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Wednesday, 23 November 1960

Mr DALY (Grayndler) -I join with other honorable members on this side of the Parliament in protesting- at the postponement of general business". I suppose that no government in our time has treated the Opposition of this Parliament with more contempt than has the present Administration. Last night we had the spectacle of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) giving us a lecture on the sitting qf the parliament. But he is in this place for only one-quarter of the time. In the early part of the. session when these matters could have been deliberated he did not bother even to remain in Australia. The Government has told us that we must postpone general business - on which members on both sides of the

House wish to speak - so that before rushing into recess we can without adequate discussion give effect to legislation, some of which is most objectionable to the Australian people. It is time that a most emphatic protest was registered by honorable members on this side of the Parliament.

I, with other honorable members, believe that we are entitled to discuss general business, which, in our view, is just as important as the legislation that the Government is introducing. There can be no reason for the constant postponement of general business. In days gone by the Government has sought to postpone Grievance Day, and only after continuous protests from the Opposition have we been given even a limited opportunity to discuss various matters.

The Government's handling of the legislation which is now before us indicates its absolute contempt for the right of free speech. The Opposition receives no justice; it has no rights. Measures are gagged and we are not allowed to debate fully important legislation which will have farreaching effects in this country. I should like the Treasurer to give us some explanation for his proposal to postpone general business day. What are the Government's reasons for its action?

I dp pot expect back-benchers on the Government side to tell us because they are dumb. They do as they are told. They do not see legislation before it is introduced and they do not seem to care, but we on this side of the chamber want to know what is going on. We want the Treasurer to tell us the reasons behind his proposal. He has a zigzag mentality, as honorable members will have noticed by his economic policy. What he. puts forward to-day may be altered to-morrow. All these factors should be taken into consideration.

I represent about 40,000. electors and I demand the, right, to. be heard in this Parliament when important matters are introduced. I should like to hear discussed the motions which have been listed by the honorable member for Barton and the. honorable member, for New England, but more importantly I should like to hear discussed the resolution of the Leader of the. Opposition (Mr. Calwell) relating to the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. I cannot help but think - I am confirmed in this view by the Government's plan to postpone general business to-morrow - that the Government is seeking to avoid discussion of the motions which are on the notice-paper, particularly that in relation to the report of the Constitutional Review Committee which was brought down some time ago. These matters require explanation.

I, with other members on this side of the Parliament, object to this suppression of free speech. Our right to discuss important matters has been taken from us. We are rushing into recess with a flood of bills being introduced in the last days of the session that could have been introduced in the earlier stages. Why could the Government not have brought down earlier in the session the legislation dealing with electoral reform? So that we can go into recess, not only are we being called upon to give up our right to discuss general business, but also we are being denied the right to speak fully on important legislation. The Government is seeking, by every means possible, to prevent discussion, first of all of the Crimes Bill and then of other legislation which it knows to be unpopular.

I join with the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members on this side of the Parliament in registering a protest at the contempt which is being shown to us and to the people that we represent, by this Government which is power-drunk, incompetent and, as is apparent to us all, has lost the confidence of the Australian people.

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