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Wednesday, 2 November 1983
Page: 2171

Mr PEACOCK (Leader of the Opposition)(10.37) —I move:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Sydney from moving forthwith the motion of which he has given notice for the next sitting.

Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will supply that motion in writing.

Mr PEACOCK —Yes. I have not taken down the full terms of the motion of the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Baldwin), because it has just been read to the House. The first element of the motion was that the honourable member for Sydney , I assume in association with all members of the Australian Labor Party, deplored the invastion of Grenada. I am very pleased to see the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment (Mr Cohen) shaking his head. I assume that he is rejecting the motion of the honourable member for Sydney. Is that correct? Wrong ? He therefore is supporting it.

The first point, as I understand it, was that the Labor Party through the honourable member for Sydney deplores the United States invasion of Grenada. I accept the introduction to the second point which deplored the loss of life as a result of the invasion. Any member of this House would do that. It is legitimate that we should debate-that is why I moved the suspension of Standing Orders-the reason given in that second point, because the honourable member, as I heard him , went on to reject the explanations given for the invasion, not only those given by the United States but also those given by the six Caribbean countries. I have before me statements by the Grenadan Governor-General Sir Paul Scoon, the Caribbean--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I remind the Leader of the Opposition that, while there is some latitude in pointing out the nature of the notice of motion, at the moment he is debating the reasons for the suspension of Standing Orders, not the definitive motion itself.

Mr PEACOCK —I understand that, Mr Speaker, and I will keep reminding you of the reasons why Standing Orders ought to be suspended.

Mr SPEAKER —I will listen intently.

Mr PEACOCK —A fundamental reason why Standing Orders ought to be suspended to allow debate on this motion is because the honourable member for Sydney has rejected in his motion the reasons that have been given by the Governor-General of Grenada and by the leaders of the Commonwealth Caribbean countries involved in the mission currently being undertaken. We asked for the suspension of Standing Orders in order to point out the reasons which to us justify both the United States involvement and the involvement of the Commonwealth Carribbean countries. We can do this only if we suspend Standing Orders.

Mr Cunningham —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The honourable member is debating the issue rather than debating the matter of the suspension of Standing Orders.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order. I am listening intently to the Leader of the Opposition. I have offered him some comment on the matter raised, but so far he has not transgressed.

Mr PEACOCK —A further reason for suspending Standing Orders is that the third point of the honourable member's notice of motion directly challenges the conditions as stated within Grenada. The reality is, as we would point out if we were given the opportunity to suspend Standing Orders, that the Prime Minister of Grenada was assassinated, the Foreign Minister and other Ministers were assassinated, and the Governor-General was under house arrest. As a consequence- -

Mr Dawkins —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. It is not appropriate for the Leader of the Opposition to try to use this device to reopen debate on an issue that was debated yesterday. He is trying to debate a motion the contents of which he is not even aware. He has already admitted that. It seems to me that the Leader of the Opposition ought to confine himself to the question of why this motion should be debated at this time of the day rather than at some other time of the day. That does not go to the merits of the motion, which he does not even know about.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! I have indicated to the Leader of the Opposition that he should give the reasons for seeking the suspension of Standing Orders. I think he is starting to stray a little.

Mr PEACOCK —Mr Speaker, you may be assured that, if that was the case, it will not happen any longer. The reason for suspending Standing Orders and bringing on this motion is the view of members of this House that it is of such importance that it ought to be taken immediately, not only because of the terms of the motion itself but also because of the decision of the Government to reject playing any constructive or positive role. So we ought to suspend Standing Orders to discuss each element of the honourable member's motion. The notice of motion deplores the United States invasion; it deplores the loss of life, which we would agree with; but we reject his view as to the cause. If we suspend Standing Orders we can then point out in detail why we support the United States view that its civilians in Grenada were under grave threat and why the Caribbean countries followed the request of Governor-General Scoon and not, as is alleged in the notice of motion--

Mr Dawkins —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. If the Leader of the Opposition is going to carry on like this we will sit him down. What he can do--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Minister of Finance must either raise a point of order or take a definite action.

Mr Dawkins —Mr Speaker, I am taking a point of order. The point of order is simply this: You have invited the Leader of the Opposition to address himself to the question of why the Standing Orders ought to be suspended. He has continued to flout your ruling and has tried to debate the issue.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Minister for Finance should not reflect on the Chair.

Mr Dawkins —We will listen to him for not much longer.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order.

Mr PEACOCK —A further reason for the suspension of Standing Orders is the honourable member's alignment of the United States and Caribbean countries' intervention with the Brezhnev doctrine. I would like to hear him on this matter because I have read this utterly fatuous argument about an extension of the Brezhnev doctrine by the United States. It is important that we address that issue by suspending Standing Orders. If we so suspend Standing Orders--

Dr Theophanous —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The point has been made on several occasions. We are now having a debate about the merits--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Burke will resume his seat.

Dr Theophanous —of the Brezhnev doctrine.

Mr SPEAKER —I warn the honourable member for Burke. The honourable member should be quite clear that there must be no reflections on the Chair. I have given a ruling and that ruling stands. The Leader of the Opposition will resume the debate as to the suspension of Standing Orders.

Mr PEACOCK —A further practical point on the suspension of Standing Orders is that honourable members opposite either move motions in this House wanting to debate them or they do not. If they are prepared to debate this matter we are prepared to call it on immediately by this motion to suspend Standing Orders. I find it extraordinary that they run not only from the opportunity to debate the motion they put down-which I have to assume they want to debate, and we are giving them the opportunity to do so-but also that they are taking points of order seeking to run away from the debate. Either motions are put in this Parliament to be debated or they are not. This is a matter of great contemporary importance, and we want to call it on forthwith. I have a statement from the Governor-General that I would like to read to the House; I have statements from the Jamaican Prime Minister, from the Dominican Prime Minister and from the Chairperson of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States-those who are critically and vitally involved and those who would treat with disdain the terms of this notice of motion.

There is a need to suspend Standing Orders, therefore, to allow the honourable member to develop the views contained within the notice of motion-to put up or shut up. What is this Parliament, apart from a legislative body, if it is not a forum for public debate by the people's representatives? The honourable member has given the notice of motion and he does not have the guts to go on with it. The honourable member thought he could appeal to his left wing mates and get by by putting the notice of motion on the Notice Paper, but he will not put up and argue the case, and nor will Ministers. When the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) is asked a question on this matter he reads the Press statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Hayden). He will not back it up with argument. That is why we wish to call on the motion now so that the honourable member can put up or shut up. Does the honourable member mean what he says or does he not? Let the honourable member substantiate the terms of the notice of motion or be regarded as one who seeks to deceive every member of this Parliament by giving a notice of motion but having no courage to carry it forward. This motion to suspend the Standing Orders gives the honourable member the opportunity to back up the puerile, distasteful and dishonest remarks contained in the notice of motion. He does not have the courage to do it, if he opposes this simple procedural motion. I have not even been able to get on to the substance of the matter because I have to talk to a procedural motion, a motion whereby those opposite and we can address the substance of the notice of motion. Give us the opportunity to do it.

Mr SPEAKER —Is the motion seconded?

Mr MacKellar —The motion is seconded.

Mr SPEAKER —I call the honourable member for Warringah.