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Wednesday, 14 August 1974
Page: 890

The PRESIDENT - Order! For the information of honourable senators I will read standing order 4 10:

A Senator who has spoken to a Question may again be heard, to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood, but shall not introduce any new matter, or interrupt any Senator in possession of the Chair, and no debatable matter shall be brought forward or debate arise upon such explanation.

I call Senator Greenwood.

Senator Greenwood - Mr President-

Senator Georges - Mr President,I wish to speak to your ruling. Would it not follow from your ruling that such action by a senator ought to be taken at the end of the relevant debate.

Senator Wheeldon -No, that is not so.

The PRESIDENT - The Standing Orders say that a senator can take this action.

Senator Georges - That means that Senator Greenwood can rise on a number of occasions to interrupt the debate and to disturb the facility for other honourable senators to participate in the debate.

The PRESIDENT - I will confine Senator Greenwood to his personal explanation.

Senator GREENWOOD - I assure you, Mr President, that it is my intention to do that and not to introduce debatable matter. But Senator Steele Hall stated quite specifically that the purpose of introducing these amendments was to be disruptive. That I categorically deny.

Senator Wheeldon - A point of order!

Senator GREENWOOD - In the first place, I never said that.

Senator Wheeldon - I am taking a point of order!

Senator GREENWOOD - If that be the part of my speech which he -

The PRESIDENT - Order! I will hear Senator Wheeldon on a point of order.

Senator Wheeldon - My point of order is that Senator Greenwood is making a mockery of the proceedings of this Senate. He is introducing -

Senator GREENWOOD -Mr President,I object to that remark.

Senator Wheeldon - I am raising a point of order.

Senator GREENWOOD -Mr President,I direct your attention to the standing order which provides that an honourable senator may not make imputations against or reflections on another honourable senator.

Senator Wheeldon - Do I have the call, Mr President?

The PRESIDENT - I am hearing Senator Wheeldon on a point of order.

Senator Wheeldon - My point of order is that Senator Greenwood is introducing debatable material in discussing whether there is obstruction. The purpose of this standing order is quite clear. It is that if some material matter or some statement of fact has been misinterpreted or misquoted by a succeeding speaker, an honourable senator being so misinterpreted or misquoted is entitled to correct such a misapprehension if there has been such a misapprehension. He is not entitled to enter into a debate whether he has been obstructive or not obstructive. I ask you, Mr President, to see that Senator Greenwood ceases this policy of disrupting the proceedings of this Parliament and making a mockery of its procedures.

Senator Withers - On the point of order, we will make a mockery of the procedures if honourable senators lose their tempers and indulge in histrionics. As I understand it, the point of order that has been taken concerns the attempt by Senator Greenwood to make a personal explanation.

Senator Georges - What? In the middle of a debate?

Senator Withers - That is what the standing order provides for, and I did not write the Standing Orders. As I understand it, Senator Greenwood claims that a previous speaker said something about why Senator Greenwood was taking a certain course of action. I believe that Senator Greenwood is entitled to say that he did not say that he would do a certain thing because he wished to indulge in a certain course of action. I think that that is quite clear. Further, my understanding is that Senator Greenwood had almost finished his personal explanation and was about to sit down. If we wish to disrupt the proceedings and never get the Bill passed- well, that is up to Senator Murphy.

Senator Murphy - I rise to speak to the point of order. We have Standing Orders for the regular conduct of the affairs of this Senate. The Standing Orders although generally expressed are to be understood in some reasonable fashion and a proper spirit is to be applied to the interpretation of their construction. The purpose of the standing order in question is to cover situations where there might be some specific matter on which a senator is misunderstood. An honourable senator may say that he said something when he really intended to say the opposite or make some other point This standing order provides the opportunity to a senator to speak- it is akin to a lond of personal explanation- to point out something which would affect him personally or to refer to a matter which might go to his integrity. An honourable senator has the opportunity to clear himself. But if the meaning of this standing order is to be distorted and if the standing order is to be used- and this is an extreme example of an attempted abuse where a senator rises and -

Senator Greenwood - I rise on a point of order.

The PRESIDENT - I am hearing Senator Murphy.

Senator Greenwood - An honourable senator is not allowed to use offensive expressions in the course of taking a point of order. I submit that there is a standing order which provides that no senator shall impute improper motives to another senator. I object to the statement by Senator Murphy that I am attempting to abuse the Standing Orders. My purpose is clear and I stated it to you.

