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Thursday, 8 September 1949

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has his redress if he thinks that he has been misrepresented'.

Mr Harrison - The Minister's remarks are offensive to me, and I ask that they be withdrawn.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! The Minister's remarks were not unparliamentary and he may continue.

Mr CALWELL - If the honorable member for Wentworth will repeat his remark of last evening later, I shall accept, it in substitution for what I have said. I have given my clear interpretation of what the honorable member did say. That interpretation would be placed on his remarks by every honorable member on this side of the. House. It was that very remark which brought me to my feet in defence of my colleague. No matter how much honorable members opposite or people outside the House may disagree with the politics of the Minister for External Territories, he is one of the cleanest men to come into this Parliament or into any parliament. The honorable member for Wentworth spoke about a letter which he had received from the foreman of a jury-

Mr Harrison - Of course I did.

Mr CALWELL - Then the honorable member had no right to talk about it.

Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I had every right to do so.

Mr CALWELL - It was a disgraceful thing for the honorable member to say that he had received a letter from the foreman of a jury.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order ! The Minister is not in order in referring to a previous debate.

Mr CALWELL - I accept your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr Harrison - Why do you nOt kiss him?

Mr CALWELL - I observe a standard of conduct which honorable: members opposite would do well to emulate. If they obeyed the rulings of the Chair as readily as I do, they would not be- in trouble, and be suspended from this House, and there would be no motion condemning the Chair on the ground of partiality or incompetence to take up the time of this House. There have been occasions too numerous to mention where honorable members on this side of the House have been reflected on sneeringly and contemptuously by honorable members opposite. I think that the honorable member for Balaclava on one occasion referred to me as the " Minister for Misinformation ". That was only a minor offence; but it indicates that the honorable member thinks that he can do that sort of thing and not be asked to make amends by Mr. Deputy Speaker, who is charged1 with maintaining order and the proper conduct of debates. While this discussion has been proceeding, the honorable member for Warringah insulted the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman). The honorable member said that he did not mind an Australian explaining the Standing Orders, but he took exception to a displaced Scotsman doing so. Why was that remark made? Was it intended as a compliment- or as a sneer ? The Minister for Defence did not have the great good fortune that many of us enjoy of having been born under the Southern Cross, but he is a magnificent Australian by adoption. Indeed, he is a much better Australian by adoption than are a great many of those persons who have had the good fortune to be born in Australia. These attempts to besmirch and smear a Minister on the ground' of his birth are objectionable and contemptuous. I have heard honorable members opposite sneer at the honorable member for Watson (Mr. t Falstein) because of his race and faith. I have heard some of the most despicable things said across the chamber by interjection about, the honorable member. Honorable members opposite think that they should not pay the penalty if the Chair takes exception to their conduct and demands a withdrawal. They have not set a good example in these matters. In the past they governed this country for so long that they think that, like the departed Stuarts, they have a divine authority to do so. They do not tike being in Opposition. They do not like being rejected by the people. They think that even though they form the minority they have a right to impose their will in this Parliament. There is a certain nastiness, a sense of frustration underlying the whole of this propaganda against Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not agree with everything that he does in the chair. I do not think that all his rulings are sound, but I do think that he is animated by an honest intention to do the right thing. I do not think that he is incompetent. On the contrary I regard him as being as competent as any Speaker or Deputy Speaker who has come from the Opposition ranks, and as any Chairman of Committees who has acted as Mr. Speaker in any earlier parliament when the non-Labour parties were in power. He does not deserve the sneers that have been directed against him. If he feels obliged to tell me that I am transgressing the Standing Orders, I obey his ruling, no matter how much I may disagree with it. He is the umpire, and I accept his decisions. If honorable members opposite would co-operate with him and not try, as they have done on several occasions, to gang up on the Chair, they would not find themselves expelled and feel it necessary to propose a motion of the kind we are now discussing in order to hide their shame and to disguise the fact that they, and not Mr. Deputy Speaker, are the offenders against the Standing Orders.

Motion (by Mr. Scully) put -

That the question be now put.

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