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Friday, 26 July 1946


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member cannot take a point of order in this connexion.

Mr. Higgs; I submit that I can take a point of order at any time. .


Mr SPEAKER - In regard to other matters, the honorable member could do so, but I would remind him that the Speaker is the sole judge of what questions are in order, and no point of order nor question of privilege can arise in connexion with his decision.


Mr White - Charles I. said that.


Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member for Balaclava is out of order.


Mr MAKIN - The ruling then given by Sir Elliot Johnson is a complete and effective answer to anything that has been said by the Leader of the Opposition this morning. Unless proper regard were had for the authority of the Chair. the conduct of parliamentary government would be impossible. - 1 quote from Hansard of the 31st October, 1913, at page 2827. Mr. Speaker MacDonald then said -

It is also laid down that the Speaker, until the House otherwise decides, is the sole judge as to what questions should be put.

Mr. Speakeryesterday, in the exercise of his rights and authority, ruled that a question which had been asked was in order. On numerous occasions I, as a member of the Opposition in this House, have risen to a point of order, but Mr. Speaker has intimated that he did not wish to hear my point of order stated. Although his decision might have been a wise one, I, nevertheless, naturally was somewhat concerned at being denied the opportunity to present my view. Mr: Speaker, however, was convinced that he was capable of giving a ruling without any aid that I might have been able to offer to him ; and he was acting perfectly within his rights and -was exercising, his unchallengeable prerogative. Having stated that he had heard quite sufficient, he gave his ruling. Had any honorable member felt so disposed, he could have moved to dissent from the ruling. That is the proper procedure under the Standing Orders. Honorable members opposite did not adopt th'at course yesterday. The action taken by the Leader of the Opposition this morning is not " cricket ". Questioning the decision of the umpire can be justified only when a most grievous wrong has been done. That is the spirit which animates all Australians. I shall cite an authority, the impartiality of who I am sure the Leader of the Opposition will not impugn. I quote from Redlich's The Procedure of the House of Commons, a passage that is singularly appropriate to the present situation. It refers to the submission of a motion of censure on Mr. Speaker, and reads - ft need hardly be said that such an event ii abnormal and happens but rarely, and that such ft motion would only be acceded to by the House if the circumstances fully justified it. To an Englishman it would appear seriously to undermine the exalted position and dignity of the Speaker if, in addition to his application of the rules being open to challenge upon special and important occasions, it was competent for every, member to call in question the Speaker's authority whenever he chose, and if he was liable at all times to be called upon to defend the correctness of his decisions, ft is true that the House is the supreme Court of Appeal, to which the Speaker, like all others, is subordinate, but the authority of the . Chair is equally firmly established as against the individual members. Until the judgment of the House is appealed to in the prescribed form the authority of the Speaker must override the doubts of a single member and be final.

According to English ways of looking at things the parliamentary umpire would be as much lowered by a dispute with a member about his ruling as a judge would be in a court of law, if, after giving his decision, he allowed himself to be drawn into an argument with the parties whose case he had disposed of, or with the public, about the correctness of his judgment or the grounds upon which it was based.

The right honorable gentleman has npt sustained his charge. He found himself in. a difficult and embarrassing position because of the conduct of one of his supporters, and he has sought to excuse an action that cannot be justified according to the practices of any parliament in the British Empire. We must recognize that the prestige of the Chair is the symbol and embodiment of the authority of Par liament itself. We should not lightly allow to be challenged the authority which Parliament has vested in its chief executive officer, an authority which he is bound to exercise to preserve order in the House. In this instance, the Speaker has upheld the. highest traditions of his office, and has proved himself to be entitled to the confidence of the House. He has followed the precedents which have been recorded for the guidance of those holding the office of Speaker, and he was protecting the privileges of this House when he dealt with an honorable member who refused to obey an order of the Chair.







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