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Friday, 12 June 1970


Mr HOLTEN (Indi) (Minister for Repatriation) - Mr Speaker, the honourable member for Riverina did not pay me the courtesy of telling me that he was going to make his statement this morning.


Mr Jacobi - Why should he? You had not the courtesy to tell him what you were doing.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Seeing that courtesy is under discussion I suggest that the same courtesy be shown to the Minister as was shown by honourable members on my right when the honourable member for Riverina was making his statement.


Mr HOLTEN - As 1 said, he did not have the courtesy to tell me he was going to make or try to make this statement this morning. Therefore, I do not have at my hand various pieces of factual information and also statements that have been made by the honourable member for Riverina who has been misleading the public ever since he has been in this House. 1 do not have right here the factual documents and written statements in relation to the honourable member for Riverina.


Mr SPEAKER - I want to say that the Minister has leave to make a statement - it is not a personal explanation.


Mr Whitlam - Mr Speaker, leave will be given to the Minister to make a statement on this matter after he has collected his documentation at any later time today.


Mr SPEAKER - This is a matter for the Minister to decide. Leave has been granted at this stage for the Minister for Repatriation to make a statement.


Mr HOLTEN - The relevant sentence regarding accuracy that the honourable member from Riverina read from the letter was written by me in a considered manner and taking into account the statements on many subjects that the honourable member for Riverina has made since he has been in this House-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! If honourable members continue to interject I will have to take some action.


Mr HOLTEN - lt has been my considered judgment, after listening to some of the honourable member's speeches and reading quite a few of them, that he either intentionally or unintentionally has misled the people of Riverina and the people of Australia from time to time and this has been for political purposes.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I suggest that even in the course of a statement the Minister shall not reflect upon the conduct or character of an honourable member.


Mr HOLTEN - Well, Mr Speaker, members of the Opposition are interjecting continually in a very offensive manner. There are so many comments being made that I perhaps ought to have the chance to answer them. But, I do not want to take up the time of the House at this stage when so much business remains to be transacted. The honourable member for Riverina, Mr Speaker, has left it to the very last day to raise this matter although this letter was written some time ago. Mr Speaker, I conclude by saying that 1 affirm my comment in the letter that in my judgment, from the actions of the honourable member for Riverina since he has been in this House, his credibility is definitely at question-


Mr Sherry - Mr Speaker, I think a moment ago you did suggest to the Minister-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Does the honourable member wish to take a point of order?


Mr Sherry - My point of order is this: The Minister said that the credibility of the honourable member for Riverina is in question. The credibility of the honourable member for Riverina is not in question. T. therefore move: That the Minister is out of order.


Mr SPEAKER - I suggest to the .\Ii n is.1 hat his statement is not in accordance with parliamentary practice.


Mr HOLTEN - I was going to qualify my statement when I was interrupted by overwhelming interjections-


Dr Patterson - I lake a point of ord-'r. Mr Speaker, you have given a ruling on 2 occasions this morning about this matter. I ask that the Minister withdraw the statement he made about the credibility of the honourable member for Riverina.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! 1 ask the Minister to withdraw the reflection on the credibility of the honourable member for Riverina.


Mr HOLTEN - Well, Mr Speaker, in view of the whole circumstances of the House and in view of your request, I with' draw the remark.


Mr Cope - That is a qualified withdrawal.


Mr SPEAKER


Mr HOLTEN - I conclude by saying - 1 will not reflect on the credibility of the honourable member for Riverina again because when I did, Mr Speaker, you asked me to withdraw the remark and I did. It may be that the explanation for many of the comments that the honourable member for Riverina has made both inside and outside the House is that he does not have the intelligence to be able to assemble the facts.


Mr Grassby - I submit that on 1 point I have been further-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! What is the honourable member for Riverina rising foi?


Mr Grassby - 1 would suggest-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. This morning, several honourable members have risen and started off in verse without asking for leave or telling the Chair why they were standing. The correct procedure is to address the Chair and say what they want to do and the Chair will consider it then. I call the honourable member for Riverina.


Mr Grassby - Mr Speaker, during the course of his remarks, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) said that I had not told him that I would raise this matter today. He also said that this matter had come up some time ago


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member may not debate the matter.


Mr Grassby - I am not debating it.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I suggest to the honourable member that he comes to his point of order.


Mr Grassby - I have been misrepresented in this way: I received the letter on Wednesday. 1 mentioned to the Minister that I would raise it here. 1 have done so at the earliest opportunity. That is the point that I particularly went to make.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member has made his point of order.


Mr Scholes - I wish to ask, Sir, whether you, being in control of this House, are in a position to rule whether it is in order for Ministers to convey answers to personal questions? The first matter raised by the Minister -


Mr SPEAKER -Order! No point of order arises. I have no authority over the nature of any reply by a Minister.







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