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Friday, 15 May 1970

Mr STEWART (Lang) - I have in my hand a book which is headed: 'The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia'. The title of the book is: 'Business and Procedures of the House of Representatives - A Short Description'. It is a third edition. There is a prefatory note in the front of it which reads:

The purpose of this publication, which is prepared primarily for distribution to and the information of Members of the House of Representatives, is to give a relatively short description of the ordinary business of the House and of procedures and practices followed in connection with its day to day proceedings.

It does not attempt to encompass all the procedures provided for in the Standing Orders of the House or by practice, nor does it, with some exceptions, deal with the more complex features of these procedures which are described, or with unusual events.

It is signed by A. G. Turner, Clerk of the House of Representatives. He is the Government's chief adviser and he is also the Opposition's chief adviser on procedures in this House. On page 24 of the booklet under the section headed 'Amendments' it reads:

The following amendments are out of order.

It refers to a few of them, and then at (e) states:

An amendment which is merely an expanded negative.

So that an amendment which is an expanded negative, according to this booklet, is definitely out of order. It is a book that is published by the Parliament for the guidance of members of the House of Representatives. The original amendment claims that the Government has '. . . failed to honour a commitment . . . '. The amendment that was moved by the honourable member for Casey (Mr Howson) reads: . . does not believe that there has been any failure . . . '. Mr Speaker, I submit that that is as good as saying:'You did; I didn't'. It is as simple a proposition as that. We say there was a failure; the honourable member for Casey in his amendment claims there was no failure. I can stand here and say: 'You did'; the Government can say: 'We didn't'. It is as simple as that. It is a direct negative. It is an expanded negative, because the second amendment has been expanded into many more words than we used in the original amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson).

Let me make this point: We moved a want of confidence motion in the Government. The second amendment is not a want of confidence motion in the Government. It takes away the whole import of the amendment that we moved. We took a stand on a matter of principle and morality. We moved an amendment that expressed a want of confidence in the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Cabinet. The amendment that has been moved by the honourable member for Casey does absolutely nothing. It is an innocuous resolution that is the way out for certain honourable members on the Government side who are not prepared to support the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn).

Might I conclude my remarks by saying that it is your position in this House, Mr Speaker, to control the House. It is your position to interperet the Standing Orders. You have precedents to. follow. You have parliamentary practice in this Parliament and in the House of Commons which give you guidance on these matters. You also have this booklet 'Business and Procedures of the House of Representatives', which is published by this Parliament and written by your chief adviser and our chief adviser, the Clerk of the House of Representatives. I submit that unless you act with complete impartiality in every decision that you make this House will not function as it should. I submit that as soon as you are appointed Speaker you must forget that you are the honourable member for Phillip. As the honourable member for Phillip you can have your political biases; you can do and say what you like. But as Mr Speaker, if you expect our respect, you must forget that you are associated with any political party. You are there to uphold the practice and procedures of the British institution of Parliament, but particularly of the Australian institution of Parliament. There can be no other decision than that the amendment moved by the honourable member for Casey is a direct or expanded negative of the resolution that was moved by the honourable member for Dawson. I ask you for the sake of this Parliament to forget that you are the honourable member for Phillip - a Liberal representative - and to make a decision which upholds the prestige of the Australian House of Parliament.

Mr Armitage - I rise to order. In view of the compelling logic of the honourable member for Lang and in view of the impact of your ruling on the future traditions of this Parliament--

Mr SPEAKER - I ask the honourable member to come to the point. The honourable member will state his point of order.

Mr Armitage - I ask, Mr Speaker, whether you can amplify to the House your reasons for your ruling?

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member will resume his seat. The point of order is not valid.

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