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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2634

Mr HODGMAN(9.12) —I grieve tonight for parliamentary democracy in Australia and, in particular, the blow struck today at Australian parliamentary democracy by the Hawke socialist Government, to its eternal shame and discredit. The United States of America had its own Watergate. Australia now has its own Hawkegate on its hands. That a government, which claims to support the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, could be so cowardly as to prevent debate in the national Parliament on a matter of privilege involving the rights and entitlements of its own members not to be threatened, harassed, improperly pressured, intimidated and actually blackmailed is a scandal of national proportions. That the Hawke Government-a government which claims to be committed to honesty and integrity-should cringe and run away from a parliamentary debate on a matter of privilege which the Westminster system demands must be dealt with promptly is a matter of national disgrace.

Over the past week the Hawke socialist Government has been shown to be a government of political thuggery, intimidation, and blackmail. In one of the most shabby and dirty episodes in Australian politics, the Hawke socialist Government is now exposed as worse than Tammany Hall; a political jungle where the strong intimidate and threaten the weak; where reputations are destroyed overnight and where political futures, and specifically preselection and ministerial promotions, are used as vicious tools in a brutal and sordid brawl, a political struggle of life and death. This Government is a hypocritical government, as all thinking Australians are now starting to realise. It is just as ruthless in its relations with its own parliamentary members as it is in its relations with millions of Australians who put their trust in it, misguidedly as they now realise, at the Federal election of 5 March this year. The Minister for Defence Support (Mr Howe) has stated:

I think there has been intimidation of Ministers and backbenchers by the Prime Minister and the right wing of the Party.

The Minister added:

A whole stack of people have been hauled in and done over by the Prime Minister .

The headline on page 1 of last Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald screamed:

Prime Minister bullying, Minister says.

The front page of the Melbourne Age of the same day stated:

Hawke's lobbying on uranium 'intimidatory' says Howe.

The national Press reported:

David Charles, MP, called privately to the Prime Minister's office for ' discussions'-and not just once.

Threats of preselection withdrawal abound in a party which its members claim is the most democratic party in Australia. If this is democracy then heaven help Australia. Smear and innuendo, threats and promises, bribery and blackmail-these are the matters which have provoked several members of the parliamentary Labor Party to urge me to continue my efforts to bring this monumental scandal, Australia's own Hawkegate, to the attention of the people of Australia through the medium of this parliamentary broadcast.

As I said earlier, this is without doubt the shabbiest and dirtiest episode in Australian politics for generations. Let me put my position squarely on the line . I support uranium mining under very strict guidelines but this debate tonight is not about uranium mining; it is about parliamentary democracy under the Westminster system and the basic fundamenal rights of the men and women of Australia who sent us to this place to represent them in this national Parliament, to know that parliamentarians can go about their business free from threats and intimidation, bribery and blackmail as to how they vote in this place and how they speak. The Hawke socialist Government has shown that it is a government of political thuggery which tramples on the rights--

Mr Wells —Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. I find the preceding sentence offensive. The suggestion that I, or any other member of this Parliament, was coerced in any way is offensive and I ask that it be withdrawn.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) -Order! I am watching this matter very carefully. But in respect of the last several sentences I fail to see any breach of the Standing Orders. The point of order is not upheld.

Mr HODGMAN —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Hawke socialist Government has shown that it is a government of political thuggery which tramples on the rights of individuals; a government which does not give a damn for parliamentary privilege and a government which is prepared to strike a blow at the very heart of parliamentary democracy itself. Shame on honourable members opposite. They have done more today to hurt parliamentary democracy than any other government since Federation. Today, 10 November 1983, will be recorded as a day of infamy in the constitutional and parliamentary history of Australia. Today this Government raped the Westminster system by refusing to debate in this Parliament , so that the people of Australia could hear it, a matter of privilege involving its scandalous treatment of its own members. Today it perpetrated a Watergate- like cover-up of grave and serious allegations made by its own members, involving threats, harassment, improper pressuring, intimidation and actual blackmail by its own leaders.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I remind the honourable member that he is required to comply with standing order 76, which states:

All imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.

I think the honourable member is in breach of that standing order. I ask him to modify his terminology.

Mr HODGMAN —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Like Voltaire, disagree though I will with many of the things that honourable members opposite might want to say, I will fight to the utmost, as will those honourable members on this side of the House, to protect and uphold their right to say it. If this national Parliament becomes a place where honest men and women are brutally silenced; if this national Parliament becomes a place where the truth can be subverted and where integrity becomes a vice; and if this Parliament becomes a place where power- crazed leaders can rule like tyrants, then democracy in Australia will be dead.

This is Australia, not the Soviet Union; this is Canberra, not Moscow. As the Parliament is well aware, there has already been proposed in the House that 7 November 1983 be officially designated as the day upon which the nation saw the beginning of the end for the Hawke socialist Government. (Quorum formed) I now propose, and I believe that the people of Australia will overwhelmingly endorse this view, that 10 November 1983 will be forever remembered to the eternal shame and discredit of the Hawke socialist Government as the day upon which it conspired to desecrate parliamentary privilege and conspired to cover up the truth and, in a most cowardly manner, to run away from the investigation by the House of Representatives Privileges Committee into some of the most scandalous and evil conduct ever to be brought to the attention of the Parliament and through this Parliament to the nation. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) should resign and the people of Australia should be given the opportunity to throw the Government out of office at the earliest possible opportunity and before it is given any further opportunity to damage irraparably, if not destroy, the very fabric of parliamentary democracy in Australia.