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Tuesday, 10 November 1953

Mr SPEAKER - Order !

Mr BRYSON - I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but when childish interjections are thrown across the chamber by the honorable member for Henty I cannot find a word better than " silly " to express my opinion of them. The payment of £5 4s. to cover the medical expenses of two persons for a year will meet only approximately two-thirds of the cost of medical attention. The wonderful scheme that has been concocted by the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) and the British Medical Association will take more money out of the pockets of the workers than any previous health scheme. It is virtually of no benefit to the people at all. In addition, the people will still pay social services contributions. When that impost was introduced, portion of it was to be directed towards the payment of medical expenses. If the Minister for Health continues to put these schemes into operation upon the authority of the Government but not upon the authority of the Parliament, the people of Australia will he paying more and more as time goes on. Instead of these so-called free medical services being beneficial to the people, they will become more costly. I turn my attention now to another matter that has been virtually ignored. That is the freezing of the basic wage. I know that that was a decision of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and not of the Government, but if wages are to be pegged-

Mr Freeth - I direct attention to the state of the House. It is a shocking thing that practically no Labour members are in the chamber to hear the debate.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! A quorum was called twice just before I came into the chamber, and I do not propose to call another quorum before the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) finishes his speech.

Mr Daly - I rise to order. I ask for a withdrawal of the statement that there are no Labour men in the House. Without including myself, there are a considerable number present.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I am not going to comply with the honorable member's wish. It is not for me to decide upon the description that should he applied to honorable members. I see some honorable gentlemen on my left who would be horrified if the description referred to were applied to them.

Mr Haylen - I ask for a ruling, Mr. Speaker. Is it not the duty of the Government Whip to maintain a quorum?

Mr SPEAKER - No. It is the duty of every honorable member elected to this House to attend to his parliamentary duties. It is obvious that the majority of them are not doing so to-night. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) will continue.

Mr BRYSON - I know that the interruptions by honorable members on the Government side have been organized for a definite reason. I can understand the vacant minds of those who rise to direct attention to the state of the House at regular intervals because I have had experience of the tactics of those honorable members previously.

Mr Turnbull - I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to refer to your remark that a number of honorable members were not performing their parliamentary duties. Does not that statement condemn every honorable member, including those who are in the chamber as well as those who are absent?

Mr SPEAKER - Not in my view.

Mr BRYSON - Before this little interlude occurred, I was referring to the decision of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to freeze wages and to the absence of any proposals by the Government to take action in that matter. Since wages were frozen by the court, the cost of living has increased in every State according to the C series index. Those increases vary between 2s. and 10s. a week. As a result, the workers are sufFering. If they are to be called upon to make sacrifices, the Government has a duty to do something about it. Any sacrifices that are to be made should be shared.

Mr Freeth - I rise to order. I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to Standing Order 43, which states -

If any Member shall take notice, that a Quorum of Members is not present, the Speaker shall count the House; and if a Quorum be not present within two minutes, lie shall adjourn the House till the next sitting day.

With all respect, I suggest that you have no discretion in this matter. The counting of the House is mandatory if an honorable member draws attention to the fact that a quorum is not present.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I have every respect for the opinion of the honorable member, but I shall exercise my discretion. I shall not call a quorum until the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) has finished his speech.

Mr BRYSON - Honorable members on the Opposition side are getting accustomed to the tactics of the Government. I refer to the arrogance thathas been displayed by honorable members on theGovernment side on various occasions and to the totalitarian attitude that they have adopted. If they are to be allowed to continue in that fashion, we shall have a totalitarian State in Australia similar to that which exists in Russia and in parts ofGermany. Some honorable members on the Government side appear to have taken a few hints from Hitler and Stalin. This Government has a definite duty.It promised the people of Australia-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Leslee) adjourned.

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