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Thursday, 8 September 1949

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! I ask the honorable member for Warringah to cease interrupting. All honorable members are entitled to speak to this motion, but they must address the Chair one at a time. I do not want to have to exercise my authority on this occasion.

Mr DEDMAN - Dealing with this incident the Canberra Times had this to say-

The Speakership lies not in the gift of any party or parties. It is an office bestowed by the House. It is not a political job. and the holder of the office fails to distinguish his duties and stains the traditions of the Speakership in measure as he makes it a stalkinghorse for political manoeuvre . . . According to lids own words, Mr. Nairn has tendered his resignation .because a motion of no confidence has been submitted. He does not wait for the House to declare whether or not the Government possesses the confidence of the House, but he declares that his tenure of office of Speaker is to be governed by the wishes of his party. This abject confession of subservience in his office to the decision of a political party and of departure from the impartiality of a Speaker in anticipating (perhaps wrongly) the decision of the House is a blot on the record that has been written by the words and deeds of Speakers of the House of Representatives through four decades of the Commonwealth.

I repeat that it is sheer impertinence for the honorable member for Wentworth to insert in his motion of want of confidence in Mr. Deputy Speaker the paragraph to which I have just referred. A motion of censure of the Speaker of this House is to be deplored as contrary to the traditions of our British parliamentary system. The House should always maintain the authority, dignity and status of the Chair.

Mr Rankin - What if the occupant of the chair has no dignity?


Mr DEDMAN - Members of the Opposition parties in this House have in recent years adopted the practice of moving motions of censure on Mr. Speaker or Mr. Deputy Speaker whenever the Chair has taken drastic or necessary action to maintain order and authority which displeases them. In the last few years there have been four motions of censure on the Chair in this House. Each of them emanated from the Opposition after the Chair had been forced, to take action to uphold its authority. In each instance the circumstances have been very similar.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) must cease audible conversation.

Mr DEDMAN - On the 28th September, 1944, the honorable member for Richmond who, it will be noted, is also concerned in the incident which we are now discussing, asked a question which was ruled out of order by Mr. Speaker. Although Mr. Speaker's decision that a question is not in order cannot be questioned, the honorable member persisted in attempting to ask his question. He was thereupon named and suspended from the service of the House. The then honorable member for Parramatta, Sir Frederick Stewart, sought to argue with the Chair on the same matter, and he actually challenged Mr. Speaker to name him.. He, too, was named and suspended. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) then attempted to move for the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable him to submit a motion of want of confidence in Mr. Speaker. The second incident occurred on the 12th September, 1945, when the then Chairman of Committees, now the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan), gave a ruling that the honorable member for Richmond - again the same honorable member was involved - could not refer to a debate which had just been concluded. The honorable member for Richmond persisted in defying the Chair and was named. The honorable member for Warringah then attempted to propose a motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders to allow him to submit a motion of want of confidence in the Chair. He did1 not succeed, and on the following day the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) moved the motion after having given appropriate notice. The third' incident occurred on the 25th July, 1946. After dealing with a point of order which had been raised by a member of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker ruled that a question was in order. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) thereupon attempted to argue with the Chair that the question was not in order and was ordered to resume his seat. He refused1 to do so and was named. The Leader of the Opposi tion at once gave notice of his intention to move a motion of want of confidence in Mr. Speaker.

Mr Fadden - When did that take place ?

Mr DEDMAN - As I have said, on the 25th July, 1946. We now come to the final incident which gave rise to the motion with which we are now dealing. The honorable member for Warringah, the honorable member for Richmond and the present honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) were named by Mr. Deputy Speaker for refusing to resume their seats while he was on his feet attempting to maintain order.

Mr Beale - That is not true.

Mr DEDMAN - I am sorry that I have not time to place on record the whole of the circumstances relating to that incident; but I am sure that those who 6 re listening to this debate will agree that the three honorable members concerned richly deserved the disciplinary action taken by Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall quote one or two extracts to show the unruly conduct in which those honorable members had1 engaged. When this incident took place the Audit Bill was under discussion and Mr. Deputy Speaker had ruled that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) was not in order in continuing along certain lines. The honorable member for Richmond then rose to a point of order. The Hansard report of the incident is recorded on page 3124 of the 17th November, 1948, and reads as follows: -

Mr Anthony - I rise to order.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Does the point of order refer to the matter on which I have ruled?

Mr Anthony - It touches-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! Does it relate to that matter?

Mr Anthony - It touches upon the question that is now before the House. I presume that I have some rights in regard to stating a point of order in this chamber.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable gentleman need not become excited. The Chair has given a ruling with regard to a certain matter, and no honorable member is entitled to take a point of order on that ruling. If honorable members disagree with it, they know what to do. I have given my ruling and I shall not accept any further points of order with regard to it.

Eventually the honorable member for Richmond was named. Before he was named, he made a statement that was in complete defiance of the authority of the Chair. He said -

You may name me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I shall still stand up for my rights in this Parliament.

Mr Spender - Why not ?

Mr White - A very manly thing to say.

Mr DEDMAN - I am suggesting that, in using the words, " You may name me, Mr. Deputy Speaker", the honorable member was in fact defying the Chair.

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