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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1390

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I, think the Minister has put his point of order. There is no valid point of order. The honourable member for Henty is explaining the reasons why be believes the debate should be reopened and I think that the previous debate is relevant to that question.

Mr FOX - Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. My remarks as to why the Government has seen fit to curtail debate on this subject are relevant. I protest about the action that the Government has taken on this occasion. It is showing itself to be utterly ruthless on this subject and I believe it will find its actions very hard to explain to the people that it claims to represent. I cannot understand why the Government moved a motion to gag the debate, trying to reduce to a minimum debate on a subject which should be of interest to every member of this Parliament and on which, as I have said, the 3 parties represented here have a common policy. The Labor Party stated, as did the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party on their own behalf, that one of its objectives was to eliminate the means test within the life of this Parliament. That is not inconsistent with what the honourable member for Mackellar has said. He certainly wants to see the means test abolished within the life of this Parliament, but he wants to see it done sooner rather than later. For that reason I believe that the Opposition ought to be permitted to continue this debate. A number of honourable members on this side of the House - I am sure there are some on the other side - have a point of view to present on this matter. It is a scheme which, as the honourable member for Mackellar says, should not cost a very great deal of money to implement and it would correct an injustice. At the present time the Government is trying to stand up for a penalty on thrift. It is saying to people: 'If you save your money and make provision for yourself-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!The honourable gentleman is now debating the question and not the motion.

Mr FOX - Yes, I am getting a little wide of the motion. I thank you for the tolerance you have shown, Mr Deputy Speaker. But I want to make a very strong protest on behalf of honourable members on this side of the House who have given a very great deal of thought to the subject and who would like the opportunity of expressing themselves.

Mr Keogh - Tell us why you failed to do it when you were in office.

Mr FOX - Our friend opposite is trying to debate the question. He will provoke me into replying, and that will incur your displeasure, Mr Deputy Speaker. I do not want to do that. I have already explained that the honourable member who moved the motion which appears on the notice paper under general business was not the least bit inconsistent. Throughout his time in this House he has always advocated what is contained in this motion. I do not think it is right that he should not be given the opportunity of expressing himself and that his colleagues who think likewise should not be allowed to debate this matter and put it to a vote. We on this side of the House would very much like to know where the Government stands on this issue and whether it is in agreement with the motion moved by the honourable member for Mackellar. I am quite sure that the people whom honourable members opposite claim to represent would like the matter to go to a vote to see which way the Government votes. For that reason I have moved the motion to suspend Standing Orders.

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