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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 208

Mr LUCOCK (Lyne) - I second the motion. I support the remarks of the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) for 2 major reasons. Firstly, one of the accusations which supporters of the present Government made when they were in Opposition was that there was not sufficient time given in this House to debate international affairs. This afternoon a very important statement was made to the House by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam). That statement was answered in a very adequate and competent speech made by the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock) in which he pointed out some very pertinent factors concerning this Government's policies on international affairs. I believe that in this situation in our history on the international scene it is of vital importance that this Parliament should set the record straight in regard to the attitude of both the Government and the Opposition in the field of international affairs. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to make a statement in this House and to give a report - as I think he should have done - on his visit overseas, but on a number of occasions in recent times in the international scene he has made statements which are statements of the Prime Minister of Australia. I believe there is trepidation in some of the countries close to Australia regarding Australia's policy and the action that it is taking.

I believe that adequate opportunity should be given by the Government so that members of the Opposition can put forward what is a considered opinion of a proportion of the people of this country. I believe that it is even more important today because the daily program states that there is to be a visit to this Parliament by a Mexican parliamentary delegation. Surely, as this report from the Prime Minister covered a visit to that country, adequate time should be given for discussion and adequate time should be given for the presentation of a point of view for which we make no apologies and which is a complete and absolute contradiction of those things which the Prime Minister has said overseas in recent months. I believe that this is one of the major reasons why this House should support the motion that has been moved for the suspension of the Standing Orders. We do not move a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders lightly. We know that there is a normal process for the business of the House to proceed.

In regard to some of the comments made by Government supporters, I point out that every time they moved for the suspension of Standing Orders when they were in Opposition they stood firm on the rights of an opposition to have its say in this Parliament. The record shows that on a number of occasion the Opposition moved for the suspension of Standing Orders when the importance was not so great as it is today. For those reasons I support completely and absolutely the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders to enable a vital and very important subject to be discussed fully and adequately so that people in the countries close to Australia might know that not everyone in this country is of the opinion that the policy followed by the Prime Minister is the one which is the sanest and of the greatest advantage to this country.

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