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Thursday, 29 March 1979
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Mr SINCLAIR (New England) (Minister for Primary Industry and Leader of the House) - On the matter just raised by the honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage), as I understand, it refers to telexes that relate apparently to statements made by the Chief Justice of New South Wales. He of course has his own bailiwick of responsibility which is quite outside the province of or control of or any relationship to this chamber.

Any member of this House living in the State of New South Wales has a function outside this chamber which, I suggest, is not a responsibility of this House. I suggest that, in terms of the relationship of any member, the only areas within which parliamentary privilege can pertain are those which affect the exercise of a member's authority or responsibilities as a member of the House of Representatives. I see nothing in the accusations made which bears any relationship to our Standing Orders or to the constitutional responsibilities of a member of Parliament or which in any way reflect against my colleague, the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Gillard). In those circumstances, I suggest that there is not sufficient basis on which the matter should be referred to the Privileges Committee for consideration.

On the other hand, if you feel that in view of his responsibility in the matter you should refer it to Mr Speaker for his consideration, I can understand that being done. But I believe there is absolutely no basis whatsoever for any reflection against the honourable member for Macquarie and I believe there is no cause for this House considering this matter any further.


Dr Klugman - On a point of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -There is no point of order before the Chair.


Dr Klugman - To the point raised. The Leader of the House makes the point that the honourable member for Macquarie sent that letter in a private capacity. To me this is ridiculous because obviously the matter was raised and the only reason for the honourable member for Macquarie being -


Mr Bourchier - On a point of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -There is a point of order before the Chair.


Mr Bourchier - It was not a point of order. He was speaking to the point raised. It was not taken as a point of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member for Bendigo will resume his seat. The honourable member for Prospect will resume his seat. It is not yet established whether there is a prima facie case to answer. Therefore, I propose to consider the matter, discuss it with Mr Speaker and report to the House at a later time. The matter is therefore in abeyance. The question before the House is -


Dr Klugman -I will take a point of order there to get you to make a ruling. The Leader of the House -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The Chair has indicated there is no ruling immediately forthcoming. The matter is in abeyance.


Dr Klugman - But surely we can take a point of order on that point and then you have to rule?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The Chair has ruled.


Dr Klugman - What? Has the Chair ruled that no matter what point of order I raise now, without you being aware of it, it is knocked over? That is certainly a peculiar way of running business from the Chair.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Statements have been made on the matter. It is not established as a prima facie case -


Dr Klugman -I am not saying that -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The matter raised by the honourable member for Chifley has been noted. There will be a report back to the House whether a prima facie case is established.


Dr Klugman - My point of order is this: The Leader of the House was allowed to address you on the question whether a prima facie case is made. Why is he allowed to address you, yet I am not allowed to address you?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The practice is that the time of the House not be unduly intruded upon until a prima facie case is established -


Dr Klugman - By Opposition members.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The matter was raised by an Opposition member. I draw that to the attention of the honourable member for Prospect.


Dr Klugman - But why was the Leader of the House who himself has done exactly the same sort of thing so far as a solicitor in Tamworth is concerned -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER


Dr Klugman - Why is he allowed to come into this debate -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER


Dr Klugman -. . . when he is obviously personally involved?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Prospect will resume his seat.


Mr Sinclair - I ask the honourable gentleman to withdraw that inference which is totally inaccurate and grossly false.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I call on the honourable member for Prospect to withdraw the remarks that imputed the reputation of the Leader of the House.


Dr Klugman -I do not see what I can withdraw. I have made the point that the Minister is -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Prospect cast an aspersion on the Leader of the House. If he desires to reflect on any member of this House, he must do so by substantive motion. I call on the honourable member for Prospect to withdraw.


Mr Hayden - I raise a point of order on that matter. I think it would clarify the matter if you could describe exactly what the terms were which were unparliamentary to which you are taking objection. I listened and I did not find anything that I would have described as such. But if the Leader of the House feels aggrieved and is prepared to describe exactly what it is that upsets him -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER


Mr Hayden - I am sure -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. It is not the responsibility of the Leader of the Opposition to determine whether a remark should be withdrawn. The Chair heard the remarks and requires them to be withdrawn. The Chair is not required to repeat the remarks. The honourable member for Prospect need only say that he withdraws.


Dr Klugman -A factual statement has to be withdrawn and I do withdraw it.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Prospect compounds his misdemeanour. I call on him to withdraw forthwith the imputation against the Leader of the House.


Dr Klugman - I withdraw any imputations but I do not withdraw the factual statement.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member for Prospect will resume his seat.


Mr Young - I raise quite a different point of order. I put it to you that it would be quite legitimate for the Opposition to ask that, when discussing the matter of privilege which has been raised, Mr Speaker and you should completely disregard the contribution made by the Leader of the House which was made at a time when it should not have been made because you had not decided whether a prima facie case did exist. The Leader of the House should not have been allowed to speak to the matter.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The point the honourable member for Port Adelaide raises -


Mr Young - Further, on that-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Port Adelaide will resume his seat. There is no substance to the point of order -


Mr Young - There is substance.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The Chair has discretion to conduct -


Mr Young - But you cannot have discretion one way.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER


Mr Young - You cannot -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Port Adelaide will not interrupt. The matter raised by the honourable member for Chifley seeks to initiate certain procedures. It is the practice of the House not to engage in prolonged debate on a matter until a prima facie case has been established. The matter will be referred to Mr Speaker and the House will be reported to in due course. The matter is now in abeyance.







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