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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4467


Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) - Mr Deputy Speaker,1 rise to second the motion for the suspension ot Standing Orders and 1 shall speak to that motion now. I do not intend to canvass the question of whether the ban should be raised or retained. I think I can put my case rather well as more than 50 per cent of all merino studs in the nation are located in the Riverina and 1 want specifically to bring to the attention of the House the dilemma which this Parliament should resolve by agreeing to the suspension of Standing Orders and by the debate which would then ensue. Tn the Riverina there are many great stud breeders. They face the dilemma of this Parliament, and the dilemma can be resolved only by the adoption of this motion to suspend Standing Orders to give Parliament the opportunity to debate this matter thoroughly, adequately and in depth. 1 draw attention to one facet of this problem, apart from my own involvement in representing half of all of the merino studs in Australia and namely, to the importance of this motion of the suspension of Standing Orders in relation to the position of stud breeders. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) many months ago said in this Parliament that it is important for the House of Representatives to come to a resolution on this matter. He said this against a background that the Australian Senate - the other half of this sovereign Parliament of the nation - had voted against the lifting of the ban on the export of merino rams. The Leader of the Opposition on that occasion said that it was the perogative of the House of Representatives to debate this matter and to come to a resolution. He said that whatever was the resolution by a majority of the members of this House, of course he would be bound by it as would all other honourable members. I hope that that is clearly understood by all honourable members. What the Leader of the Opposition was saying and what I reiterate and what all members of the Opposition reiterate tonight is that the decision to rescind this ban which was imposed a generation ago was made administratively by the Government. It was rejected by one half of the sovereign Parliament of the nation. This half of the Parliament has nol yet had an opportunity to debate it or to vote upon it. This is the essential issue as has been pointed out by the distinguished and honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Allan Fraser) who, like myself, has a deep and vested interest in the welfare of studs and the people who arc associated with them.

Mr Deputy Speaker,I did not hear the interjection of the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) but I suggest that if he wants to speak you should give him the opportunity to do so because I should like to hear him on the subject. However I do not want to be misled by interjections at this stage. I simply say very quietly and positively that the members of the Australian Labor Party respect the sovereign right of the Parliament to determine these issues. We maintain that we have not yet been given the opportunity to debate in depth in the House of Representatives the issue of the lifting of the ban on the export of merino rams. What we have said is that we would demand and ask for this right on behalf of all the people we represent. If the matter were resolved by a majority vote of the House of Representatives - gathered, I would hope, as a democratic body, free of petty Party allegiances on such an important matter - to lift the ban, it would be incumbent on all of us to see to it that \hz ban was lifted. But of course if it were not the desire of this House - the sovereign House; the House of initiative in the Federal Parliament - to do this, obviously we would all be duty bound to suspend the judgment and to leave things as they are.


Mr Whittorn - You want your breeders to keep their rams.


Mr GRASSBY - I accept the interjection from my honourable friend on the other sids who asks: What do I want my breeders to do. He has interjected quite properly; I do not object, at all. I should like to address myself to you, Mr Deputy Speaker, but 1 should also like to tell my honourable friend that my breeders have 2 voices on this issue. The very fine family of Killen has said that in no circumstances should this ban be lifted. On other occasions the management of the Uardry stud, which is one of the most distinguished studs in the nation and a very fine stud, said this ban should be lifted.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Riverina accepted the interjection with great glee because by replying to it he could transgress the Standing Orders. As he heard the interjection and perhaps now has answered it sufficiently, 1 remind him again of the Standing Orders. I assume that the honourable member hopes that this House will agree to the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders, in which case I would regret very much to find that by allowing him to transgress the standing order on the motion to suspend Standing Orders I had allowed the situation to develop where the honourable member had nothing left to say when the House agreed to the motion.


Mr GRASSBY - Mr Deputy Speaker,your charity is notorious, and I want to express my appreciation. You are quite right. I have finished my reply to the interjection. I did not want to feel that a member on the Government side had been left without an answer. But enough of that, I agree with you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Having said that, let me return to the question of the importance of this motion to suspend the Standing Orders. If we, as the House of Representatives, are not going to agree to debate this question concerning the export of merino rams in depth, thoroughly and properly, obviously no decision can be made. Let us forget all the parties, let us forget all the party politics and let us forget all the normal confrontations in this Parliament. Let us just deal, for example, with the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I do not mind what the honourable member for Riverina forgets as long as he remembers the Standing Orders.


