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Thursday, 5 April 1973
Page: 1136


Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Ser-vices and Property) - As calmly and as dispassionately as I can, I hope to bring the debate back to the level on which I think it should have been conducted and to explain to the House a few factors behind your ruling, Mr Speaker. I oppose the motion, and if honourable members who are interjecting will listen I will endeavour to explain why I do so. It is true that objection has been taken to the words 'ashamed of yourself. It is not that the expression is unparliamentary, as you know,' Mr Speaker; it is the manner which is objectionable What is said is one thing, but every member of this Parliament knows that how it is said is another thing. You may well call a man a 'b' with a smile on your face because it is how you say it that determines whether you get away with it. It is the manner and the context in which the words are used which determine whether they are objectionable. It is all very well to say these things flippantly, but the emphasis they are given and the manner of approach can cause people to take objection. This morning the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) was interjecting constantly.


Mr Anthony - That is not right. That is a distortion.


Mr DALY - 'Let me continue. The manner of the honourable member for Gippsland while saying 'you should be ashamed of yourself was cold, .insulting and sneering. He was following a course of-


Mr Anthony - Mr Speaker,I rise to a point of order. Can the Minister reflect on a person with such vile language, while that person has no chance to defend himself in this House?


Mr SPEAKER - There is no substance in the point of order.


Mr DALY - I say quite clearly that the' honourable member for Gippsland was following a course of conduct which could be described, to use an Irish term, as deliberately trailing his coat. He was given an opportunity to withdraw, ;but he refused the offer. Let me remind the House that that offer is a concession given only by the benevolence of Mr' Speaker or the' Parliament, because standing' order 304 provides, in part:

If the offence has been committed in the House, the Speaker shall forthwith put the' question, on a motion being made, no amendment, adjournment or debate being allowed-

It is a courtesy of which the honourable member for Gippsland did not take advantage. He was given ah opportunity to withdraw, but in a calculated and insulting manner he refused to do so. He was determined to be a martyr and at all costs to get his name in the newspapers tomorrow. You have been very tolerant, Mir Speaker. The Opposition has . been taking advantage of your good nature and tolerance. I would like now to quote what was said by honourable members opposite on your election as Mr Speaker.. Before I do so, I remind honourable members that you were, the unanimous choice of this House. Your integrity and honesty are such that the Opposition did not oppose your election. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) said:

We will not interject while, you are speaking provided that you do not speak for too long. We will be courteous at all times, provided that you do not provoke us.

Listen to this -

Further, we will be parliamentarians at all times, no matter what the circumstances.

That was the assurance given by the Opposition to you, Mr Speaker. You were the unanimous choice. Nobody doubts your integrity. This Parliament placed that on record by your election. The honourable member for Gippsland should have learned, as I have learned in a long period in Parliament, that there is one chap you cannot argue with anywhere and that

Is the referee. As parliamentarians, we know that the Speaker must be obeyed and his decisions carried out. Whether he is right or wrong, if one does not obey his dicta one finishes up where 3 honourable members have finished up today. That is quite right, according to the Standing Orders of the Parliament.

In fairness to you, Mr Speaker, I point out that a study of the questions that have been asked in this session shows that your tolerance has always been tested. As you know, questions should not contain arguments, inferences, imputations, ironical expressions, hypothetical matter or things of that nature. Nevertheless, questions do contain such matter because honourable members opposite take advantage of your good humour. In today's incident, the relevance lay not so much in the words as in the emphasis behind them, in the manner of approach and in the deliberate intention not to. withdraw. In those factors lay the responsibility for the suspension of 3 honourable members. The Leader of the Opposition put an unusual proposition to the Parliament. He suggested that ex-Prime Ministers and ex-Ministers are entitled to special consideration.


Mr McLeay - He did not. That is untrue.


Mr DALY - The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) said 'You ought to be ashamed of yourself not only to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) but also to you, Mr Speaker. In other words, he deliberately flouted your ruling, showed disrespect to the Parliament and insulted the Parliament. Let me say that the right honourable gentleman, as an ex-Prime Minister, ought to know better. 1 for one will not be giving him special consideration. The honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) is another ex-Minister. It was said These are ex-Ministers. They are above the law and should not abide by the rules of this place'. Why should they not? Each of those honourable members deliberately said 'You should be ashamed of yourself and each was paid the courtesy of an opportunity to withdraw. They flouted that courtesy.

Much has been said this morning about the Prime Minister. He went off to farewell a visiting Head of State. Insinuations were made by honourable members opposite which do little credit to them. They should take note of the attitude of the Prime Minister. This morning when you asked him to withdraw,

Mr Speaker,he set an inspiring example to honourable members opposite. (Opposition members interjecting)


Mr DALY - Do not get excited. I can wait. I am speaking in grievance debate time. Take your time and interject.

I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition should tell us whether those honourable members are to be given special consideration. Similarly, the right honourable member for Richmond and Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) said: Why cannot a fellow interject now and again?' I remind him that Standing Orders provide that all interjections are disorderly. He has been here long enough to know that. I advise honourable members opposite - this applies particularly to the 3 honourable members who have been suspended, when they return - to read the Standing Orders so that they will know precisely where they stand.

To sum up the matter, what is relevant is not so much the words that are used as the manner in which they are used. No Speaker could be tolerant enough to allow all honourable members to be roaring out, in a way which is meant to be offensive, the words you should be ashamed of yourself or any other words. With due respect to those honourable members who have been suspended from the Parliament temporarily, I suggest that they are at fault - not you, Mr Speaker. Only your tolerance and understanding have allowed you to go so far without taking appropriate action. I do not wish to say more on this question because I believe it is not hard to defend the unanimous choice of the Parliament. It is not hard to defend a tolerant person who has been described by honourable members opposite in that way. I know what you go through, Mr Speaker. I have been in Opposition and I know what honourable members try to do to Speakers. Consequently, the honourable members who have been suspended today should learn a lesson and know that you, above all people in this Parliament, must be obeyed. You cannot allow honourable members to say anything that reflects on you, the Prime Minister or the Parliament if they say it with an intent to discredit. As this is Grievance Day and I do not want to take up the time of private members, as honourable members opposite wish to do,I move:

That the question be now put.

Question put.







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