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Order In The House -

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(generated from captions) remained in Haworth. But Emily's heart for the fashionable Madame Heger. to her new life and had little time She made no attempt to adapt the sensible English style. I see you still prefer I simply wish to be as God made me. to study new ideas, Charlotte seized this opportunity Ignoring Madame's coolness, moody Professor Heger. of the brilliant, and she was falling under the spell THEY SPEAK FRENCH a ruthless critic of her writing. He admired her intellect and was for his approval. She became desperate Branwell's world had crumbled. Back in England, had led to a discrepancy of ?11 His inability to concentrate in disgrace from the railway. and he had been dismissed in the company accounts He was just...careless. 'No-one believed he took the money. 'Oh, Branwell...'

"My dear Ellen, Monsieur Heger Quelle importance faut il donner... but irritable in temperament. a man of power as to mind, "is professor of rhetoric, sometimes a delirious hyena, Sometimes an insane tom cat, "A black, ugly being. and gentleman-like. "occasionally mild ferocious with me, I cry - together at all. When he is "Emily and he don't get on well with him, have excited much spite The few private lessons we have "that sets things straight. Alors...Mademoiselle Charlotte... "and jealousy in the school." feelings for her teacher. Lucy Snow, describes HER growing In Villette, Charlotte's heroine, more than a friend or a brother? Could it be that he was becoming beyond fraternity or amity? Did his look speak a kindness in its current. I was quite sick, My blood was troubled My heart trembled in its place. my work or keep at my post. and hardly knew how to do has borne me far from thee. "Remember me when Death's dark wing from all this suffering, "When freed "my grave shall cover me." Branwell's job on the railway. It was dreadful when we heard about from home. But soon there was more sad news Our dear aunt had died. was destined for greatness, Confident to the end that Branwell her dressing case as a keepsake. Aunt Branwell left him only doomed to a life of poverty, Convinced that the girls were a legacy of almost ?300. she left them each a letter from Monsieur Heger, find that their father had received Charlotte and Emily hurried home to teaching posts. offering his daughters to stay here to be my housekeeper. Emily said she would prefer to return to improve her French. Charlotte seemed very eager "My dear Monsieur, I see you always. "In my tortured dreams I find neither rest nor peace." "Day and night for the married Monsieur Heger Charlotte's feelings

in a series of emotional letters. passion which she declared had grown into a consuming "Forgive me, Monsieur, to alleviate my sufferings?" if I make no effort "how can I endure my life Jane Eyre would feel for Rochester. had felt for Zamorna and This was the love Mina Laury

But this was real life, not romantic fantasy. caverns measureless to man..." "The sacred river ran through by an illicit passion, Branwell was also tempted of Anne's employers, the Robinsons. when working as a tutor to the son the favourite of the household..." "My dear Knave of Trumps, I am I shall see you at dinner, my dear. damnably too fond of me. "But my mistress is becoming "Although she's 17 years my senior, which has ripened "she shows me a degree of kindness of more than ordinary feeling." "into declarations was playing a dangerous game. Anne was mortified. Branwell INAUDIBLE were quite content together. Emily and I EMILY WHISPERS "So hopeless is the world without... "The world within, I... "I doubly prize..." the world within I doubly prize. "So hopeless is the world without, have undisputed sovereignty." "Where thou and I and liberty

have undisputed sovereignty...") ("Where thou and I and liberty desperate to see Monsieur Heger. Charlotte dashed back to Brussels, Miss Bronte? You looking for my husband, has improved immeasurably. that your prose style I am sure he will agree with me Mrs Robinson had grown careless. At Thorp Green, Branwell and last Whitsun tide..." "On Ooze's grassy banks in my soul co-mingled, I sat, with fears and pleasures "To Lydia... as if roamed without control... "Lydia Robinson." and Branwell's disgrace Charlotte's humiliation the entire Bronte family. and tragedy that would engulf began a cycle of scandal BBC Broadcast 2003 Subtitles by Subtitling Unit

E-mail us at subtitling@bbc.co.uk

THEME MUSIC Welcome to Order in the House, CRAIG MCMURTRIE: in Federal Parliament. a review of the week's business Senator Obama's observation, I don't apologise for criticising what he said was wrong. because I thought to accuse the party of Roosevelt, This is a most serious charge - to accuse the party of Truman, of Kennedy and Johnson to accuse the party party of choice. of being the terrorist and lacerated by the Opposition I have been attacked for expressing my view, have the guts to express his! the Leader of the Opposition doesn't Will the Prime Minister now accept a nationally televised debate... an invitation from me to

and then a censure motion The Prime Minister faced questions

Presidential candidate Barack Obama. over his criticism of US My question is to the Prime Minister. withdraw his statement Will the Prime Minister is praying for a Democrat that al-Qaeda of the United States? to become the next President The Honourable the Prime Minister. that I made yesterday, I do not retract the statements the reference to the Democrats and let me say being the candidate. was in the context of Senator Obama Let me make that very clear.

Minister's statement yesterday, I refer to the text of the Prime in the Parliament today. which he has reaffirmed I quote from it - "If I was running al-Qaeda in Iraq, around March 2008 "I would put a circle as possible for a victory "and be praying as many times

but also for the Democrats." "not only for Obama Prime Minister, how can you credibly say to the Parliament today that your statement yesterday referred only to Senator Obama when, in fact, you explicitly attacked the Democratic Party as a whole? OPPOSITION BENCHES: Hear, hear! The Honourable the Prime Minister. I can answer by referring to numerous occasions when the current President of the United States has been attacked personally by members who sit opposite, and then in their next breath they have said

that some of their best friends are Republicans.

