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Thursday, 20 September 1973
Page: 1327

Mr BARNARD (Bass Minister for Defence) - Mr Speaker, I rise to oppose the motion which expresses dissent from your ruling. This is indeed a trivial matter because you acted quite properly in asking that the document from which I quoted be tabled. I moved to table that document. Indeed, not only did I move to table the document but I went further than that; I asked that the document be incorporated in Hansard. The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) this morning has apparently had his greatest moment in this House, because quite frankly I have never heard him until this morning.

Mr Sinclair - Nonsense.

Mr BARNARD - He reflected on my integrity yesterday.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The previous speakers were heard in comparative silence. The motion before the chair does not deny me the right to take the action needed if anyone infringes further on the Standing Orders by making persistent interjections.

Mr BARNARD - Mr Speaker, they were heard in complete silence. I hope that the honourable member for Sturt can take it as he endeavoured to give it. The honourable member for Sturt yesterday reflected on my integrity and I pointed it out to him. Indeed, when he said he was not able to obtain a copy of the document which has been incorporated in Hansard I immediately made a copy of it available to him. I sent to my office and got it for him. I resent the implication in his statement this morning. I said a few moments ago that he does not speak very often in this House. I hope that he does not repeat the performance that he gave to the Parliament on this occasion, because not only did he reflect on my integrity yesterday but also he went on to compound the felony this morning and it does not do the honourable member for Sturt any credit at all. I think that those members in this House who have some respect for the procedures and the propriety of this House would resent the implications in the honourable member's statement this morning. He compounded the felony by suggesting that I placed the document on the table out of the reach of the Clerk's hand. What sort of an implication is that? It does not do the honourable member any credit. Is he implying that I intended that the Clerk should not get that document? Does anyone sincerely believe that? Let him stand up and say it.

Mr Sinclair - Yes, I do.

Mr BARNARD - That does not surprise me because you are one of the exceptions. You would support the honourable member for Sturt in these implications and it does not surprise me that you do it. What kind of an insinuation is it that I put the document on the table out of the reach of the Clerk's hands? Quite frankly I have never before heard any member of this House make such an implication. Generally when a document is tabled in this Parliament, if someone from the Opposition is at the table it is tabled in that position and everybody in this House knows that that is the normal procedure. The assertion made by the honourable member for Sturt does not do him any credit at all.

Let me come back to the point I made initially, Mr Speaker, that you were quite correct in your ruling. I have quoted figures in this House which related to the size of the

Australian Army. I went back over a number of years and the part of the document that was tabled was the part from which I was quoting. No other part of the document was referred to by me. That part was not only tabled but also was incorporated in Hansard. I referred earlier to the triviality of this matter relating to the figures I quoted yesterday. I will come back to that in a few moments. But I can see that one can satisfy the honourable member for Sturt in one way only, that is, by placing oneself in a position where one will not be maligned in this House by honourable members of his type. I therefore agree that in order to achieve this all the figures will have to be tabled. I was referring to figures relating to the size of the Australian Army. There is no doubt about that and the triviality of the motion is shown by the fact that all these figures have already been published in documents which have been made available to every honourable member in this Parliament. They are not only the figures relating to the size and shape of the Army but also the figures to which I shall refer in a few moments.

If the honourable member for Sturt disbelieves me and thinks that there was some sinister move in what I did yesterday - he certainly implied that today and I resent the reflection on my integrity - I hope that he will stand up and say in which way my integrity can be impugned in this Parliament. He will have probably one supporter only. For the honourable member's benefit let me turn to the other part of the document I referred to when answering the question. Honourable members will be interested in this. As a matter of fact, what I wanted to do was save honourable members on the other side embarrassment. They referred to the question of the gross national product in terms of defence spending in this country. The document, according to the heading, relates to defence expenditure as a percentage of gross national product. That appears on the top part of the document. The honourable member for Sturt said a few moments ago that I made available only one-third of it. He was wrong, of course. I made available exactly half of it. But I will not quibble over what part of the whole document was occupied by the portion tabled. The top part of the paper refers to the percentage of gross national product in terms of defence spending from 1960 until 1974 in the same way that the only part I quoted in answer to the question relating to the strength of the defence forces related to 1959-60 to 1972- 73. What are the figures that the honourable member is so concerned about? They show that in the financial year 1959-60 defence expenditure in this country was $387. That represented 2.8 per cent of the gross national product. In 1960-61 it was $3 96m and represented 2.7 per cent of the gross national product. And so it goes on down to 1973- 74. Yesterday at question time the Opposition was critical of the Government's proposed defence expenditure as a proportion of gross national product. I said that it was 2.9 per cent.

Mr Lynch - I rise to order. I ask the Minister for the first time now to table the total document?

Mr Les Johnson (HUGHES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It is starting to hurt.

Mr Lynch - It is not starting to hurt. I ask whether the Minister will now table the total document.

