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Wednesday, 13 May 1970

Mr DALY (Grayndler) - The reasons given by the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) for bringing this measure forward as urgent are spurious in the extreme. Even as late as today those in the Government ranks cannot agree to support the measure that is before the Parliament. As the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) has said, we have been treated to displays of ugly brawling and sordid intrigue in the Liberal Party, in relation to this measure, the appointment of a full time lobbyist by the Australian Medical Association in King's Hall to instruct and direct Government supporters on this measure and in every way to create the dissension and the dissatisfaction that has forced it to bring the measure into the House. The real reason for bringing this measure before the House now is that the Government wants to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Discussion of the measure contains all the seeds of rebellion in the Parliament. The Minister could not afford to bring the Bill to the Parliament clause by clause because he knows he would be deserted and defeated on the floor of the Parliament by defectors from within his own ranks. I defy any honourable member on the Government side to say that is not true. I defy any member on the Government side to say that he supports the Bill. The Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) is almost a nervous wreck in regard to the presentation of the Bill. In fact, the doctors have to give him a needle to keep him going because he is so distraught about The whole matter.

What does the Government say now? After a recess of 6 months it brings forward a measure with 55 clauses and 42 pages of schedules to be debated in about 6 hours. Members on this side of the Parliament would have no chance to debate it. Not one member on the Government side will have time to speak in the period allowed for discussion of the clauses except the Minister for Health. That means that the ministry is silencing its backbenchers, and the few rebels among them are sitting as quiet as mice today. They are being gagged by their ministry and they are not prepared to show - at least openly in this Parliament - that dissension exists in the Government's ranks. Why does the Government want to avoid a debate on the measure? Why does it not allow members to exercise their rights?

Every member on this side of the Parliament and on the other side has the right to speak twice in the Committee stage. It is easily seen that if that were allowed to happen it would bring to light many features of this legislation which should be amended, and therefore the Government seeks at this stage to stop any kind of dissection of the measure whereby we might show the public many of the failings in the legislation. What about the Opposition's 30 amendments? Each one has been carefully thought out and designed to protect the public interest. All have been prepared by experts in our ranks, including 5 prominent members of the medical profession. The Government knows that penetrating amendments that would have been moved by the Opposition would show up the incompetence of the Minister for Health and the features of this Bill which are not in the public interest. I congratulate the Government for realising the dangers to it inherent in having a decent debate take place in this way, but I would have had more respect for the Minister in charge of the debate had he been honest and said: 'We are frightened of the Opposition in this matter'.

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