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Wednesday, 8 December 1971
Page: 4376

Sir CHARLES ADERMANN (Fisher) (1:38 AM) - I just want to make a few comments on this matter. I was the honourable member whose speech apparently riled the Oppostiion into calling a quorum. I admit that my speech could have been an inefficient one and that. 1 was having a crack at the Opposition. I . think that the subject matter of the debate tonight is divided into 2 parts - firstly whether the statement as published was true, and, secondly, what penalties should be imposed, if any. I want to say quite candidly that I agree 100 per cent with the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), who was in the Chair at the time of the incident, as to whether honourable members left the chamber. I have a trained eye for that sort of thing because I had been Chairman of Committees and Deputy Speaker for about 9 years. Obviously when a quorum was called for I looked around to see whether anybody was leaving. Therefore if it clears the Labor Party, I say that the statement as published was not true. Nobody left the chamber. I know that this is the case because 1 purposefully looked around to sec if anybody was leaving. If that clears the Labor Party well and good. But I do not think it is much to the credit of the Labor Party that only 5 of its members were in the chamber. The second point I want to make - I do not know whether it is relevant or not - is in relation to the intent of the Labor Party. The intent obviously was not to come in when the quorum bell was rung. Quite often when the bells are ringing I come from my room and find that the passage is blocked or that Opposition members are going the wrong way. They have no intention of helping to make up a quorum.

I do agree with the Deputy Speaker at the time, who was Mr Lucock, that no-one left the chamber. I am not here to justify any statement made by the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin). If he rushes about and makes statements to the; Prime Minister or to anybody else I would not justify them at all. Was he here at the time to see for himself? We are not here to judge whether his statement is true or whether that is the basis on which Mr Reid made his statement. 1 am not here to protect the Packer Press. T do not think much of them anyhow. 1 am here to see that justice is done. Every day of the week commentators are making wrong statements over the air about Parliament and about members of Parliament. Are we going to single out this one and impose a penalty on him when the. others go free and daily commit the same offence against members of Parliament?

I agree with the honoruable member for Path (Mr Berinson). We should not be debating this matter. It is too trivial. If there is any fault it is the fault of the Parliament, for accepting this motion as one that should go to the Committee of Privileges. If we are to investigate every complaint and every attack against members of Parliament the Committee of Privileges will never cease to sit. The statement published was not true. There is no basis for suggesting that it was true. My statement exonerates the Labor Party, if that is what it wants. If that is any credit to the Opposition. It ought to have more than 5 members in the Parliament. Because we as a parliament were guilty of accepting such a trivial motion to put before the Privileges Committee I think we should accept the Government's motion as a consequence.

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