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Monday, 17 September 1973
Page: 1115


Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Leader of the Australian Country Party) - I second the motion. The motion before the Chair seeks to suspend so much of the Standing Orders as would enable the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) to speak on the motion for the third reading of this Bill. The reason he wants to speak is that he was gagged in the Committee stage. He had no chance to reply to the comments of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Lionel Bowen), who refused to answer the charges and allegations made during the course of the second reading debate which was very limited. Many honourable members feel extremely strongly about this issue and they were deprived of the opportunity to speak. What did the PostmasterGeneral do? He got up and took advantage of the Committee stage to answer some of those charges. In the course of doing so he committed a major breach of parliamentary and Cabinet principle by quoting from a submission of a previous government.


Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Which you knew of and which you were upset about.


Mr ANTHONY - This is the first time I have known a government to do this. I am not concerned about the content of the document. The content does not worry me. For a person so flagrantly to pick up a Cabinet document and then try to duck presenting it by saying that it was not a Cabinet document when in reality it was a copy of a Cabinet submission is the height of arrogance and an abuse of parliamentary privilege.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! I ask the right honourable gentleman to confine his remarks to his reasons in support of the motion that the Standing Orders be suspended.


Mr ANTHONY - Thank you, Mr Speaker; I will heed your ruling. It was necessary to make that point. That is what engendered very strong feeling in my colleague, the honourable member for Gippsland, who no doubt wanted to speak on that matter. He also wanted to speak about the excuse that the Postmaster-General used when he was referring to a newspaper, the cost of which, he said, was going to increase by only 1.75c. Well, that was 100 per cent. This really was deceiving the Parliament and the public about what the true increase would be. It is true that that would be the increase next year and this in itself is a special concession to a trade union but by 1976-


Mr Keating - I take a point of order. The honourable member is debating the issue that was covered in the second reading debate on this Bill. He should confine his remarks to his reasons for suspending the Standing Orders.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The point is well taken. The Leader of the Country Party must confine his remarks to the motion to suspend Standing Orders.


Mr ANTHONY - Sir, Ithink this is very relevant to the reason for moving for the suspension of Standing Orders. It is because of this sort of allegation made by the PostmasterGeneral that the honourable member for Gippsland and other honourable members want to speak on the motion for the third reading. I know it is not normal protocol in this Parliament to speak at the third reading stage, but when an issue comes before this Parliament-


Dr Gun - I rise on a point of order. The honourable member for Gippsland has moved that Standing Orders be suspended to enable him to speak on the motion for the third reading. I submit that it is not necessary to suspend Standing Orders. As the motion for the third reading has yet to be moved he will be entitled to speak anyway without having to suspend Standing Orders.


Mr SPEAKER - There is no point of order. A motion to suspend Standing Orders may be moved at any time. I call the Leader of the Country Party.


Mr ANTHONY - I said that the feelings of honourable members on this side of the House were very strong on this issue as a whole because we see in this issue a sinister move to gag free expression by newspapers and periodicals in this country, which of course is part of the philosophy of the socialists who would try to limit the number of organisations which can expose and question the practices in which they are participating. So I believe that my colleague, the honourable member for Gippsland, has every right, as has every honourable member in this House, to speak at the third reading stage. This is an all important issue. When the rate of postage on a trade union newspaper can increase by 528 per cent one would think that members of the Labor Party would be a little concerned, but they are like mutes saying nothing and allowing their own organisations to be persecuted along with country people.







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