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Tuesday, 26 October 1971
Page: 2487

Mr UREN (Reid) - I second the motion. The Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) said very deliberately that there were members of the Press and members of this House who were trying to undermine the security of this nation. The honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) asked a question and the Minister for Defence, in his reply, implied that the honourable member for Lalor was undermining the security of this nation. It may be that the Minister for Defence was flustered when he was replying to the question and possibly he would wish to make the position clearer. The honourable member for Lalor has every right to draw to the attention of this House the requirements of the Standing Orders. Too frequently there has been use of innuendo and, if I may use the word, smear, in this House. Normally the Minister for Defence is not one who engages in this practice but there are other members opposite, from the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) down, who do not hesitate in making accusations by smear or by innuendo against members of the Opposition.

Surely in 1971, when consideration is being given to the admission of China to membership of the United Nations, members should be able to ask questions about and express praise of countries which have ideologies different from our own. Surely it is time we acted in a more adult way and spoke rationally and constructively instead of there being implications against honourable members. I know that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) probably will quote to you, Mr Acting Speaker, one of your previous rulings which will indicate that the ruling you have given today is not consistent with your past ruling. It is true that had Mr Speaker been in the Chair the ruling he may have given may have been consistent, but your ruling today is inconsistent with rulings that you have given in the past. 1 ask honourable members to give deep consideration to the details that have been mentioned by the honourable member for Lalor. When an honourable member rises in this place to ask a question it should not be doubted that he is speaking only for himself, for his constituents and for this nation which he represents here. Honourable members should be free to ask questions. They should have the basic right to be able to speak freely without being subjected to intimidation. For for too long there has been implied intimidation in this House. I am sick to death of it. I had to take action outside this House not only on my own behalf but on behalf of all honourable members and I hope that honourable members opposite will not regard this motion of dissent as a party issue but as a matter affecting their rights in this House because if the situation changes and we are on the Government side and members opposite are in Opposition 1 will defend their right to stand and speak in this chamber without there being any inferences concerning their personal character. Whether the Minister for Defence intended it, there was an implication against the honourable member for Lalor which I believe should be withdrawn.

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