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Wednesday, 1 November 1967


Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) - by leave - I wish to make a statement in response to the astonishing statement of the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden). I do not doubt statements that are assertively made, and I hope that there are at least some facts behind the assertions on this occasion. I can say for a fact that I have at the moment the short notes, if you like to call them such, on the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill 1967. I have not the notes, short or long, on the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill. 1 am not attempting in any way to detract from the admirable qualities of the gentleman who has been named, Mr Grigg. Perhaps the Minister would point out Mr Grigg to me now.


Mr Snedden - He is not here at the moment.


Mr CREAN - Well, 1 do not think there is any member of my Party, including all the members of the Executive and ali those present at the caucus meeting - the Minister is not even listening to my reply. At least I listened courteously to every word that he rather truculently uttered. Every member of my Parliamentary executive and every member of our Camms relied on me this morning to give a report on the first Bill. As I say, I have no objection to the passage through the various stages of the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill. But nobody in my Party has given consideration to the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is absent. It is easy enough for the Leader of the House, sitting on the front bench, to try to score a point by endeavouring to separate me from my Deputy Leader. The Leader of the House knows as well as anybody else that both the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition are attending a dinner which I presume is being attended also by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). In the absence of the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I was left to handle the business this evening in respect of any points of procedure that arose.

The Leader of the House, who has not gone to the dinner, has said that this matter has been on the blue sheet since 2.30 o'clock this afternoon. I am not denying that these Bills have been on the blue sheet since 2.30. Even if they had been on the blue sheet since noon it would not alter the fact that the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill has not been considered by my Caucus. We simply demand as a Party - and I think that we are entitled to it as a matter of courtesy - that we do not contemplate any Bill unless the Caucus meets and considers it. At least the Opposition has waived its usual rights in regard to the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill. I made this point to our Caucus this morning. I said: T do not have the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill, but I have the short notes on it. I am prepared to accept them.' I had no notes, short or long on the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill. As I say, we waived our rights in regard to one Bill. I think that we are entitled to certain rights as far the the second Bill is concerned because the precis of it was presented to us. I am not trying to explain here - and I hope that T do not have to explain here - why the precis of the first Bill, the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill has not been made available. It may well be that the precis is in the office of my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. 1 am not suggesting that it is for any ulterior motive. I hope the Minister does not suggest that, either.


Mr Daly - The Deputy Leader of the Opposition may not have received the precis.


Mr CREAN - That is so. This matter could be similar to the one on which we have had a great debate in the last day or so, that is, whether certain information which apparently had been in existence for months was divulged or was not divulged to certain people. At least we have something here that has been divulged only in the last 24 hours and that somehow has become lost between the office of the Minister in charge of the House and the office of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I hope that statement puts the matter in the correct perspective. I am not casting any aspersions. I am not doubting the integrity of anybody.


Mr Chipp - The honourable member was before. He did it by innuendo.


Mr CREAN - Surely innuendo is a legitimate enough word. Sometimes the tone in which a word is spoken makes a lot of difference. If the Minister for the Navy does not like the word 'innuendo', let me say I suppose that on this occasion there are some doubts as to what happened between the time a transcript was prepared


Mr Chipp - Not in our minds.


Mr CREAN - I do not have to answer for the Minister's mind, fortunately. I sometimes wonder how much of it there is. The interjector is a Minister of the Crown. He and his colleagues have been under attack as a ministry in the last few days as to whether certain things said carelessly were in fact the whole truth or anything but the truth. I think that the same thing applies in the present situation. I hope that there is no doubt as far as our Caucus is concerned. I am not arguing about the passage of the communication between the Minister responsible for the business of the House and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who is our channel of communication at the other end. I am not casting any reflection on him. But I think that it is pretty cheap of the Leader of the Government to suggest that I am putting on a performance here tonight to denigrate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in his absence. I do not know whether that is innuendo or not. But innuendo can be interpreted any way honourable members like.

All I suggest - and this surely is the point at issue - is that I have refused at the moment, as the member in charge of the business of the House on my side tonight, to give leave for the introduction of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill because that Bill, in abstract if honourable members like, has not been brought before either my Executive or my caucus. I do not offer any objection to the passage of the second Bill, which is the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill. I suggest that it would be a matter of common sense at this stage to postpone the presentation of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill. Provided a clearance is given by my Deputy Leader in the morning I am prepared to go ahead with the Bill tomorrow. But I am not prepared to go ahead with the introduction of it this evening. I offer no objection whatsoever regarding the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill.

