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Tuesday, 14 October 1975
Page: 2070

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) - I second the motion. For one who contends that he has such a fierce regard for the proprieties of Parliament, the issuance of a Press statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) in respect of this matter must surely be the frankest repudiation of that view. Parliament is sitting. Why is it that the honourable gentlemen has not found that simple sense of courage to come into the House and tell the House what is in this statement. We are not dealing with some minor squabble. We are dealing with the dismissal of a man who was at one time the Acting Prime Minister of this country. We are dealing with a matter which touches the very heart, soul and integrity of government, and that is the capacity of men and women who sit in Parliament to tell the truth.

The Prime Minister in his statement issued outside this Parliament today had this to say:

At no time has there been any allegation of improper conduct, of dishonest conduct, of reprehensible conduct, of illegal or corrupt conduct by any member of the Government.

And yet in the same statement the honourable gentleman says this -

Mr Innes - I raise a point of order. The merits of the argument as to why Standing Orders should be suspended were debated in the first instance by the Deputy Leader of the National Country Party. That form of argument is being continued. I take the point of order that the merits of the argument as to why Standing Orders should be suspended should be debated.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I am aware of the Standing Orders. I have allowed some latitude to the honourable member who moved the motion. I would suggest it may be of benefit if the honourable member were to keep to the motion. The same latitude will be given to the next speaker.

Mr KILLEN - I respect your ruling immaculately. But I am coming to the point of urgency. After having said there was nothing improper, in the same statement the honourable gentleman said:

I was . . . driven to conclude that I had been misled by Mr Connor . . .

The Prime Minister himself makes the charge against his former colleague. He came in here this afternoon and he washed his hands of the whole affair. Such was the Prime Minister's performance that he would give one the impression that, by contrast, Pontius Pilate had a mortal fear of water.

I invite the House to realise the utter gravity of this matter. As was put by my friend the Deputy Leader of the National Country Party (Mr Sinclair), the Standing Orders deserve to be suspended so that the House can in a mature way deal with the question. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) is entitled to be heard. What is his version of these events? The honourable gentleman nods in assent. A charge has been made against the honourable member for Cunningham. Such has been the nature of the charge that he has been sacked. Let the honourable gentleman be given the opportunity to be heard. For the Prime Minister to talk about painful conduct- his words were: 'My own painful duty has been twice to defend and to preserve a great and fundamental parliamentary convention' is to call forth the invitation for the honourable gentleman to come in here and to give the Parliament the opportunity to discuss and to debate this matter. The quality and quantity of tears which come from the Prime Minister in this Parliament- there are many on his side who know the quality and the quantity of the tears of the Prime Minister- are such that one would be able to irrigate the Gobi Desert with them. This Parliament deserves something better than the utterly contemptuous manner in which the Prime Minister has treated the Parliament. The Parliament is entitled to satisfaction. The Parliament demands satisfaction.

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