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Friday, 1 May 1987
Page: 2458

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia in the Division of Hinkler respectfully showeth:

1. That contributors and pensioners of both the Defence Force and Public Service Superannuation schemes are outraged at the consequence of the Superannuation and Other Benefits Legislation and Amendments Act 1986.

2. That the Government's decision to discount by 2% the benefits of members of the Australian Defence Forces and Australian Public Service has broken a trust which should exist between contributors and the Government.

3. That this decision to discount the retirement benefits and pensions has seriously lowered the morale and commitment of servicemen and public servants as well as affecting their financial security and that of their families.

4. That these beneficiaries and pensioners are being called on to suffer a permanent reduction in their pensions from 10th October 1986 until death or the death of their spouses and that this reduction will be compounded over the continuing years.

Your petitioners humbly pray that legislation be enacted to ensure that 1987 pension increases be based on the rate of pension applicable between June 1986 and the 9th October 1986.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

Mr Porter-Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I understand it is the convention of the House that it not proceed if a Government Minister is not in the chamber. I draw your attention to that matter and wonder whether you would consider the point of order.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay)-I am not aware of any specific provision that a member of the executive Government has to be at the table.

Mr Porter-Mr Deputy Speaker, perhaps I could assist you--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER-Order! If the honourable member will hear me, I will hear him. It is probably not as pertinent that a member of the executive Government be in the chamber when the House is dealing with petitions, which are matters between private members and the Parliament. I take the general view that we might dispose of petitions, and then see where we go.

Mr Porter-Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I would like to draw your attention to certain conventions and certain precedents of which I am aware. For example, one of my predecessors from the electorate of Barker, Archie Cameron, was the Speaker. I know that on one occasion when there was no Government Minister in the House he considered it was inappropriate for the House to continue to sit.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER-I have no doubt-

Mr Tim Fischer-Leave the chair.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER-The honourable member for Farrer does not need to provide any assistance unless he at least stands in his place. If he wants to interject, he might do so from his place. I think if one wants to make points of order and interject, one might at least do so properly. While there has been that convention, I think we can deal with the matter. A Minister is now present, and we can proceed.

Mr Carlton-Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. The House deserves a ruling on the matter even though the Government has come to its own defence.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER-I do not believe that any ruling from the Chair is necessary. A convention was brought to my attention by the honourable member for Barker. I said my understanding was that that convention was generally so, but I also pointed out to the House that we were dealing with petitions, which were matters between ordinary members and the Parliament. I do not intend to make any ruling on the matter.

Mr Cadman-On the same matter, Mr Deputy Speaker: There are matters that cannot be dealt with unless they are moved by a Minister. I do not think the Chair is in a position to know when those matters may arise. I wonder whether you might further investigate this and perhaps report back to the House.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER-I would not think it was in order for a Minister to interrupt the Clerk to move a motion while the Clerk was reading petitions unless the Minister wished to move a motion to print a petition. Even the honourable member for Mitchell would realise that, if it were necessary for a Minister to move a motion, he would be in the House to do so.

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