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Thursday, 21 May 1970

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Monaro) - Mr Speaker,I suggest that events in this House in recent days confirm that parliamentary government is in decline and is forfeiting public respect. While the individual rights that exist here are still far greater than under totalitarian regimes, they also are being steadily eroded and reduced. The power of the Parliament is becoming ever smaller and the power of the Executive is becoming ever larger. That is the road to dictatorship. While the conduct of the Parliament arouses popular contempt its decline may proceed without much stir among the citizenry because they no longer have interest in it. They become apathetic. But a system of government in decline inevitably eventually invites and brings about its own replacement no matter how loudly we seek to reassure ourselves that it cannot happen here. For those determined to believe that all is for the best the ideas I now present, based on proceedings here in the last few days, will be devoid of interest. But I am encouraged to think there is an increasing number of members on both sides of the House deeply concerned at the progress of the Parliament towards debacle.

In the 10 minutes available in the adjournment debate it is possible only to sketch in a few vaguely worded proposals for restoring the reputation of Parliament as an effective legislative instrument of the will of the people. Firstly, the proceedings of the censure debate last Friday demonstrated beyond all doubt that the House needs not only a Speaker who is impartial but a Speaker who is seen to be impartial.

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