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Thursday, 10 March 1977
Page: 125

Mr LUCOCK (Lyne) - It is with a great deal of pleasure that I rise to support the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply moved by my colleague the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom) and seconded by another colleague the honourable member for Calare (Mr MacKenzie). As has been said, it is appropriate that this motion should be moved at this time when Her Majesty is in Australia and it is also appropriate that the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) should move in this House today a motion in regard to Commonwealth Day which was supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr E. G. Whitlam) and by the Deputy Leader of my own Party, the National Country Party. This is something that we should think about. It is important in these days that we should be reminded of what this motion and some of the traditions of our country and of this House really mean. A number of honourable members have spoken today. Although they did not perhaps quite ridicule some of the traditions of this House they have suggested they were not important.

Mr King - Pretty close, though.

Mr LUCOCK - As my colleague the honourable member for Wimmera said, they went pretty close to doing so. For example, I can recall the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) talking about Black Rod knocking on the door, the message being passed on, the Speaker saying 'Let him enter' and Black Rod announcing the message that the members of the House of Representatives are requested to attend the Senate in the presence of the Queen for the opening of the Parliament. I wonder whether there is a full appreciation of what this really means. This sort of tradition is a protection of the rights of this House of Representatives. It is a protection for every member of the House of Representatives. These things, are not, in my opinion, to be thought of lightly. In the early days the Crown was not allowed to enter the House of Commons. One of the reasons for that practice was that there should be no intimidation of members of the Commons by the Crown. They should have the freedom and the capacity to pass legislation or to refuse certain finance that the Monarch wanted. This prevented, in those days, members being intimidated in any way or being forced to pass legislation.

We maintain the old tradition of the Speaker being escorted reluctantly to the Chair. The reason for that reluctance- it might be rather opportune in the case of the present occupant to mention this matter in the course of the Royal visit- was that the Monarch might order Mr Speaker's head to be chopped off. If the Speaker took a message back to the Monarch which was not approved of there was a danger that he would suffer 'certain disabilities'. For one thing he would not need to shave again. Today, with all the benefits and privileges associated with the Speakership, the reluctance is not quite as real as it was in those early days. What I am trying to impress upon honourable members is that these traditions indicate the independence and freedom of members of the House of Representatives or, in the situation to which I referred, members of the House of Commons. These traditions are important. We should remind ourselves of them because each embodies a basic principle.

I am amazed by some of the groups today that keep talking about independence. They say that we should stress it and that we should assert it. Yet those who are standing up and asserting it so strongly are in some instances saying that Her Majesty should have intervened in the situation in which the Governor-General was involved some little while ago. Literally what the Australian Parliament was told then was: 'You are an independent group. It is your responsibility. Your Governor-General is independent. There is no authority for the Crown to interfere in the matter'. Yet those same people who talk about independence and who want it so much are the people who literally ask: 'Why did the Crown not intervene?' As I said, I think it is vital that we should think about these aspects.

I referred to the statement by the Prime Minister about Commonwealth Day. We should remind ourselves that Her Majesty is the Queen of Australia. She is the Head of the Commonwealth of which Australia is a part. As was said by all the speakers earlier this afternoon, this is an important factor in our world situation at the moment. I have had the privilege of attending one or two Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conferences. I think that, with all the weaknesses and with all the handicaps that there may be with our Association, it would be a tragedy not only for the Commonwealth but also for the world if that organisation were weakened.

I referred to some people who are saying that we should be a republic. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) made an interesting and valuable comment when he said that this was irrelevant. I do not quite agree with some of the things he said but I think that the point he made about republicanism was valid. I had a look at some of those people who were outside when the Queen was reviewing the march past. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, for certain reasons I was not able to be present but I watched the events on television. I must admit that the people displaying banners were a scruffy looking mob.

Mr Shipton - There were very few banners really.

Mr LUCOCK -I think that really it would have been an advantage if they had held the banners in front of themselves so that they would not have been seen on the screen.

Mr Katter - They should have been sprayed with DDT.

Mr King - They were a vocal minority.

