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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2814


Senator BUTTON (Leader of the Government in the Senate) —I seek leave to read into Hansard for the benefit of the debaters opposite what I said at Question Time. I have the Hansard record.

  Leave granted.


Senator BUTTONMy answer to the first part of Senator Bishop's question was:

As a Minister in this Government, I must say that I am loyal to the Leader of the Government and will remain so.

That is only part of the quote but the relevant part.


Senator Michael Baume —Whoever it happens to be!


Senator BUTTON —That is a debating point which the honourable senator is entitled to make. The second part of the question was:

I take it that the Minister is saying that that loyalty is to the Prime Minister, Mr Hawke; that it will remain that way to the next election; and in that capacity he will continue to represent him in this chamber.

I always have a very cautious view about the immortality of human beings, particularly politicians. The answer to the question was:

I will remain loyal to the Leader of the Government, which is Mr Hawke. But I cannot say that in 12 months time Mr Hawke might not encounter the proverbial bus; I hope not.


Senator Michael Baume —You are wearing the vestments of the Vicar of Bray.


Senator BUTTON —I thank the honourable senator very much for that interjection. His difficulty is that he can come into this chamber and quote Senator Richardson saying things around the place which Senator Baume says are disloyal to the Leader of the Labor Party; he cannot quote me.


Senator Bishop —Mr President, I raise a point of order. I understood that Senator Button was rising simply to read into the record what the Hansard said, which I had already done because I had been a little quicker than he had in getting it. The Minister then proceeded to debate the question. I was not aware that he was allowed to speak in the debate twice.


The PRESIDENT —I took it that Senator Button was speaking as to why the Standing Orders should or should not be suspended. I ask him to finish the statement.


Senator BUTTON —I have.


Senator Hill —He is under a lot of pressure.


Senator BUTTON —That is the sort of pathetic thing one has to put up with, even when one is talking to you, Mr President.


Senator Hill —Either you contribute to the debate or seek leave to incorporate; you did neither.


Senator BUTTON —I sought leave to read something into Hansard, which I did. However, in the course of reading my answer I was continually interrupted by interjections. It is in respect of those interjections that I responded, which I am entitled to do. If I had not been interrupted I would have been able to read the statement into the Hansard and nothing else.