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Thursday, 1 March 1973
Page: 148

Mr ERWIN (Ballaarat) - The honourable member for Chifley (Mr Armitage) made quite a to-do about the previous Government putting 17 Bills through this chamber in the one night by the use of the gag and the guillotine. I want to tell him the truth. Nineteen Bills went through in the one night.

Mr Armitage - No, 17 Bills went through by use of the guillotine.

Mr ERWIN - Just hold on; 19 Bills went through in the one night and the gag or the guillotine was not used at any time. The reason for the 19 Bills going through was that the members of the Opposition went to sleep. After 8 o'clock they dozed off and they did not know what was going on. They became completely lost. The Opposition members who were in charge of the Bills were not in the chamber. We had complete co-operation between the Government parties and we got 19 Bills through in the one night, only because the Opposition was sound asleep.

Mr Wentworth - Mr Deputy Speaker-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!The honourable member for Mackellar has already spoken in the debate and cannot take any further part in it.

Mr Wentworth - May ] move an amendment?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - No; the honourable member has already spoken in the debate.

Mr DALY(Grayndler - Leader of the House (3.51) - in reply - Anybody listening to the debate this afternoon, particularly the speeches from the Opposition side, would have no doubts as to why honourable members opposite were rejected at the last Federal election. They are the people who were trying to run this country for the last 20 years. For one hour and 10 minutes they have argued about whether or not there will be an extension of one minute to the time allowed for honourable members to enter this chamber for a division. Have honourable members ever in their lives heard such rot as when the honourable member for Toorak thundered into the attack, in his new position as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to fight for a minute for the Opposition?


Order! I suggest that the Minister refer to the honourable member by his correct electorate name.

Mr DALY - 1 refer to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch). 1 have not quite worked it out yet, but that is my understanding of his position from the Press. It was mentioned today that this rule has not been changed for 73 years. There are many rules that have not been changed for 73 years and it is nearly time that some of them were changed. If it takes that long to change rules, it is no wonder that on many occasions this aud other parliaments do not function effectively.

The first thing J should like to say is that this is not a permanent measure. The Liberal Party in its wisdom decided to demolish half of Parliament House and that has caused inconvenience to not only the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) but also other members of the Ministry and various other people as well as private members. Private members received j no consideration at all from the previous Government and today they are as inconvenienced as Ministers are. Therefore, all we are seeking to do, pending the completion of the renovations which are being carried out, is to provide extra time for honourable members to enter the chamber for a division. I mentioned today that we have heard a lot about the justice associated with the previous Government. The fact of the matter is that no other government ever took away from private members more of their rights in this Parliament than did those who sit opposite. No other government ever gave less to private members than did those who sit opposite, whether it be speaking time, facilities or anything at all. The humbug and the hypocrisy coming from honourable members opposite nearly make me sick after sitting here for 30 years and listening to the drivel that they put forward.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that I spent a bit of time overseas. Anybody who was given the Overseas Property Bureau to administer after the previous Government had been handling it would know that I should spend all my time abroad to take up the slack or the leeway that the previous Government left as a legacy for us to remedy. The Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) said that I was somewhat decrepit and that I had to have an office n.-ar the chamber, ft is funny that when I was looking for an office I was told by certain people that the office closest to the chamber was occupied by him. They said that he had to have an office close to the chamber in order to get into the chamber quickly because he was known as the tortoise of the Country Party. They said to me: 'Mr Daly, it is not because you are slow but because you must be in the chamber so often that we are putting you in the closest room'. So, 1 have a reasonably good office that was given over by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party.

Honourable members opposite refer to the whittling down of members' rights in respect of the one minute that will be used up in the ringing of the bells and say that Cabinet Ministers and others could easily reach the chamber in 2 minutes. They talk about the great amount of time that will be loy' by extending the time for the ringing or the division bells by one minute. There will not be such a great loss of time because this is a democratic government. The restriction of free speech is opposed to the principles on which we were elected. We have no intention of following the infamous example of honourable members opposite in the ruthless use of the gag and the restriction of debate in this Parliament. There is no need to worry about these matters. However, let us look at the facts of the case. The old Cabinet room is 80 paces from the Senate and it takes 40 seconds walking quickly to cover that distance. The new Cabinet room is 180 paces from this chamber and walking flat out it takes one minute 45 seconds to cover the distance, provided one is prepared to knock a few people out of the way, hurry down stairs and pass through a few doors. Is it not logical to expect that something should be done about the situation? lt was interesting to listen to members opposite speak about why this proposal to extend the time for the ringing of the bells is not wanted. It is interesting to note that the Opposition parties when in government had their own committee on the Standing Orders recommend that the time should be extended to 3 minutes. Today the great defenders of democracy, who did not care when it was suggested that 1 minute should be taken away from the Australian Labor Party, find the situation somewhat different. As one honourable member said, this is an amazing reversal of attitude. Today, for a time, I thought members opposite were fair dinkum. They spoke with conviction. One former Minister said that the Government sought to restrict debate and that he was not able to reply to charges made against him this morning. The shadow Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), would have plenty of time to speak during the Address-in-Reply debate. At present there are about 50 members listed to speak during that debate, but he is not game enough to put his name on the list to enable him to reply to the charges he so much resents. Members opposite claim that we are restricting their rights. Earlier they said we were trying to push measures through. I was here when the previous government arranged for 17 or 18 Bills to be passed in about 4 hours. Those Bills went through like sausages, and they were not much better.

Sufficient time has been wasted debating this motion. The Liberal Party and the Country Party have given us a vision of their great strength in being united on this great issue. They were fighting for one minute and they stuck together like glue. It was lovely to see them standing as one in this place, fighting for democracy and justice and to save one minute. The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) is smiling now that the parties have come together again. Hie parties to the old shotgun wedding have had a reunion. They are in harness again and are enjoying a second honeymoon - all over one minute. The attitude of members opposite is simply humbug. Their remarks should be treated as a joke. They have put up an argument that cannot be substantiated. The real reason that they oppose the motion is to try to persuade people outside that they are the defenders of democracy, free speech and expression in this Parliament. If anyone listening is silly enough to believe that, their minds will soon be disabused when I relate the record of the Opposition parties when I move the next motion standing in my name.

I opened this debate in a kindly and friendly spirit. I tried to do my best for the Parliament. I thought I would be helping some of those aging members of the Country Party as well as some very active, virile and busy Ministers. At the same time I thought I would enable every honourable member from the Prime Minister down to have the right to be in the chamber and vote when necessary. I moved the motion in a non-partisan spirit. Little did 1 dream that I would arouse a united attack from members opposite over one dear little minute of debating time. I appeal to honourable members not to divide the House on this motion because if they do they will waste a minute or two and, after all, they want all the time they can get to discuss matters. They want plenty of time at their disposal, so they should not waste a second. I hope to see the time when no time will be wasted in divisions and numbers will be recorded electronically as in some other Parliaments.

Let us be practical. The Opposition, when in government, half demolished Parliament House. It pretty well demolished itself into the bargain. Members opposite have taken 1 hour 10 minutes to discuss this motion. I have some sad news for them. They will not be allowed 1 hour 10 minutes to debate the next motion. If they can waste 1 hour 10 minutes debating one minute, they might take 3 days debating something that really matters. Little did I dream that in their first attack in this Parliament members opposite would look so silly in the eyes of the Australian public. I urge the House to support the motion and give away one minute in the interests of restoring democracy to the Parliament and maintaining the rights of members to vote here. Members opposite should not forget the recommendation of their own committee on the Standing Orders.

Question put -

That the motion (Mr Daly's) be agreed to.

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