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Thursday, 5 April 1973
Page: 1144

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - Immediately before the suspension of the sitting for lunch my colleague the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) moved that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent any member of this House making a statement in relation to the remarks of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) referring to their association as puppets with people outside the House. During the course of this morning's proceedings the Prime Minister made a series of references which were, completely unjustified in their form and somewhat hysterical in their presentation. They related not only to our conduct as individuals on this side of the chamber but also to the pattern which we followed in our time in government. As individuals several of us - in fact all of us - have risen and objected to the manner of the allegations of the Prime Minister. You yourself, Mr Speaker, in the context of the rulings you gave this morning said, in relation to a point of order taken by my colleague the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson), that if he personally took exception to the remarks which were directed in general to the Country Party but which he felt were directed particularly to him they should be withdrawn. The Prime Minister has not withdrawn those remarks, and because he has not withdrawn those remarks specifically we on this side of the House feel that it is essential that we should not be prejudiced by completely unjustified and unsubstantiated allegations made against us by the Prime Minister.

There is in this place a very real need to ensure that justice not only be seen and observed but be practised if it is to be seen, observed and practised in the rest of the community. The proceedings of having allegations made in an unsubstantiated fashion which was implemented by the Prime Minister give us on this side of the House no opportunity to defend ourselves. The only way we can gain this opportunity is by moving a motion for suspension of Standing Orders to enable us to refute completely the allegations that the Prime Minister has made. Every one of us on this side of the House has been associated in the context of the references by the Prime Minister. Each of us was included in a broad bracket in a way which suggested that we in some way had been guilty of an association, which of course is nonsensical. So is any suggestion that in any way the administration of the previous Government failed, because we quite effectively demonstrated efforts to try to ensure that if there were any terrorist activities in the community they should be contained. The fact is that the former Attorney-General yesterday in another place produced a series of references which effectively demonstrated how during the course of the life of the last Government we endeavoured to pursue to the ultimate inquiries into all segments of extremism in our community.

It is essential that we should not be vilified without an opportunity to defend ourselves. The only procedure that is available to us is by turning to your own ruling, Mr Speaker, and suggesting that the ruling which you made and which has not been taken up by the Prime Minister should in fact be implemented. It is only by moving for a suspension of Standing Orders and by suggesting that members on this side of the House be permitted to make statements relative to the charges laid that we have and can have any opportunity at all to defend ourselves and to demonstrate to the people of Australia that, unlike the present regime, we pursued practices which pertained to the proper administration of the law which enabled individuals to rest secure in their own homes without the fear of police intervention in the wee small hours of the morning, without the fear of that knock on the door - the knock on the door that for so many was the genesis of their wishing to leave their former country to come to Australia, a fear to which now so many migrants to this country must unfortunately be subject again. It is only by having an opportunity to make statements to rebut the charges of the Prime Minister that we on this side of the House can for all time lay at rest the thought that in any way we were less than diligent in our efforts to ensure that justice was duly exercised and that in any way any one of us would condone violence in our community or subscribe to the allegation that we were puppets of people here or in any other part of the world. Indeed, we on this side of the House believe that the charges are completely unjustified and believe that it is only by the suspension of Standing Orders that we can clear our name of the unjustified charges by the Prime Minister.

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