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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1424

Mr GORTON (Higgins) - I doubt whether this House has ever heard a more brutal rejection of the rights not just of members of the Liberal Party of Australia and members of the Australian Country Part but the rights of all members than the one we have just heard from the leader of the House (Mr Daly) who has not only rejected our rights but has announced that he will later on move to use his numbers to prevent the exercise of all our rights in the future. All we are asking by this motion is for the right of this Parliament to be told of decisions before the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) announces them to the Press. It is known that he holds his Press conferences on Tuesday afternoons. We want to give him an opportunity now, which is not otherwise available, to tell us first.

We are told by the Leader of the House that this motion to suspend Standing Orders is a shocking thing, a ridiculous thing and a waste of time. This is just another example of the great splits which are appearing. We had an example of this during question time. The Leader of the House has said that this motion is ridiculous yet the Prime Minister got up and said that he would be glad to make a statement in the House if he had a little more time. How do we gel the 2 things together? Surely it is right for us to offer an opportunity to the Prime Minister to enable him to do what he has said he would be glad to do if he had more time. Surely it is wrong for this motion to be rejected. I would have hoped that not just members of the Liberal Party and members of the Country Party would have been united on this matter but that all members would have been united on it. Surely members on the other side of the House have sufficient regard for their standing to believe that they ought to be told of decisions before the Press are told.

I know that the Government and the Prime Minister in particular work under a great disadvantage in regard to this matter. He has a difficulty which I can express in the form of an old riddle about when is a door not a door. The riddle is: When is a decision not a decision? The answer is, after it has been announced publicly by the Prime Minister but before it has gone to Caucus. That is the disadvantage as I see it. But if the Prime Minister is going to announce something publicly this is the place in which statements ought to be made. This is the place in which he said he would be glad to announce them. Why does the Leader of the House prevent us from hearing what we want to hear and the Prime Minister from saying what he has said he would be glad to say?

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