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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3383

Senator HAINES (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(3.39) —I do not intend to take part in the debate on the motion before us today. I rise simply to say that the Australian Democrats will be opposing the motion, not because we hold any brief for Neville Wran but because we have made it a practice not to take part in debates in this place, particularly on matters of public importance and urgency motions, when the topic, the subject or the issue central to the motion, has involved an attack on, a vilification of, or the making of unsubstantiated allegations about, a private citizen. That in effect is what Neville Wran is now, whatever else he may have been in the past. As far as we are concerned this motion is an abuse of parliamentary privilege. It does no credit to any of us at all. If this sort of thing is to become a habit in this place it seems to me that we deserve everything that members of the public say about us as nothing more than muck-rakers using parliamentary privilege to say inside this chamber things that we are not prepared to say outside it. I suggest that, if the Opposition has any evidence to support the allegations it has made so far and I daresay will either repeat or will add to during the rest of this debate, it would be more proper and certainly more dignified if it put that evidence before the appropriate authorities.