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Tuesday, 9 March 1971
Page: 690

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) - I support the motion which has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), and which I seconded. 1 believe that, given the grave circumstances in which the House has met this afternoon - circumstances so grave that they are probably unparalleled in the constitutional history of the Commonwealth of Australia - taken in conjunction with the direct imputation against the character and integrity of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), nothing less than what has been proposed by the Leader of the Opposition should be fulfilled by this House, in fairness to the Prime Minister who has had his integrity impugned, in fairness to the journalist who interjected, but more especially in fairness to the Australian public who at this point will be experiencing some difficulty in trying to sort out fact from misrepresentation. There is another reason why this must be done. The Prime Minister's explanation of events when he had that discussion with Mr Ramsey, which evoked Mr Ramsey's interjection, is at variance with the statement of Mr Ramsey in the national daily newspaper, the 'Australian', where he fully reported a meeting with the Prime Minister and, with the exception of a very moderate, restrained statement related to a very narrow area of the total article Mr Ramsey had in mind, reported no comment by the Prime Minister at all about the essential substance of the story which was a very bitter denunciation-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will be out of order-

Mr HAYDEN - This point is most important.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I would like the honourable member to come to this point.

Mr HAYDEN - The point is, at law-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! This is a matter regarding a person's conduct within the chamber of the House of Representatives.

Mr HAYDEN - Yes. On this basis the journalist ought to be before the House. The point 1 want to make is that in British law there is a tradition built up over many years, that where a man has an allegation made against him of such a nature that he ought to deny it and fails to take the appropriate action to deny it then there is case law - law which has been established recently in the High Court of Australia in the Woon case.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! This is a parliament and the rules of procedure of the House will apply.

Mr HAYDEN - I am suggesting that the Prime Minister has realised this and has altered his report of what transpired between him and Mr Ramsey.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will not make charges of that kind against any other honourable member.

Mr HAYDEN - I will amend that. In fairness, Mr Speaker, you are quite correct. As things stand at the moment this is the appearance that one gains, and in fairness to this House-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! 1 ask the honourable member to resume his seat. I have asked the Leader of the Opposition to set the example by keeping to the motion that is before the House.

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