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Wednesday, 10 November 1976
Page: 2521

Mr JAMES (Hunter) - I wish to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER -Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr JAMES - Yes, I do.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member may proceed.

Mr JAMES -Mr Speaker,you will recall that you prevented me from explaining my case on certain grounds in allegations against the honourable member. In my speech in the adjournment debate I was allowed to say only that he opened certain documents. I intended to correct that, if I have been allowed, by saying that he unfolded certain documents. The documents were folded in this manner on my seat here.

Mr Charles Jones - That is, they were folded four ways.

Mr JAMES -I repeat, they were folded. They were opened by the honourable member.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I am not prepared to allow the honourable member to debate the matter. As I told him the other night, he may only make an accusation on the basis of a substantive motion. That is not the position now. No such substantive motion is before the House. What he is entitled to do now is to make a personal explanation as to a misrepresentation relating to him.

Mr JAMES - I will endeavour to conform with your request. I have been misrepresented in that the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Baillieu) said that he never opened the documents. He did unfold the documents. He was personally observed by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Dr Cass) who is a man of integrity in this House. He was seen to copy from the document.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr JAMES - I do not accept his explanation. He has misled the House.

Mr Sinclair - I take a point of order. The honourable member implied that the honourable member for La Trobe is not a member with integrity. He suggested that whereas the honourable member for Maribyrnong might be, the honourable member for La Trobe was not. I regard that as an unacceptable statement and I suggest that the honourable member be asked to withdraw it.

Mr Young - Speaking to the point of order, I suggest that one can readily understand the confusion in the mind of the honourable member for Hunter. Having risen during the adjournment debate to question what may or may not have happened where he sits in the House, he was prevented from explaining fully what had occurred. He now faces the accusation that what he said was incorrect. How best does he explain to the House exactly what happened without flouting your ruling?

Mr SPEAKER - I give a ruling on the point raised by the Leader of the House (Mr Sinclair). I cannot call for the withdrawal of a statement which is only a statement by way of implication. Therefore I do not call on the honourable member for Hunter to withdraw that statement. I have allowed the honourable member for Hunter more liberty under the Standing Orders to explain his case than the Standing Orders would permit. It seems to me perfectly obvious that an allegation has been made by the honourable member for Hunter. It has been denied by the honourable member for La Trobe. There is no way in which this Parliament can or ought to establish itself as a court to determine facts. I do not propose to do that. An allegation has been made and denied. I think that is where the matter ought to rest.

Mr JAMES - Mr Speaker,will you guide me as to how to bring this matter before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Privileges so that the honourable member for Maribyrnong might be interviewed?

Mr SPEAKER - I will not, in these circumstances or indeed in any circumstances, offer advice to an honourable member as to any course of action he may elect to proceed with. That is a matter for the honourable gentleman to determine himself.

I have before me a note which tells me that an honourable member wishes to make a personal explanation. I inform the honourable gentleman that it is not sufficient when wishing to make a personal explanation to send me a note in the

House. Anybody wishing to make a personal explanation should approach me and inform me that he intends to do so. If the honourable gentleman pursues that course I shall consider whether I will give him the opportunity.

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