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Thursday, 3 November 1983
Page: 2357

Mr SINCLAIR(10.10) —Since the previous Special Minister of State resigned there has been a good deal of suspicion and apprehension in this place about what loyalty meant in the Australian Labor Party. I think all of us on our side of the House respected for a long while what we saw as a special relationship between the then President of the Federal Labor Party and the then Secretary of the Federal Labor Party. We all remember one David Combe, and look what happened to him. If there is one thing that appals those on this side of the House it is the way this Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has been prepared to put aside all past loyalties, all past affections, all past relationships, for his own personal advantage. Let us look at what has happened tonight. We have a letter from his former Minister-I am sorry, his present Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and his former Cabinet Minister, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr West).

Mr Howard —It is half a resignation.

Mr SINCLAIR —It is half a resignation, as my colleague says. How can one half resign? It is like pregnancy. How can one be half pregnant? I am quite sure that the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs is not too sure tonight whether he is half pregnant or what. The letter states:

As discussed with you earlier today, I find myself unable to support Cabinet's recommendation to Caucus on the uranium industry at Monday's caucus meeting.

I understand Cabinet arrangements regarding solidarity.

Under the terms of that Cabinet arrangement, I understand that I can no longer serve in the Cabinet.

There is not one law for the rich and one law for the poor. There is, apparently , one law for those in Cabinet and one for those outside Cabinet, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) said a moment ago. I quote from House of Representatives Practice by Mr Jack Pettifer, which states:

Ministerial responsibility takes 2 forms-collective cabinet responsibility . . . and individual ministerial responsibility. Both concepts are governed by conventions inherited from Westminster and both are central to the working of responsible government . . .

Cabinet is collectively responsible to the people, through the Parliament, for determining and implementing policies for national government. Broadly, it is required by convention that all Ministers must be prepared to accept collective responsibility for, and defend publicly, the policies and actions of the Government or else resign.

There cannot be a half resignation. There cannot be a membership of the Ministry and not an acceptance of Cabinet responsibility. There cannot be an acceptance of understanding Cabinet solidarity. There cannot be a half loyalty. There cannot be a half dismissal by the Prime Minister. There cannot be a system where a Minister in a government which is collectively responsible within the Australian system to the Australian community can say: 'Look, I can go down this track when it suits me and I am going to belong to the outer Ministry, and reject it when it does not suit me'.

Mr Howard —Rex Jackson would have liked this arrangement.

Mr SINCLAIR —Mr Rex Jackson; how correct my colleague is. We all know that in New South Wales he wanted the money and the box. In the New South Wales system we have an absolutely deplorable situation where there is one law that applies to the former Minister for Corrective Services and another law that applies to the Premier. We have a system in the Federal Parliament where there is absolutely a derogation of responsibility by the man who is the Prime Minister of Australia. We all recognise that the Prime Minister's integrity is now thoroughly suspect. We have long known that there is a phrase called Hawkespeak. We have all accepted that he is quite prepared to accept that expediency should rule his roost. Pray tell: Tonight we have a man who, on the basis of a principle in which he believed, has half resigned. How does he half resign? Which half? Top half? Bottom half? How does a man remain a member of a government and not a member of his Cabinet? No, he is a member of the outer Ministry.

There is no way by which, within the concepts that are truly applicable to this place, the Prime Minister can stay out of the House. He has issued a Press statement on a matter of fundamental responsibility to the whole of the integrity of his Government, and yet he says: 'It doesn't matter'. Unless the Prime Minister comes into this Parliament and explains how and in what way the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs can be a member of his Government but not a Minister accepting Cabinet responsibility, it is beyond the whole doctrine of Westminster, and the whole of the Government deserves to hand in its resignation and not just the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs.