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Friday, 3 April 1987
Page: 1827

Senator TOWNLEY —Mr President, I claim to have been misrepresented and seek leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

Senator TOWNLEY —On the front page of the Canberra Times today there was an article headed `Legislation for Australia Card lost in Senate', written by Andrew Fraser. I am afraid that it was Mr Andrew Fraser who was lost in the Senate. I wish to make it clear that I have never supported the idea of an Australia Card but I thought that an election now was not really a good idea-even though, as I said in my speech last night, I believed the Government would have regretted an election, had one been held. My main worry was that the Australian Labor Party might just have got control of both Houses of Parliament and my attitude to the Australia Card was determined because I thought that that was a risk that we did not need to take.

Senator Button —I raise a point of order, Mr President. If Senator Townley had a personal explanation to make on something of that kind, we would certainly grant him leave to do so, but what we have heard so far is a statement of philosophy of dubious profundity, if I may say so. I think that this is an abuse of the procedures. Perhaps Senator Townley does wish to make some personal explanation, but he certainly has not made one to date.

The PRESIDENT —Senator Townley, in a personal explanation, you must deal with the issues in which you think you have been misrepresented.

Senator TOWNLEY —I thought that I sought leave to make a statement, Mr President.

Senator Button —Mr President, if Senator Townley had sought leave to make a statement on a topic which was totally non-specific, I probably would not have granted him leave.

Senator TOWNLEY —I am sorry, Mr President, but leave was granted. Anyway, I have nearly finished.

The PRESIDENT —I have sought advice on this. Apparently Senator Townley did seek leave to make a statement; therefore he is technically correct.

Senator TOWNLEY —I will not be long. I thought that the Government's gaining control of both Houses was a risk we did not need to take because we could end up with an Australia Card anyway as a result of a joint sitting of both Houses. Once the Government decided to play it safe, of course, I supported the Opposition in the vote. It was my action in that regard that was incorrectly stated by Andrew Fraser in the Canberra Times article today. I did, in fact, oppose the Bill and I voted with my Party. I would be grateful if at some time in the future the Canberra Times would correct the error it has made.