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Thursday, 5 April 1973
Page: 1125


Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to his reference to the interim reply of the previous Government to the Yugoslav aide-memoire of 16th August 1972 as being a 'lie'. In view of the fact that his own Attorney-General in the Senate described it as a bland interim reply, mentioning the matter was being investigated and making no admissions, and that - to adopt some of his own words - only a malevolent or inefficient reporter could refer to it in the terms used by the Prime Minister, will he now table the interim report so that honourable members and the people of Australia may judge for themselves?


Mr WHITLAM - The honourable gentleman was Foreign Minister for some period himself. He would know that it is not the practice to table or publish communications of this nature between governments. I am happy to have had the honourable and learned gentleman's concurrence with my statement, indicated by his deep and repeated nods. The honourable gentleman said that I had said that the interim response to the aidememoire was a lie. What I did say was this: I was answering a question by the Leader of the Opposition. I quoted for the first time from the report by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation representative at the interdepartmental meeting on 2nd March. On that extract I made this comment:

I was naturally concerned at the inference that because our predecessors had lied to the Yugoslav Government we should lie to the Parliament.

The interim response which the honourable gentleman gave to the Yugoslav Government after - as the department records show - the most agonised confrontation with his colleague, the Attorney-General at that time, was deficient in the same respect as all other replies given to Yugoslav notes had been deficient for up to 10 years before.


Mr Fox - Was it a lie?


Mr WHITLAM - It did not tell the whole truth. The Yugoslav representative had repeated-


Mr Nixon - You should be ashamed of yourself.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable gentleman will withdraw that.


Mr Nixon - No, I will not.


Mr SPEAKER - I name the honourable member for Gippsland.


Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) - For what reason?


Mr SPEAKER - I name the honourable member for Gippsland.


Mr WHITLAM - I move:

That the honourable member for Gippsland be suspended from the service of the House.

Mr Anthony- That is shocking, Mr Speaker. For saying what? (Opposition members interjecting)


Mr SPEAKER - Order! Some more honourable members will be named in a moment. I gave the honourable member a chance to withdraw. His remark was unparliamentary and a reflection on the Prime Minister.


Mr Nixon - Mr Speaker, in all conscience, I cannot withdraw the remark. I said that the Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself.


Mr SPEAKER - The question is that the honourable member for Gippsland be suspended from the service of the House.


Mr Snedden - I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. Are you ruling that if the honourable member for Gippsland says that the. Prime Minister ought to be ashamed of himself that is unparliamentary?


Mr SPEAKER - It is absolutely.


Mr Gorton - You ought to be ashamed of yourself.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! I name the right honourable member for Higgins.


Mr MALCOLM FRASER (WANNON, VICTORIA) - Mr Speaker, on a point of order -


Mr WHITLAM - I move:

That the right honourable member for Higgins be suspended from the service of the House.


Mr Snedden - Mr Speaker, there is already an issue before the House. What sort of performance is this?


Mr SPEAKER - The honourable member will resume his seat.


Dr Forbes - That is disgraceful.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! I name the honourable member for Barker.


Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker, your ruling is shameful and disgraceful.

Motion (by Mr Whitlam) proposed:

That the honourable member for Barker be suspended from the service of the House.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! The first question is that the honourable member for Gippsland be suspended from the service of the House. All those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary no. I think the 'ayes' have it. Is a division required?


Mr Snedden - Most definitely a division.


Mr SPEAKER - The House will divide. Ring the bells. (The bells being rung) -


Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker, this is the most disgraceful display of partisanship I have seen in 19 years in this Parliament.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! When this division is taken the honourable member will have to apologise.

Question put -

That the honourable member for Gippsland be suspended from the service of the House.







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