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Tuesday, 20 September 1983
Page: 1036

Mr GRIFFITHS(10.54) —Earlier this evening, my colleague the honourable member for Henty (Mrs Child) referred to certain comments made by the honourable member for Bruce (Mr Aldred) in this chamber on Thursday, 15 September. The honourable member for Bruce has been adverted to on a number of occasions this evening and he still does not deign to grace us with his presence . In any event, the honourable member for Bruce--

Mr MacKellar —I raise a point of order. I acknowledge that the honourable member for Maribyrnong is a new member and probably he does not know the forms of the House, but it is customary to let people know if such an attack is going to be made. I ask the honourable member whether he informed the honourable member for Bruce that he would be speaking about him.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order.

Mr MacKellar —Have you informed him?

Mr Charles —Sit down.

Mr MacKellar —Don't tell me to sit down.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I advise honourable members that, if any directions are given to sit down, the Chair will give them. There is no point of order. I call the honourable member for Maribyrnong.

Mr GRIFFITHS —Thank you, Mr Speaker. I shall have something to say about the honourable member in due course. The comments made by the honourable member for Bruce related to an alleged conversation by the Hon. Race Mathews, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for the Arts in the Victorian Government. As most honourable members would be aware, Mr Mathews has a very creditable record, not only having been a member of this chamber between 1972 and 1975, but also having made a significant contribution to the affairs of this nation for a very long time before he took up his current position. He is a very good Minister, one held in very high esteem not only by honourable members on this side of the chamber but I hope by most of those who are not prepared to abuse the privileges of this great Parliament, as was done by the honourable member for Bruce last Thursday evening.

I will say something else about the honourable member for Bruce-I hope the temporary member, and I am sure that will be the case. Once his constituents become aware of the sorts of scurrilous allegations put before this House by him , I am sure that the very small percentage of voters who need to change their votes to change the complexion of that seat will certainly do so. I will read to honourable members a comment by Mr Geoffrey Barker of the Age in describing the current honourable member for Bruce on 28 May 1983:

He is big, relaxed, confident and exudes the bright, slightly wet, cream puff bonhomie of so many young Liberals.

I also add that he engages in scurrilous allegations, something that is not only consistent with the behaviour of many young Liberals but also some of their older peers. When he made those rather scurrilous allegations he did not have the decency to check at any stage with Mr Mathews before he used the privilege of the Parliament. I hope honourable members will reflect for a moment on how difficult it has been over many hundreds of years to build up the great privileges of this House and how essentially shaky the premise of those privileges will be if they are continued to be abused in this scurrilous manner. In the course of his allegations, comrade Aldred-

Mr Chynoweth —You could not call him that.

Mr GRIFFITHS —No, I withdraw that. The honourable member for Bruce, for the benefit of members of the House who are not aware, made application to join the Australian Labor Party in 1972 and was knocked back. In the view of the branch he showed all the traits of an opportunist. Certainly within two years, having been endorsed as the Liberal party candidate for Henty, one would have to describe that political flexibility as opportunism.

Mr Hodgman —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. In respect of the earlier ruling, I submit that it is contrary to the practice of the House to permit a cowardly attack on a member when he is not present.

Mr SPEAKER —There is nothing required in the practice or the Standing Orders. Custom is a different thing. I call the honourable member for Maribyrnong.

Mr GRIFFITHS —Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.