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Wednesday, 16 May 1973
Page: 2175

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Before the motion can be put forthwith we must have a seconder.

Mr Cooke - I second the motion, Mr Speaker.

Mr WENTWORTH - I move:

That this House censure the Prime Minister for his failure to dissociate himself publicly from the dishonest and dishonourable conduct of his Ministers in the Senate.

It is not usual in this House to refer to proceedings in another place and I would not do so were it not that the Ministers of the Government

Mr SPEAKER - I am sorry to interrupt the honourable member for Mackellar. There is quite a lot of confusion about this matter. The motion for the suspension of Standing Orders must be passed before the honourable member can propose his motion for discussion.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Are you gagging him?

Mr SPEAKER - No, he is not being gagged. This procedure is in conformity with the Standing Orders. I am referring to the original question for the suspension of Standing Orders. The question is that Standing Orders be suspended. All those of that opinion say aye, to the contrary, no. I think the noes have it.

Mr WENTWORTH - The Prime Minister accepted it; this is a motion against the personal honesty of the Prime Minister.

Mr SPEAKER - In this instance, I have to admit that the honourable member for Mackellar is right in seeking to speak to his motion. I call the honourable member for Mackellar.

Mr WENTWORTH - It is not usual in this place to speak of proceedings in the Senate but what I am really talking about is the behaviour of Ministers in the Senate and the failure of the Prime Minister to dissociate himself from the dishonourable and dishonest things which were done for the Government in the Senate.

Mr Scholes - Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Is the honourable member for Mackellar speaking to the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders or is he speaking to the substance of the motion? I draw attention to the point of time involved if he is speaking to the second point.

Mr SPEAKER - He is speaking to the motion at present.

Mr WENTWORTH - Thank you, Mr Speaker; I am speaking to the motion. I notice that the clock has not yet been moved back.

Mr SPEAKER - The honourable member for Mackellar is speaking to the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.

Mr WENTWORTH - In that case, I will proceed. The reason that this motion has been moved in this unusual way is that something quite appalling occurred in the Senate and the Ministers of this Government associated themselves with it. At page 1544 of the Senate Hansard of 10th May, Thursday last, the Minister for Repatriation, Senator Bishop, one of the Prime Minister's Ministers, is reported as having said: . . every Labor member and every Minister supported what Senator O'Byrne had done. We had discussed it.

I have just read from the Senate Hansard. Senator 01Byrne is the Government Whip in the Senate. There is ministerial responsibility for what occurred, and ministerial responsibility in the Senate cannot be dissociated from ministerial responsibility in this House. The dishonourable and dishonest thing which was done in the Senate rubs off onto the Prime Minister, because when he was given an opportunity in this House to dissociate himself from it he refused to take that opportunity. When he was asked about it in another place, at a Press briefing, again he refused to dissociate himself from the dishonest and discreditable thing that was done in the Senate.

In order to show the necessity for what this motion for the suspension of Standing Orders involves I must say what happened in the Senate. What happened there is recorded in Hansard. An amendment was moved to a motion which would have involved the exposure of the goings-on of the AttorneyGeneral, Senator Murphy, and pairs were granted when the vote on the amendment was taken. The pairs are recorded in the Senate Hansard as follows: Senator Fitzgerald with Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, Senator Keeffe with Senator Bonner, and Senator Cant with Senator Hannan. Immediately afterwards, without further debate, the substantive motion was put and pairs were broken. Senators Fitzgerald, Keeffe and Cant voted. I have looked into the circumstances in which pairs were granted. Senator Fitzgerald, as we all know, is in a poor state of health and because of that he has a permanent pair. His permanent pair is Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield who is absent in the United States of America. She is absent on the authority of the Government, as was stated yesterday in the Senate by the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Willesee. Senator Willesee said: . . Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield who is overseas and who went overseas with our authority; . . .

That is a quotation from the Hansard report.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman is now debating what happened in the Senate and that is not permitted. I ask the honourable gentleman to get back to the reason why Standing Orders should be suspended.

Mr WENTWORTH - Yes. I am trying to show the enormity of what occurred in that pairs were broken against the pledged word of the Government. The Government behaved dishonestly and discreditably and every Minister and supporter of the Government associated himself with that dishonest performance. We cannot have a government which will gain the respect of Australia if the leader of it condones lies, cheating and discreditable conduct by his Ministers. It stands on the record that his Ministers in the Senate - Ministers of this Government - acted dishonourably and discreditably. The whole credibility of the Government is at stake. Is the Prime Minister prepared to condone and support this twisting, evasion, fiddling and lying in the Senate?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I remind the honourable gentleman that we are dealing not with the substantive motion but with the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. Those epithets are completely out of order.

Mr WENTWORTH - I am trying to show why Standing Orders should be suspended. Something of enormity has happened in the Senate and it reflects on the credit of the Prime Minister. It is for this reason that I moved the motion, and in order to show why the motion is urgent I must let the reason be known. I am not now talking about the substance of the motion seeking to censure the Prime Minister. The motion is urgent because his Ministers have done something which is utterly discreditable. If I am not allowed to discuss the details of it, I think that is a travesty of the procedures of this House. I must be allowed to show the reason why my motion is urgent. Pairs were given between Senators Fitzgerald and Dame Nancy Buttfield, Cant and Hannan and Keeffe and Bonner-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable gentleman's time has expired. Is the motion seconded?

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