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Wednesday, 21 May 1980
Page: 3040


Mr BIRNEY (Phillip) - I draw the attention of the House to a debate that occurred in this Chamber on 29 April last in connection with the Aboriginal Development Commission Bill. A Labor shadow Minister, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West), deploring the policies of Australian administrations over the last several hundred years, said:

I turn now to the policies of various Australian administrations over the last several hundred years. Certainly the attitudes of Australian governments have been similar to attitudes of settler states towards indigenous inhabitants throughout the whole period of European . colonisation. Essentially it is the same as the treatment that the United States colonists handed out to American Indians -


Mr West - That is true.


Mr BIRNEY - I ask the honourable member to keep listening. He continued: that the Europeans handed out to the African races; and, more recently,

I ask the honourable member to listen to this statement. I hope that tonight he still considers it to be true. He said: and more recently, that the Israelis handed out to the Palestinians.


Mr West - That is true, too.


Mr BIRNEY -Thank you. I am pleased that the honourable member has reaffirmed the statement. He went on:

Basically, it has been the attitude of colonists taking over a settler state and dispossessing the indigenous inhabitants of their land. Until the 1880s, treatment has ranged from sheer genocide, repression and exploitation.

This is clearly a condemnation of Israel and an assertion that Israel and her people by force dispossessed the Palestinians and have been guilty of genocide. This is false and totally ignores the creation of Israel in 1948 by an overwhelming vote of the United Nations. The sinister and significant element of this allegation missed by the Australian people is that a member of the Opposition's front bench, uncontradicted by any Labor member, has allied himself with the Palestine Liberation Organisation. The world would do well to remember in an age of violence-


Mr West - I raise a point of order. In the speech on the Aboriginal Development Commission Bill I spoke about Aborigines and-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar

Order! There is no point of order. Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


Mr West -Yes, I do.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member may seek the indulgence of the Chair at a later stage to make a personal explanation.


Mr BIRNEY -The world would do well to remember in an age of violence that the PLO is the pacesetter of that violence. Australia would do well to consider that those pacesetters in violence have active aid from an alternative government. One lesson the world has learnt is that strategic violence is the enemy of us all.

The authors of that page in terror should be condemned, not supported, by any section of the Australian community. Israel should and must be supported. The creation of that proud and gallant nation dug from the sands of the desert is the end result of hundreds of years of blood, sweat and toil- a toil so righteous and relentless so full of purpose, so full of pathos, so mixed with joy and sorrow; a toil that has won the admiration of all those who believe in the democratic way of life.

The PLO is unremitting in its war of extermination against the Israeli people and remorseless and unrelenting in its bloody onslaught to tear asunder the state of Israel. The real intention of the Labor Party towards Israel has at last been exposed. It has been uttered by a member of the front bench of the parliamentary Labor Party and uncontradicted by any of its members. It stands as a salutary warning and as an example of the excesses that the Labor Party would go to if ever the people of Australia had the misfortune to see it in office. The PLO gets cold comfort from the policies of this Government but a warm and friendly approach from the Opposition. If the Opposition were in power it would, without question, grant diplomatic status to the PLO. The existing deal between the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Hayden) and the socialist Left, dominated by the dark influence of Bill Hartley, would open the way for a Labor government to allow the bloodthirsty organisation diplomatic offices throughout Australia. This would be official endorsement of an age of terror.

Mr WEST(Cunningham) -Mr Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?


Mr WEST - That is true; most certainly.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The honourable member may proceed.


Mr Bourchier - I take a point of order. Can a personal explanation be made while the adjournment debate is in progress?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The request is in order.


Mr WEST -I will be quite brief. Quite frankly, I was surprised that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, did not wait to hear my point of order because the honourable member continued with his speech and continued to thrust misrepresentations across the chamber. In my speechMr Burns- Mr Deputy Speaker, a point of order-


Mr WEST - Why don't you sit down? You have never said anything constructive since you came into this place.


Mr Burns - Don't you tell me to sit down, you half-baked- Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER-Order! The honourable member for Isaacs will resume his seat. The honourable member for Cunningham will cease to provoke him. I request both honourable members to observe the direction from the Chair. The honourable member for Isaacs seeks to take a point of order. He will do so in due form and await the call of the Chair. I call the honourable member for Isaacs on a point of order.