Mr GRASSBY - If I forget them, I understand that the honourable member for Mallee will remind me of them. All I wanted to say was this: We have a division of opinion in the nation on this question concerning the export of merino rams. We have a division of opinion in the Parliament. That division of opinion has already been enshrined in the resolution of the Senate - one-half of the sovereign Parliament of the nation of Australia. In our House we have not yet been able to reach a substantive decision. Of course, I realise that if honourable members opposite do not want to do anything about it. if they do not want to reach a substantive decision, if they want to hide for reasons best known to themselves, they will not vote for this motion. But the motion before the Parliament is to suspend Standing Orders to enable all of us in this Parliament - whether we happento be temporarily the Minister for Primary Industry or temporarily the member for Hume or the member for Riverina, it does not really matter--


Mr Giles - The honourable member for Riverina may be temporary.


Mr GRASSBY - Let us all recognise our fallibility and exposure to what might happen in the new year. I think that at this stage it is much more important that honourable members opposite should remember this than we on this side of the chamber. All I want to say in summation is that here we are asking for one-half of the sovereign Parliament - the House of Representatives - to make a decision on this question concerning the export of merino rams. We have not yet been permitted to do so. We have not yet been permitted to debate the question. We have not yet been permitted to vote on it. This is what my distinguished friend the honourable mem ber for Eden-Monaro says. He has not said that he is for or against the export of merino rams. He did not say that in his speech and I have not said that.


Mr Giles - You represent merino studs. Which way would you vote?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order!


Mr GRASSBY - I understand your tolerance, Mr Deputy Speaker, on the eve of the Christmas break, but it is very nice to hear my friend the honourable member for Angas ask which way I would vote. May I say to the honourable member for Angas through you, Mr Deputy Speaker, that if he finds his courage for once on behalf of the merino studs, as he did not find it on behalf of the wine grape growers, he can join us and I will tell him--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order!


Mr GRASSBY -I understand that you. Mr Deputy Speaker, are protecting him and he needs protection.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! I suggest that interjections from my right should cease. It does not make it any easier for the Chair in trying to ask the honourable member for Riverina to stay within the Standing Orders to have interjections coming from the right hand side of the Chair, particularly when the interjections are enabling the honourable member for Riverina to come round on the outside of the Standing Orders. I suggest that the honourable member for Riverina might stay within the Standing Orders, and so might honourable members on my right.


Mr GRASSBY - Mr Deputy Speaker,on the eve of Christmas your erudition is commendable, andI bow to it. As a matter of fact, I accept the opportunity to return to the point at issue. MayI summate. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro has moved that we should suspend Standing Orders to enable the House of Representatives - at least one-half of the sovereign Parliament of Australia - to come to a resolution on a very important matter. This is the purpose in moving for the suspension of the Standing Orders. What the honourable member for Eden-Monaro has said, and what I say as the member for Riverina representing more than one-half of the merino studs of Australia, some of whom are in a desperate plight as a result of the

Government's policy - is: Let us have this opportunity for debate and for a vote to be taken, because the Government has an undertaking from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that if all members of the Parliament, democratically assembled without regard to party, favour or pressure, come to a decision on this question concerning the export of merino rams, then a i of us on all sides of the Parliament will bc duty bound to see that the flow of merino exports is continued, if that is desired, or that it is halted, if that is desired. What more democratic procedure could possibly be put forward?

I am sure that when the honourable member lor Eden-Monaro rose in his place he looked back over a quarter of a century of democratic practice, or lack of it, in this Parliament. Surely what he was saying tonight echoed the words of the distinguished Leader of the Opposition, when he said: 'Whatever the Parliament determines we will try to fulfil'. What better could he say? What better earnestness of all our sincerity in this matter could be put forward? This is the earnestness and sincerity behind the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. I might say that if the Standing Orders arc suspended, as has been proposed, then what we will do-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -I hope that the honourable member for Riverina is not going to tell us what he will say if the Standing Orders are suspended.


Mr GRASSBY - I am not, because I have confidence that perhaps there could be a change of heart and that in fact there will be an opportunity for me really to speak at length on this subject.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -I remind the honourable member for Riverina that there is another standing order which I have not mentioned yet but which he has also transgressed.


Mr GRASSBY - Mr Deputy Speaker,1 appreciate your impartiality. I know that if you were not in the Chair you would vote for a democratic expression of opinion. But may I say this in summation? Let us vote for the motion to suspend Standing Orders. Let us have a debate on this question concerning the export of merino rams. Whichever way the vote goes I will pledge myself to implement the democratic decision of the House of Representatives on this controversial matter.


Mr Fox - Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to withdraw my motion that the debate be adjourned.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The motion before the Chair at the moment is for the suspension of the Standing Orders. To that degree, at this given moment I cannot accept the proposal put by the honourable member for Henty. The honourable member for Henty cannot ask for leave to withdraw his motion until the House has dealt with the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.







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