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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 3376


Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


Mr SPEAKER -Does the Prime Minister claim to have been misrepresented?


Mr WHITLAM - Yes. The honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) correctly quoted the aside I made. I want to point out that the aside was made in response to an aside by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) who said, I think, that I was gutless. I do not care now whether both asides go on the record. I withdrew my aside. I did not withdraw the remark I made about the honourable gentleman when he interjected during my response to a question. I asked honourable gentlemen and everybody in the galleries to observe the honourable gentleman's condition and appearance this morning.


Mr Snedden - Mr Speaker, I ask for that to be withdrawn.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! If the honourable gentleman has been offended, I will ask the Prime Minister to withdraw the statement.


Mr Whitlam - No, Sir. I believe I correctly quoted the right honourable gentleman.


Mr Snedden - Let us be clear about this. I did say to the Prime Minister that he was being gutless.


Mr SPEAKER -I did not hear you say that.


Mr Snedden - I said that. It was in response to that that the Prime Minister used the words of which I complain. I am asking for a withdrawal of the words to the effect that people should observe the condition this morning of my friend and colleague the honourable member for Barker. I ask for those words to be withdrawn. There is absolutely no warrant for their being said. It is the worst form of abuse the Prime Minister could use and I ask for those words to be withdrawn unqualifiedly and unreservedly.


Mr Hayden - I ask for your guidance, Mr Speaker. I am trying to follow the point made by the Leader of the Opposition because I may want to raise a point of order. Is the-


Mr McLeay - Sit down.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! If the honourable member for Boothby interjects again I will name him. What is the Minister for Social Security seeking to do?


Mr Hayden - To raise a point of order, Mr Speaker, ls the Leader of the Opposition apologising for the condition and appearance of the honourable member for Barker?


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


Mr Staley - I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask you whether you said a moment ago: 'If the honourable member is offended, I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw'.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I did not hear the interjection of the Leader of the Opposition. If I had heard it I would have asked him to withdraw in the first place. I believe that it was a provocative remark which made possible the retort from the Prime Minister.


Mr Staley - On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I again ask you whether you said: 'If the honourable member is offended, I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw'.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! That is correct. But the point is that I did not know at that time that the Leader of the Opposition had referred to the Prime Minister as being gutless.


Mr Fox - I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. When the Prime Minister made his first reflection upon the the honourable member for Barker you stated: 'I ask the Prime Minister to withdraw that remark as it reflects on a member'. The remark that he made then has since been repeated. I ask, because I find it to be personally offensive, that the Prime Minister withdraw that remark.


Mr Nixon - He ought to be ashamed of himself.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Gippsland keeps on chipping in all the time. I warn him.


Mr Uren - Mr Speaker-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I have not given a decision yet. There will be only one point of order before the Chair at a time. I have just given a decision that I did not know that the

Leader of the Opposition had referred to the Prime Minister as being gutless. It is possible that the Prime Minister's retort was provoked by that interjection from the Leader of the Opposition. I did not hear the Leader of the Opposition make a statement about the Prime Minister being gutless. If I had, I certainly would have asked him to withdraw it. But because he was not asked to withdraw and because it provoked the answer from the Prime Minister, I will not ask the Prime Minister to withdraw.


Mr Whitlam - Let us both withdraw what we said.


Mr Snedden - No.


Mr Whitlam - Oh, well.


Mr Snedden - Mr Speaker, the issue before you is the statement by the Prime Minister inviting everybody to examine the condition of the honourable member for Barker this morning.


Mr SPEAKER -I believe it would be fair, as the Prime Minister has just suggested, if the right honourable gentleman withdrew his remark and the Prime Minister withdrew his remark.


Mr Staley - Who is instructing you?


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I ask the honourable member for Chisholm to withdraw that remark. If he does not withdraw, I will name him.


Mr Staley - What do I have to withdraw?


Mr SPEAKER -The remark asking whom I was taking instructions from.


Mr Staley - I asked you who you were -


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I ask the honourable member for Chisholm to withdraw that remark.


Mr Staley - I withdraw, Mr Speaker.







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