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Tuesday, 15 September 1987
Page: 63


Mr HAYDEN (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade) —Mr Deputy Speaker, I feel I should defend myself against these--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?


Mr HAYDEN —I seek to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented by this noisy but ineffective paladin of the Opposition.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The Minister will refer to members by their title. If the Minister claims to have been misrepresented he may proceed.


Mr HAYDEN —The honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Spender) asks us to have confidence in his ability to lead in these matters, but after seven years in this Parliament he still requires a Repidex to find his way round the building. Why would we be expected to have confidence in the sort of presentation he would provide?


Mr Spender —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. It does not really matter what these mighty midgets say about one in this place, but let us have--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I have drawn the Minister's attention to the fact that he should refer to members by their titles to ensure that the honourable member for North Sydney was treated with proper respect. I hope that he will not persist in causing this matter to continue. If the honourable member for North Sydney wishes to refer to the Minister he will refer to him by his title.


Mr Spender —Yes, I will afford to him the same courtesy he affords to me. Mr Deputy Speaker, the point I wish to make is that I pointed out in some detail the way in which the Minister had misrepresented me. What he is seeking to do now is to have a little debate. If he wishes to debate the Pantelich matter and his handling of it, I will be delighted to debate it at any time, but he cannot misuse the forms of this House.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for North Sydney will resume his seat. The Minister has claimed to have been misrepresented. The Chair will hear the Minister on where he has been misrepresented.


Mr HAYDEN —The honourable member for North Sydney claimed that I had misrepresented the level at which he had met representation in Yugoslavia. I would have to correct him on that. The facts are that the title `Minister' is used more easily and loosely in many Eastern bloc countries than would be the case here. My Department advises me that the level at which he was met was about First Assistant Secretary and that, according to the honourable member for North Sydney, was well below that which he thought appropriate.


Mr Spender —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. The Minister is simply debating the issue. He answered a specific question--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for North Sydney will resume his seat unless he has a valid point of order.


Mr Spender —The point is very simply this: what he is now seeking to do is to justify a case which he put here in Question Time. He is not seeking to show that he has been misrepresented.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for North Sydney will resume his seat. If the Minister is making a case that the honourable member for North Sydney has misrepresented him the Chair will hear him on that matter.


Mr HAYDEN —Exactly. I am trying to correct and get accurate the facts on this matter. The First Assistant Secretary level is a level which the member for North Sydney described as inappropriate to the status which he thought he held in going to Yugoslavia for these consultations. The Yugoslavs explained that their more important people were away on holidays and they could not meet him. But if I could make this point quickly--


Mr Spender —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! I suggest to the honourable member for North Sydney that we might hear the Minister.


Mr Spender —I have, in fact, been further misrepresented by this gentleman.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The Chair is having difficulty, with members on my left interjecting all the time, in trying to hear where the Minister claims to have been misrepresented. I think we are fast getting to the point where we have canvassed this matter far enough.


Mr HAYDEN —If I can make the point, Mr Deputy Speaker, with your indulgence--


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —It is not a question of indulgence; it is a personal misrepresentation.


Mr HAYDEN —The honourable member for North Sydney has said that my descriptions were not only wrong, but were wilfully wrong.


Mr Spender —Mr Deputy Speaker, I take the same point of order again. Let us have a ruling upon it because the Minister is seeking to re-open the matter by way of an indulgence. He is entitled to give a personal explanation of where he has been misrepresented.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The Chair is listening to where the Minister has claimed to be misrepresented. If we have fewer interruptions we may be able to deal with this matter in a moment or two.


Mr HAYDEN —If the honourable member for North Sydney will sit down, I will give him my handkerchief and continue with the correction.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The Minister will tell the Chair where he has been misrepresented.


Mr HAYDEN —I will draw an analogy.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The Minister will get directly to the point.


Mr HAYDEN —If the honourable member for Menzies (Mr N.A. Brown) were to be the equivalent of the Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesman from Yugoslavia coming to Australia, I would ensure that he was met at a higher level than a First Assistant Secretary.


Mr Spender —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise the same point of order. There are rules that apply to both sides of the House. I made a personal explanation pointing out the detail of the misrepresentation that had been made about me. The Minister is now seeking to justify some comments that he made and add a little bit of gratuitous abuse which is neither here nor there. He must keep to a statement of where he has been misrepresented in what I have said. He should not try to justify again the false statements that he has made about me.


Mr HAYDEN —I will not proceed because I am too cruelly and painfully cut up by the personal explanation of the honourable member for North Sydney to be able to do so.