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Wednesday, 21 July 1920

Mr J H CATTS (Cook) .- Little remains to be added to the statement of the case against Mr. Speaker's ruling. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has already fully covered the ground, and there has been no answer to his arguments. In reply to him, other matters have certainly been discussed ; but if I were to conclude that those who have followed my honorable friend were unable to distinguish between the point raised by him and that raised by them,. I should have but a very poor opinion of their intelligence. The Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Groom) has had a legal training, but it would be utterly absurd to dignify the remarks made by him by describing them as a legal argument. If he were not dissembling, then his ability as a lawyer stands on a very low plane. As a matter of fact, there is on the Government benches a majority who are determined1 that the Executive acts of the Ministry shall not be discussed.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - Order! I ask the honorable member to discuss the motion.

Mr J H CATTS - I am doing so, and I am going to show the attitude of honorable members opposite in regard to it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The attitude of honorable members has nothing to do with the motion.

Mr J H CATTS - The matter which the honorable member for West Sydney was preventing from discussing was an Executive act on the part of this Government, and has nothing to do with the Law Courts.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Iremind the honorable member that the motion before the Chair is merely one to dissent' from Mr. Speaker's ruling.

Mr J H CATTS - And Mr. Speaker ruled that a departmental inquiry which had been concluded - a Star Chamber procedure that had actually terminatedcould not be discussed. Notwithstanding, that the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), an acknowledged constitutionalauthority, gave the assurance time after time that he was not discussing any matter that was sub judice, and did not propose to do so. Mr. Speaker called upon him to desist. He was called upon not to proceed further with a discussion of the administration of the Government in. regard to this Star Chamber inquiry. We have' now a very cunning attempt to side-track the real issue by describing it as a discussion of a case that is sub judice. I want to tear away the mask and let the public see that the real issue is being side-tracked, not to shield the Law Courts from political influence, but to protect the Government from their administrative acts which they know will not stand the light of day. That is the point.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - That is not the point. The only Question before the Chair is a motion to dissent from the ruling of Mr. Speaker. The acts of the Government do not enter into the present discussion.

Mr J H CATTS - The Deputy Speaker now touches the very ground that I want to discuss. Ho says that the actions of the Government may not be debated.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member is misrepresenting what I stated. I said that the acts of the Government may not be discussed on this motion.

Mr J H CATTS - Surely one is in order in stating what is the case that is being discussed. There has been a lot of misrepresentation, either wilful or otherwise, and I desire to show that the point for which we are contending is that the rights and privileges of honorable members must not be taken away from them. We are not now proposing to discuss in detail the Star Chamber inquiry, hut we are seeking to show what it is that the Government are cloaking under the vile pretence that the question is pending in a Court, and is, therefore, sub judice.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member is again out of order in imputing improper motives to the Government. That has nothing whatever to do with the motion before the Chair.

Mr J H CATTS - I want to make it clear to those who read the reports of our debates that we are not permitted now to discuss the merits of deportation generally, nor the merits of deportation in any particular case. It might otherwise be thought by some people who read the reports ofthis debate that we were allowed to discuss the merits, and that we did not make out a very strong case. I repeat that we are not allowed to do that. We are not allowed to deal with the merits, and to bring out potent facts which would be very pertinent if a general discussion were allowed. I want to point out how weare being sidetracked.

The point at which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) was prevented from discussing the departmental inquiry conducted by Sir Robert Garran is recorded at page 2790 of the last issue of Hansard. On reference to that page it will be found that the honorable member had time after time given Mr. Speaker his assurance that he did not propose to debate a matter pending in the Courts or that would be the subject of an appeal to the Courts. But Mr. Speaker prevented him from discussing this other matter to which I am referring, although it was not sub judice. I propose to quote the facts from Hansard, page 2791. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) then wrote out the following notice of motion, to dissent from Mr. Speaker's ruling -

That Mr.Speaker'sruling be disagreed with on the groundthat. reference to . the enquiry before Sir Robert Garran, in the Father Jerger case, and the conduct of the Executive in connexion with that enquiry, are proper subjects for discussionin Parliament.

Then Mr. Speaker, after reading . out this notice . of . motion, . said -

The. honorable, member for West, Sydney has given notice . of his intention to move -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - The honorable, member is not in order in reading from the Hansard, report ofthe debates of the current session.

Mr J H CATTS - I am showing from the published record of this Parliament the matter which is now under discussion, . and which an effort is being made to side track. I am proving ' that Mr. Speaker read out the notice - of motion to dissent from his ruling, and am endeavouringto point out that if therewas anything wrong in the statement of the caseby thehonorable member for West Sydney and in the wording of the motion, then was the proper time for Mr. Speaker to declare that it was not his ruling, and that it was quite outside the matter. However, he did not doso. Afterwards there was evidently some second thought on his part, because the motion appears on the business paper in a reconstructed . form. It . was not reconstructed by the honorable member for West Sydney. This is how the motion 'appears on the Business Paper: -

That the Speaker's ruling - That references to the inquiry before Sir Robert Garran in the Father Jerger case, and to the conduct of the Executive in connexion with that inquiry, are not proper subjects for 'discussion in ParliamentAc disagreed : to.

Compare the wording of this motion with what was read out by Mr. Speaker when the honorable member . for 'West Sydney handed in his notice of motion to dissent from the ruling which had been given.

Mr Brennan - It makes it quite clear that the conduct of the Executive . was one of the points . at . issue and for discus- sion here.

Mr J H CATTS -Yes, would make it appear . that thepoint for discussion here is . that Mr. Speaker had . -.given hisruling in . regard to ;.the . Garran inquiry. . "However, -that is , not . the point at issue. Mr. Speaker has this- afternoon sent to me by messenger . a slip . inhis own writing, . stating that . his ruling is not -covered by what appears in. the motionon the notice paper, butthat his ruling really was as follows: -

Ruled : That references in debate . to matters which are pending before the Courts, and. thus sub judice, are not in order.

The . Hansard . record of the facts on pages 2790 and 2791 will he searched in vain for any such ruling. First of all, the honorable member, forWest Sydney was prevented from discussing the Garran departmental inquiry, which we submit was . not sub judice, and which he was perfectly . entitled . to discuss. Thereupon the honorable -member handed : in a notice . of - motion to dissent from the : ruling. That motion, which was . relative -and pertinent, Mr. Speaker read to the House, -taking no exception, -to it. - It next appears- on the 'business paper -in an altered form, the alteration not having been.. effected by the honorable memberf or West Sydney ; but now that the matter . has come : before the House, Mr. Speaker desires to have it discussed on . a totally different issue, . as shown by this note -which he has sent. to me.

The . only point I wish to make in this debate is this-: The manner in whichthis matter has been handled all . through showsthat there is more concern to close -the mouths of honorable members in regard to. the administrative acts of the Government thanthere is in regard to the discussion of cases subjudice and before the Courts.

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