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Wednesday, 23 November 1960


Mr SPEAKER - Order! I ask the honorable member not to reflect on the Treasurer.


Mr WARD -In view of your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I do not propose to proceed any further along that line except to remark that when I rose in my place the Treasurer reflected on me and I thought that I was entitled to retaliate.

We belong to a well-paid organization and I think that we are entitled to give much more consideration to the important matters that have been submitted to the Parliament than this Government has permitted. There ought to be some arrange ments for the orderly conduct of the business of this chamber. Every honorable member will admit that when the Parliament assembles for its sittings there are periods when the Government is battling to keep the Houses occupied because it has no legislation prepared. But when we near the conclusion of the sessional period the Government, in an attempt to avoid proper consideration of important measures, day after day throws new legislation before us. In fact, there is no doubt in the world that what this Government fears more than anything else is the criticism of a virile Opposition. That is exactly why it wants to close this Parliament up.

Let us take the Crimes Bill as an illustration. The guillotine was brought down in regard to this measure, and so farcical did the proceedings become that before the committee had reached a particular part of the bill the end of the time allotted for the consideration of that part had already been reached, so that there was no time at all for certain clauses to be considered. There was no time even for the Minister in charge of the bill, the Attorney-General, to give any explanation of what the Government was submitting. There was also no time left for him to move his amendments, and we had the farce of Government amendments being carried - as they can be under the provisions of the Standing Orders, and I am not contesting that point - without having actually been moved by the Attorney-General. That was one result of the application of the guillotine. Members of the Government were not even afforded an opportunity of moving their own amendments.

Surely there has been no more important measure brought before this Parliament than the measure to amend the Crimes Act. The Opposition claims, and the trade union movement outside claims, that the purpose of this measure is to stifle free speech.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable gentleman is getting away from the subject-matter before the Chair.


Mr WARD - Yes, but I am coming to the point, Mr. Speaker. The point I am trying to make is that all sections of the Australian community to-day are criticizing the proposed amendments to the Crimes Act, because they infringe the people's right to criticize the policy of the Government. But how can they expect to obtain the right of free speech from this Government if it is denied to the Opposition - the elected representatives of the people in this Parliament?

There are many matters that the Parliament has to deal with, and the Treasurer has not given us any reason why the Parliament has to hurry into recess. If all these important matters are still on the business paper why cannot the Parliament be kept in session. I know that the Treasurer will say that members are anxious to get away from the Parliament and get to their homes. Let me tell the Treasurer that I do not know of one member on this side who does not want this Parliament to continue in session so that we can consider some most important matters still requiring attention. The people who want to get away are the members of the Government, who want to go jaunting to every corner of the world while the problems of this country are not adequately dealt with. Honorable members opposite are interjecting. They can easily test the Opposition's sincerity if they want to do so. I have made the statement that we are prepared to sit here and keep the Parliament open to conduct the business of the nation. If honorable members opposite think that statement is not sincere they can test its sincerity by keeping the Parliament open, and we will be here to handle the business of the nation.

We certainly do not want this fascisttype Government closing down on the criticism voiced by members of the Parliament - the elected representatives of the people. We may be, at the moment, a minority in this Parliament. But I am perfectly satisfied that, having regard to what the Government is trying to do in its infringement of civil liberties in this country, and what it is doing in wrecking many people by its economic policy, although we may be in the minority in this Parliament at the moment, we will have a majority outside if the electors are afforded an opportunity of passing judgment on this Government.







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