Mr LUCOCK - As my colleagues have said, they were a vocal minority and they should have been sprayed with DDT. That might have been effective. I think that the only thing one can say about those associated with this republican movement is that they are mental midgets and pseudo academics. One gentleman has never really been very successful, not even when he wrote for a particular magazine. I think that he is trying to show that he has some contribution to make. He is puffing himself up with his own importance. I do not think that he is being very successful. I remind these people that the real value of the monarchy in our system is that it is divorced from the political scene. I remember that at a very important function I attended- a dinner in New York given for Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh- a very prominent American said to me: 'You know, if we had a monarch in the United States we would not be in half the trouble that we are in today'. Some of our people need to remind themselves of that fact. It is of tremendous importance and value that the monarchy is separate from the political life of this nation. Amidst all the changes and all the problems confronting us this is one fact of which we can be very proud.

Of course, we also have a respect for Her Majesty as an individual. Her character, her wisdom and her strength of purpose have been an inspiration to our Commonwealth. I recall her late father and the inspiration that he was to the people of Britain during those dark days of the Second World War.

Let us look at the value of some of the traditions that we have in this House. Although we do not enforce it, honourable members are required to acknowledge the Chair as they enter and leave the chamber and as they cross in front of the Chair. This has nothing to do with the individual who is occupying the Chair but is a mark of respect for the authority of the Chair. If that were taken away, frankly, this place would not be manageable. I have had the privilege of serving under four magnificent Speakers of this House from Liberal-National Country Party governments and also under Mr Cope, and the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who were Speakers in the previous Labor Government. I pay tribute to both of those gentlemen under whom I had the privilege of serving as a Deputy Chairman. They contributed to the stability of this House. These traditions have value and they have meaning. They show courtesy and respect.

Many people talk about independence. They allow some ratbags to come here from overseas and run their unions. There is not much Australian independence shown in that respect. Men like Carmichael and Halfpenny have no thought for the individual. They are concerned only with their own power. There is not a great deal of independence shown by some of the members of the unions with which those 2 gentlemen are associated. If we maintained and thought a little more about courtesy and consideration, perhaps we might not be in some of the economic troubles that we are in at the present time. I believe that one of the reasons we are facing economic difficulties is that there has been too much thought in this country of 'What is in it for me?' instead of thinking of the contribution that I can make for the progress, development and advancement of the country of which it is my privilege to be a citizen. I think we need to get back towards that attitude.

Mr McVeigh - Tell it to Bob Hawke and a few of his mates.

Mr LUCOCK - As my colleague the honourable member for Darling Downs said, I frankly think that if they started to think of these things, we might be able to make more progress in the industrial situation in Australia. I do not say that the fault is all on one side. Unfortunately some leaders of our industry do not play their part either in the community or in contributing towards peace in industry. I have said that on more than one occasion in this House. On this particular occasion when we are occupied with the Address-in-Reply debate, these are some of the things that we should think about because they are important in our national life. Having said that, I make 2 comments. This morning we had a debate on a matter of public importance initiated by the Opposition alleging the Government's incompetent handling of the Lebanese refugee problem. I do not want to make any comment on that matter nor to revive the debate that was held this morning. I appreciate the Government's problem concerning these countries and the entry of these people into Australia, but I want to comment that I am surprised and disappointed at the attitude of the Government towards the past President of Lebanon, Mr Chamoun, in that it has been suggested that he delay his visit to this country because of particular reasons. When he was President, Mr Chamoun worked for peace in Lebanon and in the surrounding countries. His effort always was directed towards the establishment of peace in that area. I am extremely fortunate in the number of distinguished Lebanese that are in my electorate and in the contribution that they have made to community life in that area. Frankly, I see no reason why Mr Chamoun should not be allowed to visit this country. I believe that he would make a contribution to the association of Lebanon and Australia. I suggest that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr MacKellar) and his Department might have a further look at this matter and that the former President of Lebanon be allowed to visit Australia.

I wish to comment briefly on the economic situation. I still believe that it would be an advantage to look at the situation relating to taxation at the present moment and not to wait for a further period. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) made a suggestion yesterday which I think has certain value but, of course, like all schemes and ideas it has drawbacks. If one looks at the total economic position, anything that is done by the Arbitration Commission to hold the adjustment of the cost of living and of wages must make a contribution to holding inflation. If agreement can be reached so that the increase is held because of the adjustment in taxation, I believe this would be an advantage to all sections of the community and to Australia. I support the motion in relation to the Speech of Her Majesty the Queen with a great deal of pleasure. I have pointed out previously to the House that I was the first member of the House of Representatives to take the oath of allegiance to the Queen at the commencement of her reign. I think that we need to remind ourselves of the privileges, the benefits, the opportunities and also the responsibilities that we have as citizens of this country at this time in our history.

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