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Thursday, 3 November 1983
Page: 2360

Mr HOLDING (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs)(10.25) —I have been moved by the lectures delivered by the honourable gentlemen opposite who want to lecture the Government on the reality of the Westminster system.

Mr Sinclair —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. There has been a practice in this Parliament that Ministers do not speak in the adjournment debate.

Mr Holding —If you do not want me to speak I will sit down.

Mr Sinclair —No, we are quite happy for the Minister to speak after the adjournment debate.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I acknowledge the point made by the Deputy Leader of the National Party. However, no other honourable member rose so the Minister got the call.

Mr Peacock —He said he has been moved. Where has he been moved to?

Mr HOLDING —I have been moved by the lectures given by the Leader of the Opposition. I remember sitting in this Parliament when the then Leader of the Opposition was a member of the Fraser Ministry. He came into this House and as a matter of conviction and passion offered his resignation. He could no longer serve under a Prime Minister who was a dictator. He could no longer serve under Malcolm Fraser. This man of principle involved in the Westminster system, this man of principle because he could not mount the numbers in his Party, within six months crawled back into the Cabinet in a sleazy political exercise perfectly well prepared to serve under the very Prime Minister who had not changed his style, his dictatorial attitudes or anything else. That was an example of the Westminster system. We had a lecture from the Deputy Leader of the National Party of Australia (Mr Sinclair), a man of deep principle. As I have said before , 10 of George's signatures are worth one of Ian's. He resigned too. He had to be squeezed out of Cabinet. I think he got a lucky jury. These are the men of the Westminster system!

There is another one on the Opposition front bench. What happens to the Westminster system in the Liberal Party when it has a Minister stand down because he got mixed up coming through Customs with a coloured television set? But there he is back on the front bench with his colleague. We are perfectly happy to have a debate if the Opposition wants to take on this matter in a substantive way and not come into the adjournment debate taking up the time for the adjournment debate in five-minute exercises, talking about their dedication to the Westminster system. These men served under a government which went through 15 Ministers. They find it very difficult to understand any resignation on the basis of conscience. Every one of the resignations which took place in the previous Government occurred because someone got mixed up, someone abused his position as a Minister. It was a sham of a government.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! It being 10.30 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 2 p.m. on Tuesday next.

House adjourned at 10.30 p.m.