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Tuesday, 10 April 1973
Page: 1219

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) (Treasurer) - I draw attention firstly to the motion. It is a motion to suspend Standing Orders. It does not in any sense suspend the right to questions later. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has assumed that. Maybe he is right; I do not know.

Mr Snedden - Were you not in the Cabinet meeting?

Mr CREAN - I have been in the Cabinet meeting, but what I want to say against what has been advanced by the Leader of the Opposition is that we are attempting to restore proper parliamentary usage, which after all fell into great disrepute under the previous Government. Parliamentary usage suggests that the only place in which the Opposition can challenge a government is on the floor of the House of Representatives by a vote. It can pass in the Senate as many motions of no confidence in a Minister as it likes, and they matter not a jot. The Government believes in a doctrine known as collective responsibility of Cabinet - something which, I repeat, was honoured in the breach more than in the observance in the last several months of the previous Government. But if the Opposition wanted to move a motion of no confidence in the Government or in the conduct of a particular Minister the place to do so was in this House. The Opposition chose not to do this.

When I hear all the bleating about the taking away of question time and recall how futile and ineffective question time has been in the hands of the Opposition, I do not think we have yielded very much. All the weekend I heard on television and radio and read in the Press about all that the right honourable gentleman was going to do when the House met on Tuesday. He seems to have been, as usual, a bit slow on the draw and we have got in first. I think honourable members opposite will find that so long as they put their confidence in the political strategy of the right honourable gentleman they will be beaten more often than they will win. What is wrong in voting as we want to or putting to a vote the question that this side of the House has confidence in the AttorneyGeneral and the way in which he has handled things? Do honourable members opposite want to put it in the negative sense - that they have no confidence in the Attorney-General?

Mr Snedden - That is not the issue and you know it.

Mr CREAN - I know what the issue is.

Mr Snedden - Then stop prevaricating.

Mr CREAN - I am not prevaricating. You are prevaricating when you try to camouflage this as anything but sheer political expediency. When the Opposition resorts to sheer political expediency, as it has done, it cannot expect that occasionally there will not be sheer political retaliation. Surely to goodness this is what this place is about.

Opposition members - Political expediency.

Mr CREAN - I did not say that. I said sheer political retaliation'. What the Opposition has done is try to elevate into a monster that place upstairs, and the monstrosity is allowed to continue because it is not a place that had to go to election in December. The Opposition can only win there because it takes to its side there a party that has no political representation whatever in this House.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister's time has expired.

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