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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 3206

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I point out to the honourable member for Gippsland that we are debating a subject which has nothing to do with a Tariff Board report.

Mr NIXON - I appreciate and respect your ruling, Mr Speaker. What I am trying to do is to point out the sharp contrast between the way in which the House can take into its own concern its dignity on matters of substance and on matters of lesser substance. The point I am making is that the House took as a matter of concern the leaking of a report which apparently had a comparatively wide distribution - the report on meat of the Joint Committee on Prices- than it did in regard to the Tariff Board report which is confined, in its distribution, within the system. I was a Minister of the Crown and a member of the committee of the government of the day which studied these reports and I do not think that in our time we suffered a breach of confidentiality of such a serious nature as occurred on this occasion. The point I am making - I think it is relevant- is that when the House is considering its own dignity it ought to consider the relevance of these matters. The leak of the Coombs report, and the leak of the report on colour television are so serious in commercial terms as to be worthy of consideration by this Parliament. I say that having regard to the importance of the breach of privilege in regard to the report on meat prices by the Prices Committee, which apparently was published in the Sydney 'Sun' one afternoon. That is the only point I wish to make. The House has not exhibited the dignity it deserves.

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