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Friday, 25 September 1970

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I will rule on the point of order raised by the honourable member for Hindmarsh. It is permissible for an honourable member to have as his own personal possession any matter which he may think fit. It is not for the Chair to decide what are the personal thoughts or actions of any honourable member in relation to 'any personal property that he. may have.

Mr Barnard - I rise to order. The point that was made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh is well taken. I think it is quite wrong for any member of this Parliament who has sworn allegiance to the Queen to come into this House with a flag other than the Australian flag or the Union Jack. I regret, Mr Speaker, that you have ruled in this way. I want to make it perfectly clear that if you persist with this ruling I will move dissent from your ruling.

Mr Gorton - On the point of order, I suggest that what the honourable member for Boothby has done has been to bring into this House in order to exhibit to honourable members a weapon, a stout staff, which has been specially treated so that it can be used as a weapon by those who wish to attack, according to the instructions issued, others who have sworn allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. What he is doing is giving this House evidence of weapons used against subjects of Her Majesty the Queen. Therefore I suggest that the point of order should fall to the ground.

Mr Whitlam - Mr Speaker, I submit that you should have another look at this ruling, if there was any validity in the Prime Minister's point of order then it would he permissible for the honourable memberfor Newcastle, who asked of the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation last week a question about hijacking aircraft, to illustrate his question by bringing in one of the weapons used in such hijacking attempts. Leaving aside the Prime Minister's intervention and relying upon your own apparent ruling, it would be equally permissible in this place where everybody has sworn allegiance to the Head of State for the honourable member for Boothby to illustrate one of his favourite subjects at question time by displaying the Rhodesian flags that he has brought back from that country.

Mr Jess - Mr Speaker, I would like the honourable member who took the original point of order to say what foreign flag it is. It is not a foreign flag of any country. It is a flag under which many leading members of the Opposition have marched at each Moratorium. It is not a foreign flag of any country at all.

Dr Patterson - I take a point of order. It is this: Question time today is now appearing to take on the same earmarks as question time yesterday. It must be quite obvious to you and to every other person in this Parliament that the display of that flag - a red flag - is offensive to every member of this Parliament. I ask you, irrespective of how you ruled earlier, to request that the red flag be removed immediately from this chamber.

Mr Daly - In support of the point that has been raised on this side of the House I would like to bring to your attention that this is all the more serious by reason of the fact that I understand that in the Government Whip's room yesterday, with Commonwealth material and Commonwealth employees, miniature Vietcong flags were being manufactured.

Dr Klugman - I wish to speak to the point of order taken by the Minister "for Social Services., which was to the effect that there is a difference between bringing in a flag for the purpose of exhibition and bringing in a flag for the purpose of showing that you support that particular flag. I understand that the honourable member for Boothby has brought in a Rhodesian flag. But in addition to bringing in that flag he has also previously expressed the point of view that he supports the people who support that flag.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no substance in the point of order on what the honourable member's views are.

Mr Hayden - I seek guidance from you, Mr Speaker. Is there anything in the Standing Orders about trivia, because that is what question time descends to with the introduction by the honourable member for Boothby of a completely unimportant issue such as the one he has raised. There are great national issues before this Parliament. I think we have some responsibility towards the public. I do not think the Parliament ought to be wasting its time with such stupid things.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I agree with the last part of the honourable member's statement. I am not aware that this is the flag of any country. I do not know; I have not seen it. I have heard the honourable member for La Trobe inform the House that it is not a flag of a foreign country. I must accept the word of the honourable member that that is so. I must say further that while I have been the Speaker several exhibits have been brought into this chamber by members of the Opposition as well as by members of the Government parties from time to time. Unless the matter in question has some relation to disloyalty or is against the Standing Orders the Chair is not in a position to act on the private property of any member.

Mr Cope - Mr Speaker, now that you have made that decision and you have established a precedent, would it be in order, say, for the Minister for Primary Industry to bring a prize bull into this chamber to explain-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I would hope that honourable members would use some judgment and responsibility in their actions.

Mr Barnard - Mr Speaker-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! As the honourable member for Dawson has mentioned this morning, the proceedings have the earmarks of developing along the lines of yesterday's proceedings. I think it would be a matter of regret if this happened, because question time is prized by honourable members. It is being used at the present time contrary to the manner in which this Parliament should act.

Mr Barnard - I can only repeat what I said a few moments ago, that the attitude of the honourable member from the Government Party who displayed this flag is an affront to the Parliament and to the decorum of the Parliament. Mr Speaker, in view of your decision in the matter, I move:

That the ruling be dissented from.

Mr SPEAKER -The motion is to be submitted in writing, and seconded.

Dr Mackay - On the point of order-


Dr Mackay - May I speak to the motion?


Question resolved in the negative.

Mr GORTON - In answer to the question which was asked, I have noticed instructions which purported to have been issued, indicating to those carrying this flag that they should place it on a stout staff so that that staff can be used as a weapon in their confrontations with, according to the instructions, either the police or somebody from the Democratic Labor Party - why they should pick that particular Party I do not know - or some body from the Returned Services League.

I have noticed the stoutness of the particular staff on which this flag is placed, which is in the possession of the honourable member for Boothby, and also the fact that it appears to have been so treated that it could be used as a stabbing weapon as well as a hitting weapon. I think, having said that, that it might be of advantage to honourable members opposite to have a look and see whether that is not true and, that having been done. I have no doubt whatever that the honourable member with this trophy will burn, with great pleasure, the flag itself.

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