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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1257


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN

Order! I think that is verging on casting a reflection on the Minister. I must ask you to withdraw that.


Senator Webster - It is the normal method by which Senator Keeffe speaks, though.


Senator KEEFFE - Mr Temporary Chairman,are you going to allow him to speak while you are asking me to do something.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Will you please keep silent, Senator Webster.


Senator Webster - I will.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - I have asked the honourable senator to withdraw unequivocally.


Senator KEEFFE - Mr Temporary Chairman,if the remark that I just passed by way of a reply to an interjection from Senator Webster is construed as a reflection on the Minister I withdraw it.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Thank you.


Senator KEEFFE - Now, may I proceed?


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Yes.


Senator KEEFFE - I ask Senator Cotton if he held or still holds almost 18,000 shares in Timber Industries Pty Ltd.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order!I do not think that this has anything to do with the Bill.I have asked Senator Keeffe to keep to the Bill. I cannot see anything in the Bill referring to that question.


Senator KEEFFE - Mr TemporaryChairman,I maintain that what I am saying is keeping very close to the Bill. I ask the Minister-


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN -

Order!I maintain, as Chairman, that you are not. You must confine yourself to the Bill.


Senator KEEFFE -I seek your ruling now as to how I may discuss a certain milling company situated in an area where a grant from this Commonwealth Parliament to a State Parliament will enable the destruction of large areas of eucalypt forest so that softwood forest may be planted. I did not cast any aspersions on the personal integrity of the Minister. I said it was politically immoral for him to be handling this Bill and in order to develop my argument I have to state these facts. I now seek your ruling.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - In reply to Senator Keeffe I want to say this: In relation to this Bill you are not dealing with the Minister primarily responsible for the Bill. Senator Cotton is in this chamber only respresenting the responsible Minister. As far as the discussion of this Bill is concerned, there are various clauses in it and it is the duty of honourable senators to confine themselves to a clause in the Bill and aspects relating to it. So far as the request of Senator Cotton about shares that he might hold in certain companies is concerned. I hold that that has nothing to do with the debate on this Bill and therefore cannot be debated in such a manner.


Senator Jessop - I rise to order. I heard Senator Keeffe use the words 'politically immoral'. I believe those words are offensive and should be withdrawn.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - If Senator Keeffe used the words 'politically immoral' I ask him to withdraw them.


Senator KEEFFE - 1 did not use the words 'politically immoral' in relation to any person. 1 said the Government was politically immoral. I have said it a dozen times here before. I have never been challenged on it and I have never directed it to any single person.


Senator Carrick - I take a point of order under standing order 423. My recollection is that Senator Keeffe said it would be politically immoral for the Minister to handle the Bill. The political immorality was specifically related to the Minister. I find it offensive and I ask you to rule on it.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Senator Keeffe.I ask you to withdraw those words.


Senator KEEFFE - Mr Tempor ary Chairman.I assume thatI am able to say about a body as a whole that it is politically immoral. I did not cast that aspersion on the Minister but I said that because of the politically immoral actions of this Government he would be a wise man-


Senator Negus - On a point of order-


Senator KEEFFE - Can I reply to the point of order?


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Yes, but just resume your seat.


Senator KEEFFE - I said it wouldbe a wise action for him not to continue to handle this Bill in this chamber because of his interest in this area-


Senator Negus - I rise to order. I would say that Senator Keeffe should be asked to withdraw the words without explanation.


Senator Carrick -I specifically sought a point of order in relation to standing order 423. I ask that the words that it would be politically immoral for the Minister to handle the Bill be noted and be acted upon.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - On the point of order I want to say this: Irrespective of whether Senator Keeffe meant the Minister or the Government generally, such words are not allowed to be used and under those circumstances I must ask for a withdrawal. There must not be any suggestion in this chamber that Governments are politically immoral or that individual members are.


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I take a point of order. With great respect I feel that your ruling in that regard cannotbe acceded to. I think Senator Keeffe was saying that when he used the words 'politically immoral' he was relating the remarks to the Government as a whole. The Minister, as a part of the Government, was related to the Government.


Senator Marriott - Were you not outside the chamber, senator?


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No, I have been in here since 8 p.m.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder! Senator Douglas McClelland.


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say with great respect that any member of this Parliament can say that any action of a Government is a politically immoral action. I believe that that was the tenor in which Senator Keeffe made his remarks.


Senator Young - On a point of order, I ask that the Hansard reporter report to us verbatim what was said. There seems to be some doubt as to what was actually said. I listened carefully to Senator Douglas McClelland's remarks. I would like this clarified.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The words used, I understand, were: 'It would be politically immoral'.


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - 'For the Government'.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order! 1 do not think it is the place of any honourable senator to say that it is politically immoral so far as the Government is concerned.


Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Oh!


Senator Carrick - Quite specifically I took a point of order under standing order 423. I set out specifically the words, to my recollection, which were said. Those words according to my recollection related to a charge of its being politically immoral lor the Minister to do something. I ask that action be taken on that. 1 draw on previous rulings and particularly the ruling given in the book by Mr Odgers which states at page 68:

The President should intervene when a Senator uses offensive words or makes personal reflections on other Senators. It is not necessary that a Senator should rise to a point of order, because the Standing Orders say that the President must intervene.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - The point of order by Senator Carrick is upheld. I must ask Senator Keeffe to withdraw those words.


Senator Milliner - Mr Temporary Chairman


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - I am sorry, Senator Milliner.I have ruled that the point of order is upheld and that Senator Keeffe must withdraw.


Senator Milliner - Mr Temporary Chairman,I feel that I must dissent from your ruling.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Order! There is no further debate on the matter.


Senator Milliner - Surely I must have power to dissent from your ruling?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder! Will you resume your scat please, Senator Milliner. I have asked Senator Keeffe to withdraw those words.


Senator KEEFFE - Mr Temporary Chairman, can I get the facts perfectly straight?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANOrder! It must be unequivocal. You must withdraw those words.


Senator KEEFFE - In relation to what? The Government or the Minister?


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - Politically immoral' were the words that you used in relation to the Government and the Government includes the Minister. Senator Keeffe,I want you to understand that the ruling has been given.


Senator KEEFFE - I do not understand it.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN - You used the words 'politically immoral' relating to both the Government and the Minister. I think that that is entirely wrong and I ask for your withdrawal.







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