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Wednesday, 12 December 1973

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator O'Byrne, I will remind you of an old proverb. You are being snared by the words of your own mouth. I call Senator Webster.

Senator WEBSTER -Mr President,you were referring to Senator O'Byrne. I hope that the statement goes on record. The average citizen will now pay 1.35 per cent of his taxable income.

Senator O'Byrne - I rise on a point of order. Mr President, earlier today you drew attention to my referring to copious notes.

The PRESIDENT - That was your phrase, not mine.

Senator O'Byrne - Would you do the same thing and be even handed in this matter- Israelis and Arabs?

The PRESIDENT - Order! I am always even handed. I have been watching Senator Webster. He has an advantage over most honourable senators in that he has long sight.

Senator O'Byrne - And long wind.

The PRESIDENT - Order! I know perfectly well that he is not speaking from copious notes. He has been quoting from documents. There is no substance in the point of order.

Senator WEBSTER -Mr President,I am delighted to have your support in this matter. Thank you very much. I was saying that the average citizen will pay 1.35 per cent of his taxable income to produce this great scheme which Labor has in mind. My understanding is that that will mean that the average citizen whose income is in excess of about $7,000 a year will pay more than he is paying at present. We know how many members of the Government and how many Ministers are receiving far in excess of that amount. The great body of people in the Australian community will be paying in excess of the normal figure which they are paying at present. The new amount is not tax deductible. It will not be just 1 . 35 per cent. Anyone who suggests that is attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. It is completely incorrect to say that this scheme will cost 1.35 per cent of a person's income. In actual fact, that statement deceives the public. The higher cost, the loss of freedom and the service which the Labor Party has not promised will be upgraded give one great concern.

The other 2 areas of concern which I indicated were in those areas of State agreement. We know that unless a State agrees with what the Commonwealth wants, by its great operation of telling a State what it will do or it will get nothing, the private hospitals will not get the $16 refund which the Government has said will be a contribution to the private hospitals or to the individuals. It is the individual's right. He has paid his tax, supposedly, under Labor's scheme, yet Labor suggests that it will be granting that amount to private hospitals or to individuals.

The problems faced by private hospitals are perhaps of greatest concern to me because I realise what the private hospitals have done in past years. By a body of individuals working in the community, wonderful edifices have been built in my home city of Melbourne. The Mercy hospital, the Freemasons hospital and many others have been built by devoted people who are contributing to uphold a standard which is more than comparable with the standard in most public hospitals. These beds represent over 20 per cent of the beds in Australian hospitals. The Labor Party wishes to see private hospitals out of business. It has directed its arrows to that target. If Labor has its way, it will not be very long before individuals who have been the supporters and the innovators of the great private hospitals in this country will find that if the Labor Government takes over the role of control of hospitalisation they must divert their interests into other areas of social interest. That will be a disaster for the medical profession and for community health in future. There are great religious implications in this matter. There are matters concerning the human rights of individuals who will be forced to transfer from the type of hospital in which they desire to stay.

There are many important matters to be discussed in these Bills but I again refer to the Opposition's objections to these Bills. If Labor has its way, there will be a lower quality of medical care in Australia, increased costs for the Government, increased total costs for the majority of taxpayers, rejection of the freedom of choice which exists at present, the jeopardy of the future of religious, private and country hospitals and the nationalisation and socialisation of medical health care in this community.

Senator Milliner - Mr President,in accordance with standing order 364,I ask that Senator Webster table the document to which he referred. He read from correspondence to a Queensland doctor. The correspondence was alleged to have been forwarded to a Queensland doctor.

The PRESIDENT - I am aware of standing order 364.

Senator Milliner - I ask that the document be tabled.

The PRESIDENT - The standing order states:

A document quoted from by a senator not a Minister of the Crown may be ordered by the Senate to be laid upon the Table;

Therefore a motion is required.

Senator Milliner - I move:

That Senator Webster table the document from which he quoted.

Unless Senator Webster agrees to table the document, I press the motion.

Senator Webster - I wish to speak to the point of order or to the motion, whichever may be the appropriate course. I do not wish to table the document from which I quoted.

Senator Milliner - I moved the motion. I did not raise a point of order. I moved the motion.

The PRESIDENT - Senator Websteris entitled to speak to the motion.

Senator Webster - Some would prohibit us speaking, if they could. In this matter I quoted from the text of a letter which had been sent to a Queensland doctor. I did not name the doctor who sent the letter. I said that he was a British general practitioner. I did not name the Queensland doctor. I am quite prepared to table the notes from which I made my speech. They include the statement which I made.

The PRESIDENT - Order! The motion is that Senator Webster table the document from which he quoted. Does any honourable senator wish to address himself to the motion?

Senator Rae - The circumstances in which Senator Webster quoted from the document were perhaps different from what might be regarded as the circumstances to which standing order 364 would apply. If there was a direct quotation from a document and if the document was relevant to the debate, standing order 364 could apply. Senator Webster has used the sort of quote which is not attributed and which is not used as anything other than an example. He has referred to the document in the same way that some honourable senators quote from a newspaper or quote from various unattributed sources to make a point, to explain a point or to adopt somebody else's words. Obviously standing order 364 does not apply. In those circumstances, it would appear to me that the document was not being relied upon as a document but rather that Senator Webster was adopting the words as part of his argument and part of his address to the Senate. In those circumstances, it does not seem appropriate to apply standing order 364. Senator Webster has indicated that he is quite happy to table the notes from which he made his speech, which, presumably, include a quote to which he referred. They are the documents to which standing order 364 could conceivably, by a great stretch of the imagination, apply. Certainly there was no situation such as there was when Senator O'Byrne read from start to finish a speech which was obviously written by somebody else.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I wish to speak to the point of order. Clearly on the events which have taken place this evening -

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Douglas McClelland, you are not speaking to a point of order. You are speaking to the motion moved by Senator Milliner.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am speaking to the point of order, with respect, and to the motion because I submit that it was not necessary for my colleague Senator Milliner to move a motion for the tabling of the document. Standing order 364 states:

A document quoted from by a senator -

Certainly Senator Webster alleged that he cited a document- not a Minister of the Crown -

Senator Websteris not a Minister of the Crown- may be ordered by the Senate to be laid upon the Table; such order may be made without notice immediately upon the conclusion of the speech of the senator who has quoted therefrom.

I submit that the standing order is quite clear. The simple fact of the matter is that Senator Webster, during the course of his remarks, alleged that he was quoting from a document that he had received from a Queensland doctor.

Senator Webster - I rise to a point of order, Mr President. If the Minister wishes to speak the truth he may do so, but he knows that that is not the truth.

The PRESIDENT - That is not a point of order.

Senator Webster - Well, the Minister -

The PRESIDENT - The substantive motion before the Chair is the motion moved by Senator Milliner. Senator Douglas McClelland is addressing himself to the motion.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - If my recollection is correct, Senator Webster said 'and I have here a document from a Queensland doctor' which document he allegedly cited. Quite clearly my colleague, Senator Milliner, under standing order 364 is quite entitled to ask that the document from which Senator Webster quoted be laid on the table. I submit that Senator Milliner, in accordance with the standing order and in accordance with the custom and practice of the Senate, is quite in order in asking that the document be tabled, let alone having to move a motion.

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