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Tuesday, 1 May 1973
Page: 1483

Mr SNEDDEN - The reason 1 am asking for the suspension is that the principle has been violated in an unconscionable manner by the Prime Minister and his Ministry. The Minister for Social Security, as I said, wrote to me asking whether I would agree to the publication of documents. I have not actually read the documents, but they turned out to be a Cabinet submission and a report of an inter-departmental committee of the previous Government. There have been other occasions when these documents have been produced. Of course, the production of them has been extremely selective. They have been combed through for the purpose of picking out a particular point.

Mr Riordan - Mr Speaker, I wish to press the point of order I took earlier and which I thought you had upheld. The right honourable gentleman is deliberately traversing the grounds of the substantive matter for which he seeks the suspension of the Standing Orders. I submit that he is not entitled to do that.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I again ask the right honourable gentleman to keep to the reasons for the suspension of Standing Orders.

Mr SNEDDEN - That is the reason for the suspension, as I point out. Today the Prime Minister came into this chamber, produced what he believed would be favourable to him out of a group of documents and did not refer to me, to the Opposition generally or to any Minister who was concerned at the time. He had another group of documents. It was not then his intention to table them. I do not know whether they served his interests because, quite contrary to all conventions, he has not consulted me about the tabling of the documents.

Mr Hunt - He was pulling the pages out.

Mr SNEDDEN - He was pulling the pages out. I noticed that he scanned through them before the end of question time so that he could test whether he had the right selection, whether the documents would serve his interests. The Prime Minister has covered up in an outrageous way the derelictions from duty of his Attorney-General.

Mr Riordan - I rise to a point of order. The right honourable gentleman continues to flout the Standing Orders, and I protest. I again raise the point of order that he is speaking to the substantive matter for which he seeks the suspension of Standing Orders and he is not speaking to his motion to suspend the Standing Orders.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I ask the right honourable gentleman to keep to the reasons for the suspension. 1 have asked him before.

Mr SNEDDEN - This is a matter of immense importance for the democratic institution of the parliament and for the democratic continuation of our method of government. The Westminster system has been in operation for centuries. The honourable gentleman well knows that I have reason to know that he is fully aware of the convention, but notwithstanding the convention he flouts it, against all advice that I am sure he must have received. He has covered up the dereliction of duty of one of his Ministers. Today he disclosed that he knew of a circumstance on 16th April. He left his deputy as Acting Prime Minister, failing to give rum any information and allowing the Acting Prime Minister to look as big a fool as the Prime Minister looked when he sent the Australian Ambassador to make the protest in Zagreb. This is outrageous behaviour, and because it is outrageous I am moving for the suspension of Standing Orders.

If there is anybody in this House who is not a parliamentarian he will vote against the suspension of Standing Orders, but anybody in this House who is committed to the parliamentary system, and to the sense of democracy and the way it has been built up by people over the centuries will vote for the suspension. Then we will be able to have the production to this House of a single document which the Prime Minister said contained 2 things. The Prime Minister revealed one of them. That was the alleged conspiracy of public servants not to provide information extra to that which was given in the note of the Yugoslav Government. That was one of the 2 halves of the document. The other half of the document was disclosed by Senator Murphy. He said there was a document which showed that there was to be an invasion of Yugoslavia. The fact is that £he invasion he referred to was mentioned in the newspapers in Belgrade and Vienna. It was from there that the super sleuths sent across here and the Commonwealth Police investigated the matter. That is what is in the document. There is nothing of national security. All that remains in the document is something which will be politically embarrassing to the Prime Minister. If he is so good at selecting things to help him, why is he not honest and why does he not act with probity and produce all the documents? Why does he not agree to a judicial inquiry into the whole affair? Since he last refused a judicial inquiry matter upon matter has come up.

The Prime Minister says that the AttorneyGeneral just forgot to tell him because he thought somebody else would. Did the Prime Minister authorise a newspaperman in his entourage to write that he was furious with

Senator Murphy?How does he reconcile authorising that respected newspaper man to write that he was furious when he says today: It was all a misunderstanding'? This is the way he puts people into a position which shatters their standards. Meanwhile he seeks to escape all responsibility. While he may in his own view walk across the water, he will soon find that he has holes in his shoes.

Mr SPEAKER -Is the motion seconded?

Mr Sinclair - 1 second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

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