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Tuesday, 10 April 1973
Page: 1257

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property) - I do not intend to detain the House for long but I want to clarify the matter for the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) who moved the motion and the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) who seconded it. The motion is a frivolous one. It has not been supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) or the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair). In other words, it has been moved by 2 discarded - and quite rightly so - ex-Ministers who are sitting in the second-last row of the House at the present time. They are not quite far enough out of the House. Tonight we have had the spectacle of 2 ex-Ministers holding up the business of this Parliament. Seeing their performance in the Parliament on this question one does not wonder why they are where they are today. The honourable member for Curtin spoke about what had not been done today. The Leader of the Opposition spoke on this matter for one hour today - 45 minutes on one motion and 15 minutes on another which related to the suspension of Standing Orders. That is a pretty fair go in a Parliament which is limited for time. When honourable mem; ben opposite were in Government they did not give us such a fair go.

The. honourable member spoke about the gag. Let me remind honourable members what a former Prime Minister - one who was silly enough to select him for a Ministry - had to say about it. The following is part of a speech by the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) on 25th November 1969. He said:

But what I think is more important ls this play upon the fact that the gag has been moved as frequently today as it has been. It is always within the capacity of an Opposition, if it acts stupidly enough, to force a gag to be moved.

Let me repeat it. He said:

It is always within the capacity of an Opposition, if it acts stupidly enough, to force a gag to be moved.

Nobody would wonder why the gag has to be moved. The stupidity de luxe of the 2 honourable members opposite caused those kind of things to happen. Do not forget that the previous Government moved the gag 200 or 300 times. If we moved it on the hour every hour we would still be miles behind when this Parliament finished.

The honourable member for Mackellar stated that all kinds of things should have happened. But what he did not realise was that this Government is giving honourable members free speech. For instance, Grievance Day is always provided except, as happened the other day, when the Opposition deliberately disrupts it. Not only did the Opposition prevent question time but it also stopped the Grievance Day debate being called on because it sought to disrupt the proceedings of the House. Private members' rights were infringed. That was not the fault of the Government; it was the responsibility of honourable members opposite. The other night, by deliberate tactics designed to disrupt the passage of legislation, the Opposition forced the abandonment of the adjournment debate on purpose to show its fighting qualities. Honourable members opposite fight so much amongst themselves that it is public knowledge. So why do they try to impress people with this lot of rot that they are going on with on this occasion? This is the second occasion in succession in this Parliament on which a motion of this type has been moved. Let me give honourable members opposite due warning. I am a very patient fellow but I will not be for long. The Opposition may move frivolous motions. It may hold up the proceedings of this Parliament. It may do so deliberately for all kinds of reasons. But I say that under the Standing Orders no government will allow it to continue to do so in an irresponsible way.

As I said earlier, not one responsible member on that side of the Parliament - they are pretty hard to find - supports this motion. The initiation of this motion has been left to 2 honourable members who have been discarded and discredited by their own Party. Yet this Government is expected to put up with this kind of conduct in the Parliament. I would have throught that the honourable member for Mackellar was old enough to know better. He has had a pretty good run. He ought to take things quietly because blood pressure rises in such circumstances. The only person that he influences and disturbs in this Parliament when he talks is himself. We on this side of the House know that he is up to these antics. When the honourable member was on the back bench he was always a firebrand. But he was a quiet sort of chap when he was emancipated and elevated to the Ministry. Now he is trying to do the same thing in reverse. But we on this side of the Parliament are a wake-up to the honourable member. I suggest to him that, as we are abolishing the means test and doing all sorb of things that he wants us to do, he ought to have more respect for the Government. The honourable member should set a better example for the younger members on that side of the House and not try to hold up the deliberations of this great chamber. I do not like to say these things in a hurtful manner because in a strange kind of way I have a lot of respect for the honourable member but we cannot allow this kind of conduct to continue without putting the record straight.

I just say those few brief words and I ask honourable members opposite to ponder on the words of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). If an Opposition is stupid enough it can force a lot of gags to be moved, but in this Parliament we have a lot of legislation to be passed which is tremendously important to the country people, the city people and overall to the Australian people. Therefore we do not want to be interrupted by frivolous motions of this kind. That is why tonight I put the record straight. This Government has no desire to apply the gag. It has no desire to stop discussion.

Mr McVeigh - What about the Electoral Bill?

Mr DALY - The honourable member mentioned the Commonwealth Electoral Bill. Thirty-three honourable members spoke on that Bill. The debate went for nearly 13 hours on a Bill which consisted of 5 clauses, only 2 of which had any importance. In 1965 on a Bill consisting of 18 clauses there were only about 40 speakers who took part in a debate which lasted about 11 hours and we finished it at 4 o'clock in the morning. Honourable members opposite are the democrats who talk about us. In any case, the Australian Country Party ran out of speakers and one of its members had to talk twice. When honourable members opposite want to talk about these things they should do a bit of homework on them first. I heard the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) say while sitting at the table: 'For heaven's sake, give me something to say on the final clause. The Country Party has nobody else to talk'.

Mr Armitage - I overheard him.

Mr DALY - My friend the honourable member for Chifley overheard that statement. Let us not have all this rot about debates being stopped. Time has been set aside for Grievance Day and for General Business. Next Thursday the honourable member for Mackellar may move his motions - both of them - if he wishes to do so. This is unprecedented. This Parliament stands for open government and free speech. What is more, we do not steal documents and hide them in a garage. They are here for all to see. We table them. I thought I would put the record straight and bring honourable members up to date and just warn them in the interests of democracy in this country not to waste the time of the Parliament. Honourable members opposite have all had a good salary rise. Why do they not act as though they deserve it? If the people outside do not realise that Opposition members are not worth the money they are getting, they soon will if there are any more antics like this.

Question resolved in the negative.

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