I was not generically attacking the Democrats but, the last time I checked, Senator Obama was a member of the Democratic Party of the United States. I say to those who sit opposite - apparently it is all right for those who sit opposite to attack the Bush administration, apparently it is alright for the Leader of the Opposition to hold out to the Australian public that he would serve as foreign minister under a Labor Prime Minister in Mark Latham, who attacked not only George Bush's policies on Iraq, but also his character and his competence. And when he was asked, that is the Leader of the Opposition, when the Leader of the Opposition was asked in February 2003 whether he agreed with what Mark Latham had to say, he said, "It was an exercise in free speech." It was an exercise in free speech. Yet this morning on national television, the Leader of the Opposition said, "I had a little word to him privately

"to let him know what I really thought." That is not good enough ? what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. How can the Prime Minister truthfully say in parliament today that he was not generically attacking the Democratic Party as a whole when he said, "If I were running al-Qaeda in Iraq, "I would put a circle around March 2008 "and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama but also for the Democrats." Prime Minister, can you explain how this statement about the Democratic Party, which holds a majority in both houses of the United States Congress, serves the Australian national interest in any way whatsoever? The Honourable the Prime Minister. I think any statement by a leading political figure in Australia that expresses a concern about the consequences of a policy position for the security interests of this country

is both legitimate and in the national interest. I remind the Leader of the Opposition that my starting point on this is that an American defeat in Iraq would be a catastrophe for the West. That is what is involved here, not his ego or my ego or the ego of George Bush or Barack Obama. What is involved here are the consequences for the West of an American defeat in Iraq. That is what we have to focus our minds on.

I heard somebody saying, "Already it's happened." I picked that up. Let me say it again and slowly so the Leader of the Opposition takes it in.

It will be a catastrophe for the West if America is defeated in Iraq and, if America pulls out her combat brigades by March 2008, which is the gist of the Obama bill before the Congress, that will be seen around the world as a defeat for the United States in Iraq. If you disbelieve me, read that national intelligence assessment. Given that Americans know the war in Iraq has cost them the lives of more than 3,000 servicemen and women, the wounding of another 20,000 and expenditures exceeding $US360 billion, what makes the Prime Minister think he is now entitled to lecture US presidential candidates on Iraq? The Honourable the Prime Minister. Order, order! The Prime Minister has the call. I simply answer that by saying what entitles me to speak of the policy views of individuals is the responsibility I have for the security interests of this country. GOVERNMENT BENCHES: Hear, hear! I ask whether the Prime Minister recalls stating about the Iraq war three years ago in this Parliament - "The reality is that the Leader of the Opposition "has allowed his tribal dislike, "because of the politics of the current American President, "to overwhelm his concern for the national interest. "Irrespective of who the President may be, "it is never in the interests of this country "to have that kind of generic criticism made." Prime Minister, if that criticism was valid in relation to Mr Latham, why is it not also valid in relation to you? OPPOSITION BENCHES: Hear, hear! The Honourable the Prime Minister. I do remember making that statement,

and I also remember that the current Leader of the Opposition regarded a statement made by Mr Latham not as something to condemn but rather as something to be supported as a robust exercise in free speech. While I am on my feet, I also remember some things said by the Leader of the Opposition way back in 2002 in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Let me remind you what he said to the State Zionist Council of Victoria - "Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. "That is a matter of empirical fact. Absolutely. "Chemical and biological weapons have always been possessed by him. "We've said from the beginning that Saddam Hussein does possess weapons of mass destruction." I am very happy to go back three years ago to the lead-up to the Iraq war. I am very happy to remind the Leader of the Opposition that he, along with his immediate predecessor the Member for Brand, was very lukewarm in his support of the position taken by the Member for Hotham. The Member for Hotham at least was forthright about his position. You were in no doubt as to where the Member for Hotham stood. But the current and the former leaders of the Opposition were both having two bob each way three years ago and, if the outcome over the past three years had been different, they would have been running away from the position that the Labor Party took three years ago as fast as you can imagine it, and the Member for Hotham knows that what I am saying is dead right. To accuse the Democratic Party of the United States as being al-Qaeda's party of choice, to accuse the Democratic Party as being the terrorists' party of choice, this is a most serious charge, to accuse the party of Roosevelt, to accuse the party of Truman, to accuse the party of Kennedy and Johnson of being the terrorists' party of choice, I cannot understand how any responsible leader of this country

can say to the nation that it is his serious view that the Democratic Party of the United States is the terrorists' party of choice. But these are your words, Prime Minister. I did not invent them, they are yours. And in this parliament today we gave you every opportunity to say that you got it wrong. Order. The leader will refer his remarks through the chair. We gave the Prime Minister every opportunity to say that it was wrong. It may have been that he got caught up in the flurry of the interview. that he didn't hear it clearly. It may have been that he didn't understand it clearly. I understand that these things can happen, but when you are given not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions in this place today an opportunity to say, "I got that wrong. I didn't mean that." And for him to pass each one of those up

