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Friday, 16 December 1983
Page: 3970

Senator CHIPP —I was looking forward with relish to asking the Attorney-General this question but in his absence I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Is it not a fact that the Prime Minister stated in the Australian Labor Party's campaign speech of last February that the very circumstances of the calling of this panic election reek of fraud and deception, and went on to question why the election was being called eight months before time? Why now, only nine months after being elected and nine months after making that scathing attack on Mr Fraser for his political expediency in calling an early election, is the Prime Minister speculating on calling an early election, 16 months before it is due? Does not the Prime Minister's claim of a recalcitrant Senate reek of fraud and deception, given that out of the 169 pieces of legislation presented to the Senate all but four have been passed or remain intact to be passed?

Senator BUTTON —Senator Chipp in other circumstances has reminded me that he was a member of parliament when I was still at school, or something like that.

Senator Chaney —He was at school for a very long time.

Senator BUTTON —Seven years in fourth form, yes. I think Senator Chipp will recall that frequently these statements are made, particularly at this time of the year when the Senate blocks or otherwise delays particular pieces of legislation. I think they are always made by politicians of various political persuasions. I do not think they can be construed as speculation about an early election.

I concede in part Senator Chipp's observation that the Senate, except with particular Bills, has not been a highly recalcitrant Senate. I do not know, but it is just possible that the Prime Minister might have speculated about an early election in order to help the economic recovery even further, because speculation about an early election carries with it speculation about the prospect of the alternative government succeeding in that election. That would be a great stimulus to the people of Australia to follow the Government's economic policies which are leading to such success. Insofar as I am unable to answer parts of the question, I will address them to the Prime Minister and obtain an answer.