It is all right for the Leader of the House to take cheap points about the blue sheet. If ever there was an example of the tenacity or the veracity, whichever way honourable members may like to look at it, of the blue sheet, surely the events of yesterday are a prime example. The programme on the blue sheet was cut to pieces because of action which was taken by the Opposition early in the day to submit a motion of want of confidence in the Government. As everybody knows, it is easy enough at any stage in the day to rearrange business. The blue sheet is purely a convenience chosen by the Government, and agreed to by the Opposition if honourable members like, to facilitate business. But the blue sheet is in no way a binding document. We have plenty of examples of this. I would not be surprised if there was another example of this fact later this evening when a Minister will ask for leave to move that item No. 12 on the blue sheet be considered before item No. 10, or something of that nature. What I am suggesting to the House is that I have refused leave - and I am trying to clarify the point - as far as the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill is concerned. Everybody knows that it is anticipated that this Parliament will rise in the early hours of Thursday morning. There will be no opportunity


Mr Turnbull - The honourable member means Friday morning.


Mr CREAN - Well, the late hours of Thursday, continuing into Friday. We will still be in what is referred to as the Thursday sitting, if we want to be precise about things. If we are going to quibble about the day, fair enough. I know as well as anybody else that from 12 o'clock to 12 o'clock the next night is 24 hours: But a parliamentary day may continue from one day even to the next night. We will have no opportunity to discuss the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill unless we have a special meeting-


Mr McMahon - We are agreeable to that.


Mr CREAN - Fair enough. If the Minister is agreeable to that, I trust that I have made my point.

Mr SNEDDEN(Bruce - Minister for Immigration) - by leave - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a short statement on what the honourable member for Melbourne

Ports has said. The fact is that we are now in a situation where I am informed, and I rely upon the fact, that a precis of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill was given to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.


Mr Crean - No. It was of the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill, the one that I have in my hand and that I now show to the Minister.


Mr SNEDDEN - That is the one that the Opposition has received?


Mr Crean - Yes, but not the one relating to the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill.


Mr SNEDDEN - Please listen to me for a second. I am told, and I rely upon the fact, that thirty copies of a precis of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill were given to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.


Mr Kelly - Both Bills.


Mr SNEDDEN - In other words, both Bills were given to him. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports says that he received only one and he says it is because he received only one that he will not give leave to introduce the second. What is perfectly plain is that if the honourable gentleman says he did not get it, he did not get it. Equally h is true that if Grigg says he gave it to somebody, he did give it to somebody and there has been a breakdown in the transmission. I suggest to the honourable gentleman - and I do this in the spirit of finding a solution to the contretemps that has already taken far too long - that what he ought to do is to agree to leave being given to introduce the Bill because until the Bill is introduced he will not have an opportunity to see it. When the Bill is introduced, not only will he see it but he will have the benefit of a full second speech. What the honourable member complains about is that he should not debate it until after he has been to Caucus. But by refusing leave to introduce the Bill he is not serving that purpose because if he refuses to give leave today I shall give notice and introduce k without leave tomorrow.

I would hope that the House may be able to finish its business tomorrow. Therefore, instead of suspending the Standing Orders. as I have given notice to do, I should like the honourable gentleman to agree to give leave to introduce the Bill. Then so far as the debate on it is concerned, he will have an opportunity to hear the second reading speech, to see the Bill and to ascertain whether he can get a meeting of caucus or of his Executive some time tomorrow so that we can go on with the Bill, which was my intention at the time it was listed on the blue sheet. Would the honourable gentleman be agreeable to giving leave for both Bills to be introduced so that he will have an opportunity to see them? I think that is the sensible solution.

Mr CREAN(Melbourne Ports)- by leave - I still think that this is the wrong way for the Parliament to do business. I will not go into the arguments again about how the channels of communication broke down. Obviously they did break down. I am sorry that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has intruded into the matter. I suggest that he, not I, intruded although the intrusion might have been because of what he thought was the crudity of my approach. I did not mean it in that way. I suggest that the only reason why we were going to agree to proceeding with the second Bill, which is the only one about which I or my colleagues have knowledge, was that at least we had been given a precis of it. We made the reservation, with all respect, that we did not like the matter handled in that way. I think that we are entitled to have the Bill, not the notes of the Bill, because as everybody knows there is no substitute for the Bill. I think that the Minister for Immigration would be the first one to agree with that statement. What somebody describes as the substance of a Bill is very much different from the Bill itself. At least I am persuaded, if you like by the eloquence of the Minister-


Mr Chipp - And logic.


Mr CREAN - Not logic altogether. I think he finally came round to logic, but he took a long time to lodge on his logic, if I may say so. But I am persuaded by the argument that we would be better able to talk about the Bill if we had it before us. Therefore, with all respect - and I hope with the agreement of my colleagues behind me - I will agree to leave being given for the introduction of the Bills. We will decide tomorrow how we will look at the Bill which we have not had time to consider.


Mr J R Fraser - Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I ask whether you would clarify the position for the House. Is not the position that we have had a motion moved for the suspension of Standing Orders to permit of the passage of a Bill without delay; that debate has proceeded on that motion, and that the Minister as the mover has spoken in reply? Since then we have had two statements by leave-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The statements were made by leave, not to the motion. The Minister is just about to move a motion to ask for leave of the House to withdraw his original motion.


Mr Snedden - Having regard to what has been said by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, I now ask for leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion - by leave - withdrawn.







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