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Wednesday, 19 April 1972
Page: 1270

Senator JESSOP (South Australia) - I wish to say at the outset that the Opposition would do well to abandon debating the subject of draft resisting and other matters concerned with the evasion of responsibilities under the National Service Act. The people of Australia and, more importantly, some of the supporters of the Australian Labor Party are waiting for the Opposition - the alternative government of this country - to declare what has happened to the dignity of the Australian Labor Party. Where are the Ben Chifleys of this once respected Party? It is time that they came forward to restore the image of the Australian Labor Party.

I do not very often take the time of the Senate during an adjournment debate. But I rise this evening because today we were unfortunate enough to witness a blatant waste of the time of the Senate by the Opposition when it raised a matter of urgency directed against the Government. The Minister for Air (Senator DrakeBrockman), and honourable senators on the Government side, effectively dealt with the matter raised and proved that the charge was ill founded.

Senator Keeffe - I rise to take a point of order. The honourable senator is referring to a debate that took place in this chamber today. Therefore, I suggest that he is out of order.

The PRESIDENT - Order! I think that Senator Jessop is walking on a knife edge. On the other hand, the point of order raised by Senator Keeffe is based on a standing order of which I am perfectly aware. It refers to matters which are the business of the Senate in the course of its sitting. The matter of urgency was not part of the business of the Senate. But I would be grateful, Senator Jessop, if you would walk the tight rope, which you are obviously walking, with a great deal of care.

Senator JESSOP - Thank you for your generous ruling.

The PRESIDENT - It is not generous; it is a just ruling.

Senator JESSOP - I assure you, Mr President, that your justice is recognised and that I will try to walk the right rope with dire care. One would have thought that the abject failure of the Opposition in another place to prove some 3 weeks ago the charge which was the subject of today's urgency motion would have deterred the Opposition in this chamber from introducing the subject for debate. This is clear evidence of the sterility of the Opposition in the Senate when seeking to introduce competent motions on its own initiative.

The debate proved to be uninteresting to the listening audience. In my view, it registered the complete disregard of the Opposition for the value of using occasion when the proceedings of this chamber are being broadcast to introduce for debate in the Senate subjects of public importance and not duplicating debates on subjects discussed in another place.

Senator Keeffe - Mr President, I rise to order. I draw your attention to standing order 406 which states in toto that no senator shall read his speech.

The PRESIDENT - The point you are making is one I am inclined to agree with, but in this case I cannot demonstrate or prove that the speech is being read.

Senator JESSOP - I thank you, Mr President. I noticed that Senator Brown earlier in the adjournment debate was referring to copious notes also.

The PRESIDENT - Order! I want to make it clear that a predecessor of mine invented the phrase 'copious notes', and I am getting tired of it.

Senator JESSOP - I will confine myself to my subject. I was referring to the appalling situation today when the Opposition in the Senate introduced a duplicated subject from another place. The guilt of the Opposition in this regard was made quite clear during that debate when Senator Mulvihill, realising the failure of the Opposition to arouse interest in the subject matter, moved That the question be now put' before he resumed his seat.

Senator Poyser - I rise to order. I would like a definition from you, Mr President, of what constitutes the business of the Senate. Is it matters that come before the Senate for discussion or is it only Government business?

The PRESIDENT - I will read the relevant standing order. Would you like me to do that?

Senator Poyser - I certainly would.

The PRESIDENT - Standing order 413 was amended on 26th September 1969 and now reads:

No Senator shall allude to any Debate or proceedings of the same session unless such allusion be relevant to the matter under discussion.

It is on the basis of the words 'relevant to the matter under discussion' that Senator Jessop may proceed; but I warn him again to watch his step.

Senator JESSOP - I am referring to the valuable broadcasting time of the Senate. I believe that today we have seen it misused. I have also referred to my friend Senator Mulvihill who, when he realised just how uninteresting the subject matter was, moved 'That the question be now put', and well he might have because his supporters were not in evidence in the chamber. In fact,I counted only 3 in the chamber at that time. I suggest that the absence of the Australian Labor Party senators during Senator Mulvihill's speech - and it was a reasonable contribution from him - displayed the lack of interest of-

Senator Cavanagh - Mr President, I rise to order. I refer to standing order 416. We have heard your ruling relating to the business of the Senate. However, standing order 416 states:

No senator shall allude to any Debate of the current Session in the House of Representatives, or to any Measure impending therein, unless such allusion be relevant to the matter under discussion.

I am submitting that Senator Jessop has stated that this question was debated in the other House quite recently in this session and, therefore, under standing order 416 it cannot be debated in this chamber.

The PRESIDENT - I was wondering, when Senator Jessop alluded to the House of Representatives, when some honourable senator would take issue on that. The matter has gone under the bridge as far as I am concerned. As he has made no subsequent allusion to it, Senator Jessop may continue to discuss matters that are relevant.

Senator Cavanagh - Mr President, are you saying that you can never rectify a wrong that has been done?

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