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Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 870


Mr LIONEL BOWEN (Leader of the House) —Mr Speaker, I seek your indulgence to make an explanation that would answer what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) has said. I appreciate his remarks, but they were framed in the context that I might have been making commitments that could not be delivered. The Leader of the Opposition was not present at the function to which he referred and I understood that he would not be present. But he had two excellent representatives at that function-namely, the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Cadman) and the honourable member for Cook (Mr Dobie). They would know that we were attending a requiem mass commemorating the assassination of the late Bashir Gemayel. They would also know that I responded to people who had spoken before me urging that something be done to assist the people who were suffering the effects of a massacre that had occurred perhaps a couple of hours previously. In other words, I did not read a prepared text. I spoke about the issue of what we could do to assist Lebanon and the people in the Lebanon.

I think my two distinguished colleagues would agree that I said on behalf of the Australian Parliament and not only the Government that we would be anxious to do whatever we could in providing physical, material, moral or other types of help. In that context, I would not want it thought that we were offering something we could not deliver. I mentioned matters involving the United Nations . There were other speakers at that function but, regrettably, speakers from the Opposition were not given a chance to talk. I thought that might well have been the situation, so I purported to speak on behalf of everybody. If there is objection to what I said we become limited to my having spoken on my own behalf, but I think that would not meet the expectations of those present. I will leave my remarks at that.