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Friday, 23 August 1985
Page: 309


Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(4.07) —I wish to place on the record some information that I was advised it might be inappropriate to put before the Senate last Tuesday during the tributes to the late Mr Odgers. I think members of the Senate will understand that rather mysterious statement. I think that justice would not be done to the late Mr Odgers unless the following words were said.

Mr Odgers was always a staunch supporter of the powers of the Senate, and in the 1976 edition of his book he stated that the Senate had the power to block Supply. This led to some ill feeling towards him by some members of the Parliament. Some members of the Australian Labor Party, for quite proper reasons, resented the fact that he appeared to be advising the then Opposition during the 1975 crisis. However, in fairness to Mr Odgers, it should be recorded that, as a true officer of the Parliament, he also advised the then Labor Government during that crisis.

I am informed-I believe that historians would be fascinated by this information-that he had devised a procedure whereby the questions for the passage of the Appropriation Bills could be put in one motion. The extraordinary thing, as I am informed, is that, if Mr Whitlam, the then Prime Minister, had returned to Parliament House after he had been sacked by the Governor-General and notified his Labor Party Senate Leader at that time, Senator Wriedt, and if Senator Wriedt had used the procedure devised by Mr Odgers, it could have prevented the passage of the Appropriation Bills in the equally divided Senate and thereby forced the Governor-General to reverse his decision.


Senator Peter Baume —I think there are several procedures that he could have used.


Senator CHIPP —Yes. I thank Senator Peter Baume for the interjection. It is rather fascinating to know that if events had occurred a little differently the whole history of this nation may have gone in a different direction.

It should also be recorded that Mr Odgers was for many years a very close personal friend of Mr Norman Parkes, the Clerk of the House of Representatives at the time of the crisis, and that these two remained very good mates in spite of the dispute between the two Houses.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 4.10 p.m., till Tuesday, 10 September 1985, at 2 p.m.