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Thursday, 18 October 1973
Page: 2385

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - Last night I gave some notice in the House that I was hoping to speak tonight on the motion for the adjournment of the House about the Government's conduct in the House, with particular reference to the conduct of the Leader of the House (Mr Daly). I make it clear that at no stage do I reflect on the Chair. I am turning my mind to the action of the Government and particularly the action of the Leader of the House. Today other honourable members have drawn attention to the Government's habit of applying the guillotine so that important measures cannot be debated. I will not go into that matter further because it has already been spoken about in this House. The Government's action has reduced the conduct of this House, in some respects, to a farce on these major matters.

Tonight I wish to look at the procedures of the House. I speak, for example, of what happened last Monday when the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson) was perhaps a little tardy in rising to his feet. A mistake was made. I do not know where the blame lies. But there was confusion. It could easily have been sorted out, with a little goodwill. There was no reason why the honourable member for Cowper should not have had an opportunity to speak. I know that in the past when similar events have occurred the member concerned has been given the right to speak. To insist on meticulous points such as this is not in accordance with the best spirit of the House, nor was it in accordance with the best spirit of the House on Tuesday last to refuse me the opportunity to reply to some of the scurrilous imputations which had been made by the Minister for Labour (Mr Clyde Cameron) at question time. When that kind of thing is done in the House, even if it is in strict conformity with Standing Orders, it does not do the Government any credit.

What I wish to speak about primarily is something that was not in accordance with Standing Orders. I wish to rehearse to the House what happened some time ago but which, because of the intervention of the recess and the temporary absence overseas of the Leader of the House, has not been brought to the attention of the House as promptly perhaps as one would have wished. On 29 August, the Leader of the House, as reported at page 589 of Hansard, said:

From memory, not one member of the Country Party has ever won more than SO per cent of the primary votes before being elected to this Parliament. Of course they get more than 50 per cent after the distribution of preferences, but not one Country Party member has ever gained a majority on the first count. The honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey) is a good friend of mine. A couple of years ago he was elected on 27 per cent of the primary vote. I could mention all the members of the Country Party.

That statement, as honourable members know, was a false statement. It is quite pardonable for a member, having made a false statement and finding his fault, to correct it, to correct it even in Hansard, and to apologise. Nobody would think worse of him for that. Mistakes can be made. But this is not what the Leader of the House did. The following day, as reported at page 677 of Hansard, the falsity of the statement was pointed out. The Leader of the House took a most extraordinary course. I refer tohis speech on page 696 of Hansard. He claimed mispresentation. He came into the House suddenly. I shall quote what he said. The Hansard record states:

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