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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 852

Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) - The Prime Minister has just said - these may not be his exact words but I do not think that he will quarrel with the meaning of them - that in the early days of his Government he authorised and directed the. Attorney-General to pursue the issue which he says was not pursued by the previous Government. At the time he made the request or gave the direction did he have any confidence in the standing of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation? Did he contemplate at the time he gave the direction that there could be an incursion into the headquarters of that organisation of the kind that occurred, with the executive police force of the Commonwealth of 27 policemen? After he learned that the incursion or raid - as it is properly described - had happened, did he direct the Attorney-General to produce to him as Prime Minister the evidence which the Attorney-General had sought at the raids in Canberra and Melbourne? Was that evidence produced? Will the Prime Minister now produce the evidence that was given to him as a result of any direction he gave? Is it a fact that what Senator Murphy found in Canberra was a copy of a document and that, as a result of finding it, he decided to proceed to Melbourne, being preceded by Commonwealth Police who were instructed to seal all safes and to prevent the free movement of members of the staff of ASIO? Was the original of that document found? Finally, has there been any reduction in the provision of security intelligence information to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation since these unprecedented actions occurred?

Mr WHITLAM - The serious matter asked by the right honourable gentleman is contained in his last sentence. The answer to that is no. The latest incursion which worried me, as it worried my predecessor as Prime Minister and also worried my predecessor as Foreign Minister, was the incursion into a friendly nation by several persons, nine of whom had been resident in Australia and six of whom had been naturalised in Australia. As Foreign Minister I had to follow up an interim reply which was given in about August of last year to a protest note from that country. It is my duty to see that there are good relations with other countries. We had not done what we should to safeguard those relations. Perhaps it might suit honourable gentlemen to be reminded of my own interest in this matter. The Department of Foreign Affairs annual report for 1968-69 stated:

There have been some demonstrations against Yugoslav offices in Australia, mostly inspired or carried out by the extremists or terrorist elements formerly in Croatia or from other parts of Yugoslavia.

I quote again from an answer which was given to me by the then Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs on 28tb April 1971. He said:

Various organisations in Australia celebrate 10th April 1941 as the date of Croatian independence. On 6th April 1941, Hitler attacked Yugoslavia as a prelude to its subsequent occupation and dismemberment. As part of this operation on 10th April 1941 the Germans created a puppet Croatian state, dominated by the Ustasha terrorist movement under Ante Pavelic, who had until then been an exile in Italy. The victory Of the Yugoslav Resistance in the war against Germany put an end to the so-called independent state of Croatia.

Australia has never recognised the independence of Croatia. Honourable gentlemen will remember also that less than a year ago by way of questions and statements I had deplored the fact that-

Mr Snedden - On a point of order, Mr Speaker, if the honourable gentleman wishes to traverse these matters there will be opportunity in the debate next week. Will he now answer the question asked?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I have pointed out repeatedly that it is within the province of a Minister to answer a question as he sees fit.

Mr WHITLAM - Mr Speaker, I am going to the basic matters which the former government responsible for them failed to face - those things which have jeopardised our relations with other countries and jeopardised Australian residents and particularly people who have come here as migrants. As I was about to say, I had pointed out less than a year ago, by way of questions, and a speech or more in this House, that in the national capital, which is under total Federal jurisdiction, and also in other parts of the country, particularly for instance in my electorate, where there are more

Yugoslav migrants than in any other electorate in Australia, there are to be found club premises with, in a place of honour, photographs of Pavelic, the Ustasha flag-

Mr Garland - I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker, I realise the import of your ruling that the Prime Minister can answer a question more or less as he sees fit-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! What is your point of order?

Mr Garland - My point is to refer to standing order 145. I think it is pertinent to all the remarks of the Prime Minister so far in answer to this question. It states:

An answer shall be relevant to the question.

It goes that far.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! No point of order is involved. As my predecessor quite adamantly and often announced in this House, a Minister can answer a question as he sees fit. It would seem to me that a lot of the points of order being taken are completely frivolous and are being taken with the idea of having your voice picked up by the microphone and heard by the public.