Mr Burns - The honourable member for Cunningham had the opportunity to raise a point of order while the honourable member for Phillip was speaking. He did not seek to do so. He waited until the honourable member had finished.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -There is no point or order.


Mr Ruddock - Mr Deputy Speaker,I take a serious point of order. My understanding of the procedures that the House has adopted in relation to personal explanations is that they are raised at the first available opportunity after the debate which is taking place has concluded. The debate which is taking place at the moment is an adjournment debate. My understanding has always been that the first available opportunity to make a personal explanation about matters raised in the adjournment debate is the following day. It is my submission that the debate should not be interrupted at this time by personal explanations.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -The Chair ruled on advice. I will briefly consult with the Clerk to confirm the position. The Chair is assured that there is no substance to the point of order. It is in order for a personal explanation to be taken at this stage. I remind the House that in actual fact no limit is set at this stage for the duration of the adjournment debate.


Mr Ruddock - I appreciate that. I welcome the ruling because it may help me during Question Time.


Mr WEST -I will be quite brief. I said in my speech during the debate on the Aboriginal Development Commission Bill that the action of a white settler state, Australia, against the Australian Aboriginal people was quite similar to the treatment received by American Indians from United States settlers and to the treatment received by the Palestinians from the Israeli settler state. I do not retract that. The misrepresentation by the honourable member for Phillip pertained to the use of the words 'Palestine Liberation Organisation'. I did not mention the PLO. I referred to Israelis and Palestinians. The honourable member for Phillip seems to be labouring under the delusion that all Palestinians are members of the PLO. That is the only logical conclusion one can draw. As we are having this matter out here and now, I ask for a withdrawal. Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek your protection from this obvious misrepresentation.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar -Does the honourable member for Cunningham seek a withdrawal on the basis that the expression was offensive to him?


Mr WEST - It was a misrepresentation. I did not say that in my speech. I hereby request that the expression be withdrawn.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! We will save time if the House conducts itself in an orderly fashion. The Chair understands the request of the honourable member for Cunningham for a withdrawal to be based on the premise that the misrepresentation was also offensive in character. On that basis, the Chair invites the honourable member for Phillip to withdraw any offensive intent.


Mr Neil - Mr Deputy Speaker,I take a point of order. The Standing Orders clearly refer to offensive words being used. None of the words used by the honourable member for Phillip were unparliamentary. If the honourable member is offended by the content of the speech, his only recourse is a personal explanation, which he has made. The words used were quite parliamentary.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The Chair's action does not rest upon the parliamentary terminology but upon the implication of the statement, not intended necessarily so far as the honourable member for Cunningham may have considered it. If the statement made by the honourable member for Phillip was true, it was intended to reflect on the character of the honourable member for Cunningham. On that basis I invite the honourable member for Phillip to withdraw.


Mr Birney - I regard that as being completely unfair. The whole argument surrounds a statement and the interpretation placed on it by the honourable member for Cunningham. He says that he takes offence from it.


Mr West - I take a point of order.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Cunningham will resume his seat.


Mr Birney - Mr Deputy Speaker,you will recall that in the course of my speech I quoted exactly the Hansard record of what the honourable member for Cunningham said. He referred to the treatment that had been handed out by Europeans and Americans to the Indians. He equated that with the treatment the Israelis had handed out to the Palestinians. I put that to him two or three times, and he said from the table 'That is true '. I recall his saying that. I then enlarged my argument on the statement attributed to the honourable member for Cunningham.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar)Order!The honourable member for Phillip will resume his seat. I suggest to him and to the honourable member for Cunningham that there is room for a genuine difference of opinion on this matter. The House would be well served if the matter were allowed to lapse.


Mr West - Mr Deputy Speaker,I take a point of order. I asked for the term be withdrawn. The honourable member for Phillip simply said that I had put forward an argument and used words which I did not use. I did not refer to the PLO, and as such I have been misrepresented.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Consistent with the forms of the House, the honourable member for Cunningham was accorded the opportunity, quite promptly, to correct the misrepresentation. The record will demonstrate that the statement of the honourable member for Phillip was challenged in the proper form. The Chair is not prepared to hear the matter further.







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