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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3447

Senator MICHAEL BAUME(12.01 a.m.) —The issue that Senator Chaney's motion endeavours to air is very important. In moving for the suspension of Standing Orders he is really seeking to establish whether the status claimed for a document is correct. A statutory declaration is not a light matter. A statutory declaration is the most serious statement that can be made. It is sworn. It has a status in the community. That status was sought for it in this chamber by the people presenting their case tonight, which was done without notice and in a manner which, naturally and quite properly, has been strongly criticised by members of the Opposition. It is an essential element of this discussion that that status be capable of being established. It is only by Senator Chaney's motion that the Senate has the opportunity to establish whether the Senate has been grievously and deliberately misled, whether the Senate has been held in a contemptuous way and treated in a way which is intolerable and which--

Senator Gietzelt —You weren't even in the chamber.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —What a highly intellectual interjection. Has the Minister never heard of the loud speakers?

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask Senator Baume to restrict his remarks to the motion before the Chair for the suspension of Standing Orders.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —If the Minister for Veterans' Affairs (Senator Gietzelt) would be silent, I would not be tempted to respond to his asinine interjection. He forgets that there are loud speakers in rooms.

Senator Ryan —I raise a point of order, Mr President. Senator Michael Baume referred to my colleague with the term `asinine'. I ask him to withdraw.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I did no such thing. I said it was an asinine interjection. I certainly have no intention of withdrawing that comment.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask Senator Baume to withdraw the word `asinine' in relation to its being used against Senator Gietzelt.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I withdraw, Mr President. The interjection was unintelligent. The interjection had no merit and no basis and does not advantage the issue one bit. The important issue, which is a matter of significance to the Senate, is whether it is proper to enable people to seek to provide a status to a document when that status is open to question and when it cannot be checked and whether those people should be allowed deliberately to set out to mislead the Senate. Deliberately misleading the Senate is a matter of major moment.

Senator Puplick —It is contemptible.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —As Senator Puplick says, it is contemptible. It is treating the Senate with contempt. It is only if Senator Chaney's motion is passed that the Senate can judge whether the behaviour of the two honourable senators is such as to merit appropriate action against them for setting out deliberately to mislead the Senate.

Senator MacGibbon —They could have written the damn things themselves.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —As Senator MacGibbon says, how do we know that they did not write the things themselves. As Senator Puplick pointed out, it is only if Senator Chaney's motion is passed that the integrity of these two honourable senators involved can be put to the test rather than the integrity of the honourable senators on this side who have clearly, on the evidence of Senator Archer, been falsely attacked on the basis of phoney documents and in a way that demands the right of these Opposition senators to establish the integrity of the documents and to establish the status claimed for them. The only force behind this nonsensical allegation is the status claimed for those documents.

Question put:

That the motion (Senator Chaney's) be agreed to.