I think says much about the partisan nature with which this Prime Minister now views the relationship with our great American ally. Let us be absolutely clear about what is at stake here. Not just an attack on a single US senator but an attack upon an entire political party. And here is where Australia's national interest kicks in, this party, the Democratic Party, currently controls the majority in the United States House, it controls the majority in the United States Senate and, within a year or so, may control the White House itself. And this is the party which this Prime Minister in this country and this parliament today has reaffirmed, he describes as the terrorists' party of choice. This is a serious matter. Prime Minister, could you imagine if I stood up in this parliament as the alternative Prime Minister and said to the people of Australia that the terrorists would be advantaged if the Republicans were to return to the White House at the next presidential election? Ponder for a moment how that would be regarded. How would it be seized on by those opposite? If I stood at this dispatch box or appeared on national television and said that the Republicans, if they won, would cause an eruption of joy on the part of al-Qaeda and on the part of terrorists? Can you imagine the reaction from those opposite? This is a grave mistake and I fear that it reflects a deep view on the part of the Prime Minister in terms who those he may not share a view within the US political system. Prime Minister, you have said much in recent times

about your experience for this job. Would an experienced Prime Minister have said something like this? Would an experienced Prime Minister have said something as irresponsible as this? Would an experienced Prime Minister as reckless as this? I would say, Prime Minister, that these sorts of remarks reflect, that on these questions you are prepared to allow partisan considerations to enter into the debate about this country's long-term national security interests. It goes to the core question of what an experienced person should and should not do if you are charged with the high office of being the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia. I ask anybody who sits opposite do they really believe, Mr Speaker, that it's in the interests of this nation,

that America should leave Iraq in circumstances of defeat. I ask any of the doubters out there in the Australian community, and I know there are many about the policy I have pursued, is it in Australia's interests that our great ally, the greatest and most powerful nation the world has ever seen, and still, for all the criticism that is made of her, a beacon for democracy and openness around the world, is it in our interests that that nation be defeated in Iraq? Will that do other than bring about an enormous resurgence of morale

amongst terrorists around the world?

The answer to that is undeniably, unarguably, that it would be very much against the interests of the West and very much against the interests of Australia. What does America need in this hour of pressure and trial and need?

You may say, "Why is it that a country as powerful as that "should be under pressure and be under trial and be in need?" Well, that is the reality of the world. I think she needs some loyalty

and some understanding from her closest friends. She does not want a country and a friend that will leave her in the lurch. And they are the words of the Leader of the Opposition. He won't do it immediately. He'll try and pretend that it's not happening. I would say the greatest current threat to the quality of the alliance would be a sense in the United States that Australia had deserted her in her hour of need. Now, that, I believe, will do more damage potentially to the alliance than anything I might say about a single aspirant for the Democrat nomination. I don't apologise for criticising Senator Obama's observations, because I thought what he said was wrong, just as those who sit opposite reserve the right to criticise Republican presidents. The Leader of the Opposition kept quoting again and again

something that I said three years ago. The truth is that three years ago the Leader of the Opposition defended the right of Mark Latham to say what he said about George Bush.

He didn't criticise him. He pretended yesterday that he privately spoke to him. "Oh, I said to Latham..." We can just imagine. "Oh, I said to Latham..." The truth is that he didn't say anything of the kind. He defended Latham. He said Latham was right to do it. And that was only the half of it. There are estimates of between 60,000 to 450,000 civilians

that have been killed in Iraq. It is clear that some 1.3 million people are displaced within Iraq as a result of the most horrid sectarian violence. There are probably about 1.8 million people who have been made refugees from their own country as a result of the invasion of Iraq. The United States of America has spent something like $375 billion, not million, $375 billion to date, funded substantially, I might say, by bonds held by Asian countries,

making the economy of the United States and hence the international economy beholden to the holders of those bonds, and they are spending at a rate $US6 billion a month, in the order of $A2 billion per week. Quite frankly, the United States economy can't sustain that sort of commitment, and the international economy will inevitably suffer the consequences of that burden that is being placed on the United States economy. But, the greater sacrifice, the greater sacrifice, and this is precisely why we have no right to interfere in this very important debate that is taking place in the United States, is the fact that now over 3,000 young Americans have been killed in Iraq. Men and women who in no uncertain terms do we acknowledge their bravery, their commitment and their dedication, that is obvious.

And some 20,000 seriously injured, I mean seriously injured, maimed,

more than would fill a local suburban sports stadium, of maimed young Americans fighting in this conflict. I mean, for the Australian Prime Minister to seek to intervene in those circumstances is quite frankly, offensive. The reality is, from the point of view of national interest, how are Democrat members of the congress supposed to regard Australia? Well, firstly, they are undertaking any number of inquiries into the Australian Wheat Board fiasco. I think they will be coming after some government members, but that's a side issue. They have to consider in the interests of their nation and our nation a number of pieces of legislation that will directly impact on Australia, including those which impact through the Free Trade Agreement, most notably, as referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, the Farm Bill. The Democrats hold the majority in the congress at the moment. That's not why you should necessarily be beholden or not be beholden to Democrat members of congress, it simply underlines how unwise and irresponsible it was for our Prime Minister to seek to intervene in the internal affairs of the United States of America. And indeed, we've been monitoring public comment that has been occurring in the United States as a result of the Prime Minister's intervention, and it is being dismissed by congressmen and senators alike and, indeed, call-back commentators, "Well, we've always known "that Prime Minister Howard is a mate of George Bush." Now, the trouble with that, the trouble with that, while recognising, the reality is it narrows the alliance as being an alliance, and perceived to be an alliance, between two men rather than what it is, an alliance between the people of both nations ? an enduring alliance. The problem, Mr Speaker, is that if we take the easy approach,

if we take the approach that the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow spokesman for Foreign Affairs just articulated, we will leave our children hostage to forces they may never control.

