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Monday, 17 September 1973
Page: 1113


Mr SPEAKER - Order! I had put the question that the report be adopted, and it was carried. There was no request for a division. I said: 'I think the ayes have it'. The honourable member is now moving the suspension of Standing Orders.


Mr NIXON - I am sorry to delay the House in this way, but tonight we have been treated with complete contempt by the Government. Earlier in the debate the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen) read from a document which I suspect to be a Cabinet document. I would like to know from him whether it is a Cabinet document.


Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is not a Cabinet document. You know that. I told you that.


Mr NIXON - Mr Speaker-


Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I rise on a point of order. I ask that that allegation be withdrawn. The honourable member for Gippsland has just made an accusation that I knew that I was reading from a Cabinet document. I had told him that it was not a Cabinet document. It was a copy of a submission made.


Mr SPEAKER -I think the correct procedure for the Minister to adopt would be to seek leave to make a personal explanation when the honourable member for Gippsland has finished his speech.


Mr NIXON - We now have the extraordinary admission by the Minister that it is a copy of a submission. As he has quoted from this copy of a submission I ask that the document be tabled forthwith.


Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman is now debating the question. He must put the case for the suspension of Standing Orders. I ask the honourable gentleman to keep to the specific question of whether Standing Orders should be suspended.


Mr NIXON - Standing Orders should be suspended because of that reason. We have this extraordinary admission by the Minister that he has read from a copy of a submission. He has taken part of it off. So I ask, because it has been quoted from, that as a courtesy of the Parliament, it be tabled. I think that Standing Orders state that it should be tabled. Therefore I ask the Minister to table the document.


Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You are talking about the suspension of Standing Orders.


Mr NIXON - I am talking about the suspension of Standing Orders.


Mr SPEAKER -The honourable gentleman has moved the suspension of Standing Orders. Therefore I suggest that he direct himself to that motion. The matter he is now mentioning is not debatable. He is asking the House to suspend Standing Orders. He must give reasons why Standing Orders should be suspended.


Mr NIXON - That is one reason. The Minister was quoting from a document which he claims is a copy of a submission. It is quite obvious that the matter ought to be debated by the Parliament as a whole. There should be an opportunity for all members to speak.


Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You were in Cabinet at the time.


Mr NIXON - Now the Minister says that I was in Cabinet at the time. So it must be a Cabinet submission. But we cannot debate the question.


Mr SPEAKER - The request for the tabling of the document should be made immediately the document is read and not left to a later stage, but that has nothing to do with the question. You should be giving reasons why the motion to suspend Standing Orders should be carried.


Mr NIXON - I believe that the motion to suspend Standing Orders should be carried because the Minister has been quoting from Cabinet submissions. The Parliament should debate that. According to May's 'Parliamentary Practice', only somebody who was persona non grata would stoop to such a trick.


Mr SPEAKER -It has always been the practice of the House that if a member seeks the tabling of a document it must be done immediately after the document has been read by a Minister. I was not in the chair at the time of this incident but I am informed that this was not done. The honourable member for Gippsland must confine himself to the reasons why Standing Orders should be suspended. That has nothing to do with the tabling of the document.


Mr MACKELLAR (WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I rise to a point of order. I draw attention to standing order 321 which states:

A document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister . . . , unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properly be obtained by address, shall, if required by any Member, be laid on the Table.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Nobody is actually quarrelling with standing order 321. I am concerned with the appropriate time at which to seek the tabling of a document. For example, a point of order must be taken immediately after a remark is made and not later. Ever since I have been a member of this House and ever since the longest serving member has been a member, it has always been the practice that it must be done immediately after the incident takes place.


Mr McLeay - That is not correct.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I tell the honourable member for Warringah that I prefer the advice of my Clerk as to what is right and what is wrong in this matter to the advice of the honourable member. If the honourable member has any objection to make, he can always take the appropriate action of moving against my ruling.


Mr MACKELLAR (WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I did not say a word.


Mr McLeay - I said that.


Mr SPEAKER - One honourable member in that area said it. I tell the honourable member for Boothby that had his father been in the chair he would have known the procedure.


Mr NIXON - Mr Speaker, you have ruled that the Postmaster-General does not have to table the document. I will let the matter pass. If the Minister was a scholar and a gentleman


Mr SPEAKER - Order! If the honourable member continues to ignore my request to direct his remarks to why Standing Orders should be suspended I will have to ask him to resume his seat.


Mr NIXON - With due respect, I have had great difficulty making my point because of all the interruptions coming from ratbags in certain areas, not looking at anybody in particular - much. During the course of tonight's debate certain allegations were made about costs of newspapers and one newspaper was waved as an example of this. The Minister said it would increase in cost by 1.75c; it was a paper from the area represented by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles). The point that is to be brought out in this motion for the suspension of Standing Orders is that in 1976 the cost of that newspaper will be 1 lc, as I understand it.


Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You did not raise that in the debate.


Mr NIXON - I did not get an opportunity to raise it.


Mr Anthony - That was in reply to the Postmaster-General.


Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You spoke for 20 minutes.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I call the Leader of the Country Party and the Minister to order. The member for Gippsland is again debating postal rates. The question before the chair is whether Standing Orders should be suspended and I am asking the honourable member to make his contribution to it.


Mr NIXON - Standing Orders should be suspended because the member for EdenMonaro (Mr Whan), the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby), the member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen), and Government members for a couple of other rural electorates have not been given an opportunity to speak in this debate. This is the case also with the members for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), New England (Mr Sinclair), Moore (Mr Maisey) the Northern Territory (Mr Calder), Gwydir (Mr Hunt), Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh), Canning (Mr Hallett), Paterson (Mr O'Keefe), McMillan (Mr Hewson), Wimmera (Mr King) and Kooyong (Mr Peacock). None of them has had an opportunity to speak on this matter. There is a great deal more information that these members-


Mr Keating - I rise to a point of order. The member for Gippsland is openly flouting your ruling, Mr Speaker. Your Speakership is at issue. You should sit him down. You have warned him 5 times.


Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Gippsland will confine his remarks to his reasons in support of the motion that standing orders be suspended.


Mr NIXON - I think it is true to say that the honourable members I named have not been able to contribute to this debate because the debate was gagged. Therefore I seek to reopen the debate so that the honourable members I named will be given a proper opportunity to debate the subject. I know full well that the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) and the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies), and a few other honourable members from rural areas, would like to tell the Postmaster-General what they think of him but they are not game. At this stage they should be given an opportunity in this Parliament to speak on the matter. The honourable member for Boothby also is very concerned about this matter and should be given proper opportunity to debate it. To think that we have gone through a debate of this nature without Labor members having the courage to get on their feet and do something about it-


Mr Scholes - I take a point of order. The honourable member for Gippsland is reflecting on decisions of this House, and that is contrary to the Standing Orders. He is stating that the decisions of the House, taken in a number of divisions on motions that the question be put, were improper decisions. I suggest that the honourable member for Gippsland is out of order.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I call the honourable member for Gippsland.


Mr NIXON - The time allowed for my remarks relating to my motion for the suspension of Standing Orders-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. Is the motion seconded?







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