they elect a Hewson Opposition to the government of this country—in that unlikely, unhappy event—they will get a GST from Dr Hewson.


Dr Hewson —Good. Thanks, Paul.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.


Mr KEATING —Let us make this quite clear. This Party of ours absolutely opposes the GST as an inequitable, unuseful and totally unfair tax. But let us not hide behind this indignation about these pansies in the Senate. This morning he comes in here talking about Senate obstructionism!

  Opposition members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr Tim Fischer —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: that is a specific and unforgivable breach of standing order 75.

  Government members—Sit down!

  Honourable members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! Both sides of the House will come to order.


Mr Tim Fischer —Mr Speaker, I ask that you direct the Prime Minister to withdraw and apologise.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the National Party will resume his seat.

  Honourable members interjecting


Mr SPEAKER —Order! Honourable members on both sides will cease interjecting. The House will come to order. Order! The House will come to order. The Prime Minister might withdraw that remark.


Mr KEATING —Mr Speaker, to have the senators this morning debating these issues—

  Opposition members—Withdraw!


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr KEATING —and feigning indignation just brings one a belly laugh.


Mr Tim Fischer —On a point of order, Mr Speaker: the Prime Minister has not been asked to withdraw and apologise in respect of that remark, which is a total breach of standing order 75.


Mr Hand —Why should he?


Mr Duffy —Sit down.


Mr SPEAKER —Order!


Mr Tim Fischer —There can be no cop-out on this. I ask for your ruling on this.

  Honourable members interjecting—


Mr Tim Fischer —You might think it is a joke, Mr Speaker, but the institution of parliament—


Mr SPEAKER —Order! In that case, the Leader of the National Party will withdraw that reflection on the Chair. If we are talking about—


Mr Tim Fischer —I have to withdraw, whereas the Prime Minister does not have to withdraw a gross reflection on the Senate.


Mr SPEAKER —We have not got around to that yet. If you want to reflect on the Chair here in your points of order, then we might deal with that first.


Mr Tim Fischer —I will withdraw any reflection on you as Speaker.


Mr SPEAKER —Thank you.


Mr Tim Fischer —I now invite you to rule on standing order 75 with regard to the specific remark of the Prime Minister in respect of the Senate. I ask you to order that he withdraw and apologise.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The remark that the Prime Minister made suggesting that senators were pansies—it might help—


Mr KEATING —Asserting, Mr Speaker—asserting.


Mr SPEAKER —I do not know whether anyone has suggested in the past that a word such as that was unparliamentary.