We will also diminish ourselves and demean the values for which that alliance has stood and our country has stood in its relatively short history. Never let it be said that my children will look back and say of John Howard and the Howard government - "Why did they not stand up to al-Qaeda "and other global terrorist networks "when they had the opportunity and the responsibility to do so?" Because that, Mr Speaker, is what this is really all about. If there is a premature withdrawal from Iraq, and it ought to be remembered that we are in Iraq, the United States is in Iraq, the United Kingdom is in Iraq at the request of the democratically elected Iraqi government, and endorsed by the United Nations. The media over the past week, particularly in the American press, has actually been for the Iraqis to request that the Baghdad security plan be implemented more quickly. This is hard going, Mr Speaker. But, as it is well-known by any Australian, when the going gets tough the tough get going. Even some coalition MPs believe the Prime Minister might have gone to far. It was no surprise that a comment by Liberal backbencher Dr Mal Washer surfaced at question time on Tuesday. My question is to the Prime Minister. And I ask the Prime Minister, does the Prime Minister stand by his view that the Member for Moore bring some commonsense to this parliament

in relation to the Prime Minister's recent comment on Iraq?

On reflection, does he now share the Member for Moore's commonsense view that, quote, "Spreading it to the Democrats wasn't probably such a good idea"? The Honourable the Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, I think all of my colleagues bring commonsense to this parliament, Mr Speaker. So that's my view about the Member for Moore, Mr Speaker. But I've got to... Order! Order! The Prime Minister has the call. I've got to say, Mr Speaker, that... ..this morning I have been caught rather more by some remarks made by somebody else - namely, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Speaker. Now, the Leader of the Opposition... Now, it's very important that everybody listen to this, Mr Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition was twice asked... ORDER! was twice asked this morning on News Radio by Marius Benson what he thought would be the consequences of an American withdrawal from Iraq. INTERJECTION

Now, it's hardly an irrelevant question. I mean, the debate of the last 72 hours, Mr Speaker, has been all about the future of Iraq. It has been about the consequences of an American withdrawal. And when he was asked, Mr Speaker, by Marius Benson a very direct question - "If the United States did withdraw all its troops from..." INTERJECTIONS Order. Order. The Prime Minister resume his seat. The Honourable the Manager Opposition Business. Yes, Mr Speaker, the direct question was actually asked of

the Prime Minister under Standing Order 104. Could you ask him to answer the question? The Member will resume his seat. The...Prime Minister was asked about some comments that were made. He's entirely in order. I call the Honourable the Prime Minister. So, Mr Speaker, the question was very direct and very simple - "If the United States did withdraw all its troops from Iraq "as Barack Obama advocates, what do you think would happen in Iraq?" Now, Mr Speaker, that's a very simple question. It's a very direct question. It goes very directly to what we are debating, Mr Speaker.

What was the reply of the Leader of the Opposition? Typically, he cut and run, Mr Speaker. He was asked this - "On the question... Listen to this answer. He's asked, "What do you think would happen..." And this is what he had to say - "On the question of the future direction "of US military strategy in Iraq, "like Mr Downer, my role is not to provide a rolling commentary on the merits or otherwise of twists and turns in the US military debate. Mr Speaker... The Prime Minister resume his seat. The Honour Member for Wills on point of order.

Yes, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister was asked whether... The Member for Wills will come to his point of order. I asked you to draw him back to the question he was asked, which was about the statements made by the Member for... The Prime Minister was asked a question - he is very much in order. I call... For which he's in order. I call the... It's relevant to the subject of the question. Yet again, Mr Speaker... Order! He was asked, yet again, what he advocates in relation to withdrawing troops from Iraq "and what do you think the consequences of that would be?" The Leader of the Opposition replies, "No, "what I'm an advocate of "is to withdraw the Australian combat component," Mr Speaker. We know that. We've known that for several years, but what we don't know is what the Leader of the Opposition believes would be the consequence of a coalition withdrawal by March 2008. Over the last day and a half I have been attacked and lacerated by the Opposition for expressing my view, but the Leader of the Opposition doesn't have the guts to express his. I want to know what the Opposition believes. I would like to know... Order. The Prime Minister resume his seat. I refer to the Prime Minister's various answers, both yesterday and today, on the consequences of our different policies on Iraq. As this, Prime Minister, is a matter of national importance which goes to our country's future, will the Prime Minister now accept an invitation from me to a nationally televised debate? INTERJECTIONS Order! Order! Within... Order! Members on my right.

..a nationally televised debate... Order! resume his seat. (Voice muted) The Leader of the Opposition resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition deserves to be heard when he is asking his question. He will be heard or I will take action. The Honourable the Leader of the Opposition.

Prime Minister, as this is a matter of national interest which goes to our country's long-term future, will the Prime Minister now accept an invitation from me to a nationally televised debate within the next month, at a time and place of the Prime Minister's choosing, on the future direction of Australia's policy in Iraq? Hear! Hear! The Honourable the Prime Minister. Mr Speaker...Mr Speaker... Order! ..if the Leader of the Opposition wants to go and address a meeting, he can do so... The Prime Minister resume his seat. INTERJECTIONS The Leader of the Opposition has asked a serious question and the Prime Minister is answering it. He will be heard! Mr Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition wants to address anybody anywhere in Australia, he's free to do so.

