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Tuesday, 9 March 1971
Page: 689

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Leader of the Opposition) - Mr Speaker, I wish to move the suspension of Standing Orders for another purpose. I move:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Serjeant-at-Arms from taking into custody Mr Alan Ramsey who misconducted himself in the Press Gallery and as would prevent my moving that the House fix its sitting tomorrow as the time for Mr Ramsey to be brought to the Bar to be dealt with by the House.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I might say before this motion is put that 1 had already taken some disciplinary action in regard to Mr Ramsey. I have asked for his removal from the Press Gallery and for the withdrawal of his pass.

Mr WHITLAM - I move then-

Mr SPEAKER - I am just saying that. Mr Uren - He could be right, you know.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! We are not debating the matter. This Ls a matter concerning the observance of propriety in the Press Gallery.

Mr WHITLAM - I appreciate that under the Standing Orders, Mr Speaker, you have reported to the House the action taken by the Serjeant-at-Arms. 1 now wish to move the suspension of Standing Orders so that I may move that Mr Ramsey be brought to the Bar of the House at its sitting tomorrow to be dealt with by the House.

Mr Hayden - I. second the motion.

Mr WHITLAM - While the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) was giving the House an account of his conversation with Mr Alan Ramsey of the 'Australian' newspaper last Wednesday afternoon Mr Ramsey was heard and seen > by many honourable members to cry out: 'You're a liar'.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No, 'You liar'. He was speaking to the Prime Minister.

Mr WHITLAM - Then, 'You liar'. If any honourable member had used such words, whether justified or not, Mr Speaker, you would have dealt with him immediately. Any strangers, including strangers in the Press Gallery, must not misconduct themselves. Mr Ramsey clearly misconducted himself in using those words, whether they were justified or not. It is not satisfactory, I would submit, that such an allegation should be made and should not be proved or disproved. The only way this matter can be determined now under the Standing Orders is for Mr Ramsey to be brought to the Bar of. the House. He will then have the opportunity, to explain his action and, if he can, to justify it. It is not satisfactory, that such an allegation should be made in the precincts of this chamber and nothing be done about it. Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, an early opportunity should be taken, an opportunity under the Standing Orders. Mr Ramsey would not be condemned unheard. He would be heard.

Mr Calwell - He Would, as far as I am concerned.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I would remind honourable gentlemen that this is a very serious matter that is being debated. I suggest that it should not be treated lightly.

Mr WHITLAM - Sir, Iam certain that, in view of some past incidents when people have been brought to the Bar of the House, the great majority of honourable members on this occasion would be scrupulous to see that justice was done. And the proper, the prompt, way to do so is to have Mr Ramsey brought to the Bar tomorrow and be heard.

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