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Thursday, 27 February 1975
Page: 885

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Leader of the Australian Country Party) - Mr Speaker,you have been elected to an extremely important position- the most important position of this Parliament- under very unfortunate circumstances. I congratulate you on being selected for that position. I took note today that you had the dignity to display your utter disgust and contempt for your own Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and for the performance of members of your Party to your Speaker by walking out of this chamber. I admire you for it. It is unfortunate that the conduct of Parliament was brought under challenge today. It is unfortunate that a man who has been liked and respected by all of us has been assassinated by the Prime Minister. I refer to the former Speaker of this House. Speaker Cope showed to this House, to Australia and to the whole British parliamentary institution around the world that he is a man of honour and dignity. Although at times he might have taken disciplinary action against me, I never held it against him because he was acting as he thought proper. But what happened today when he thought that the institution had to be defended and when his position had to be defended? He took the appropriate action, only to be deserted by his own Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and the members of his own Party. It was a most deplorable performance.

I ask you, Mr Speaker, having been appointed to this position, to exercise the greatest fairness between members of both sides of this Parliament. On the performance of today one is now led to believe that a person in the Opposition can be named and thrown out of this House but nobody on the Government side can be named or thrown out, in other words, that this is going to become a dictatorship led by the Prime Minister, who wants to have complete control and reign over this House. You, Mr Speaker, will be carrying the responsibility to see that there is impartiality in this Parliament and, unless you do so, this whole institution will be placed at risk. I say to you: We want to see this impartiality from you. You have demonstrated that you are a competent person in the chair. You know the rules of this Parliament. Now it is up to you to apply them.

When the Parliament sees a Prime Minister bowing because he is not game to discipline one of his Ministers, a Minister who acts in the most undisciplined way in this Parliament, we wonder where we are going. He is prepared to let even his own Speaker be crucified. Where do we go now? Are you going to be the next, Mr Speaker? You have the awesome task of deciding whether you are going to be a man of honour who will see that there is fairness and equity in the rulings of this Parliament or whether you are going to be intimidated and dragooned by the Prime Minister and act just as a sycophant for him. I hope that your decision will be for the former. There has been a statement of some notoriety in recent days in these terms:

When violence is done to an important convention, a well established custom, then violence is done to democracy itself.

I hope that you, Mr Speaker, take note of those remarks and do not display yourself as nothing more than a hypocritic demagogue, as some people have displayed themselves to this nation.

Mr WHITLAM(Werriwa-Prime Minister) I inform the House that it will be His Excellency the Administrator's pleasure to receive the Speaker in the Library forthwith.

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