And he can ask me any question he likes any time this parliament sits, Mr Speaker. But I think he would bring... Order! Mr Speaker, I think he would bring

..a little more credit to this debate, and a little more credit to his own position if he would have the courage, Mr Speaker... Order! ..if he would have the courage, to answer the question that was put to him by Marius Benson

on Radio National this morning. Mr Speaker... The Member for Fowler is warned. All of this debate about the respective positions of the government and the Opposition on Iraq

arises from the fact that I made some very critical comments of a position taken. Order. The Prime Minister resume his seat. INTERJECTIONS The Member for Wills on a point of order. Yes, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister was asked... whether he's going to debate or whether he's going to cut and run. I ask you to draw him back... The Member for Wills will resume his seat. That is not a point of order. INTERJECTIONS And if the Member for Wills continues to take those types of points of order, I will deal with him. The Prime Minister is in order. I call the Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, it all started when the Leader of the Opposition took exception to the answer to a question that I gave on the 'Sunday' program, Mr Speaker. And ever since then, I have been attacked... I have been attacked by the Leader of the Opposition... by the Leader of the Opposition for the views I expressed on the consequences of a coalition withdrawal from Iraq by March of 2008. Order! That is meant to be...

That is meant to be the central issue of this debate, Mr Speaker. That is meant to be what this difference is all about. knows my position. Mr Speaker, the Australian public does not know the position of the Leader of the Opposition. Let me again, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister resume his seat. Early on Wednesday, Kevin Rudd made a surprise attempt to force John Howard into a debate on Iraq. The Government used its numbers to shut him down. Mr Speaker, I move that so much of standing in sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister from immediately coming to the House and debating the Leader of the Opposition for a period of no less than one hour on Australia's involvement in the war in Iraq, including, 1. The Prime Minister's false basis for Australia's decision to go to war in Iraq. 2. The Prime Minister's misuse of intelligence material to justify his decision to send Australian service personnel into active duty in Iraq.

3. the Prime Minister's failure to articulate a clear-cut mission statement for Australia's continued participation in the Iraq war. 4. The Prime Minister's failure to develop a clear-cut exit strategy from that war based on a mission statement. 5. The Prime Minister's refusal to explain to the Parliament and the people of Australia, his strategy for winning the war in Iraq. 6. The Prime Minister's attack on the alternate administration of the United States of America and the majority party in the United States Congress as al-Qaeda's party of choice. 7. The Prime Minister's lack of guts and courage in refusing to accept the Leader of the Opposition's challenge to a nationally televised debate on Labor's plan to bring our troops home

and the Prime Minister's plan to leave our troops in Iraq indefinitely. Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister said yesterday, the Parliament's the forum for debate... The Honourable the Minister for Veterans' Affairs.

Mr Speaker, thank you. I move that the member be no longer heard. Hear, hear! The question is that the motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion say 'Aye'. The contrary 'No'. I think the ayes have it. I refer to the Prime Minister's rejection of the bipartisan US Baker-Hamilton strategy recommending a staged withdrawal of US forces, to pressure the Iraqis to negotiate a political settlement between the Sunni and the Shiah. Why does the Prime Minister reject a strategy that his own Foreign Minister greeted as a good piece of work and one that drew all the right conclusions? The Honourable the Prime Minister. Well, Mr Speaker, as usual the Leader of the Opposition is misrepresenting not only what I say, but also what the Minister of Foreign Affairs. But let me go, let me go to the Baker-Hamilton report. Let me read to the House, Mr Speaker, an excerpt from the Baker-Hamilton report on page 37. "A premature American departure from Iraq would almost certainly produce "greater sectarian violence and further deterioration of conditions "leading to a number of the adverse consequences outlined above. "The near-term results would be a significant power vacuum, "greater human suffering, regional destabilisation "and a threat to the global economy. "Al-Qaeda would depict our withdrawal as a historic victory." Let me repeat that. as a historic victory. "If we leave and Iraq descends into chaos, the long-term consequences could eventually require the United States to return." Mr Speaker, those words are very close to the words of the national security estimate which no doubt, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Speaker, has read, in which it said amongst other things, "If coalition forces were withdrawn rapidly "during the term of this estimate, "we judge that this almost certainly would lead to a significant increase "in the scale and scope of sectarian conflict in Iraq, "intensify Sunni resistance to the Iraqi Government, "and have adverse consequences for national reconciliation." It goes on to say, "If such a rapid withdrawal were to take place, "we judge that the Iraqi security forces "would be unlikely to survive as a non-sectarian, national institution. "Neighbouring countries invited by Iraqi factions or unilaterally "might intervene openly in the conflict..." And it goes on in similar vein. Mr Speaker, when challenged to state his own view, as to the consequences of an American withdrawal by March 2008, the Leader of the Opposition has sought refuge in cherry picking Baker-Hamilton. That's what he sought to do. The Leader of the Opposition has sought refuge in cherry picking Baker-Hamilton. He's ignored, Mr Speaker, the conditionality of the proposition

put in Baker-Hamilton. He's completely ignored, Mr Speaker, completely ignored, Mr Speaker, the assessment that if there were a premature withdrawal, in Iraq, Mr Speaker, by the American forces,