Mr WHITLAM - There are clubs in the capital city of Australia and in other parts of Australia, including my electorate, where a place of honour is given to photographs of Pavelic, where the Ustasha flag is flown, where 10th April is celebrated.

Mr Gorton - Mr Speaker, due to the kind of answer being given, I move:

That the Prime Minister be not further heard.

Mr WHITLAM - I do not wish to delay the House with frivolities. I move:

That further questions be placed on notice.

Mr Snedden - 1 rise on a point of order! It is the long-standing practice of this Parliament that question time will go for 45 minutes. The Prime Minister has, by his action, totally failed to honour an undertaking he gave in this House on an earlier occasion.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! No point of order is involved. It has nothing to do with the Chair whether question time continues for half an hour, one hour or 2 hours. It is a matter for the Prime Minister alone, and for the Government.

Mr Snedden - Mr Speaker,you have so ruled. I told you when you were appointed by the members of this House to the office you hold that we would agree with you when we thought you were right. If you so rule, we will not depart from your ruling; but I take this opportunity, Mr Speaker, to tell you that 1 believe your remark to the honourable member for Curtin was uncalled for and was offensive.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! It was not uncalled for at all. I am receiving a lot of frivolous points or order. There is no doubt that they are frivolous. There is no doubt also that the honourable members who are raising them know that they are frivolous and if they persist with this attitude I will take direct action.

Mr Snedden - There was a motion before the Chair that the Prime Minister be no longer heard. Is it your intention to put that question?

Mr SPEAKER - Yes, it is my intention to put that question. I stated that earlier but then the Prime Minister said to put further questions on notice. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to persist with that motion I will certainly put the question.

Mr Gorton - Mt Speaker, would you clarify a point of order? It seems to me that there are 2 motions before the Chair. One is mine that the Prime Minister be no longer heard and the other is the Prime Minister's when he moved that further questions be put on notice.

Mr Enderby - He does not move it; he just requests it.

Mr Gorton - He did move it. I suggest that honourable members who do not agree look at Hansard tomorrow. It was put in the form of a motion.

Mr Whitlam - Speaking to the point of order, it now being 10.45 may I ask that further questions be placed on notice.

Mr SPEAKER -The Prime Minister: was not entitled to move that further questions be placed on notice. He has only to ask that they be placed on notice.

Mr Gorton - Yes, but he did move it, did he not?

Mr SPEAKER - That is correct.

Mr Gorton - In that case I will speak to that motion.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Which motion?

Mr Gorton - His motion, presumably.

Mr SPEAKER - As the Prime Minister's motion was out of order, the right honourable gentleman is out of order in speaking to it.

Mr Gorton - Thank you, Mr Speaker, you have ruled the Prime Minister's motion out of order and I will now speak to mine.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The right honourable gentleman cannot defy the Chair. If the Prime Minister's motion was out of order then the right honourable member is out of order in referring to it.

Mr Gorton - May I now speak to mine, Mr Speaker?

Mr SPEAKER - No. The Standing Orders do not permit it.

Mr Gorton - I would like to understand; that is all.

Mr SPEAKER -Is the right honourable member defying the Chair?

Mr Gorton - No, I am not. I just want to know: Is it out of order for me to speak to my motion that the Prime Minister be no longer heard?


Mr Gorton - That seems quite wrong.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - They are running this place like a lot of hill-billies.

Mr SPEAKER - Order!

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Not you.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! That is a reflection on the Chair and I ask the honourable member to withdraw it. I warn the honourable member: One more crack like that and you are out. Standing order 94 states:

A motion may be made that a Member who ls speaking, except a Member giving a notice of motion or formally moving the terms of a motion allowed under the Standing Orders, 'be not further heard', and such question' shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.

Is it the intention of the right honourable member for Higgins to proceed with the motion?

Mr Gorton - No, Mr Speaker. Since the Prime Minister has stopped talking I will not bother him any more.

Question resolved in the negative.

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