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Thursday, 20 September 1973
Page: 1319


Mr CONNOR (Cunningham) (Minister for Minerals and Energy) - This is the reduction to absurdity of the processes of the national Parliament. I do not know of an instance in parliamentary history where there has been an absurd manoeuvre-


Mr Peacock - You are an unprincipled rogue.


Mr SPEAKER


Mr CONNOR - You withdraw that. Mr Speaker, I ask for a withdrawal. It was an unprincipled comment.


Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Kooyong will withdraw that remark.


Mr CONNOR - Unreservedly, Sir.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Kooyong will withdraw that remark unreservedly.


Mr Peacock - I withdraw the remark. It is quite clear that the Minister regards himself as a rogue with a degree of principle.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member for Kooyong will resume his seat.


Mr CONNOR - He has not withdrawn his remark. I ask for the remark to be withdrawn unreservedly.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member said yes when I made my request to him to withdraw it unreservedly.


Mr CONNOR - Mr Speaker, the whole matter is as simple as this - and I will quote from the Hansard report of last night's proceedings. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) last night, according to page 1283 of Hansard, quoted from a speech made by the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) as follows:

As to off-shore minerals other than petroleum, the Commonwealth is of the view that it should proceed on the footing that it enjoys total rights outside the 3-mile limit. It proposes to legislate in pursuance of this section.

The honourable member for Blaxland quoted verbatim from the Hansard record of 15 May 1970, when the right honourable member for Higgins uttered precisely those words. The honourable member for Blaxland is reported at page 1283 of Hansard as having said last night that the right honourable member for Higgins told the then Minister:

Eliminate from any proposed letter any suggestion that the Commonwealth will not legislate unilaterally until after the completion of full and frank discussions with the States on this matter.

At page 2243 of Hansard of 15 May 1970 the right honourable member for Higgins is reported as saying:

For this reason I would prefer that you eliminate from your proposed letter the suggestion that the Commonwealth will not legislate unilaterally until after the completion of full and frank discussions with the States on this matter.

On that basis, in their desperate, foolish attempt at mock heroics on a silly issue, honourable members opposite, including the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) of all people, rushed in. .Was there ever a more absurd situation in this House than that a select committee be set up to investigate what is already in Hansard? It is humbug. As for the rest of this nonsense, I repeat what I said before: It is here and it is available for anyone to read. Any honourable member can come along to my office and see it. There is nothing to be ashamed of in it. The minute is dated 29 December 1972.


Mr Maisey - So it is a Cabinet minute?


Mr CONNOR - It is not a Cabinet minute at all. It is a report from Mr Livermore, the First Assistant Secretary, to the Secretary of the Department. It is not a Cabinet minute.


Mr Sinclair - I ask that the Minister table that document.


Mr CONNOR - I am quite happy to table it. It says:

As requested, attached are the following papers:

(a)   The Minerals- (Submerged Lands) Bill 1970;

(b)   The draft of a second reading speech--


Mr Wilson - Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. The honourable member for New England has drawn your attention to the fact that the Minister is quoting from a document and has asked that in accordance with Standing Orders the document be tabled.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The request has been agreed to. The Minister has agreed to table the document.


Mr Wilson - On a point of order, I ask that the document be handed to the Clerk and that the lime of the tabling be noted now.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! As the honourable member would be aware, the Minister is reading from the document at the present to show why Standing Orders should not be suspended. He is giving the detail of why they should not be suspended. He is not actually debating what is in the paper; he is giving the reasons why.


Mr Wilson - Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to standing order 321. In accordance with a request by the honourable member for New England, the Minister has agreed to table the document. I ask that the tabling of the document be noted by the Clerk so that the whole of the document and not, as yesterday, part only of the document is included.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister has agreed to table the whole of the document. If the House does not want to hear what the Minister has to say in regard to the document that is all right with me. Honourable members will be closing up on what the Minister is trying to relate to them as to the reason why Standing Orders should not be suspended.


Mr Scholes - On a point of order-


Mr SPEAKER - All right. If the honourable member insists, the Minister may pass the document to the Clerk who will handle it for a couple of seconds and pass it back. That will be in order.


Mr Giles - Mr Speaker-


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.


Mr Giles - Absolute rot.


Mr SPEAKER - Resume your seat, you do not have the call.


Mr Giles - I have never heard a worse decision.


Mr SPEAKER - Resume your seat.


Mr Scholes - I take a point of order. In taking 'his previous point of order, the honourable member for Sturt asserted that the document which was tabled in this House yesterday was not the document which was required to be tabled in this House yesterday. That is what he said. His assertion challenges the integrity of the officers of this House. I ask you, Mr Speaker, to ask the honourable member to apologise to the staff of the House whom he has claimed are dishonest.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I will have a look into this matter and if any imputations have been made against the officers of the House I will certainly ask for an apology.


Mr Hunt - I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister for Minerals and Energy has not tabled the whole of that document. He took from the top of the document a paper, and that is what he tabled. The whole of that document must be tabled. The Minister should not have the right to take from that document a paper that suits him. The whole of the document should be tabled at this point of time. I ask you to consider my point of order.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister has tabled only 2 pages of the document. What is his intention?


Mr CONNOR - That is the complete document. May I explain for a moment? Everyone else has had a go. I quoted from a minute dated 29 December 1972 on the Minerals (Submerged Lands) Bill. I mentioned that it was from Mr Livermore, the First Assistant Secretary, to the Secretary of the Department. I was proceeding to quote from it when I was interrupted so foolishly. (Extension of time granted) I do not want to take up the time of the House unduly. The document starts in this fashion:

As requested, attached are the following papers:

(a)   The Minerals (Submerged Lands) Bill 1970;

(b)   The draft of a second reading speech which had been prepared in September 1970 for possible use -

I stress the words 'for possible use' - by the then Minister for National Development.

No work has been carried out on these papers since 1970. I will read out the rest of the document if the House wishes me to do so, but I have tabled the document.







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