there would be the consequences that have been outlined. The Prime Minister has also endorsed the Bush surge strategy on Iraq. Is the Prime Minister aware that it refers to a large number of benchmarks which should be met by the Iraqis in the period ahead? Can the Prime Minister guarantee, that if in response to President Bush's surge strategy over the next few months, the Iraqis fail to meet these benchmarks

demanded of them, that the US will not then begin a staged withdrawal? The Honourable the Prime Minister. Mr Speaker, In a situation that is so difficult and fraught in Iraq, it is difficult, for anybody to responsibly, as he knows, give 'guarantees', as he calls them. But I can, Mr Speaker, using that term in a very broad sense, guarantee that, if the approach that he is adopting were to be adopted by coalition governments, you could guarantee total chaos in Iraq, Mr Speaker, you could be certain of that. And the point I was making, as he knows, in answer to the earlier question is very simply that, if participant governments in the coalition start nominating dates by which forces are going to be withdrawn,

what they are doing is inviting our enemies, inviting the terrorists in Iraq, to persist with the destabilisation and the mayhem and the bloodshed in the certain knowledge that ultimately the nerve will be lost ultimately a withdrawal will take place. I refer to the Prime Minister's last answer where he conceded that he could not guarantee that the United States would not begin a staged withdrawal

following President Bush's surge strategy in Iraq.

Prime Minister, given that another 100 Iraqi civilians will die today, adding to the 61,000 who have died so far

following his failed invasion in Iraq, when will the Prime Minister have the courage and the decency to admit that he has got this war radically wrong from day one?

My answer is, no, it was not wrong and I stand by that decision. I will continue to be accountable for that decision in the bar of public opinion in Australia. I have never hidden from the responsibility

for the decision that I took back in 2003 and, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, I have always been prepared to tell the Australian people what I believe will be the consequences of certain actions, Mr Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition is once again avoiding that responsibility. He asked me about guarantees. Nobody can give ironclad guarantees. Of course they can't, and he knows that. But if you want me to venture a view, I do not believe that under the current administration, and I would hope, under no other administration, Mr Speaker, whether it be Republican or be it Democrat, I do not believe, Mr Speaker, I do not believe that the Americans will embrace a strategy that leads to defeat. And that is the basis, Mr Speaker, of my criticism of what the Leader of the Opposition is saying, Mr Speaker. He is, in effect, advocating a precipitate coalition withdrawal, Mr Speaker.

And it is my belief, Mr Speaker, that sensible counsels will prevail in the United States, because a defeat in Iraq for the United States would be more than bad. It would be catastrophic for the war against terrorism. It would lead to not only a bloodbath in Iraq, it would lead to the destabilisation of Saudi Arabia, the destabilisation of Jordan,

the end of any real hope of getting a Palestinian peace settlement, Mr Speaker, and it would also embolden the terrorist cause in our part of the world. So I say again to the Leader of the Opposition, why doesnt he have the courage to tell the Australian people what he genuinely believes will be the consequence of a precipitate coalition withdrawal by March 2008? A proposal to cut back the regular debates on matters of public importance from two hours to just one hour got Labor and especially independent MPs hot under the collar. The Government said it was just fixing up a loophole which gave the three independents more than their fair share. Traditionally, Mr Speaker, the matter of public importance debate went for 50 minutes. The Government is proposing to extend that to a full hour.

Traditionally, Mr Speaker, the matter of public importance debate had four speakers, two on each side. The Government is proposing

to make that six speakers, three on each side. So what we are proposing is to actually add to what has been a traditional practice of this House in respect of matters of public importance debates. Now, Mr Speaker, I know, I know, that over the last 12 months or so, it has become common for the traditional 50-minute debate to go on for well over an hour, as on a number of occasions, extra members had sought the call, particularly independent members of this place. On 17 of the 52 most recent MPIs,

debate has gone on for more than an hour, but as I said, Mr Speaker, this is quite contrary to the long-standing conventions of this House, and that is why the Government is seeking to regularise the situation in the way that I have outlined. Mr Speaker, because members opposite... INTERJECTIONS Because members opposite will suggest that this is the death of democracy... Order! ..as we know it, Let me just put on the record that this government has been the best friend of debate in this parliament of any government of recent years. Of any government of recent years. Not only, Mr Speaker, does every minister of this government front question time every day,

unlike the roster that operated under the former government, not only do we have 20 questions on most days as opposed to the 12 questions on average in the Keating Government's time. Not only do we have a much better question time, but, Mr Speaker, further initiatives

further initiatives of this government, are members' statements in

adjournment debates interventions in the main committee, a practice which will shortly be extended to this chamber itself.

Mr Speaker, what we are proposing extends the traditional practice of this House, it mirrors the standard practice of the Senate, it's a worthy change, and I commend it to all members. Hear, hear. This provision has served this parliament for 106 years, but what we have here is an arrogant government that wants to stifle debate in an election year. A government determined to avoid scrutiny and to avoid accountability. A government prepared to take this extraordinary step in order to stifle particularly the three independents who sit over there in this House. But not just them, Mr Speaker. Also in order to stifle the members of the Opposition and the members of their increasingly nervous backbench, who they don't want participating in the key debates of the day. Why is this occurring? Mr Speaker, last year, there were 50 debates on matters of public importance in this House. Of those, only 13 of them went for more than an hour. But of those 13 that extended for more than an hour, six went more than an hour by 90 seconds or less. So what we have here is the jack boots from the Leader of the House, coming in here and changing standing orders. This was due to be debated last night, but once again it got deferred until today. Why? So the Government could gag this very debate about the gagging of the matter of public importance in this parliament.