Mr BARNARD - I am replying and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) will have his opportunity to support the motion.

Mr Lynch - I again rise to order. The point was well made yesterday, and I make it again now, that the Minister is quoting from another document which he claims is the same copy of the document which was mentioned yesterday. Mr Speaker, you will recall that he has quoted figures which he has indicated to this House appear on the top part of the document, half of which was tabled yesterday. If the Minister is now quoting from the same document, from the 2 halves of the earlier document or whatever it is, and if there was absolute confusion which has now been compounded, the Minister must accept total responsibility for that confusion. I ask again: Is the Minister now prepared to table that document? The forms of the House require that the document be so tabled. One cannot understand the Minister's continued reticence and reluctance in regard to the tabling of documents in this House. I ask that the document be tabled.

Mr BARNARD - Of course I intend to table the document. Why else did I produce the whole document?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! In accordance with Standing Orders the Minister must table the document immediately unless he is classing it as classified information.

Mr BARNARD - I table the document now.

Mr Lynch - Thank you.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The document is not the property of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and should be given to the Clerk.

Mr BARNARD - I am pleased that honourable members opposite now have the document. It relates to the gross national product. Honourable members have heard me quote some of the figures. The document shows just how much of the gross national product this Government has spent on defence. This is not important, but the honourable member for Sturt now has the whole of the document. I reiterate that I did not quote from any part of the top portion of that document yesterday. I made no reference to the figures relating to the gross national product. I referred only to that part of the document which related to defence expenditure and to the size and shape of the Army from 1960-61 to 1972-73. This is the trivial matter which the honourable member has raised. I can appreciate his attitude if he believes that he has certain rights in this Parliament. He does have those rights. But I would have thought a great deal more of the honourable member and so would his own colleagues and honourable members on this side of the House if he had asked that consideration be given to his request in relation to these matters without reflecting on me and without reflecting indirectly on the Clerk, because that is what he did. The Clerk is not in a position to answer for himself. The honourable member for Sturt said that the document was put out of the reach of the Clerk. In my opinion and, I know, in the opinion of honourable members in this House, this does no credit to the honourable member for Sturt. It was a disgraceful exhibition. I believe that the honourable member who has chosen to reflect on my integrity will be now satisfied that I in no way quoted from the top part of the document at all and that I tabled and had incorporated in Hansard the latter part of the document. If he now accepts the fact that no reference was made to any other part of the document he should do the decent thing and stand up and apologise not to me but to the Clerk for the reflection that he made Upon him.

Mr Scholes - I rise to order-

Motion (by Mr Nicholls) proposed:

That the question be now put.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Before putting the question I think I am entitled to say one or two words in regard to the Standing Orders and the rulings I gave this morning. In the first place, the honourable member for Sturt took a point of order today in regard to something which happened yesterday. That is completely out of order. As has been stated, the attention of the Chair must be directed to the matter at the time when the alleged breach of order occurs. I have always ruled, and my predecessors have always ruled, to the effect that a point of order must be taken immediately after the incident occurs. That is why I ruled the honourable member for Sturt to be out of order. This point should have been taken yesterday. In regard to the tabling of papers, no papers were given to the Clerk yesterday - none whatsoever.

Mr Whittorn - There should have been.

Mr SPEAKER - I am not concerned with what should have been done. No request was made. A request was made in regard to the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), but it was not in conformity with the Standing Orders under which a private member is not committed to table anything from which he has quoted. I should like to make perfectly clear the provisions of the Standing Orders on this matter. I will again read standing order 321.I think it should sink in because it is easy to understand and it should clarify the position. Standing order 321 reads:

A document relating to public affairs quoted from -

I emphasise the words 'quoted from' - by a Minister or an Assistant Minister, unless stated to be of a confidential nature or such as should more properly be obtained by address, shall, if required by any Member, be laid on the table.

The standing order refers to a document relating to public affairs which has been quoted from - not a bundle of papers a member has in his hand but the papers from which he has quoted.

Mr Scholes - I raise a point of order which could have serious ramifications for the conduct of the House in future. Is a member entitled to rise while a Minister is quoting from a document and ask for that document to be tabled or must he wait until the quotation has finished? The ramification of this is that if a member can rise and ask for a document to be tabled while a person is speaking, he can deprive that person of the document from which he is quoting and thus prevent him from quoting from that document any further.

Mr McLeay - I raise a point of order. I think in fairness to the honourable member for Sturt, and bearing in mind what you, Mr Speaker, said in your opening remarks, the honourable member did not take a point of order on what happened yesterday.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! He did take a point of order on what happened yesterday in regard to the tabling of papers.

Mr McLeay - He referred to what happened yesterday as background to establish the point of order he took today.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! His opening words were, as Hansard will show, that he was taking a point of order on the tabling of papers yesterday. That is why I ruled him out of order. The motion is: That the question be now put.

Mr Viner - I rise to a point of order.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The question is: That the question be now put.

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