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Thursday, 20 April 1961


Mr CHRESBY (Griffith) . - Events of the last few hours clearly demonstate that certain fundamentals are being lost sight of in this party warfare in which we are continuously engaged. Although I am quite aware of the old saying that fools rush in where angels fear to tread, I am perfectly happy to be foolish in this instance and to rush in and refer to matters which I believe it is essential that we appreciate. I remind honorable members that one may argue the pros and cons of many policies and actions but, unless one bases all argument on a firm foundation, one will not get anywhere. All that can result from the use of arguments without firm foundation is heated discussion.

During the time at my disposal, I should like to mention certain points that we continue to forget. There is not the slightest shadow of doubt that, irrespective of their occupation in life, there are few men in this country who would not tell us that they know how to govern the country, that they know how to solve all the problems which beset any government, irrespective of its political complexion. Whether they be in an office chair, in their club, having a glass of beer or sitting before a television set, these people find it easy to solve the problems of the country.

That brings me to a discussion of the functions and duties of parliamentarians. Both those of us who have been here for a long time, and those who, like myself, have been here for only a short while, know that, according to the points of view and the policies current at the moment, we are blackguards, we are thieves - indeed, we are everything that makes for the worst type of clot or clown in the community. Apparently, to some people, the only use we have is to find jobs for those who require them, to arrange contracts for others, to arrange for the installation of a telephone, to attend some fete or bazaar, or to dig deep and give, give, give.

I do not complain about all this; I am simply endeavouring to bring out points which have been overlooked. Already, on one or two occasions, I have taken the opportunity to mention them. No Parliament can continue to exist if the people of the country fail to appreciate the functions of both Parliament and parliamentarians. For instance, we have had many clear illustrations that all sections of the Australian community believe that sole responsibility for the preservation of principles rests with Parliament. I emphasize that responsibility for the preservation of cherished principles rests not with Parliament solely, but with every section of the Australian community. That great constitutional authority, Blackstone, once told us that parliamentarians are the only men who are not required to be trained for the occupation and the responsibilities they undertake, lt is true that in all other walks of life either an apprenticeship, a university background or specialized training is required for the post undertaken. No such qualification is required of a parliamentarian. 1 think we are inclined to forget at times that we in this Parliament represent a true cross-section ot all types in the community.


Mr Bryant - What are you a cross section of?


Mr CHRESBY - I do not mind if my statements give some honorable members a brief moment of humorous satisfaction. 1 am quite happy to be the butt of their humour. At the same time, I point out that, before we enter this place, we are not required to be experts in anything. If anything, the only qualification required of us is that we shall have the gift of the gab, that we shall be expert in exercising that gift.


Mr Duthie - Or experts on the hovercraft.


Mr CHRESBY - Yes, I am happy to be an expert on the hovercraft. But all sections of the community expect us to be experts on everything that comes before Parliament. They expect us to be oracles of wisdom. They expect us to know everything. They expect us to be magicians who, at the flick of a finger, can produce the answer to all problems. We are expected to be experts on trade and commerce, indeed on every conceivable thing, fancied or real, which affects mankind, lt is essential that we bring some sense to our operations. Not one journal, not one newspaper suggests that we should be anything but the be-all and end-all in solving the country's problems. I raise no objection to constructive criticism, but I do emphasize that every action we take is subjected to all sorts of interpretations. We, in this chamber, are no better and no worse than the people who elect us. We are no better and no worse than those sections of the community which, because they cannot get this or that, start to lambast us.

I think that, in this place, we have sometimes failed to draw the attention of the community to the fact that if we are to achieve the benefits of which I have spoken - of science, mechanics, and the ingenuity of man - we must have the maximum cooperation and teamwork of all sections of the community. I know that there are many in this chamber who think that I am an idealist and unfitted, because of that, to sit in this place. Whether that is true or not, I express what I believe. If the honorable member who is interjecting likes to take temporary enjoyment from that fact, I am happy to afford him that enjoyment, but he does not destroy the central core of the principle about which I am talking - responsibility and teamwork. That brings me to the next point that I want to make.

I said before that everything has its purpose. If it has not, there is no meaning in it. We cannot exist unless we carry out the function for which we are here. What is our function? I said in a recent speech that it is to legislate to the best of our ability and so to order the affairs of the country that the majority of the people, in fact every man and woman, can achieve a certain ideal. I quoted a passage, from a well-known and very popular book. I again say that we are failing to recognize that.


Mr Griffiths - Why do you not resign?


Mr CHRESBY - I have no intention of resigning for this reason: Very few members of Parliament are here because they look upon this as a mere job. In view of the functions and the tasks involved, no man would take this on merely as a job.


Mr Griffiths - Speak for yourself.


Mr CHRESBY - If you look at it merely as a job I am sorry. There are few men who do not look upon their function in this place as a vocation- in which they believe.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







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