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Wednesday, 11 April 1973
Page: 1294

Mr SCHOLES (Corio) - I will not delay the House more than a couple of moments, but I think it should be pointed out that the motion moved by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) arises out of a situation which has been a bone of contention among members of this House for as long as I have been a member of it and over the total period that I spent on the Opposition benches. The point of order raised by the honourable member for Bradfield was repeatedly taken by members of the previous Opposition when Ministers made what we considered to be irrelevant answers, and all of those Ministers hid behind the fact that the Speaker's ruling has always been that a Minister has the right to answer a question in the manner in which he sees fit. This was the ruling given by Mr Speaker Aston. I realise that honourable members opposite believe that there are 2 standards in this place - a standard for them in office and a standard that would give them the complete control of this House when in opposition. But the facts of this case are indisputable. I defy any member of the Opposition to quote one instance in the last 6 years where Mr Speaker Aston when ruling on a point of order raised by the Opposi tion under standing order 142 said that the Minister concerned was not entitled to answer the question asked of him in the manner in which he saw fit. Not even a fool - let alone a respected member of this Parliament - would suggest that every answer given by Ministers in the previous Government was relevant to their responsibilities. This is a time wasting exercise. Whilst I respect the integrity of the honourable member for Bradfield, I believe this is part of a planned campaign to denigrate the standing of the Chair in this House.

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