Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 30 October 1974
Page: 2173

Senator STEELE HALL (South AustraliaLeader of the Liberal Movement) - When Senator Greenwood first began to speak I felt sorry for him. He was reading from a prepared statement and obviously was under some Party discipline to explain to the Senate why he had led the fight to wreck the Constitutional Convention. Tonight he was trying to get out of the responsibility which he has as Deputy Leader of the Opposition in wielding the numbers that he can help to wield in the Senate to be obstructive. If there is one word that the Opposition does not like, it is the word 'obstruct'. It does not like that word because it fits. Week after week and month after month we have seen obstruction in the Senate in which Senator Greenwood has been the leading figure. He does not like it when the Press accurately reports his antics in the Senate as were indicated quite clearly in the editorial of the 'Australian' newspaper this morning.

Senator Webster - Are you accepting that article as true?

Senator STEELE HALL -Let me finish, Senator Webster. Senator Greenwood has raised other matters of great moment as far as his attitude in politics is concerned. While I have regarded him as a fairly authoritarian person, I really did not realise he harboured the dictatorial attitude that he revealed tonight, in his statement that he believed that the Liberal Movement could be represented on the Constitutional Convention only if his Party said so. That is his view of democracy in the Senate.

Senator Webster - He did not say that.

Senator STEELE HALL -He did say it quite clearly. If the honourable senator wants to play with words, he may do so, but the Senate Hansard will reveal clearly that Senator Greenwood said that the Liberal Movement should not be represented unless this had been cleared by the Opposition. He also said that the Liberal Movement was not part of the Opposition. So the Liberal Movement is not part of the Government; it is not part of the Opposition; it does not sit in the aisle, but it does not have the approval of Senator Greenwood. Therefore, it should not have a seat as part of the Senate at the Constitutional Convention because Senator Greenwood has not said so. I acknowledge Senator Greenwood's dictatorial and authoritarian attitude in relation to the activities of other parties in the Senate. He does not want to give them any freedom and he wants to oversee them in his position as Deputy Leader of the Opposition. (Quorum formed.)

I was saying that Senator Greenwood has exhibited authoritarian views in the Senate tonight in that his Party should control the activities of other parties in the Senate. I reject that proposition. My first feelings were something of regard for his position when he began to read his prepared statement trying to escape the responsibility for his action in the Senate. I felt sorry that he had been caught up in his own use of power to obstruct the work of the Senate. But as he ended, any regard that I had for his position evaporated as he attributed to the Government less than noble sentiments and said that it had set out to wreck the Constitutional Convention by including me as one of the delegates. I ask the Senate to examine what proof Senator Greenwood may have of that assertion. What proof has the noble lawyer to substantiate the charge he has made that the Government has deliberately wrecked the Constitutional Convention? This is the standard of the man. I wonder what the Press will report on the criticisms that he has made tonight. What proof does the honourable senator have to substantiate his charge against the Government in that regard?

Senator Webster - You will see it in Hansard tomorrow.

Senator STEELE HALL -The honourable senator has none and Senator Webster would do well to study his remarks tomorrow. The honourable senator has attacked the Press for interpreting his obstruction to the Constitutional Convention. The honourable senator said that only his Party should say, by agreement with others, who can be a member of the Constitutional Convention. He went on to criticise in some unknown and unsupported fashion the failure of the referenda to pass. I am not quite sure how he brought that matter into the debate. What part did the honourable senator play in the failure of the referenda to pass? There were three, I would agree with him, that should not have passed, but one referenda question it was completely proper should pass and in regard to which his Party brought no proper opposition at all.

That was the matter of putting the Senate and House of Representatives elections together again. The senator set out with his Party to defeat even that referendum proposal which could not be properly criticised. He therefore assisted in building into the future of Australian politics a great area of instability because he would not support the putting together of the 2 elections. Consequently he will increase the number of elections of which already, I understand, there have been five on the Federal scene since 1966. So this great democrat who bemoans the failure of the Constitutional Convention because his view as an Opposition member was not acceptable to the rest of the Senate and who has helped increase instability in Australian politics for years to come, is now trying to find an excuse. His excuse is that the Government has deliberately set out to include me as a delegate to wreck the Constitutional Convention.

I invite Australia to examine his argument. Senator Greenwood said in this Senate rather revealingly a few months ago, in reply to a question asking whom he represents in this Senate, that he represents himself. By the numbers he attracted when he started speaking tonight that is about correct, because before the bells were rung in the first instance when he was reading his prepared excuse there was one Minister in the chamber and, I think, one other member of what he terms the Opposition Party. I was here, of course, but I am not a member of the Opposition by the honourable senator's definition. That was the attention that the honourable senator could attract in this House until the discipline of the bells was used to bring in under the provisions of the Standing Orders other honourable senators who had not wanted to hear this lamest of all speeches tonight.

I advise Senator Webster, who is interjecting, not to take up bad cases. There are plenty of cases in this Parliament which he could argue very well indeed. I admire Senator Webster's ability to debate and to take part in the proceedings of this chamber but he would be much better advised not to assist Senator Greenwood who is rapidly passing from favour in the Liberal Party because of his well-known obstructionism. I am finding that there is a demand from Liberals in this country for a far more positive attitude in the national Parliament, and if they are not going to get it through Senator Greenwood they will demand to get it through someone else. There are hot breaths on his neck within his own Party as he well knows.

South Australians are rather amused and yet bewildered to find that their own members of the Senate on the Liberal side have voted in this chamber to deny a Liberal senator from South Australia a place on the Constitutional Convention at a meeting held in South Australia. South Australians are very keen to know why their own so-called Liberal senators have voted in this fashion. I suppose they could be led on by Senator Jessop who is first on the casualty list to go at the next election. I suggest that Senator Greenwood and whoever else might like to support him- perhaps Senator Webster- should forget all the excuses and trying to run away from the responsibility they hold in this place and attend a State Fair in South Australia- a Liberal promotionon Saturday 16 November. If Senator Greenwood would like to mix with South Australians he might find other views. But if he attends his Liberal Party State Fair on 16 November he will find a great list of activities. Among them he will find a pigeon release, a balloon bonanza, a dog obedience demonstration. I am sure that in looking at his own senators he sees a sort of dog obedience demonstration. And he will need to take note of it because I can tell you, Mr President, that there are people who are becoming alarmed about him. In any case he cannot look to the Liberal Movement for a dog obedience demonstration because he will find quite the opposite. He will find, going through the list of activities at the fair, a corroboree, a white elephant stall and other delicacies which I am sure would better occupy his time than being here in the Senate.

In conclusion, Senator Greenwood should understand that the Liberal Movement is quite a separate party from his Party. It rejects the Liberal Party of Australia as it is represented in

South Australia as being a completely reactionary group which has lost the confidence of the South Australian community, so much so that of the 8 House of Representatives seats for the metropolitan area of Adelaide the Liberal Party holds but two. My opponents in politics in the Australian Labor Party hold six. The reason for that is the type of representation that South Australia has. There are very few Liberals there but they give the type of representation which repels the general community and enables my political opponent to win three-quarters of all metropolitan Adelaide seats in the House of Representatives and, coincidentally, in the State House of Assembly. It is with pride that I continue to enunciate my difference from the Liberal Party of Australia and my personal difference from the authoritarian attitudes illustrated, announced and enunciated by Senator Greenwood in this House tonight. I may be yet but one representative of the Liberal Movement, but may I in a sense encourage Senator Greenwood 's remarks and attitudes tonight because he is certainly hastening the day when I am joined by others.

Suggest corrections