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Tuesday, 9 October 1973
Page: 1787

Mr SCHOLES (Corio) - This has been a remarkable debate more remarkable because from listening to the speeches that have been made it would seem that what has been said has had more to do with the name of the Prime Minister than the administration of his office. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) in his remarks, made a bitter complaint about the measly time he was allowed in which to speak in this debate. I remember complaining about the same thing when the time allowed for speaking in Esti mates debates was reduced from 15 minutes to 10 minutes during the period when the right honourable John Gorton was Prime Minister of Australia and the honourable member for Angas voted in favour of that proposition. Apparently the passage of time produces some rather strange results. This afternoon we heard from members of the Opposition speeches similar to those made years ago by honourable members who are now supporters of the Government about increases in the petrol tax. John Gorton was Prime Minister at the time when his Government increased petrol tax by 3c a gallon. Every member of the Country Party then voted for it and lauded it, so do not let us get too far-

Mr Calder - You are talking rubbish.

Mr SCHOLES - I may be, but if the honourable member examines the 1970 Budget he will find that the increase in revenue raised from the 3c a gallon increase on petrol was $86m. The Country Party was part of the Government at that time and supported that proposal, so do not let us kid ourselves. We are debating the estimates for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and of the Department of the Special Minister of State. The honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) seemed to believe that if he could use sufficient disparaging words he would not have to put forward arguments. However one of his propositions should be examined in close detail because I think it signifies rather clearly the philosophy of the Liberal Party, apparently supported by the Country Party, regarding the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Mr Whittorn - And the people.

Mr SCHOLES - I am glad to hear the honourable member say that because I would not have thought that he was a man who believed he had no right whatever to comment on any Government decision but must come here only to vote in Parliament in support of what the Prime Minister and the Cabinet did. However that was what the honourable member for Isaacs said. He said that the people who are elected to this Parliament to support the Government have only the right to elect the Prime Minister and have no right whatever to question any decision of the Cabinet let alone take part in a debate on, and possibly reject, a decision of the Cabinet in the Party room. If the honourable member for Balaclava believes that, he should stand in this chamber and let the people he represents know that he does not believe that he should accept the responsibilities of being a member of the Parliament and, more importantly, the responsibilities of being a member of a government.

Ms Calder - You accept the decisions of your Caucus.

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