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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3139

Mr BAUME (Macarthur) -Tonight I would like to refer to a debating style which, I suggest, has marred the session which is now drawing to a close. It is a style of personal abuse and personal denigration which has punctuated so many of the debates in this chamber. That personal abuse has not come from this side of the House. I want to put the point very strongly that it seems to me to be a shame when there are so many matters of major importance before this House that the only effective response from so many members of the Opposition is simply personal abuse. I draw attention to last night's debate on the Roads Grants Bill 1980 where interjections -

Mr Leo McLeay (GRAYNDLER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That was an interesting debate, that one.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Graylander persists in interjecting. I ask him to cease. If he refuses to do so, despite the lateness of the hour, I will deal with him.

Mr BAUME - The personal abuse in the debate last night on the Roads Grants Bill is simply typical of what has become a style of debate in this chamber from some members of the Opposition. I do not say all members of the Opposition because there are many members of the Opposition for whom I have the greatest respect and for whose arugments I have a certain deal of respect, even though in many areas I must say I disagree with them. However, there is an element on the Opposition benches which, regrettably, finds it much more convenient to abuse personally members on this side of the House than to discuss the issues which are being raised. I refer particularly, as I said earlier, to the debate on the Roads Grants Bill last night. The honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Innes), having been offended by some statistics which I produced to demonstrate the significant increase in Federal funding of rural roads under the present Government, could only respond: 'You could not lie straight in bed'. A response from the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) suggested that I was a 'log' for daring to present figures which demonstrated that the proposition the Opposition was maintaining was a totally incorrect one. The continual interjections, which were not recorded in Hansard, while I was making that speech reflected on me. At the end of my speech, when the honourable member for Newcastle did speak, there was an exchange of unpleasantries which involved the honourable member's being obliged to withdraw remarks of personal denigration.

I simply put this point to the House: If we are to have vigorous debate, is it not possible for honourable members opposite to participate with vigorous argument rather than vigorous personal denigration? Is it possible to have active, lively and invigorating debates without swinishness? That is a word at which some honourable members may take offence. I would suggest that the behaviour of some members of this House during debates not only has been disgraceful to this House but has also reduced the esteem in which they are seen by the community as a whole and other members in particular. I would like to conclude by saying that the statistics which I presented last night dramatised the significant increase in Federal road funding in relation to the State of New South Wales for rural, national and developmental roads. That significant increase was discounted by members opposite who chose to denigrate me for daring to present those figures. Those figures were confirmed by the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt) who pointed out very strongly indeed -

Mr John Brown (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I raise a point of order. I find the honourable member's remarks a gross reflection on people on this side of the House. He is saying that we were deliberately misinterpreting the figures on road grants.

Mr SPEAKER -There is no point of order.

Mr BAUME -The Minister had said that he had referred those statistics to the Department of Transport which found them entirely accurate and correctly reflected the trend of road funding in the State of New South Wales by the Federal Government since this Government came into office. There was no basis for the personal attack and for the accusations that the figures were incorrect.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable gentleman's time has expired.

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