The only time that debates have gone for more than an hour are over critical issues, critical issues such as the war on Iraq. And we saw today the Government leader, the Prime Minister's, refusal to have a debate on the war of Iraq. They don't want scrutiny outside the Parliament, they won't turn up for debate, and inside Parliament they want to stifle the debate. They want to cut of the oxygen for the rights of members to put forward their views. For the Leader of the House to go through his reasons there a moment ago, I think it's quite disgraceful. This is actually targeted very much at the independents. And when one looks at the times that people have spoke - and I'm proud to say this - that in the last 12 months - 2006 - I spoke on 12 MPIs. Mr Beazley spoke on 10, Mr Rudd spoke on nine, Mr Katter on six, and then Mr Abbott on six. And McGauran and Mr Andrews on eight. So if Mr Abbott feels as though he's being left out, there's been an extra hour on most occasions that he could have made a contribution. Or other members of the Government of the Opposition could have made a contribution to the debate.

The Leader of the House has also misled the Parliament in some of his press utterances. This morning he made the comment that on occasion the three independents take up half an hour. The Leader of the House may like to be able to prove that, because that has never happened in the last 12 months where the three independents have all spoken on the one MPI. The MPI is the one occasion in this parliament, and I know we have grievance and I know we have adjournment, but the MPI is the one occasion where there is a debate about a substantive issue that the general public may see as being important. The rest of debate in this place

is on legislative arrangements and changes, or question time itself. But the MPI is absolutely critical,

because it does allow debate on substantive matters such as drought, climate change, the water issue, the renewable energy issue, aged care, education. Those issues that cross all electoral boundaries and do need to be embraced and discussed in this parliament. The member for Grayndler was perfectly right in his remarks, as the Member for New England was. But Mr Acting Speaker, we get the opportunity to speak on legislation, but the only time you get to speak on timely issues - and I believe, however stupid or naively, after 32 or 33 years in Parliament, that what members say in this place I mean, it does have an effect. People do listen, and sometimes take notes. So, I mean, if you are closing down debate, then you are seriously damaging the political process. And as for an act of political stupidity, I mean, if the honourable minister has political ambitions to go higher than he has, I mean, there are three independents in this place, and I may be reading the opinion polls wrong... INTERJECTION ..but the Government's not looking particularly good, Mr Acting Speaker.

In fact they're looking worse than they've looked at the polls in all of my time in here. See, you have memories. Since they got elected to government. And to antagonise, blatantly antagonise the three independents is an act of monumental stupidity which has been taken advantage of by the Opposition, Mr Acting Speaker. Of course they have ingratiated themselves to us today by giving us a fair go. And the Government has antagonised us by doing anything but giving us a fair go. On the the timely issues of the day where we have the ability to get up and say a few words. I mean, five or six times, four or five times, whatever it is, in the last 18 months, a person's had an opportunity to speak on this for 10 minutes. This is hardly earth-shattering. And on those issues, the climate change, locked in with the water, the debate of last week, of a person like me should be speaking on it. I'm representing a third of Australia's water resources. The controversy is not that independent MPs are taking too much time, it's that party MPs are not making the most of the opportunities. And why? Because the MPI is most often about controversial issues of some embarrassment, often, to the Government. And we've seen situations here where there is but one speaker on the Government side, half a dozen speakers wanting to speak on the non-Government side, because the issue, whether it be climate change or whether it be the war on Iraq is of absolutely vital importance, but it's not of importance to the Government, because they don't want those views aired. Perhaps, er, it hasn't been shown up by too-active independents. Perhaps the too-active independents have been too active around rural issues which have been embarrassing to the Government. And particularly they want to shut down this debate, shut down the opportunities in an election year because it's all getting a little bit hot, particularly in rural and regional areas where the independents represent such a threat in this election year. The constituents should be asking why their Government members are not speaking up on these MPIs, defending positions that the Government has taken, whether it's around climate change, whether it's around water, whether it's around the war on Iraq, our energy options, whether it's around all the matters of public importance that are going to be so crucial in this election year. The Speaker, David Hawker, became embroiled in a noisy slanging match when Tony Abbott referred to Kevin Rudd by a former nickname. Mr Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, these days he says that his greatest hero is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or it might have been Keir Hardy, depending on which journalist he's talking to, but Mr Speaker, in those days, the Leader of the Opposition was known as Dr Death, he was known as Dr Death because he closed 2,200 hospital beds in Queensland, Mr Speaker. The Minister will resume his seat. The manager of Opposition business. Mr Speaker, Standing Order 64... The member will resume his seat. I make the point that, if the member finds that expression... ..would like that withdrawn, I will ask for it to be withdrawn.

The member for Opposition business.

It certainly should be withdrawn, Mr Speaker, obviously. Obviously! The member will resume his seat. If the member finds it offensive, then the minister will withdraw that last accusation. I am a little confused. I simply referred to the Queensland public's terminology.

They called the Leader of the Opposition 'Dr Death' because of his record in Queensland public hospitals. If the Leader of the Opposition has an objection, he should raise it and he should let the flunkies sit down

and stop fighting this fight for him. The minister will resume his seat. MEMBERS SHOUT If members want to hold up their question time, they will keep interjecting!

