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Friday, 26 July 1946

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) (Minister for the Navy, Minister for Munitions and Minister- for Aircraft Production) . - The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), with his customary eloquence, has sought to-persuade the House that Mr. Speaker no longer possesses its confidence, but I believe, with respect, that his contentions were most unconvincing. It is quite evident that the right, honorable gentleman would not have submitted this motion if. the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) had not been suspended yesterday. Therefore, this motion must be judged from the conduct of the honorable member for Fawkner, because his suspension was the culminating point in the circumstances which led to the submission of it. If the Leader of the Opposition had had any grievance regarding any other ruling of Mr. Speaker or his administration of the high office that he occupies, he had a right and a duty to this House to raise the matter at the time when he considered the incident occurred. But the right honorable gentleman took no such action, and remained silent until this morning, when he sought to justify wilful disobedience of the Chair. The Leader of the Opposition is embarrassed by the recent repeated acts of misbehaviour of hi3 own supporters. He must excuse in some way to the listening public the recent unruly conduct of members of the Liberal party. Therefore, he has endeavoured to transfer the responsibility 'from them to the Speaker. That attempt is as un- gracious as it is ungenerous, and . those who have listened to the proceedings of this House recently will agree with me that the right honorable gentleman is behaving ungraciously and ungenerously in accusing the Speaker of some act contrary to the best parliamentary practice. I bring to the recollection of the right honorable gentleman the occurrence of yesterday which has led to this debate The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Conelan) asked the Minister for Works and Housing a question dealing with an aspect of the administration of the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis), formerly a Minister of the. Crown and now sitting on the Opposition -benches. Possibly it would have been' somewhat embarrassing for that honorable gentleman if the Minister for Works and Housing had answered the question. With the customary astuteness of an experienced parliamentarian, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), recognizing the possible embarrassment to his colleague, raised a point of order in an endeavour to shield the honorable member for Moreton from the answer that the Minister could have given. Mr. Speaker, having heard the point of order raised by the honorable member for Warringah, ruled that the question of the honorable member for Griffith was in order. It was at that stage that the honorable member for Fawkner rose to take a point of order. I remind the House that no honorable member may address the House until he has received* a call from the Chair. It is absolutely essential that an honorable- member shall receive a call from the Chair before he may address the House on any matter. The honorable member for Fawkner did not receive a call from the Chair. T am therefore surprised that the right honorable member for Kooyong, who occupies the high and honorable office of Leader of the Opposition, should now seek to justify and condone the wilful disobedience of the honorable member for Fawkner, when he was directed by the Chair to resume his seat. That was inexcusable. Unless there is compliance with the directions of the Chair, there can be no orderly parliamentary procedure. If honorable gentlemen opposite desire to observe British parliamentary practice they must acknowledge the authority of Mr. Speaker, who is charged with the duty of conducting the business of the House. My statement regarding the responsibilities of the Speaker can be supported by many authorities. I remind honorable members that while the House itself may determine finally all questions of order, the Speaker is the authority who is .required to interpret the Standing Orders, and his interpretation must be regarded as final unless it be challenged in the manner- provided in the Standing Orders for honorable gentlemen to make a motion of objection to a ruling. In my opinion, the motion of want of confidence in Mr. Speaker, which the Leader of the Opposition has moved, is totally unwarranted. If the right honorable gentleman considered that he had a grievance in respect of the . interpretation of the Standing Orders by the Speaker he had his remedy under the Standing Orders, and could have made a motion of objection to the ruling. The right honorable gentleman . did not take' that course.

Mr Menzies - Mr. Speaker did not give a ruling.

Mr MAKIN - Mr. Speaker did give a ruling The records of the House will prove that he did.

Mr Menzies - He refused to give one.

Mr MAKIN - Mr. Speaker not only gave a ruling, but, furthermore, said to the honorable member for Fawkner, " The honorable member has his remedy ". That remedy was to move for disagreement with the ruling that had been given. The right honorable gentleman cannot escape from his responsibility for the position in which he has placed himself in condoning misbehaviour and wilful disrespect of the Chair by a member of his party.

Mr Menzies - The honorable member" for Fawkner comported himself with great dignity.

Mr MAKIN - Dignity cannot be associated with disrespectful conduct in relation to the Chair.' I shall not rely upon my own view of the rights of Mr. Speaker in this matter, but shall cite a man who was a member, and an ardent supporter, of the Liberal party in his day; He was elevated to the high and honorable office of Mr. Speaker, and occupied that position for a considerable period. He was universally respected for the manner in which he discharged his duties. I speak of the Honorable Sir Elliot Johnson. Surely honorable members opposite will not dispute the impartiality or fairness of any ruling he gave. I quote from Hansard of the 23rd September, 1913, at page 1372-

Mr. Higgs.; I rise to a point of order.

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