The PRESIDENT - I call Senator Murphy on the point of order.

Senator Murphy - I would submit to you, Mr President, that it is outside the provisions of this standing order for someone to engage in purported general explanations of his whole stand on a Bill and to use this standing order as a basis on which to rise and say: 'Look, I am not really being disruptive, nor is the attitude which the Opposition is taking. This is our whole approach on this Bill or on the matter under consideration'. That is not the purpose at all for which this standing order is intended to be used. It is intended to cover specific instances where there has been some real misunderstanding or misinterpretation of a particular matter which has arisen and especially a misunderstanding or misinterpretation which would touch the standing, reputation or integrity of a senator. This is an attempt to make another second reading speech. I submit that it should not be tolerated.

Senator Greenwood - Mr President-

The PRESIDENT - Senator Greenwood,before you continue, I just say that the Standing Orders provide that you may make an explanation if you have been misquoted or misunderstood. This explanation is to inform the Senate of the way in which you have been misquoted or misunderstood.

Senator GREENWOOD - I know that several times yesterday in the course of my speech I gave reasons why the Opposition was moving the amendments. A copy of Hansard has been brought into me and just glancing at it I noticed that right at the conclusion of my speech I stated:

We will not oppose the second reading of the Bill but at the Committee stage, as I have indicated, we shall seek to make it a much better Bill.

I do not debate this matter and say that the Opposition has that right. I simply say that for Senator Hall to say that the Opposition's purpose is to be disruptive is misunderstanding what I have said. That is what the Standing Orders states. Senator Hall also attributed to the Opposition, and to me as the person who indicated the Opposition 's attitude, lower motives. He accused us of giving promises to people and he questioned whom we represented. I, as the person who indicated the Opposition's attitude, simply say that I represent nobody in this chamber but myself and my sense of what the people of Australia sent me here to do. I assure -

Senator Wheeldon - Mr President,I raise a point of order.

Senator GREENWOOD -. . . the honourable senator -

Senator Wheeldon - Point of order.

Senator GREENWOOD -. . . that that is the attitude of Opposition senators.

Senator Wheeldon - Mr President,I am raising a point of order. I suggest that you deal with Senator Greenwood for defying the ruling of the Chair and entering into a debate about what the people of Australia sent him here to do or not to do. This is acting completely contrary to the Standing Orders and your ruling of the Standing Orders. I suggest that it is quite apparent that he is setting out to disrupt the proceedings of the Senate and that there is no other motive. I submit that he should be dealt with by you for defying your ruling.

Senator GREENWOOD - I am not setting out to disrupt the proceedings of the Senate. Every honourable senator has his rights under the Standing Orders, even honourable senators on the Opposition side in this place. I shall assert those rights whenever I get the opportunity.

Senator STEELE HALL - Mr President,I raise a point of order under standing order 4 10. 1 believe that I have been misunderstood and I believe that I have the right to use that standing order. I explain that at no time in my speech did I say that Senator Greenwood said that he wanted to disrupt. In fact, I made the very point that while Senator Greenwood does not say that he disrupts, he does disrupt. I made that very point in my speech. That is what I explained.

Senator Greenwood - Mr President,I raise a point of order. My point of order is that the imputation of improper motives to an honourable senator by saying that he disrupts is offensive. Honourable senators on the Government side may laugh but to accuse any person of being disruptive in the way in which Senator Hall did is to impute a deliberate intent of doing it. I submit that rulings by occupants of the chair are such that an honourable senator who makes such an accusation is acting contrary to Standing Orders.

Senator STEELE HALL -Mr President,I would like to continue my explanation, if 1 may.

The PRESIDENT - I understand this to be a criticism made in the heat of the exchange of politics rather than a personal attack on Senator Greenwood. It is a political exchange.

Senator STEELE HALL -As I see it and as most of the public of Australia see it, I was descriptive of Senator Greenwood's Party. I said that the Opposition was being disruptive. Now I am explaining what I said. Mr President -

The PRESIDENT - Order! I remind Senator Hall that he must confine himself to explaining to the Senate where he has been misquoted or misunderstood.

Senator STEELE HALL - What I did not say was that the Opposition has a legislative blood lust, which it does have. In simple terms I said that the Opposition is disruptive. Sena'tor Greenwood has simply disagreed with me. There is nothing more to explain. I stand by what I said and I shall state it publicly and more firmly.

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