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Thursday, 11 November 1976
Page: 2600

Mr HYDE (Moore) -A few minutes ago I requested leave to withdraw a proposal for the discussion of a matter of public importance believing that perhaps the Labor Opposition had grown up and that it would stop deliberately inflaming the public with bogus arguments that have now gone on for 12 months.

Mr Morris - You were instructed to withdraw it.

Mr HYDE - If the honourable member listens he will find that my remarks are instructive. Ever since 1 1 November 1975 Australia has endured a barrage of inflammatory statements concerning the events of that day which lead to the election of 13 December last year. This dissention has been carefully fostered in the public mind and we have suffered for it at home and abroad. We have suffered a discredited ex-Prime Minister trying to rewrite the history books to his own benefit. He probably really does believe that if he had been left to govern just a little longer he could have corrected the mistakes that he had so far made. It is normal to feel bitter when you are deprived of the spoils of office. It is not uncommon for a losing team to cry 'foul' but I did not expect that the losing team would go on crying 'foul' for 12 months.

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We had a crook umpire.

Mr HYDE - The umpire was appointed by the present Leader of the Opposition. I still believe these arguments should be ignored. I withdrew my matter of public importance this morning in the belief that the Opposition was not going to pursue these bogus arguments any longer.

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - You sought to argue earlier.

Mr HYDE - I became hopeful that the Labor Party was not going to press its arguments today and was not going to inflame public passion further. However the speech from the Leader of the Opposition was aimed at just that. These bogus arguments must be answered because, as Dr Goebbels said, untruths that are repeated often enough come to be believed.

The Labor Party was sacked not once but 3 times. It was sacked by the Senate, by the GovernorGeneral and by the people. All the steps of last year did nothing but return the decision to the people. A lot of false argument has been used to suggest that it was tyranny, that in some way the power to govern had been assumed by the then Opposition. What was asserted was the authority of the people. It rests with them, and it was returned to them. Government was chosen by the people as it is expected to be in any democracy. Among all the bogus examples from history about tyranny only one is relevant. It is the suggestion that somehow or other the then Government might govern without Supply, like Charles I during the 11 year tyranny. The Government was prepared to carry on without money and in spite of the people. Even if this had been legal it would have been a repetition of government without the sanction of the people. That is the relevant precedent from history.

We very carefully culled the arguments that have been used by Labor Party apologists. We put together some fifteen of them. We believe that the list was exhaustive. We were able to pick off each one of them- taking the debate onto the Labor Party's grounds and conducting the debate on the grounds that Labor's own apologists had selected. We managed to mark off each one of those arguments as bogus. There is not a single argument that suggests that the rules were in any way brought into question or that the conventions were in any way brought into question last year.

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - What about the events of last year?

Mr HYDE -In fact the events of last year demonstrated the value of the conventions. The events returned the power to the people. At no stage was there any usurpation of power by anyone but the people; the people were given the opportunity to exercise their authority.

Mr Morris - Six-monthly elections.

Mr HYDE - Exercise of the reserve powers of the Governor-General was a demonstration that it is necessary at some stage to return a corrupt and incompetent government to its masters. It would be more sensible to worry lest the Senate, when a Party has a majority in both Houses, might not exercise the power that properly belongs to it. Her Majesty's loyal Opposition has as much responsibility for the good government of this country as has the Government itself. A corrupt, irresponsible and ineffective government should answer to the people. It has been suggested by interjection that we might have elections every 6 months. The reason we will not have elections every 6 months is that there is a political sanction against that happening, not a legal sanction. There is an effective political sanction. If an opposition sends a government to the people and that government is not thoroughly discredited, the people will vote against the party that sent the government to the people and return the government to office. So there is a political sanction against the over-use of this power. It is a power that should be properly used. It should be used with caution admittedly, but what happened on 13 December last demonstrated that it was properly used. The people of Australia wanted a change of government. The powers that were used to bring about that change of government were carefully written into the Constitution and any reader of constitutional debates will find countless references to the power to reject.

Dr Klugman - You should read the Constitution.

Mr HYDE - I can read the Constitution and this provision is very clear in it. It is very clear that those who wrote our Constitution knew exactly what they were doing. There would have been no Federation if that power had not been reserved to the Senate. Deakin very carefully spelt out to the Constitutional Convention how that power would be used. It was clear in his mind that it would be used to dismiss a government; and that is what it should be used for, to dismiss a government that has been thoroughly discredited. This rewriting of history by a man who does not care about the future of either his own Party or this country is not particularly just to those men whom he sacked when he was leader of the Government. In rewriting the history books there is an obligation to be fair to those men who were sacked. The truth of the matter must come out eventually.

I fear that if this matter is not rationally and carefully debated and the Leader of the Opposition is allowed to go on putting a viewpoint unchallenged because we do not wish to raise dissention, the one-sided argument will write lies into the history books that may be unfair to Australia and to some people. In spite of what the Leader of the Opposition says, I am reminded of the quotation:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

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