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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 206


Mr GILES (Angas) - It is not my aim to get at loggerheads with a man so important and so erudite as the Leader of the House. But in this case I went along to his chief Whip and I posed him with a problem as regards this debate. I sat with the Country Party Whip and I watched the Government Whip go down and talk to the Leader of the House. I cannot tell what did or did not go on at that time. But the Government Whip came back and gave me the answer immediately. It was perfectly obvious from the answer given to me by the Government Whip that this matter had been discussed between him and the Leader of the House. I am not here to cause trouble, but I say let there be a bit of honesty about this. Before the Leader of the House accuses me of falsehoods, might I add that I have witnesses for every statement that I have made. I regard those statements as quite truthful. The Government Whip came back and laid down conditions under which this debate could take place as regards amendments - of which we had none. This matter is perfectly plain in my mind. I just hope that the Leader of the House regrets his statement.


Mr SINCLAIR - I seek suspension of the Standing Orders to speak on this matter because it is important that this House have an opportunity not only to hear from the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) but, I trust, from other speakers from the Government who have been overseas during the recess, in particular those ministers who have come back from their wanderings and who, we would hope, might have contributed a little towards a restoration of good relations between Australia and those countries whom their Leader and others have estranged. It is important that there should be an opportunity not only for them to make these statements but also for us to reply to them. In this instance the Prime Minister has made an important statement. In that statement he canvassed the whole range of issues which he in the course of a few weeks of absence from Australia, predominantly to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Ottawa, was able to encompass. To me the difficulty in not being accorded leave to speak is that there are matters which I think need to be said. I think all Australians are concerned at the general posture which the Prime Minister adopted not only in debate at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting but also in his presentation of an Australian image - presented not in a manner to which to attract the approval of those of us who have been accustomed to seeing Prime Ministers act in the way in which they should act. He appeared more as a person attending an Australian Labor Party conference at Southport than as a head of a government attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Ottawa.


Mr Daly - Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The motion is that the Standing Orders be suspended. The Deputy Leader of the Country Party, the fourth most important man in the House, is debating the issue. I take the point that the honourable member must confine himself to the reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.


Mr SPEAKER - I ask the honourable member for New England to confine his remarks to the reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.


Mr SINCLAIR - I think that is a very valid point and I am indebted to the Leader of the House for pointing out that it is necessary for me to refer to the performance of the Prime Minister and the disappointment that all Australians felt at the way in which he appeared more as a person attending an ALP conference on the Gold Coast than as the head of a government attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Ottawa. I feel it is necessary that I should have an opportunity to speak in this House in order to identify his performance. I think it is important that the Standing Orders should be suspended so that members of the visiting Mexican delegation may attend this place - as I understand they are to do later this day - and hear the debate on this subject. Mexico is a country about which all Australians are interested to know more. We of course noted that responses to the Prime Minister in Mexico were not perhaps as willing as he had anticipated. This was certainly so insofar as the French nuclear testing in the South Pacific is concerned - a matter on which there is accord between the Australian Country Party and the Labor Party. On this matter the Mexican people might be concerned not to offend the French. It is a pity that the Prime Minister does not realise that international sensitivities are an important part of international diplomacy. I believe that the suspension of the Standing Orders is necessary to enable me to identify the problems that emanated from his failure to realise this.

There is another area of the discussions the Prime Minister held overseas - those in the United States - which highlight the problems of not being able to talk on this matter. I refer to the difficulties that emanate from the deterioration in Australia's relationships with the United States.


Mr Daly - I raise a point of order. The honourable member is now discussing the subject matter. He should be asked to confine himself to the reasons for the suspension of the Standing Orders.


Mr SPEAKER -I again ask the honourable member to confine his remarks.


Mr SINCLAIR - The action of moving a motion to suspend the Standing Orders is taken only when there is not an opportunity to raise adequately matters that have been covered in the course of a debate before the House. The Prime Minister's report on his discussions in the United States highlights one of the very real problems that this Government is creating for the future of Australia.


Mr Daly - I raise a further point of order. The honourable member is now referring to the subject matter of the debate. The honourable member is deliberately defying your ruling, Mr Speaker, and I take the point that he should be asked to confine his remarks to the terms of the motion.


Mr SPEAKER -I ask the honourable member for New England to confine his remarks to the reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.


Mr SINCLAIR - 1 thank you for your ruling, Mr Speaker. I believe that it is necessary that the Standing Orders be suspended so that I can adequately identify the concern which

Australians have at the irrational and irresponsible statements by the Prime Minister echoing those of the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) in regard to the involvement of multi-national corporations in our community. It is important that there be an adequate discussion of this issue in this House. I think we all recognise that multi-national corporations have made a contribution to the development of this country. There should be an opportunity to talk on this matter. There should be an opportunity for us to consider both sides of the story. Of course we all want the maximum Australian identity in the development of this country. We want the maximum Australian involvement. We want an opportunity to discuss that involvement and to discuss the way in which multi-national corporations can and will make a contribution to the development of Australia.


Mr Daly - On a point of order, the honourable member is again debating the subject matter of the statement. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to direct the honourable member to confine his remarks to the motion.


Mr SPEAKER -I think that the Leader of the House may be a little bit confused. Since the last point of order was raised the honourable member for New England has given reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.


Mr SINCLAIR - I believe that it is necessary that this House Should grant to its members the opportunity to debate significant issues. The reason I have moved the motion to suspend the Standing Orders is that no opportunity is being given to speak. We are being denied the opportunity to talk about multi-national corporations. We are being denied the opportunity to talk about statements made by the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister's attitude to the Prime Minister of Singapore, his attitude to the Prime Minister of Great Britain and the divisions that emerged within the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference. We are being denied the opportunity to speak about all of the problems relating to the espousal by the Prime Minister of the Afro-Asian group as distinct from those people with whom we have traditionally been associated. I believe that there should be an opportunity to discuss these matters and to formulate a debate on what degree the interests of Australia are best protected. We should be able to discuss the attempts by the Prime Minister to curry favour with one group within a conference 1


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman is now debating the subject matter. The motion is that the Standing Orders be suspended. I ask the honourable member to confine the rest of his remarks to the reasons why the Standing Orders should be suspended.


Mr SINCLAIR - I concur with your point, Mr Speaker, that it is necessary to establish why Standing Orders should be suspended. 1 was endeavouring to point out that it is necessary for the Australian people to have an opportunity to hear the arguments as to why the Prime Minister should have sought the support of the Afro-Asian group; why he felt that it was necessary to antagonise those who have been our true and trusted friends; why he felt it was necessary to antagonise the Prime Minister of Singapore and why we should be denied an opportunity to debate this estrangement of relations at a time when it is important that Australia's attitudes are fully exposed before the Australian people? After all, if a David Frost show can give to the Australian people the initial performance of the first report of the Prime Minister to this country it seems strange that members of this House are to be denied not only that original performance but also the opportunity to talk about it subsequently. The suspension of the Standing Orders is the only procedure open to me to enable me to have a minimal opportunity to speak, while a television interviewer, not an Australian, one of these overseas people of whom the Prime Minister is so critical-


Mr Lynch - A foreigner.


Mr SINCLAIR - A foreigner was given the first opportunity to hear the first report to the nation. Here we are being denied even the opportunity to talk adequately about the performance of the Prime Minister. I believe his performance was lamentable in view of the degree to which it has led to a deterioration in so many ways of the past high standing of the Australian people and of this country.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Is the motion seconded?







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