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Thursday, 27 September 1973
Page: 1702


Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property and Leader of the House) - The Opposition has become very excited. It must be a delayed Parramatta reaction. Earlier tonight the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) gave notice in these terms:

That at the next sitting I will move that this House censures the Minister for Minerals and Energy for his gross abuse of power in relation to the New South Wales power strike.

That notice was given for the next day of sitting and, in accordance with it, notice would have been taken, because that was all that was asked for in the motion. Consequently the Government has a right to say whether it takes notice yea or nay. The honourable member for Wannon then produced some document which I had not seen until a second ago and said: 'Can I table this?' I did not know what was in it. He had not shown it to me before he asked to table it. Quite rightly, as I do not trust any Liberals, I would not accept the document.


Mr Malcolm Fraser - I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The Minister will resume his seat.


Mr Malcolm Fraser - The document is signed by the Minister for Minerals and Energy. The Minister who is speaking-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order.


Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Deputy Speaker,I think there is. The Leader of the House said that he does not accept the document and that means that he is repudiating his own Minister in the Cabinet.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order and the honourable member is aware of that.


Mr DALY - As the honourable member knows, I am not the Minister for Minerals and Energy. I did not know the document. I had not seen it until a second ago when the Minister showed me what I presume to be the document, but I do not know yet whether that is it. The honourable member, with his long experience in a Ministry, might well have paid the courtesy at least of asking me to read the document before he sought to table it in his usual aristocratic dominating manner.


Mr McLeay - Why do you not talk about the motion now?


Mr DALY - I will get back to the motion. In the course of his remarks the honourable member said: 'I move: That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Wannon tabling a certain paper forthwith'. I still have no knowledge of what was in the paper. The honourable member is quite annoyed because he wants to table a document which nobody who was here at the table at the time - that was me - has seen. And when does he want to table it?

Opposition members - Now.


Mr DALY - And when did he try to do this? In the middle of a debate on the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Bill and the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill - the poorest section of the Australian community; the most suffering section. And the wealthiest man in the Parliament caring not a damn for them, interrupted this debate and then proceeded- (Opposition members interjecting) -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER


Mr Malcolm Fraser - I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat when the Deputy Speaker is on his feet. If the honourable gentlemen on the Opposition benches want this motion to be voted upon I would suggest that they retain some decorum in the House so that the debate can continue and be brought to its normal conclusion. Otherwise I will be forced to adjourn the House, and I would hate to do that.


Mr Malcolm Fraser - I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. With great respect, I submit that the Leader of the House is moving wide of the motion in personal abuse. What is important in this matter is the harm that is being done by the actions of the Minister for Minerals and Energy-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member is debating the question, and he is out of order. I would ask the Leader of the House to remain on the point under consideration.


Mr DALY - I was pointing out that the Government thinks more of handicapped children and sheltered workshops than it does of the cheap political stunts of wealthy people opposite in this Parliament. We on this side will never be a party to putting aside the interests of those suffering people just to let our political opponents opposite get some cheap political capital out of it. They have had all day to move this motion. They have been here a week and they have not done anything. There has not been one of them in the House tonight for more than 5 minutes. The honourable member for Wannon wandered into the chamber at 10 minutes to 10 this evening and, in a dramatic gesture, he - this wealthy exponent of the rights of the individual, caring not a hang for the children in sheltered workshops and other institutions - wanted to table a particular document forthwith.


Mr Lynch - I rise to order. This is totally irrelevant to the procedural motion before the Chair.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! 1 ask the Minister to confine his remarks to the motion before the Chair.


Mr DALY - Perhaps 1 should remind honourable members of the terms of the motion. It states:

That so much of the Standing Orders he suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Wannon tabling a certain paper forthwith.

I am now on the beam, am I not? The honourable member for Wannon moved that motion a few moments ago. When he sought to censure the Minister for Minerals and Energy and to move for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable him to table the document there was only about 25 minutes of today's sitting, which will be the last one for this week, remaining. I wonder what honourable members opposite would say if the Government were to accept their challenge and bring all of them back tomorrow? (Honourable members interjecting) -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! If the House is not able to maintain order the debate will not continue.


Mr Malcolm Fraser - May I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker? The whole matter could be short-circuited very easily if the Leader of the House were to carry out his threat and bring the House back tomorrow for a debate on the matter at length.


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


Mr DALY - I did that once and the Liberal Party could muster only 35 votes in the first division. What chance would one have of getting honourable members opposite back tomorrow when they voted against sitting an extra hour a week? Honourable members opposite know that that is a phoney proposition. If this matter is so important the .Opposition should have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders this morning when the Minister for Minerals and Energy was under attack in this Parliament. That was the time to have followed up on the attack and to have moved for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable the tabling of a paper. The Minister could have been given adequate time to prepare his reply to the Opposition's place, if it had one. No self-respecting government could in the last 20 minutes of a sitting on the last sitting day of a week accept a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable a Minister to be censured, particularly when the Opposition has had all day to move such a motion and every opportunity to do so. The fact that the members of the Opposition are all slow thinkers and take all day to work out things does not excuse their lateness in bringing forward such a proposition. In seeking the suspension of Standing Orders tonight for this purpose the Opposition would know full well that its methods would not be acceptable to the Government. The Opposition is trying to have this matter hanging over the Minister's head for a couple of weeks.


Mr Giles - Come back tomorrow.


Mr DALY - As sure as I am here I know that the Opposition could not get a quorum tomorrow. Honourable members opposite are nervous wrecks because they think I might accept their challenge if they are not careful. The Opposition has had all day to move this motion. Perhaps some honourable member opposite can explain why it was not moved this morning. Perhaps some honourable member opposite can explain why the Opposition did not bring the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders forward at a time when all might have had the opportunity to participate in a debate on it. Why has the Opposition waited until this very late moment before coming forward with anything in respect to this matter? As I said earlier I did not know - I do not know yet - what is in the document the honourable member for Wannon wants to table. I was never shown it. I wonder whether he will let me have it now.


Mr Fairbairn - Mr Deputy Speaker, would I be in order in moving 'That the House rescind its decision that the House, at its rising, stands adjourned until Tuesday week' and replace it with a motion that the House meet tomorrow?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!No motion can be moved while a motion to suspend the Standing Orders is before the Chair.


Mr DALY - I will conclude my remarks by saying that the motion to suspend the Standing Orders and the notice of motion of censure might well have been put forward at a much earlier hour this day. As I mentioned a moment ago, it is too much to expect the Government to accept a motion of this nature in thelast 20 minutes of the sitting, particularly if the motion is in relation to the tabling of a paper which the person seeking to table it would not let me read before he asked whether he could table it. I do not know whether the document is authentic. I do not know whether the honourable member for Wannon has manufactured it.


Mr Calder - You have seen it.


Mr DALY - I have not seen the document. I have seen one document, but I do not know whether it is the right one.


Mr Nixon - Read it.


Mr DALY - I cannot read a document from 30 yards away. I am not a searchlight. The situation is that the Opposition has had all day in which to move this motion but preferred instead to have a great battle during the last few minutes of the sitting. That is not good enough.


Mr MacKellar - Are you frightened?


Mr DALY - We on this side of the House have nothing to be frightened about. All we want is a bit of responsibility to be shown by the Opposition. I have never seen such a frustrated collection of people in all my life. One would have thought that--

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!The Minister will resume his seat. The time allotted for the debate has expired. The question is 'That the motion be agreed to'. Those of that opinion say aye; to the contrary no. I think the ayes have it.


Mr Fairbairn - The noes have it.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Is a division required?


Mr Fairbairn - Yes.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The House will divide. Ring the bells.







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