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Thursday, 27 February 1975
Page: 891

Mr GILES (Angas) - It has been a very great pleasure to me to nominate Mr Lucock for the position of Chairman of Committees of this House. I think that the House would do well to remember Mr Lucock 's seniority and his great experience. If I might comment on that, I would like to say that for 12 years he acted as the Deputy Speaker to 3 Speakers of this House. He is unquestionably well equipped to handle the job on the occasions when you have to be away, Mr Speaker, as, to use the words of the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), he is the man who is most used to the position. I make the point that Mr Lucock is the most experienced and the most qualified member of Parliament for the position of Chairman of Committees.

There are other reasons why I think Mr Lucock 's nomination should be successful. Firstly, I think that his surname has become a byword throughout the length and breadth of this land since the advent of the broadcasting of the proceedings of the Parliament. People throughout the length and breadth of Australia know the name 'Lucock' and know that it represents honour and decency. Indeed he is a man of very great personal principle. I suspect that nobody would disagree with that observation. His knowledge of the Standing Orders is unquestionable. I believe him to be a man who holds the respect of all members of this House and a man who can and will, when needs be, withstand those pressures that many of us have noticed placed upon the shoulders of both the

Speakerand the Chairman of Committees in recent times. I believe that Mr Lucock has the courage, the knowledge, the sincerity and the love of this institution to do the job of Chairman of Committees very proud indeed.

Mr Speaker,this is the first occasion on which I have had the opportunity to acknowledge publicly your election as Speaker and I do so I hope with generosity. I acknowledge your great dedication to the task in the past and I acknowledge your capacity to work and your understanding of the Standing Orders of this House. But we are posed with another difficulty today in relation to the jobs of both the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees. I would like to remind the House of the very grave and difficult position that the Chairman of Committees or the Speaker hold in relation to the conducting of the business of this place. He has very great responsibilities indeed. The action taken today by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), following a scurrilous remark by one of his senior Ministers, has brought this institution into a certain degree of disarray and I regret that that has been so. But there is a lot more to it than that because the whole principle of parliamentary democracy has been placed at risk. No more can any Speaker or Chairman of Committees of this House feel confident that when he makes a decision which may or may not suit the side in power he will not be stabbed in the back or let down. One side of this Parliament has traditionally abided by the principle of the continuity of the Chair, without which no Speaker can derive long term authority in order to control this House. The Government side has not, as proven by the performance of today. The Opposition parties, when in power and not, have shown that they will continue the principle of continuity of the Chair and will not let the Chair down. Because of our adherence to that principle I recommend Mr Lucock for the position of Deputy Speaker. Never again while the Government remains in power will the Opposition have complete confidence that power is not being exerted over the Chair. I trust that soon, when we are in government, that situation will not obtain. It never obtained during the 23 years of LiberalCountry Party governments to my knowledge.

The Prime Minister has placed in jeopardy the whole question of the impartiality of the Chair by the means I have described and made your job for the future, Mr Speaker, most difficult. Whenever you rise, justly or not, to castigate the Opposition there will always be a degree of suspicion about whether you are being truly and utterly impartial. It is for all these reasons that I suggest to the House that Mr Lucock be elected to the position of Chairman of Committees.

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