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Thursday, 11 April 1957

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for Forrest will state his point of order.

Mr Freeth - I submit, with respect, that the honorable member for Parkes is out of order on a great number of counts. In the first place, the Standing Orders clearly provide that questions must be confined solely to questions, and must not contain unnecessary epithets or comments or other such matters. In the second place, the Standing Orders provide that an honorable member may ask a question, but on the honorable member's accounting he has already asked three questions. Thirdly, one question is allowed supplementary to a question that has already been asked. I suggest that if the honorable member wishes to ask a question he should be permitted to ask one question only.

Mr Haylen - Speaking to the point of order-

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member-

Mr Haylen - If you are going to rule on the point of order, Mr. Speaker, Ishall resume my seat.

Mr SPEAKER - Does the Treasurer wish to speak on this matter?

Sir Arthur Fadden - Yes.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member for Parkes may speak to the point of order.

Mr Haylen - The main point raised by the honorable member for Forrest is that I have asked more than one question. If the honorable member will look carefully at this question as it will be reported in " Hansard ", he will find that it is really one question with a series of dependent clauses.

Sir Arthur Fadden - The question by its very nature is one that involves very grave and important policy matters, and the honorable member for Parkes will have every opportunity to express his views and comments during the course of the debate on the legislation that will be introduced.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The position is that there has been a great deal - I think far too much - relaxation in regard to questions. Questions are becoming too long, and the replies to them, in many instances, can be charged equally on that score. I draw the attention of the honorable member for Parkes to the undesirability of his taking advantage of the goodwill of the House. I ask him to come to his question.

Mr HAYLEN - There are only two more points. They are: Fourthly, will the Treasurer give categorical evidence of the terrible things that the Commonwealth Bank is alleged to have done to draw the vengeance of the trading banks upon it and the Government's projected legislation? Fifthly, is touting-

Mr Lucock - I rise to order. Is it not a fact, Mr. Speaker, that questions cannot be asked on policy? As this is clearly a matter of policy, I contend that the honorable member for Parkes is out of order.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Whether a question relates to a matter of policy is for Ministers to decide.

Mr Freeth - I also rise to order. I invite your attention, Sir, to Standing Order 144, which provides that -

Questions should not contain -

(b)   arguments;

(c)   inferences;

(d)   imputations;

(e)   epithets;

(f)   ironical expressions; or

(g)   hypothetical matter.

Questions should not ask Ministers -

(a)   for an expression of opinion;

(b)   to state the Government's policy; or

(c)   for legal opinion.

In view of the clear rules laid down in that standing order, I respectfully suggest that the honorable member for Parkes is out of order.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I rule that the honorable member has the right to ask his question. If it involves a question of policy, the Treasurer will be quite capable of dealing with it.

Mr HAYLEN - I shall do so. Fifthly, is touting by the private banks, as revealed by the honorable member for Werriwa in his question yesterday, propaganda by their officers-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I must ask the honorable member to resume his seat unless he completes his question.

Mr Calwell - Is that the end of the question?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I ask the honorable member for Parkes to complete his question.

Mr HAYLEN - I shall do so immediately. What I am about to say is most important and directly to the point. I ask the Treasurer, in the interests of Australia, whether he will make a statement to-day, before this Parliament goes into recess, on the size of the Easter egg that the Prime Minister intends to give to the trading banks and the measure of the restrictions to be imposed on the bank of the Australian people?

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