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Tuesday, 9 October 1984
Page: 1506

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —by leave-Madam Acting Deputy President, I claim to have been misrepresented. While the Minister for Social Security (Senator Grimes) was speaking he referred to my comments in respect of the literacy test. He made the observation, although I was not able to write it down word for word, that those comments were a reflection of my attitude towards the Aboriginal community in Australia. I take the gravest exception to that very unkind and cutting comment which in no way reflects my attitude towards the Aboriginal community. There are those who posture and strut around this building and speak so often in this chamber as though they have some intrinsic and very close relationship with the Aboriginal community when, in fact-

Senator Jack Evans —Madam Acting Deputy President, I take a point of order. I put to you that this is no longer a personal explanation as Senator Crichton- Browne is describing the activities of other honourable senators.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Coleman) —Senator Crichton-Browne, you can make a personal explanation but you cannot debate the points. You must confine your remarks to the personal explanation.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Thank you, Madam Acting Deputy President. The truth is that there are those amongst us who have had-

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! You are still debating the point.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —No, I am continuing my personal explanation.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Crichton-Browne, I must ask that you stick to the matters on which you claim misrepresentation. You cannot enter into a full scale debate.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Thank you, Madam Acting Deputy President. I accept and understand what you say. Of course I will confine myself to those areas where I have been misrepresented. I have been misrepresented to the extent that it has been put that my attitude towards the Aboriginal community is quite different to what it is. To make a personal explanation I need to expound on what my position really is. Without going into any detailed length or holding the Senate any longer than I need to, I remind Senator Grimes and those on the other side who believe they have a monopoly on conscience, concern and anxiety for the Aboriginal community, that I am perhaps one of the few in this chamber who have bothered to teach Aboriginals, on occasions I have lived with them, employed them, worked with them, encouraged them and, as best I have been able, assisted them at every opportunity. I do not say this in a benevolent way but I consider a great many Aboriginals as personal friends.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —You are now commencing to debate the matter, Senator Crichton-Browne. I must ask you to confine your remarks to the area of misrepresentation.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —The misrepresentation is that my attitude to the Aboriginal community was reflected upon. I cannot put that right without explaining what my attitude is.

Senator Grimes —You are abusing your privilege.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —No, I am not. I cannot put my position correctly and respond to the Minister's incorrect allegations without declaring what my real position is. That is a simple, logical thing that even a confused doctor could understand.

Senator Grimes —Mr President, I take a point of order. Senator Crichton-Browne sought leave to make a personal explanation, claiming to have been misrepresented. He has clearly explained how he was misrepresented, as he alleges, by me. He is now proceeding with a long explanation of his relationship with the Aboriginal community. We have had repeated episodes of this type in recent times abusing the procedures of the Senate. I suggest that you ask him to desist, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT —I ask Senator Crichton-Browne to confine his remarks to his statement of misrepresentation.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Thank you, Mr President. As I say, to put my position clearly requires me to make observation in respect to my relationship--

The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator is not entitled to make observation on or debate a personal explanation. If he claims that he has been misrepresented he should state the ground of the misrepresentation and the correction of it.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Mr President, the allegation that has been made by Senator Grimes was that my comments during my speech in respect to the test of literacy in English were a reflection upon the Aboriginal community. The only way I can clarify that is to debunk it by saying what my real attitude is. Without taking a great deal more time than I already have, let me conclude by saying that there are those in my family who have adopted Aboriginal children, fostered them and brought them up. Senator Grimes sits there looking exasperated because if he met an Aborigine he would not know one.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator is now getting away from a personal explanation. I ask him to confine his remarks.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I simply conclude by saying that in many respects Senator Grimes has misrepresented my position in regard to the Aboriginal community. I take great exception to his abusing my integrity in the way he has done.

Motion (by Senator Martin) agreed to:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the question being put separately on each paragraph of the amendment.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be added by paragraph (a) (Senator Martin's amendment) be added.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be added by paragraph (b) (Senator Martin's amendment) be added.