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Thursday, 1 March 1973
Page: 141

Mr GILES (Angas) - I also oppose the motion moved by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly). In so doing might I briefly also offer my congratulations to that venerable fatherly figure who is sitting at the table at the moment and hope that he succeeds in displaying virility, if possible, and energy, if even more possible, in his attitude to the leadership of this House. I doubt whether I can use many more adjectives, Mr Speaker, without incurring your wrath. I take this chance to point out that we have heard so far today not only from the Leader of the House but from the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) who, if I might make a synopsis of his speech, said that he was against the wastage of time in the House. We will look forward, if a division occurs, to seeing him across with us. That would be the only reason for which 1 would personally welcome him on this side.

We have heard also from the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) who, in one of his more pedantic efforts, really hinges his arguments on 2 concepts. The first is the distance from the temporary suite, if that is the right word, of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to this chamber. In developing his argument he suggested, amongst other things, that the distance from the new Prime Ministerial suite - temporary - for the use of - to this chamber is in excess of 100 yards. I would have thought that 100 yards would have put him fair and square in the nearest parkland. But this is a matter of judgment and I do not have much faith in the judgment of the honourable member for Corio.

The second basis on which he hinges his argument is the problem of a Prime Minister who wishes, and is so keen, he said, to attend a division.

Mr SCHOLES (CORIO, VICTORIA) - I did not mention the Prime Minister.

Mr GILES - I apologise. The Leader of the House mentioned the Prime Minister's undeniable right to attend a division in this House if he sees fit. The key surely to this is the fact that, as the Leader of the House suggests, the Prime Minister is keen to attend divisions - I think that we can safely leave out quorums from this line of reasoning. I think it is quite fair to say, if one looks at the length of the legs of some honourable members in this chamber, that if anyone has a tremendous advantage in this respect and in fact does not seem at all top heavy that person is the Prime Minister. If those, his lengthy encumbrances, cannot get him the short distance between the Prime Minister's suite and this chamber if he is keen to attend a division, there is something wrong with my logic.

Of course the whole reason for the moving of this motion is that the Government is scared stiff of the factionalism in its ranks. You do not need to be a Whip to have discerned this in the past. There is a faction of members in the Australian Labor Party who are not ke.en about attending the House when the bells are rung and when this Government was in opposition it had trouble with this faction. It is going to have trouble with this faction again. I do not think an extra minute for the ringing of the bells will saVe this Government. I think those honourable members will need about an extra quarter of an hour to get a lot less distance from the Prime Minister's ministerial suite to this House. That is the. issue and that is why the Government is today trying to delude us that there is logic in this motion, lt is not game enough to face the fact that it does not have a lot going for it in regard to holding the House over the next year or two.

A lot more could be said today on this matter including the fact that anyone who has sat in this House consistently over the last 3 years could not have been impressed with the tongue in cheek attitude, adopted by the then opposition over that period. We heard sanctimonious speeches made almost nauseatingly with a hand over the heart and tongue in cheek which suggested that we did not give the then opposition a fair go. But the time of testing is at hand and I have not the slightest doubt after today's performance that in a serious debate the Government would not allow an opportunity for previous Ministers for Defence, previous Prime Ministers or interested back benchers to take part in it. The Government has scuttled on to the defensive. This motion is purely another move in the same direction. I do not think it takes a great deal to convince anybody listening to this debate that the grounds on which this motion has been brought forward today are pretty shallow and pretty cheap. To conclude my remarks in far more good humour than perhaps I feel, .1 say to that venerable, ancient and pleasant figure, that veritable father of Dad's Army' that I deeply regret the fact that he has had to bring forward such a silly little motion in this his opening effort, if 1 may describe it that way, in this new Parliament.

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