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Wednesday, 12 September 1973
Page: 842


Mr MacKELLAR (Warringah) - 1 think this matter arose due to a lack of clarification in the answer given by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and you, in your statement yesterday, Mr Speaker, said that if the Prime Minister were to read Hansard, in view of the matter-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I should like to enlighten the honourable member for Warringah in regard to his rights in this matter. If a matter of privilege is to he raised it cannot proceed and be given precedence over all other business unless, in the opinion of the Chair, a prima facie case of a breach of privilege has been made out. I suggest that if the honourable member wants to talk about it, he should put a notice of motion on the notice paper.


Mr Wentworth - Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. The crux of the matter is the prima facie matter of privilege, in the opinion of the Chair. You, Mr Speaker, will form an opinion after considering all the facts and since the forming of an opinion is germane to the procedure, surely honourable members should be entitled to speak to you now so as to help you in forming that opinion. There' is one point which I think may have escaped your attention, Mr Speaker. This House has for

Australia the responsibility in regard to foreign affairs. It is very important that honourable members should have the full facility to give to this House their advice or their views after having ascertained the facts as best they can. It may well be that in an important matter like this, it is part of the privilege of members, which is germane to their discharge of what is probably their most important duty in this House, to be able to visit freely countries overseas, relations with which are important.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Mackellar is now debating the subject matter. The honourable member for Warringah will not be stifled in any way if he puts a notice of motion on the notice paper. As has already been outlined by the Leader of the House these notices will be dealt with accordingly and every opportunity will be given to the person moving a notice of motion to speak to that motion. No endeavour will be made in any way to stifle the honourable member.


Mr MacKellar - I raise a point of order. My decision whether to put the matter on the notice paper bears very largely on the answer that the Prime Minister gives to the question whether members of Parliament on official passports will be allowed to visit Taiwan. He has not said that they will not be allowed. Before I can make a decision on placing the matter on the notice paper I need to know from the Prime Minister whether members of Parliament are to be prevented from travelling to Taiwan on official passports.


Mr SPEAKER -I should like to make it perfectly clear that I have no control over what the Prime Minister does in answering questions. That is his own prerogative. However. I am concerned with whether matters of privilege are involved. No matter of privilege is involved in this question. That is my ruling.


Mr Scholes - On the matter-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! Are you taking a point of order?


Mr Scholes - I want to raise a matter related to your ruling.


Mr SPEAKER - That is a point of order.


Mr Scholes - It is in point, yes. Passports issued by the previous Government contain the clause: 'Not valid for travel to East Germany,

Mainland China, North Korea, or North Vietnam'. On the opposite page appears in red type: 'The bearer is a member of the House of Representatives of Australia.' I suggest that that practice should clear up any matter of privilege.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! You are debating the pros and cons of the question. I am concerned with whether it is a matter of privilege. My ruling is that it is not a matter of privilege.


Mr Wilson - Mr Speaker, did you yesterday suggest that the Prime Minister should read Hansard? Did he in fact read Hansard and answer the question you suggested he should answer?


Mr SPEAKER - It is correct that I suggested that, but I restate that I have no control over whether the Prime Minister answers a question.







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