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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1398

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I suggest to the honourable gentleman that the motion relates to the Speaker and not to the Prime Minister.

Mr WENTWORTH - Of course, and I am pointing out that the Speaker should apply this rule to the Prime Minister because it is particularly dangerous in the present situation for 3 reasons. The first reason is that the Prime Minister has authority. The secondreason is that the authority is subject to the' control of an outside body. It is therefore particularly important that the Speaker should keep the Prime Minister in order. The third reason is that because the Prime Minister has shown in the past evidence of what we now see at the table, namely, that he is overbearing and-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I think the honourable member is reflecting on a former Speaker of this House and not debating the motion.

Mr WENTWORTH - If you have noticed, as I have noticed, the almost timid and frightened glances running from the present Speaker to the present Prime Minister you would see what I meant. He is frightened of his position.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I think that remark is offensive to the Chair.

Mr WENTWORTH - This is the substance of it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I think the remark is offensive to the Chair and I ask the honourable gentleman to withdraw it.

Mr WENTWORTH - Yes. I am trying-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -I recognise that the motion is a motion of some form of censure of the Chair but I do not think that that type of remark can be tolerated in the House.

Mr WENTWORTH - Quite. I withdraw, as you say. I am not meaning this as censure of the Chair. I am saying that it should be a warning to the Chair, not a censure. I do not mean it as a censure. I mean it as a warning. I am trying to make clear the conduct and attitude of mind which lies behind the conduct which, it seems to me, is the substance of this motion. I have to try to describe what I see as the substance of the motion. It is very difficult for me, Mr Deputy Speaker, in terms of your ruling to proceed in this way. The Speaker does appear to me to be overmuch concerned with what the Prime Minister thinks of him. This is evidenced by the 2 instances I have given in which the Speaker has not used, as he should have done, standing order 77 in order to bring the Prime Minister to heel. It is his duty to do that. It may be that he is not frightened to do it. I must not use that term because you do not think it is the kind of expression that should be used. But there is a difference. When we were in control of the House the Speaker was not frightened of his position. When we were in control of the House there was never any thought of removing the Speaker from the Chair because he was unwilling to be complaisant and because he was unwilling to favour the Government.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I think that is a fairly serious reflection on the Chair.

Mr WENTWORTH - There was no reflection. I am saying that when we were the Government no Speaker-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I think the honourable gentleman is making a play on words and I think he realises it as well as the House does. I suggest that what he is saying is a very serious reflection on the Chair. If he was moving a censure motion on the Chair I would allow it, but in this form of motion I suggest that he withdraw it.

Mr WENTWORTH - Right. If I may not speak of the way-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to withdraw the remark.

Mr WENTWORTH - This is the most serious thing I want to say. I want to make it clear that it is very important.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honourable gentleman has not withdrawn.

Mr WENTWORTH - I withdraw, of course.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.15 p.m.

Mr WENTWORTH - Before we suspended the sitting for lunch I made some points which I just summarise under 2 heads. First, I think that Mr Speaker has not sufficiently applied standing order 77, which requires him to intervene for the protection of members against whom offensive words have been used, and that standing order puts the initiative on him and not on the member who is offended. I think, as I have said, that the Speaker has honoured this in the breach rather than in the observance. The second and more serious point I made is that I believe the Speaker has been showing too much deference to the Prime Minister and this is particularly dangerous in view of the set up of the party to which they both belong. I do not want to labour this matter.I brought on this motion because I believe that these points should be brought to the attention of the Speaker while the situation is still, as it were, fluid, because he is new in the chair. Mr Deputy Speaker, my seconder of this motion has not been in Canberra this week and is not in the House at the moment. I wanted to have an opportunity to say what I did, but I am not going to proceed with the motion. I am not going to call for a seconder.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!Is the motion seconded? The motion is not seconded, so the motion lapses.

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