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Wednesday, 27 August 1969

Senator ANDERSON - I have been asked to comment on a defence statement made by the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party - a defence statement not made in the Parliament but at a function outside this place. It is very difficult-

Senator Cohen - I take a point of order, Mr President Surely the honourable senator's question is out of order? It seeks from a Minister an opinion on whether a statement which did not emanate from the Minister or from the Government but in fact from a leading member of the Opposition bears a certain interpretation. With respect, Mr President, it seems to me that it is entirely outside the scope of the Minister's responsibility to give an interpretation that might be promptly rejected by the Opposition or honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber. For that reason, Mr President, I would suggest that you should confine the questions asked to matters which properly come within the ambit of the responsibility of Ministers.

Senator Greenwood - Mr President, I rise to speak on the point of order. I submit that the Standing Orders permit ques tions to be asked on matters relating to public affairs. At this time of the year - and preparatory to an election - it is undoubtedly a matter, of intense public interest to have unravelled those inherent problems, ambiguities and qualifications that are part and parcel of the propaganda which is being put out by the Australian Labor Party. I submit that if there can be some elucidation of these matters honourable senators are entitled to seek it from those who have the facts.

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