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Tuesday, 3 March 1998
Page: 173

Mr BEAZLEY (3:19 PM) —I seek indulgence to make a comment.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl) —Indulgence is granted.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. All members of this House, particularly those on my left—

Mr Adams —Oh, ha, ha!

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Just watch your step. We are going to proceed with courtesy and I would like the Leader of the Opposition to be heard in silence.

Mr BEAZLEY —With your indulgence, I would like to make the point that the Speaker did indeed announce at 2 o'clock this afternoon his intention to resign. We had occasion to remark on the unsatisfactory nature of the opportunities presented then. Obviously there ought to be a discussion in the House on this particular decision. It is pretty well unprecedented.

Mrs Bishop —Why?

Mr BEAZLEY —Why should there be a discussion of the resignation? Oh dear! There was a time when the Speaker was regarded as the principal defender not only of parliamentary order but also of the rights of members of parliament. We actually regard it as rather a serious thing when we put a Speaker in place. For the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) to stand in this place and discuss the Speaker's not inconsiderable service and war record is one thing. For Mr Howard to stand in this place and discuss the way he has shamefully treated this particular Speaker is quite another. There ought to be an opportunity for this chamber to discuss the circumstances of Mr Speaker's resignation and I would like to know whether we are going to be given that opportunity.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I am afraid I cannot answer that question. We are going to move on to question time. Are there any questions?