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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1422

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Leader of the House) - The question before the House is that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) announcing to the House the decisions reached by the Government since the Prime Minister's last Press conference. Quite frankly, I thought that after Parramatta the Opposition could have done better. When all is said and done, it would appear that members of the Opposition may be suffering from an attack of gallstones after the events of Saturday. Let me say that at least this motion has brought the Liberal and Country Parties together. Constantly, when motions are moved in the House for a statement to be made, we have to listen to 2 speeches from the Opposition parties because honourable members opposite do not know who is talking for whom. The situation is that during the period of the last Government Press conferences were never held and policy statements were never made, inside or outside of the Parliament. The decisions were kept secret by the clique or the junta that controlled that ill-famed organisation. As honourable members opposite know, this Government has announced consistently in the Parliment great measures, great legislative proposals and great reforms.

Let me point out what honourable members opposite are asking for today: At this very hour the Executive Council is meeting.

Cabinet has made decisions in regard to a number of appointments which have to be ratified and approved by Her Majesty's representative in this country. Do honourable members opposite expect the Prime Minister of this country to come into the House and make announcements concerning these matters even before the Governor-General has assented to them7 Do they seriously ask that that be done? Does the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) say that we should announce in the Parliament what will be done when such matters are still subject to the approval and endorsement of Her Majesty the Queen and probably run the risk of the Queen not accepting the matters? Does he say that? Even the members of the mushroom club would not -

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country Party were heard in comparative silence. I ask honourable members of the Opposition to show the same courtesy to the Leader of the House. If they do not do so, I will see that he gets it.

Mr DALY - There is nothing foolish about this. I repeat the position: At this very moment the Governor-General is considering certain Government decisions in regard to appointments. Does the Opposition say that it should be told before Her Majesty's representative in this country is told? Do honourable members opposite seriously say that? Of course, they do not. They know that they are putting up a phoney proposition this morning. It was never endorsed by their own Government. It was never more difficult to get decisions or submissions out of a government than it was from the previous administration which the honourable member who has just spoken helped to lead to its political doom. This Government has been the most open Government of our time.

The claim by the Leader of the Opposition that every debate is gagged by this Government is a fantasy. If the record of curtailment of debates by the previous administration was compared with our record, what we have done would hardly be noticed. The reason why debates have been gagged by this Government is that stupid senseless motions such as the one now before the House are moved by the Opposition to waste the time of the Parliament. I tell the Opposition that. later today. I will give notice of a motion that will seek to stop these time wasting procedures such as the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition today.

The Leader of the Opposition said that decisions of the Cabinet are overturned by the Labor Caucus. Unlike honourable members opposite, the Australian Labor Party is not run from the top. Honourable members opposite know that they were never consulted on any aspect of policy. They never knew what a budget contained until it was presented in the Parliament. Each member on the Government side of the House has an equal say in the running of this country, the administration of the Party and policy decisions. Consequently, Cabinet decisions must be submitted to the Party as a whole. We do not blindly follow, as honourable members opposite did as they went to their political doom, what is decided without knowing the substance of proposals which affect our electorates. That is why we on this side of the Parliament are consulted on decisions.

The Leader of the Opposition stated that Cabinet was overturned by the Caucus. 1 remember when he appointed his shadow Cabinet. Then, his Party members decided that members of that shadow Cabinet should be elected by them. The selections by the Leader of the Opposition were overturned when that right to elect the Opposition shadow Cabinet was given to Opposition members. Looking at the few who were elected on the other side, I think that those who were beaten were unlucky to lose their positions.

The Prime Minister brings to this Parliament legislative proposals and announcements of great importance. He makes them in the right place. This is the point at issue. We can never please the Opposition. When he appeared on television with Mr David Frost, the Opposition said that the Prime Minister first should have consulted the Parliament on the decisions he mentioned. More people in Australia on that night through that program saw and heard announcements and statements than probably have ever heard decisions by any political leader of our time. The Prime Minister meets the Press each week. He gives the Australian Press entree to what is happening in the Parliament. The Opposition says that instead of telling the Press the Prime Minister should come in here and tell the Parliament. Why, as honourable members know, this practice demonstrates a real approach to democracy in this country.

The present situation arises because a desperate Opposition is clamouring for power which it cannot get. It wastes the time of the Parliament and then wonders why the time allowed for important debates must be curtailed. Honourable members opposite know as well as I do that the legislative proposals that will be announced here in the next few months will be such that a record will be created in this Parliament.

Mr Bryant - How many are there?

Mr DALY - I think there are between 150 and 200. I urge honourable members opposite to be patient because they certainly will have available to them plenty of time to discuss many of these matters of great importance. In that way they will be able to give vent to whatever their feelings may be on the matters to be considered by the Parliament.

I consider this motion to be frivolous. I say quite frankly that I would have thought that the Leader of the Opposition and the third most important man on the Opposition side of the Parliament had more to do "-t this time than to move and second this motion. At a time when all kinds of important issues face this Parliament I would have thought that they would seek more time to deliberate on those issues. The Government rejects this motion. I repeat that it is lovely to see the Country Party and the Liberal Party again speaking with one voice. The few fleeting moments of joy that I get from this debate arise from the opportunity to see them together again arm in arm supporting even a minor motion of this nature.

The Government rejects the motion. The Prime Minister will continue to do as has been his wont. He will present to the Parliament decisions in accordance with determinations made by the Government from time to time. I understand that the Press conferences will continue. Good luck to them. The people are entitled to be told what the Government is doing. In addition, I hope that those members opposite who waste the time of the Parliament by moving motions such as this will realise that they cannot be allowed to continue to waste the time of the Parliament and then expect to be able to have time available to consider statements or other matters of that nature which are of great importance. Later today I will give notice of a motion that will seek to provide that the time wasting procedures indulged in by a temporarily exuberant Opposition will be dealt with in such a way that the Opposition will be brought to face the fact that it cannot take such action and at the same time expect important matters to be debated. The Government rejects the motion and will vote against it.

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