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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 3158


Mr Crean - I raise a point of order in terms of standing order 293. For the information of honourable members I will read it again. It states:

A proposal for the imposition, or for the increase, or alleviation-

And this is the point at issue here - of a tax or duty, or for the alteration of the incidence of such a charge, shall not be made except by a Minister . . .

Surely this matter concerns the proprieties of this House. One need not go into the sorts of incidents that have happened in other parliaments. On one occasion the Honourable Hugh Dalton, who was a Treasurer, resigned from the House of Commons because unfortunately he let slip a certain reference to a pressman before he came to deliver a Budget. This case is not quite as significant as that one. Honourable members opposite may laugh about this because they think it does not matter, but it is an important matter as far as the wine industry is concerned. My friend this afternoon-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I do not think the honourable gentleman is in order in debating at this stage a matter concerned with the wine industry. As I understand the position, the point of order to which the honourable member rose is in relation to standing order 293.


Mr Crean - Yes, and the question relates to the impropriety of an announcement purportedly made by an honourable member opposite, that the excise duty on wine would be alleviated. That is the only point at issue. It concerns the pre-announcement of the proposal in the House. I am asking: If standing order 293 means anything, does that not suggest that such an announcement can be made only by a Minister in the House? The argument is that somebody - not a Minister - made the announcement outside the House.


Mr Buchanan - If the announcement was made outside the House it does not matter.


Mr Crean - If the honourable gentleman thinks it does not matter when it was made outside the House I will leave it to Mr Speaker to determine.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! May I say, in trying to clarify the point of order, which I think should have been taken earlier when the debate was taking place on this matter, that as I recollect the position this announcement was made in the House by the Minister for Customs and Excise, and, as I understand it, standing order 293 applies to statements made in the House and not outside the House.


Mr Crean - I am asking you, Mr Speaker, to clarify any doubt that there may be as to the meaning of standing order 293. As I understand the position at the moment, somebody outside the House made an announcement that there would be an alleviation of a certain duty. I have stated twice already the terms of standing order 293, but I will read the standing order again and I would like all honourable members to give some weight to every word contained in it. It reads:

A proposal for the imposition, or for the increase, or alleviation, of a tax or duty, or for the alteration of the incidence of such a charge, shall not be made except by, a Minister.

Surely the point is that somebody not a Minister, made the announcement outside the House before the House met.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I think there is some little confusion on this point of order. Standing order 293 applies to proceedings within this House, as I interpret the Standing Orders. To my knowledge no member of this House, other than a Minister, has made this announcement. I think that is correct.


Mr Crean - With all respect, Mr Speaker, that is what the argument is about. The suggestion is that-


Mr Buchanan - I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. You cannot let this go on. This is nonsense.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! I reiterate, in case I did not make it clear, that standing order 293 applies to announcements made in the House. To my knowledge, no private honourable member made this announcement. It was made by the Minister for Customs and Excise this afternoon. That is my ruling.


Mr Crean - With respect, Mr Speaker, I have here a document issued at 5 p.m. which reads:

Government cuts wine excise by 50 per cent.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I do not think this has anything to do with the matter before the Chair at this stage. This matter is concerned with the announcement in the House of certain provisions. As far as I know that announcement was made by a

Minister and not by a private member, irrespective of any statement that may have been made by any other honourable member outside the House.


Mr Crean - May I challenge your ruling with respect to the wording? I am not moving dissent from your ruling. All I am saying is that a proposal was made outside the House. Does anybody deny that the proposal was made outside the House?


Mr Buchanan - Yes, I do.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Let me put it into perspective. The matter in relation to the standing order was announced in this House by the Minister for Customs and Excise. The Minister may or may not have made the announcement outside the House in a Press statement. I do not know.


Mr Crean - Have I still the floor, Mr Speaker?


Mr SPEAKER -I am prepared to rule on the point of order. Standing order 293 does not apply in this case.


Mr Crean - I will not press the point any further but I suggest that if standing order 293 has any meaning, it refers to statements made outside the House by people other than Ministers.







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