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Thursday, 27 August 1981
Page: 850

Mr COLEMAN —Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs been drawn to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 August 1981 which states that Vietnamese and Aborigines will not be permitted to be tenants of proposed Housing Commission homes in the Menai area of New South Wales and that tenancies will be reserved for 'decent white Anglo-Saxon Australians'? Will the Minister refer this matter to the Commissioner for Community Relations, Mr Grassby, for appropriate action?

Mr Leo McLeay —I take a point of order. Surely the honourable member would have read the retraction the Sydney Morning Herald had to print the day after it printed that rather slanderous article.

Mr SPEAKER —There is no point of order.

Mr MACPHEE —I was alarmed when the honourable member for Wentworth brought my attention to that item. I was no less alarmed by the so-called retraction because Mr Keane, the Labor member concerned, stated that, while he had said those words, he did not expect the media to take him seriously. He said that the remarks were meant to be ironical. I do not believe that any other member of parliament, State of Federal, has chosen to make light of a matter which recently has been the subject of some criticism from what one might call an uninformed right wing fringe in Australia. It does not help when a member of parliament, even in an ironical fashion, makes such remarks. It is not surprising that the Sydney Morning Herald reported the matter in the way it did.

I do not doubt that the Commissioner for Community Relations has looked into the matter. He certainly never hesitates to look into other utterances. Whether the remarks were made ironically or not, it is a matter of concern that they were made at all by a member of parliament. We all know how greatly enriched our society has been by the diverse flow of migration. I hope that in future other members will take an educative role--

Mr Les Johnson —I raise a point of order. As the member for the area concerned, it is impossible for me to suffer this hypocrisy because the Liberal Party was organising against Housing Commission homes--

Mr SPEAKER —The honourable member will resume his seat. There is no point of order.

Mr Les Johnson —Because it thought that the Aboriginal people--

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the honourable member for Hughes.

Mr Les Johnson —Would be brought into that area.

Mr SPEAKER —I name the honourable member for Hughes.

Mr SINCLAIR New England-Leader of the House)-Mr Speaker, I move:

That the honourable member for Hughes be suspended from the service of the House.

Mr SPEAKER —The question is that the motion be agreed to.

Mr Lionel Bowen —Let me make some comments in the interests of harmony in the House. This is a most contentious matter. Mr Speaker, whilst you are entitled to say that the honourable member did not pay attention to your request, the matter raised presents some difficulty in his area. It is well known that the public interest in that area has been against any Housing Commission development. I ask that you give the honourable member a chance to withdraw on the basis of the circumstances which are associated with what you regard as some reflection on your authority.

Mr SPEAKER —It is not a reflection on my authority; it is a reflection on the dignity of the House when a member continues to speak when I ask him to resume his seat. The honourable member for Hughes has an opportunity to use the forms of the House to make any statement he wishes to make in accordance with the forms of the House. He rose in his place and then continued to speak without the call, masquerading his remarks as a point of order.

Mr Lionel Bowen —Without cavilling about the matter, the honourable member for Hughes is the Opposition Whip, a man who abides by the forms of this House. This matter has been raised because of the other political events happening in New South Wales. It has very little to do with what we would normally discuss in this House concerning Federal authority. In the circumstances, Mr Speaker, I think that unless we can get an intelligent appraisal of the underlying political situation--

Mr Baume —Isn't Grassby a Federal authority?

Mr SPEAKER —The honourable member for Macarthur will remain silent.

Mr Lionel Bowen —I am talking about matters in this House. Mr Speaker, the Opposition seeks your leniency and requests that the matter of the honourable member being named and removed from the House not be proceeded with.

Mr SPEAKER —The reason I named the honourable gentleman was that I asked him to resume his seat. I warned him. Despite that warning, he continued. I had no hesitation then in naming him. If the honourable gentleman wishes to indicate to me that he will comply with the forms of the House and apologise to the House-not to me-I will withdraw the naming of the honourable gentleman.

Question put:

That the honourable member for Hughes be suspended from the service of the House.