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Tuesday, 19 April 1966

Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh) . - Sir, I think you have made an error here. I do not think you did so maliciously. I think you did it more by accident than design, but having accidentally slipped into error you felt that you should stand by your ruling rather than admit that you were wrong. This is a very dangerous thing, because the rights and privileges of honorable members and the upholding of the Standing Orders of the Parliament are very important. The Standing Orders belong not only to you, Sir, but to each and every one of us here. They are as much mine as they are yours. It is your duty to uphold the Standing Orders and to uphold my rights as defined in the Standing Orders. Standing Order No. 321 reads -

A document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister, unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properly be obtained by address, shall, if required by any Member, be laid on the Table.

Let us recall what happened in this case and compare it with what the Standing Orders say I have a right to demand. It will be seen that the demand I made was properly made in accordance with my rights as an elected member of this Parliament and in accordance with the rights of the people who sent me here. A document relating to public affairs was read by the Prime Minister, who at first pretended that it was a letter from the editor of Brisbane " Truth ". The Prime Minister did not say: " This is a letter from the editor of Brisbane Truth ' " but he read it in such a way as to give the clear impression that it was a letter from the editor of the Brisbane " Truth ". It was only the sharpness of mind of members of the Opposition that led to the Prime Minister being tripped on this point.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER - Order! I suggest that the honorable member make his remarks relevant to the motion. The subject matter of the honorable member's remarks has no relevance to the motion before the Chair.

Mr CLYDE CAMERON - Do you want me to direct my remarks to your action rather than to the Prime Minister's action?


Mr CLYDE CAMERON - I will do that. When you saw the Prime Minister quote from a document, and when you heard the Prime Minister say, in effect: "This is not a confidential document because the writer of it told me that I might use it in any way I considered fit," you must have seen that the Prime Minister himself admitted that this document was not confidential. He admitted that it was not confidential by the fact that he said that the writer of the letter gave him authority to use it in whatever manner he thought fit. The very fact that he did use it and publicly stated its contents, in itself, proves that it was not a confidential document or, if it were, that the Prime Minister was breaking the confidence of the person who wrote to him. When you are faced with a Minister reading from a document and a member gets up and, in accordance with Standing Order No. 321, says: " I want that document tabled because he only read portion of it and he will not say who wrote it," I believe you have a perfect right to uphold that member's demand that the document be tabled so that he can have a look at it, see who wrote it and see whether it is possible to find out what evil genius tried to pretend that a genuine poll of the people of Queensland was a thing cooked up by a left wing organisation.

The Prime Minister could have escaped tabling the document if he had got up and said: " I claim that this is a confidential document and, therefore, in accordance with my right as Prime Minister, refuse to table it under Standing Order No. 321 ". But he is not claiming it is a confidential document. Indeed, he could not. I suggest, therefore, that you had no alternative but to uphold my demand. Instead of that, you upheld the Prime Minister's right to disregard my demand.

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