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Tuesday, 16 October 1984
Page: 1805

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(11.05) —I will refer the matters that Senator Kilgariff raised to Senator Walsh, Senator Walsh's Department or Mr Beazley, who is standing in for Senator Walsh, for answers as soon as possible. Senator Elstob came in tonight to defend his right to raise the matters that he raised in Question Time concerning the reported statement of Senator Teague. I do not wish to drag on this endless dispute any further, I just refer honourable senators to the Hansard at the end of Question Time when the question was asked. Senator Teague made no bones about the fact that he had made a statement. He explained at the time that until I had answered the question he had thought that people would be knocking on doors-

Senator Teague —That is not true.

Senator GRIMES —If the honourable senator reads the Hansard, he will see it. That is what I answered in the question. I must say that there is much merriment from radio journalists in South Australia at the many versions of what was supposed to have happened.

Senator Teague —That is not true either.

Senator GRIMES —I can assure the honourable senator that that is true. As for Senator Chaney's little lecture to me and others on debating techniques in this place, I have put down my ground rules in the past and I put them down again now . It always seems very strange to me that senators of the conservative parties in this place seem to think that they have the right to pass personal reflections on senators on this side of the chamber, individually or collectively. In the light of what Senator Walters has said this evening and in the light of what some of her colleagues have said in another place, they seem to believe that it is perfectly respectable in this place to bring up the personal medical history and medical condition of the children of members of parliament and have them discussed in this place. If they are to be ground rules we are going to have real fun and games in this place.

I have basic and simple rules. One is that I do not ask for things that have been said about me to be withdrawn. It is not worth it. Secondly, if Senator Chaney or anyone else in this place-Senator Sir John Carrick is the worst offender-says things which I find offensive, untrue and personal, it may be crude, simple or Old Testament-like but one of the methods of coping with it quickly, simply and getting it out of the way very quickly is to reply in kind.

I know there are double standards. It is perfectly all right for conservatives to say things about people on this side of the House and I know they get terribly offended when someone like myself or Senator Walsh replies in kind. I assure honourable senators that as long as I am here I will continue to do so. The fact that Senator Chaney is gong to read pompous little lectures when that happens does not affect me at all. It will not affect my methods at all. If Senator Walters wants to discuss the personal health of members of parliament on this side of the chamber, I assure her that we are perfectly willing to discuss the same thing about people on that side of the chamber. We will answer in kind every time. I have no compunction-

Senator Peter Rae —Shame.

Senator GRIMES —It may be a shame, Senator Rae-

Senator Peter Rae —Two wrongs do not make a right.

Senator GRIMES —That may be so, but frequently there is no other defence, I am afraid. If we are going to have it dealt out to us in the way that some people seem to like to deal it out to us, I am afraid they will be responded to in kind . As it happens, I personally would not respond to Senator Walters's tactics in kind because I have personal, medical and other reasons for never considering to do such a thing. But I put it to honourable senators that if this is going to go on in this place, it will inevitably go on from both sides of the chamber. I think that is a pity.

Senator Chaney —You respond to political criticism with personal criticism.

Senator GRIMES —I will give the honourable senator an example of his definition of political criticism. For example, it is perfectly all right for Senator Lajovic to call people on this side of the chamber communists, but it not all right for people on this side of the chamber to call Senator Lajovic a fascist. That may be a fine distinction of people on that side of the House, but there is no distinction as far as we are concerned. I suggest that the Senate ought to adjourn and we go home. We have an early start in the morning.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 11.10 p.m.