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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 2

Mr PEACOCK (Leader of the Opposition) —I seek your indulgence, Mr Speaker , to address briefly the matters which you raised in your statement.

Mr SPEAKER —You have the indulgence of the Chair.

Mr PEACOCK —Thank you, Mr Speaker. On behalf of the Opposition I wish to compliment you, to agree with the statement that you have made today and to endorse the actions you have taken and which you addressed in this statement before the House today. As you have indicated, Mr Speaker, this unique action had as its root the essence of free speech in a democratic society. It is a reminder that what transpires in this House is distinct and separate from what transpires elsewhere. This distinction is historic and fundamental to our freedoms. It is also a reminder of the way this Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has sought to blur these distinctions, to denigrate the institution of Parliament even to the point of having explained to the Royal Commission on Australia's Security and Intelligence Agencies the reasons for the resignation of a Minister , a matter which properly should be put before this Parliament. But no, counsel for the Government did this before the Royal Commission. If that was not bad enough, Mr Speaker, this Prime Minister has sought to bludgeon and muzzle not just members of the media but also members of the Opposition in the most outrageous manner, even to the point of threatening me with being charged with contempt of the Royal Commission. He is in fact the first--

Mr SPEAKER —Order!

Mr PEACOCK —I am bringing my remarks to a close.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I remind the Leader of the Opposition that it is not a debate . He is making a statement on the statement I put before the House. I ask him to conclude his remarks.

Mr PEACOCK —I will conclude, Mr Speaker, by indicating to the House and by reminding the nation that he is the first Prime Minister in the long and great history of this country who has sought to have a Leader of the Opposition gaoled for political comment.

Mr Beazley —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The Leader of the Opposition quite clearly is not adhering to your directive.

Mr SPEAKER —I thank the Minister for Aviation. I was just about to remind the Leader of the Opposition that while he is allowed a great deal of tolerance he is certainly defying a request that I have just made of him.

Mr PEACOCK —I regard what transpired in the statement made by the Prime Minister in seeking to have me charged as outrageous.

Mr SPEAKER —Order!

Mr PEACOCK —As I say, in the history of this country he is the first Prime Minister to seek to have a Leader of the Opposition gaoled.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition should return to the statement dealing with the matter of privilege. It is not for him to debate the actions of the Prime Minister.

Mr PEACOCK —In conclusion, I reiterate that the Opposition commends your statement, Mr Speaker, and commends the actions you have taken. They relate at their root to the essence of free speech in a democratic society. We are pleased that you, Mr Speaker, are here to preserve the rights of members of Parliament.