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Tuesday, 3 April 1973
Page: 1023

Mr DALY (Minister for Services and Property) - There is no doubt that the Opposition is extremely edgy. Whether it is because of this legislation or the prospect of facing the electors again I leave to the populace to judge. Tonight a motion has been moved to suspend Standing Orders in respect of something that members opposite do not know will happen. I told the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) that something might happen, but how does he know that I am not pulling his leg? Honourable members opposite will look silly if his claim is not correct. Here we have the great defenders of democracy opposite demanding that Standing Orders be suspended to enable them to debate this great issue that is before the Parliament. Do honourable members know why they have moved this motion? Honourable members opposite want their long list of speakers to be heard in order to stop me from speaking and tearing their attack to ribbons. The world knows this is so.

When this debate commenced a list of 16 speakers was supplied by the Opposition. The Government nominated 1 6 speakers also. Members opposite knew that when those speakers had been heard I would reply to the Opposition's spurious arguments. But today they introduced further speakers - members who could not speak in an iron lung - to defend their attitude. Many of the defenders opposite are from the Country Party. They are clinging to their ill gotten gains and trailing behind them like poodle dogs yapping at their heels are members of the Liberal Party. They know that if they do not hang together they will hang separately. That is why they have moved this motion to enable them to discuss this great measure. However, in debating this motion for the suspension of Standing Orders on such a high sounding principle, as they call it, they have wasted the time which would have been allotted to a couple of speakers. I told members opposite this morning that in due course the second reading debate would finish and the Government would allow every member of the Opposition who so desired to speak during the Committee stage of the Bill. This would have enabled those who now cry to high heaven for justice in this place the right to express their point of view, certainly with a limited time of 10 minutes, but when all is said and done not everyone can speak for 20 minutes on every second reading debate. Was that not a fair offer to make to honourable members opposite?

Mr Malcolm Fraser - No.

Mr DALY - Was it not? I tell the people of Australia that this morning I offered every member opposite the right to speak on this Bill but they rejected it. I do not say that members of the Liberal Party would have rejected it but they were told to do so by the Country Party. We know that when the Country Party speaks all those brilliant men opposite-

Mr Giles - Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not want to stop the fun and games or the tirade of the Minister but I think I should take a point of order for the sake of accuracy. At the tail end of last week a complete list of speakers from the Liberal Party and the Country Party was given to the Government Whip. It is not my fault if there is no co-operation on the Government side, but that is the truth.

Mr SPEAKER - There is no point of order. The Chair is not made aware of any arrangements between the Whips.

Mr DALY - I point out to honourable members that when this debate concludes, even if it is gagged now, about 7 hours will have been allowed for the second reading debate and 20 members will have spoken. As every supporter of the Government knows, those in Opposition have been guilty of tedious repetition. Honourable member** know as well as I do that the Government gave the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) an extension of time, and he is only the third most important man opposite. In addition the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) was given 45 minutes in which to speak, which was stretching it a bit. The novernment was prepared to give extra time to any third member opposite who wanted to speak, but no-one accepted the offer. Yet these are the members who say they want time to talk on this measure. This is nothing but a lot of humbug, as honourable members opposite know. The honourable member for Gippsland spoke about the gag. Members from this side of the House knocked up coming in and out to vote on gag motions when the Opposition was in Government. Members opposite forget that for 23 years when we sat in Opposition we were constantly gagged because the then Government did not have a case. In the 4 weeks of this Parliament on only 2 or 3 occasions has the curtailment of a debate occurred and this was simply because members opposite were frustrating the duly elected Government of Australia, which has an overwhelming mandate to legislate in the interests of the people. Everyone knows that this motion is a phoney proposition. Members opposite are desperate. No doubt they have read the Brisbane municipal results, so why would they not be upset? Why would not the members of the Country Party be worried about what is happening from Brisbane to the Gulf of Carpentaria?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The Minister is becoming very provocative.

Mr DALY - Mr Speaker, you realise that 1 have been unduly provoked by this episode. 1 contend, however, that this motion is a phoney proposition. - We listened to the honourable member for Gippsland this evening. He did not say anything new but repeated the same old Country Party philosophy that he has put forward in days gone by. This Government believes in open government. It believes also in freedom of discussion. I repeat that I offered all honourable members opposite the right to speak on this Bill but they would not accept that offer.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. If the Government believes in freedom of discussion will those public servants against whom a charge of conspiracy was made this morning be allowed to speak to it?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! That is not a point of order.

Mr DALY - Is is interesting to note how touchy the Opposition is on this question. Had the time of the House not been taken up with this particular debate we would have been listening to a first class speech from a supporter of the Government on this Bill. By moving this motion honourable members opposite have denied to one of their shadow Ministers the right to speak on the measure. I did not deny him that right. This has been caused by the moving of this motion. The former Minister for Shipping and Transport, the honourable member for Gippsland, ran out of matter when he was debating this Bill and with 5 minutes of his time remaining moved this motion to fill in his time. The world knows this, and that is why I mention it now for the benefit of honourable members.

Let me give a clear exposition of what will happen with this Bill. The second reading debate is not yet finished, and I will not indicate what my intentions are in that regard, but tomorrow honourable members will be debating this Bill for a reasonably considerable time. Members will be given the opportunity to participate in the debate during the Committee stage of the Bill. Unless there is undue frustration they may debate the Bill. The fact of the matter, however, is that members of the Liberal Party are prepared to drag along at the heels of the Country Party and frustrate the will of the Parliament by trying to stop legislation. The Government must, in the interests of the people this Bill seeks to serve, take effective action in the Parliament to see that its legislation is passed. The former Minister for Education and Science, the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has said: 'Let us have a dissolution'. There were not many cheers when he said that because even if he has not done so, many others opposite have read the election results. In the other place where the Opposition has the numbers the attitude to this Bill can be decided. Let members of that place decide what they will do. In the other place there is unlimited speaking time. The interesting feature of this debate is that every member of the Country Party is in the chamber at this stage. This is unusual but they know that they are desperate men and anything they can do to try to discredit this legislation is worth attempting. Do members of the Country Party say that they do not believe in one vote one value? The honourable member for Wannon says that he does.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Is the Minister not moving a little wide of the debate about the suspension of Standing Orders?

Mr SPEAKER - I think the honourable member is right. The Minister will come back to his reasons why the motion to suspend Standing Orders should be rejected.

Mr DALY - I thought I had summed the situation up clearly. I can understand the touchiness of members opposite. If members opposite wanted to debate this measure they would not have interrupted it with a frivolous motion of this kind. It is clear that they do not want to debate the Bill. If they had wanted to do so they would have permitted one of their shadow ministers to proceed with the debate and not fallen for the claim of the former Minister for Shipping and Transport who said that he has read my mind and knows that the debate will be stopped. Members opposite are very touchy if they get upset about a debate being stopped on one occasion because they know that on hundreds of occasions members from this side, when in Opposition, were not allowed to debate not only the most important matters but also the most flimsy matters. The worst offender in seeing that the gag was moved was the former Minister for Supply. So tonight I am not upset by the phoney opposition to the proposition that we are putting up. Why do not honourable members opposite allow the debate to take its course and in that way see what God will bring to them? Then they will know our intentions.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The Minister's time has expired.

Motion (by Mr Nicholls) put:

That the question be now put.

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