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Wednesday, 8 December 1971
Page: 4365

Mr IRWIN (Mitchell) (12:41 PM) - I want to stale right now that I am the person who, within 5 or 10 minutes of the incident, went straight to the Prime Minister's office and told the Prime Minister's secretary what had occurred aud what I had heard. I have here a Bible and 1 would swear by almighty God that as I walked down the stairs and into the hall 6 or' 7 people, members of the Labor- Party, came along and one of them exclaimed to other Labor Party members coming towards the chamber: 'We have walked out'. I gave evidence before the Privileges Committee about 8 weeks later. I had not thought that the incident would blow up into the proportions that it reached. Had T known, I would have memorised the names of the people who had said that they had walked out.

Unfortunately Sir John Cramer has left Parliament House tonight. I have sent a message for him to come here. He would tell you that those persons gathered around him and said: 'We walked out. Do not bother going in. It is only a quorum.' Honourable members heard what Sir John Cramer said yesterday. The transcript of evidence before the Privileges Committee shows that not one member has sworn that no-one walked out the doors of the chamber. They swore that they did not see anyone walk out. There is a vast difference between swearing that you saw someone walk out and swearing that you did not see someone walk out.

Since this incident occurred I have watched the occupant of the Chair when people have walked out the doors of this chamber. On many occasions when that has happened the occupant of the Chair has been engaged in earnest conversation and would noi know who walked out. I have watched people walk out of the chamber and I would defy any member of this House to state whether the person leaving was a member or a visitor who had been sitting in the Speaker's Gallery. I have taken particular notice since this case came about, I have walked slowly from the stairway where 1 met the Labor Party members concerned - they also were walking in leisurely fashion- to the door on the opposite side of the chamber, lt took me exactly 32 seconds. . Those members have condemned themselves out of their own mouths on their own statements that .'hey walked out of this place. I have proved to myself that it took them 32 seconds to reach the point where I met them.

Let us face facts. Why would 1, within 5 or 10 minutes of the incident, go to the Prime Minister's secretary and acquaint him with the facts? I could not make these, things up. Mr Reid was looking to find the people who were in the House at the time. He saw me and I told him not to worry, it was a walkout. On their own statements it was a -walkout. Sir John Cramer will come in here tomorrow aud will tell honourable members that the same people gathered around him and apparently prevented him proceeding to this chamber. They are the facts of the case and, of course, the facts always hurt.

Mr Scholes - Why don't you name some of them?

Mr IRWIN - I would have, but apparently you do nol remember that this matter did not come up until 10 or 12 days afterwards.

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