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, 8 December 1971
Page: 4361

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) (12:15 PM) - I want to make one or two very short observations. I start by taking up the last comments of the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) about this Parliament having been offended. I would seek to remind my honourable friend and the person who moved this motion that this is the national Parliament; it is not a borough council. I have had 16 years here. The House knows me and it knows my weaknesses, perhaps better than I know them myself. But never in 16 years have I asked any person to withdraw anything said about me. When dealing with a national parliament we are not dealing with some curio; we are dealing with an institution that has a character and a quality about it. I think that the beginning - -fons et origo, if my distinguished friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) will forgive this lapse into Latin-

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - lt is an ascent.

Mr KILLEN - I am delighted to hear it. When this matter was referred to the Committee of Privileges I thought it was a disgraceful reference.. I have said elsewhere - I hope that those who have heard it said elsewhere will forgive me if I say it again - that if any pf us who come in here have an overweening anxiety about our own feelings it is high time we got out. This remark goes also for the Parliament. I draw parliamentary privilege in a very narrow aspect. I have sat on Privileges rom.mittees. I sat on the Privileges Committee when the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) was grievously offended and the Committee brought in its finding. But every time a person writes about the Parliament, about the Leader of the Opposition, about the Minister for National Development, about the Minister for Defence or about such unsuspecting souls as myself - the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) has just collapsed with excitement - is it seriously suggested that we should say: 'Look, I feel upset; 1 feel as though my privilege has been invaded'?

The western democratic parliamentary institution has not been built on such shallow grounds and it will not survive on such shallow grounds. I know my friends over there. Many of us have confided in each other over the years. We disagree, but so be it; it adds nothing to the gaiety of our existence. I simply voice the expression, and I hope that honourable members will respect me for it, that we should not draw too narrowly. Because a person outside complains about the Parliament we should not get up and complain about him. This is the greatest forum in the nation, bar none. I do not know of any other. If honourable members can come in here and command respect their message can go into every home throughout the country. What finer forum do they seek to com mand than that? Because some person may seek to place his distemper upon you, because he may seek to impeach you, does one seek to put him upon the cross? I think this is wrong. That is the general principle. 1 have been insulted but I hope that I have not displayed my reaction too vividly. When people have said something about me 1 have taken the view that they will. keep. I have written it inside my little black book' - 'Gough upset me, 18th March 1971; right honourable member for Lowe upset mc same day'. I hope the House will understand the way I fed about the matter.

I am really upset about the matter when I look at the Committee's report. The Committee cannot operate unless it has a quorum, lt had a quorum and it took a vote. It found Mr Reid not guilty. I repeat the words 'not guilty'. Forgive me for emphasising that. I have a very distinguished friend, Mr Dan Casey of counsel, a member of the Queensland Bar. He is probably one of the few counsel in the English speaking world who has been involved in hundreds of murder trials. On one occasion, when cross-examining a character, he said: 'That is not the evidence you gave below'. The inspector of police replied: 'No, but there is only one word different, Mr Casey'. Mr Casey said: Yes, but there is only one word of difference between guilty and not guilty'. I ask honourable members to look at this report. The Committee, meeting as a properly constituted quorum, found Mr Reid not guilty.

Mr Cope - On what evidence?

Mr KILLEN - There it is, my friend. One is not at liberty to take the view that some members of the Committee were present and some were not. Those members who were present heard the evidence. The responsibility fell upon them. The moment that Committee gave its decision, that was the end of the matter. To put it in Latin - I do not know much Latin - it was functus officio; that was the end of it. I looked at the report and found that the matter was recommitted. I was reminded of a jury which met in Cloncurry, which is in the heart of the electorate represented by my distinguished friend from Kennedy (Mr Katter). A man was charged with cattle stealing. Out there that is not an offence really: it is a sort of provincial sport. The jury went out. It came back and the judge's associate asked: 'Gentlemen of the jury, have you reached your verdict?* Yes', the foreman replied. 'Do you find the accused guilty or nol guilty of the charge of cattle stealing*, the associate asked. The foreman of the jury said: 'Not guilty, provided he hands the cattle back*. The judge hit the roof and said: 'You cannot possibly bring in a verdict like that. Go out'. The jury went out, much to their bewilderment, and after having a cigarette came back. The same question was asked: ls the accused guilty or nor guilty of the charge of stealing cattle?' The Foreman said; 'Not Guilty and he need not hand the cattle back'. Those who have served on the Privileges Committee have had a difficult time. They, have been exposed to a variety of pressures.

Dr Klugman - Pressures?

Mr KILLEN - You can call them pressures one way or the other. 1 hold no brief for Sir Frank Packer - I was going to call him Sir Spank Fracker. I try to speak with a measure of frankness or candor, to enter into a safer form of consonantal pronunciation. I think it is a' great pity if the Parliament, the national Parliament, at 12.25 a.m. on 9th December, as we are gathering for the Christmas rush, is occupying itself with this tizzy little affair. I want to say quite bluntly that I do not know from where the impeachment will come, one side or the other, but I am firmly committed against voting for any proposition that seeks to condemn a person for having made any insult, any slight upon this Parliament. I come back to where I began. This is the Parliament, the national Parliament of Australia. It is not the Borough Council of Cumberland.

Suggest corrections