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Tuesday, 26 August 1980
Page: 688

Mr HOWARD (Bennelong) (Treasurer) - Mr Speaker,I seek your indulgence.

Mr SPEAKER - The honourable gentleman, I understand, wishes to add to an answer.

Mr HOWARD - I wish to supplement an answer that I gave.

Mr SPEAKER - He may proceed.

Mr Hayden - Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The Treasurer is going beyond an answer to a question without notice. He sought to brief himself and he now wants to canvass the issue. I suggest the proper way to handle this would be for the Treasurer to make a statement and to allow debate to ensue because it is an important point. The Opposition would be keen to debate the issue with him.

Mr SPEAKER - It has been my practice to permit a Minister, when he indicates to me that he asks for my indulgence, to add to an answer when that addition to an answer is an issue of fact. I will listen to the Treasurer. I will not permit him to argue the matter, but I will permit him to provide extra information to the House.

Mr Hayden - Mr Speaker, because I can anticipate the quality of the fact, may I have your indulgence to put certain other facts to the House in response to what he might care to put foward? I presume that it is in relation to the question that the honourable member for Parramatta directed to the Treasurer.

Mr SPEAKER - I will hear the Treasurer.

Mr HOWARD - Mr Speaker,in the interests of ensuring that questions asked of me are answered directly, I wish to add to the answer to the question of the honourable member for Parramatta. He asked me about overall Commonwealth debt. He obviously was drawing from statistics about securities on issue. I gave an answer that was related to the size of the Commonwealth Budget deficit. Clearly, that was not an answer to his question. From recollection, the figures he quoted in respect of 1975 and the later year are in fact correct. There are reasons for that, as he well knows. They are culmulative figures and they do not necessarily bear upon whether one government or another is spending more of the people's money and incurring more debt.

Mr Hayden - Mr Speaker, with your indulgence I would like to put the record straight.

Mr SPEAKER - I will not permit the Leader of the Opposition to do so.

Mr Hayden - With respect, Mr Speaker, that is not an accurate reflection of the facts. You said that you would listen to facts. I have them here. They are considerably different from the interpretation that the Treasurer has given.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat.

Government members interjecting -

Mr Hayden - If you are incompetent and do not know your own business, that is not our fault, but we are not going to see the procedures of the House rigged to protect the Government, surely.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The Leader of the Opposition will remain silent. I will ignore the implication against me. In the interests of the House I permitted the Treasurer to add what he assured me was a statement of fact. I will not permit the procedure of the House to be overtaken by an argument about whether the fact as claimed by the Treasurer is accurate. Other procedures are available to the House for that purpose.

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