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Tuesday, 9 October 1973
Page: 1788

Ms SCHOLES (CORIO, VICTORIA) - I will repeat what the honourable member for Isaacs said because I do not think the honourable member for the Northern Territory was present and if he had been most likely he would not have understood.

Mr Calder - You will not get anywhere by making personal insults.

Mr SCHOLES - I am not trying to be personally insulting, but the honourable member is. The honourable member for Isaacs said that this country could not be run while there was a 27-man Cabinet making decisions and a 93-man Cabinet overriding those decisions. I suggest that if the parliamentary institution has any function whatever, and recognising as I think most practical politicians would, that once the decisions in the Party room are made members of the Party will support them in the House because that is the way the Westminster systems works other than on the most exceptional occasions, Cabinet decisions should be considered by members in the Party room. The honourable member for Isaacs said that once Cabinet decisions are made - he made it clear that he did not believe that all Ministers should be Ministers of the Cabinet - members of the Government Party had no right to express an opinion or to ask the Cabinet to reconsider its decisions. I remember the mess the then Government Parties got into a couple of years ago when-

Ms Calder - What sort of mess are you in now?

Ms SCHOLES - We are not in any mess at all.

Mr Edwards - What was your decision on the interest rate?

Mr SCHOLES - I should have thought that the honourable member would have known that if he asked a question he would be told. Honourable members are entitled to ask questions in this place. The point I am making, and I want to make it clearly, is that the Liberal Party in this chamber - this has been said by members of that Party on the front bench and not only by the honourable member for Isaacs - has expressed the clear opinion that it does not believe that those members of the Party who are not Ministers of the Cabinet have any right to express opinions in the Party room on Cabinet decisions. I ask any member opposite to deny that that is what has been said and that their leaders are saying it now. Quite clearly this is what the honourable member for Isaacs said. He said that the Government could not be run while the Caucus made decisions contrary to those of the Cabinet.

If we are to have government by the Prime Minister or government by the Cabinet and not have a position where members of the Parliament who are not Ministers are entitled in the Party room to express their opinion, whether it be for or against the Government., we should cease going through the exercise of having meetings of the Parliament because all that should be done is once every 3 years to elect a Cabinet and members go away and forget about it, especially if people are to repudiate their responsibilities as members of the Government party when they are members of such a party.

Mr Cooke - Of course, normally the Prime Minister enjoys the support of his Party.

Mr SCHOLES - Normally the Prime Minister enjoys the support of his Party. On almost every issue the Cabinet enjoys the support of the Australian Labor Party. Of course, any person who comes into this chamber and says that he is going to agree with every decision that someone else makes, irrespective of what that decision is, clearly has no independent thoughts of his own. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) has been continually interjecting. It was not long ago that he and every member of his Party - the Australian Country Party - in this chamber voted in favour of a proposal to give Senate representation to the Northern Territory and every member of the same Party in the other place voted against the same proposition. So the honourable member for the Northern Territory should not talk about making up one's own mind.

Mr Calder - Do you win every vote in Caucus?

Mr SCHOLES - I do not win every vote in Caucus.

Mr Calder - You are talking nonsense.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Armitage) - Order! The honourable member for the Northern Territory will cease interjecting.

Mr SCHOLES - It appears as though the members of the Opposition are saying that

Party decisions should not be made. That is the proposition which has been put on the other side of the chamber. I think that should be made quite clear. In the last couple of moments left to me in which to speak I want to make one other point which I think is relevant to the activities to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Mr Corbett - That will be a change.

Mr SCHOLES - I do not think I have said anything which has been irrelevant to the operations of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. I realise that the members of the Opposition have found what I have said about them to be offensive to them. A previous speaker - I think it was the honourable member for Canning (Mr Hallett) - suggested means by which Government expenditure could be cut down, which has been the holy cry of the front bench of the Opposition. I want to point out that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch), the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony), the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Sinclair) and other front bench members of the Opposition who have said repeatedly that there should be a cut down on Government expenditure have also said that the Government should increase the defence vote by $3 00m and the social services vote by over $100m. The honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street), an Opposition spokesman, has said that the Government should have increased the health vote by $90m to pay for increased doctors' fees. Those are all published statements. The Opposition has demanded an increased expenditure by the Government of at least $490m - that is only a part of what its demands have been - while at the same time it has talked about reduced Government expenditure. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. The speeches this afternoon on the petrol tax were exactly the same as those made by a previous Opposition when the then Government increased the petrol tax.

Proposed expenditures agreed to.

Department of the Treasury

Proposed expenditure, $157,723,000.

Advance to the Treasurer

Proposed expenditure, $50,000,000.

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