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Wednesday, 7 December 1960

Mr DALY (Grayndler) .- I want to reply briefly to statements made by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). It is interesting to note that in the divisions that took place on this question at the times to which he has referred, he was one of those who voted in the way that we are going to vote on the motion that is now before us. I have not the time to turn up the " Hansard " reference, but if honorable members care to do so they will be able to read the outraged speech made by the honorable member for Mallee, and his pleas for justice at that time.

Mr Turnbull - That is absolutely untrue.

Mr DALY - It is significant that the honorable member did not quote any passage from his own speech, nor did he direct attention to the division list. He always led the way, when he was a member of the Opposition, in advocating freedom of expression for members of the Opposition. But since he has been emancipated and joined the ranks of the Government, he has fallen into line. He has not taken the firm stand that has been displayed in recent days by two senators in the other place. I invite the honorable member to quote the division list which appears in " Hansard " after the speech of Mr. Chifley from which he has quoted. I would also like him to quote the speech that he himself made at that time. When in opposition he was one of those who spoke consistently against practices of the kind which he now supports, although he still contends at all times that he stands for justice, independence and the rights of the individual. I wonder what the honorable member would say if it were ,i measure relating to the dried fruits industry that we were seeking to have discussed, or if it were a matter concerning wire netting or rabbits or skeleton weed. He would agree to a discussion of any of those matters at any time of the night. But when we wish to discuss matters of great public importance, such as the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on international affairs, the honorable member says that we must rush into recess, that we cannot have such a discussion because Christmas is approaching.

Mr Turnbull - I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. After the honorable member for Grayndler has finished his speech, shall I be in order in requesting permission to make a personal explanation?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I shall deal with that matter when it arises.

Mr DALY - It is interesting to note that the honorable member makes all kinds of outrageous statements concerning members of the Opposition, but that when we give a little in return he is the first to challenge our statements, and to request the withdrawal of remarks that are perfectly truthful.

I was interested to see the Treasurer move the same motion that he moved only a couple of weeks ago. He gave the same explanation for it as he gave on the previous occasion as to why Government business should take precedence over general business. It appears that the Government wishes to prevent the measures that are listed on the notice-paper under " General Business " from being discussed at this time. It appears from what the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) has said in this debate that he is conscious of what has happened to the two rebels in another place, who we know have been ostracized.

Mr Drummond - On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been grossly misrepresented.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member may not make a personal explanation at this time.

Mr DALY - The honorable member for New England has seen other Government supporters pulled into line, and he has no desire to be a member of this Parliament with no one on the Government side speaking to him. That is why he has made his public confession to-day that he supports the Government, and why he is prepared to allow his proposed motion to remain on the notice-paper until the Parliament is prorogued, when it will disappear into the beyond and become forgotten. But we of the Opposition are different. We think that constitutional reform is important. We believe it is important to discuss measures of great public concern. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) cannot claim that he is not interested in constitutional reform, because it is obvious from the threats he has been making to two people in another place that he would reform the Senate overnight if he could, and that he would implement many recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee. Why are we not allowed to discuss the items on our agenda paper? There are 28 to 30 items on the agenda to be disussed. As the leader of the Opposition has said, the Government does not hesitate to bring in all kinds of legislation in the middle of the night. In the early hours of this morning the Government introduced legislation to inrcease salaries of judges to a figure of about £10,000 a year. They seek to sneak these measures through the Parliament. It is true that if this were not Christmas time, Government supporters would not return to their electorates because they are frightened of the wrath of the public. However, at this time they intend to rush into recess1, go away on holidays and prevent members of the Parliament, who represent great majorities of electors, from expressing their opinions on Government business that is before the Parliament.

I was interested to hear the Treasurer in his earlier remarks say that we may get time to discuss the statement made yesterday by the Prime Minister. I wonder what time that will be. After we have been engaged here all night, even if we are allowed to debate the statement to-morrow afternoon, what state will we be in to do so? I suppose that we will deliberate all night on a nonunion basis, without any breaks whatever, and then be expected to discuss a matter of great international importance. What about the men at the table who take down the reports of this Parliament, the " Hansard " staff, and those associated with the running of the Parliament? What do they think about the hours the Parliament will sit? I will admit that they are not worried by the speeches of Government supporters, who are silent and dumb. Very few honorable members opposite ever say anything except what the Government wants them to say. It is significant that not one honorable member opposite, except the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) who repeated the gramophone record speech that he continually makes, has been game to support the Treasurer on this occasion. Why have not other members of the Australian Country Party spoken? Why have we not heard from other Government supporters? Why does not the honorable member who is now asleep, though it is the middle of the day, say something about this matter? The real facts are that Government supporters want to rush away from here. They sit silently here all through the night.

Mr Pearce - You were in bed at ten o'clock last night.

Mr DALY - I was where I should have been. I remind honorable members on the Government side that I heard them; their snores are still ringing in my ears.

I object to this motion of the Treasurer. I object to the continual brushing aside of the general business of the Parliament. I disagree with the attitude of the Government which results in no business being before us in the early stages of a session - in a way, the Government asks the Opposition to carry the Parliament - and then in the last few days rushing through unlimited legislation, expecting there to be no discussion. We are told that this rush is because of the need to break up for Christmas.

I am a little disappointed that we have not raised several matters of urgent public importance. This would have given us an opportunity to discuss them, and the Government would not have entirely had its way. I can quite easily understand any government with the known character of this Government not wanting these matters to be ventilated in the Parliament. The Treasurer will be happy to get back to his palatial seaside home and hide from the public. Government supporters do not want any discussion of the dozen and one matters that could be raised in the Parliament. They do not want the statement on international affairs discussed, because if it were discussed members of the public would hear the criticism in this Parliament of the Prime Minister's attitude in the United Nations and on other occasions. They do not want long discussions during the day or the early hours of the evening when people can listen and hear criticisms of, say, proposals on finance which have been introduced into the Parliament. Ministers, such as the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), do not want their shortcomings in the administration of their portfolios ventilated, and the Government seeks to hide from the public by rushing into recess. It refuses to give the Opposition time to discuss these matters.

With all the force and power at my command, I object to the proposal of the Treasurer. I hope that honorable members on this side will always object to this method of rushing legislation through the Parliament without discussion and without giving elected representatives the right to speak for the people who sent them here and to protest against the injustices of this Government. I believe that the Government deserves to be condemned for this. Despite the half-baked support given to the Treasurer by the honorable member for Mallee, not one Government supporter has yet substantiated what has been said by the Treasurer. Consequently, the Government deserves to be condemned for its action.

Mr Turnbull - I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). The honorable member said that, on the occasion covered by passages from " Hansard " to which I referred, I made a fiery speech, as he put it, condemning the government of the day. All I can =ay is that I did not make a speech at all on the occasion in question, as " Hansard " will show. The quotations that I gave were f>o-i " Hansard ". I have given the date and T can show the passages to any one "''-o wishes to see them. They were from " Hansard " and they can be substantiated bv " Hansard ". They are absolutely true aid not merely flights of fancy such as the words we have heard from the honorable r»->her for Grayndler.

Mr Drummond - I wish to make a personal explanation. I have been grossly misrepresented by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly). He said that during my speech I said I did not care whether my resolution now on the businesspaper was discussed. What I did say was that I did not care to have it discussed in the dying hours of the session but that I preferred to have it discussed in the New Year when honorable members were fresh and able to set their minds to work on this important subject.

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