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Tuesday, 26 May 1987
Page: 3364

Mr TUCKEY(10.26) —During the closing part of the debate tonight on the Social Security and Veterans' Entitlements Amendment Bill I found myself in a debate with the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Hand). I took some exception to the words he was using. I was also quite surprised because I picked up a newspaper in Melbourne recently when I was passing through the airport. There was a photograph of the honourable member's office daubed all over with graffiti, spray can variety, attacking the honourable member for his role in allowing the passage of the various mini-Budget measures that have struck down on his constituents. He has come in here tonight to attempt to square off with those people. He is standing up now after the Caucus has committed the Government to the measures that have, for instance, removed the dole from 16- and 17-year olds, who no doubt represent a large percentage of his electorate.

Ms McHugh —And providing them with the $50 they got before.

Mr TUCKEY —The point is that the measures that are hitting young people are measures of the Government, and they must be borne by the back bench, the interjecting member included. Nobody from the Government will cross the floor to vote against this legislation. The reality is that it will be supported. I thought it was the height of hypocrisy for the honourable member for Melbourne to come in here tonight and start to tell people, after the horse has bolted, that he was upset about it, that he was worried and that he was looking for change. We all know the rules in this place. When the Bill is printed, it is to go through the House. It is no good the honourable member for Melbourne coming in here and bemoaning the fact after the event, but it was even worse when he interrupted the honourable member for Stuart (Mr Wilson), who I am sure all members of this House will agree is a man of great compassion and concern. He would work tirelessly for people in the electorate of the honourable member for Melbourne or in another electorate.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! I draw the honourable member's attention to page 457 of the House of Representatives Practice. It states:

. . . no allusion may be made to any debate or proceedings of the current session . . . unless the allusion is relevant to the matter under discussion.

As there is no matter under discussion, I suggest the honourable member is out of order.

Mr Connolly —Madam Speaker, I raise a point of order. With respect, this is the adjournment debate. The purpose of the adjournment debate is to enable all members the freedom to say what they like about any subject of their choice.

Madam SPEAKER —I will read the passage again:

. . . no allusion may be made to any debate or proceedings of the current session . . . unless the allusion is relevant to the matter under discussion.

As there is no matter under discussion, I again say that the honourable is out of order. He is alluding to a debate of the current session.

Mr TUCKEY —Madam Speaker, I am on my feet to protest about the activities of the honourable member for Melbourne. If I have to give an example--

Madam SPEAKER —The honourable member will not allude to any proceedings in the debate in the House today.

Mr TUCKEY —Thank you, Madam Speaker. The message I will continue with on this occasion-I have made my point in that regard-relates to the conduct that we are still perceiving in the Parliament at Question Time. Question Time today was very disappointing to us all. Again the Government, with its no good news, was aided and abetted by the back bench. I made remarks earlier today regarding the honourable member for Melbourne. He is the only back bencher in the Government ranks who in recent times has risen to his feet on a matter of importance relating to people. His question related to Vietnam veterans. There is not another back bencher in the Government ranks who puts the sort of questions that I well remember used to come from the government back benchers when the Fraser Government was in operation. Members on the back bench then had the right, which is the right of back benchers, to ask questions as they wished. They used to stand up 20 at a time. Ministers found it extremely difficult to get dorothy dixers asked by back benchers. But members of this back bench are totally regimented. All they do is spend their time asking questions of Ministers to give them the opportunity to slate the Opposition. As I have said before, that is the no good news syndrome. I have seen it all before. When governments run out of steam, they turn their attention to the Opposition and hope to goodness that will save them. But the reality is that the fault lies with the back bench. As in the other example I have given, those opposite are letting down their constituents. They are not getting the opportunity to do the job for which they were elected. It is a shame. If honourable members opposite go back through the Hansard and look at the record of a time when they were in Opposition they will see that that record is better than theirs.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member's time has expired. I just point out to the honourable member for Bradfield, who raised the question that the House is debating the adjournment, that House of Representatives Practice, on the same page from which I quoted earlier, goes on to say:

The application of this standing order most often arises when the question before the House is `That the House do now adjourn' or `That grievances be noted'. The scope of debate on these questions is very wide ranging . . .

The standing order applies more strictly, or as strictly, in those areas than it does in others.