FRACAS CONTINUES

The honourable member for Dawson was standing first. I call the member for Dawson. The member for Dawson on a point of order. MEMBER FOR DAWSON: Yes, that term that the minister used

was commonly used in the media and in the public in Queensland. He is quoting from the press of the day. The member will resume her seat. That is not a point of order. Order! Order! Members on my left. The member for Lingiari will remove himself under standing order 94(a). The manager of Opposition business. Mr Speaker, three members on this side have been warned for moving points of order, two members have been excluded and you allow this behaviour. He must withdraw it. He must withdraw that statement and withdraw it immediately without reservation. Order! The member will resume his seat and he will not reflect on the chair! Order. Order. The minister. Mr Speaker, on the point of order, if the Leader of the Opposition asks me to withdraw because he finds it offensive, I will withdraw, but I am not going to withdraw for this one. The Minister will be seated. I say to the Manager of Opposition Business, I heard clearly what the minister said. If the Leader of the Opposition objects to that expression... he will ask for it to be withdrawn. The manager of Opposition business. To the point of order, are you suggesting, Mr Speaker, that anyone would not find that offensive? Would anyone not find that offensive? It is offensive. It should be withdrawn. The member will resume his seat. I have listened carefully and the Leader of the Opposition has not asked for it to be withdrawn. Therefore he has not found it unparliamentary. I call the minister. The manager of Opposition business. Mr Speaker, you indicated directly to me as manager of Opposition business that if there was an objection it would be withdrawn. If you check the Hansard you will see that that is what was said. The member will resume his seat. I make the point... The honourable member for Fraser.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker, I know of no precedent where you, having asked the minister to withdraw, allowed him to refuse and do nothing about it. It has never happened before in all the time I have been in the parliament and I do not know how you can stand for it. I remind the member for Fraser that I said if the Leader of the Opposition found it offensive I would ask the minister to withdraw. Order! The member for Fraser. Mr Speaker, that is neither what you said nor what the standing orders require. You said? The member will not reflect... With respect, I am reminding you but I am not reflecting. You said: "If the member finds it offensive I will ask the minister to withdraw." You asked him to withdraw and he refused. The member will resume his seat and I will rule on his point of order. The member will resume his seat. The member is well aware that the time to ask questions of the Speaker is after question time. Order. The member will resume his seat until I've ruled on the last point of order. I said that if the Leader of the Opposition found that expression offensive I would ask for it to be withdrawn. The Leader of the Opposition has not asked for it to be withdrawn. The manager of Opposition business. I refer you to standing order 89 - "a Member must not use offensive words against: (a) either House of the Parliament or a Member of the Parliament."

Standing order 90 - I am getting straight to the point of order - says: "All imputations of improper motives to a Member and all personal reflections on other Members shall be considered highly disorderly. Standing order 91 goes to what action you should - I am well aware of the standing orders!

The member will resume his seat. As the Manager of Opposition Business is well aware, the occupant of the chair is the determinant of the interpretation of the standing orders. In the specific instance, I have ruled that if the Leader of the Opposition finds that expression offensive he may ask for it to be withdrawn. I say to the Leader of the Opposition: does the Leader of the Opposition wish to have that withdrawn? Does the Leader of the Opposition... No... OK. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports. Under standing order 90, I find the minister's description of the Leader of the Opposition offensive and I ask that you have him withdraw it. The member will resume his seat. I have just sought the opinion of the person in question, the Leader of the Opposition. He has not asked for it to be withdrawn. I call the minister. Minister. I have ruled on that point of order. I call the minister. Mr Speaker, I simply make the point that after the Leader of the Opposition's record in Queensland, there is a clear message to the Australian people: do not let this man wreck Medicare like he wrecked the Queensland public hospital system. The honourable manager of Opposition business. Thanks, Mr Speaker. I refer to your ruling today regarding my request as manager of Opposition business that an offensive remark be withdrawn. I draw your attention to the Hansard of 22 June 2006, page 72, where the former Leader of the Opposition stated: "You are better at vilifying refugees, Phil." The next entry is yours, saying, "Order!" Then the Leader of the House rising to his feet saying: "I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. If I may say so, that was a grubby remark and it should be It is offensive and it should be withdrawn. You then stated -

"The Leader of the House will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition has been asked to withdraw that remark. The Leader of the Opposition will stand up and withdraw it." The former Leader of the Opposition did just that, Mr Speaker, and the House went on in an orderly fashion. Mr Speaker, I also draw your attention

to the Hansard on 8 August 2006, which does not even record what the interjection is - it just says, "Opposition members interjecting". Again, the Leader of the House rose to his feet and said: "Mr Speaker, I heard the Leader of the Opposition use very offensive language against the minister for workplace relations and, under the standing orders which he claims to uphold, he should withdraw it." You called the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition responded "so that you know exactly what I said". You then intervened and said: "The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw." That then occurred, Mr Speaker. That is precisely what happened on the floor of this chamber today - precisely. I think the member might come to his question and not debate it.

I would ask that you examine the precedents that have occurred in the past, including your own rulings, Mr Speaker. Have a look at the tape and examine what occurred today and report back to the House as to what the standards will be in future if we are going to have the sort of orderly debate that I think the people of Australia expect and deserve from this House.

I take the question as a serious question that the Manager of Opposition Business has raised. I would make the point that the occupier of the chair is always asked to rule on an issue like that in the context of what was said. On this particular occasion I asked the Leader of the Opposition if he found the words offensive and he indicated that he did not. However, I am happy to discuss the matter further with the Opposition - but I will not revisit the particular instance of today. +