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Wednesday, 17 October 1973
Page: 2304

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property and Leader of the House) - I have listened with interest to the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and also to the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett). I refer particularly to what the honourable member for Maranoa said about questions. Firstly, I do not call those who are to ask questions. That is the responsibility of the Speaker of this House. If the honourable member says that the Speaker is allocating questions unfairly he is casting a reflection on him.

Mr Corbett - I did not say that, and you know it.

Mr DALY - You know well too that he is following the pattern that Liberal Party speakers set for 20 years. The honourable member raised certain questions in regard to what I had said. I will tender an apology to him if he can produce a speech made by him when he sat on the government benches like the speech that he made tonight. He knows full well that he never sought reform to bring about democratic practices until he sat in opposition. When he sat on this side of the Parliament he heard the former honourable member for Mallee ask half a dozen questions for every question asked by a member of the Australian Labor Party, and he never raised his voice at all. He is a humbug and a phony. He has only become a democrat since he has sat in opposition. He could not give a hang what happened to members of the Labor Party when they sat on the Opposition side of the Parliament and when he sat on the Government side, pounding us into the ground because he wanted the Speaker appointed by his government to call him a dozen times in preference to calling one of us who then sat in opposition.

The same applies to the honourable member for Bradfield. For 30 years he sat in the Parliament as silent as an extinct volcano, and now he is going off like Mount Vesuvius. He is like others on that side of the House; they are great democrats in opposition but they were jackbooters in every sense of the word when they sat on the government side. He said that Government supporters had asked 139 questions compared with 90 asked by Opposition members. Why do honourable members opposite not sit their leaders down. They ask questions after questions - and useless questions. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) asked me a question today that lasted for 10 minutes, and it tok me about 10 seconds to answer it. Why do honourable members opposite not pull their leaders up? Why do they not stop them asking so many questions?

The honourable member for Maranoa said that Opposition members are entitled to 3 questions to every one asked by a Labor member. Why should they be? Roughly the Parliament is divided evenly. Why do honourable members of the Country Party not have a yarn with their leader and tell him to sit down a bit? He is only getting into trouble. Whilst the questions of the honourable member for Maranoa would be more useless at least he could not do any more harm.

I am interested in honourable members opposite, the great reformers in Opposition. For years they did not care what happened when we on this side of the Parliament sat in Opposition. They asked question after question. They did not care if we never got a question. We sat on the Opposition side of the Parliament for weeks on end waiting for a chance to ask a question. Now, Mr Speaker, they cast reflections on you. The honourable member for Maranoa said in effect that I was picking the members who would ask questions. I am not doing that. I would not blame the Speaker for not picking the honourable member for Maranoa. He would be the last person I would look at if I was looking for an intelligent question.

Let me bring the honourable member right up to date. I have here the report of the Standing Orders Committee of 20 March 1972. Let me educate the honourable member, if it is possible. Let me tell him who the members of the Committee were at that time. There was the Speaker, Sir William Aston. Does the honourable member think that he was a nark, a no-hoper or a biased man? Does he not agree that he was a good man? There was the Chairman of Committees, Mr Lucock. My word,, what an intelligent, able man he is. He is a member of the Australian Country Party. The Leader of the House, Mr Swartz, was on it, as was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Mr Barnard - a most reputable man. Then we had Mr McMahon, the former Prime Minister. I do not want the honourable member for Maranoa to express his opinion of that right honourable gentleman tonight. It would not be parliamentary. Another member was Mr Anthony, the Minister for Trade and Industry, once described by a member of the Country Party, as an office boy, but still he is Leader of that Party now. We had the Leader of the Opposition, and Mr Bryant whom the Opposition praised in this Parliament so well a couple of days ago. We had Mr Drury, a distinguished man in Parliamentary procedure, and Mr Duthie, a distinguished colleague of mine. We had Mr Scholes the Chairman of Committees in the present Parliament. The question that the honourable member for Maranoa raised tonight was raised by none other than the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) at the meeting of the Standing Orders Committee on 23 August 1971. The House agreed to a motion moved by Mr Keating, namely, that the matter of the distribution of questions be referred to the Standing Orders Committee. Does the House know what the unanimous verdict was? It was decided that the distribution of questions should stay at it has been exemplified in this Parliament. So does the honourable gentleman say that his leader and all those associated with him are phony and do not believe in the present arrangement? The suggestion by the honourable member for Maranoa was rejected by his own leader and by members of his Party and the gentleman who sits in front of him tonight. In other words members of the Country Party are a phony lot. They want everything for themselves when they are in opposition, but when they sat on this side of the Parliament they treated people with contempt. No wonder the Democratic Labor Party gave them away. What trouble one could get into through being associated with that lot who sit in the corner of the chamber occupied by the Country Party! Fancy looking for that kind of trouble. They are Democrats when they are in opposition and jackbooters when they are in government.

Does the honourable member deny that the report of the Standing Orders Committee was fair? If he does, why did he not get up in this place and oppose it? Of course he did not. He sat as silent as the grave. He is a reformed democrat. In opposition he wants the world. When he sat on the government side he did not give anybody anything and cared only about what he wanted himself. Therefore if honourable members opposite want reforms I suggest that they make them when they are in government. I am sick and tired of members of the Country Party and other honourable members opposite demanding reforms in this Parliament, which for 20 years they refused to do anything about. If there is anything wrong with the running of this Parliament they caused it, because for 23 years they had the opportunity to reform the Parliament and they did nothing about it. They know as well as I do that whatever is wrong with the Standing Orders, whatever is wrong with question time in this Parliament, whatever is wrong with any other thing, it is their responsibility. We on this side, brilliant men as we are, cannot reform it all in 10 months. But let hon ourable members opposite wait and be patient and we will do a few things like this.

The honourable member for Maranoa, as I mentioned a few moments ago, has become a remarkable reformer in opposition. Never have I seen such a convert to the cause of reformation as the honourable member for Maranoa since he has sat on the Opposition side.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I think the Minister is starting to get provocative.

Mr DALY - Oh, no. I apologise, Mr Speaker. You know that is not my form at all. I am a reasonable man, but you can understand how I have been roused tonight by this new-found democrat in our midst. I did not know he existed. To find a member of the Country Party wanting justice for members of the Parliament is indeed a remarkable discovery. Consequently I think that the honourable member's cause should die on that report I have mentioned. Perhaps he will get on to the Standing Orders Committee. Perhaps he will influence you, Mr Speaker, to call people from the Country Party twice and from the Liberal Party once. What would happen if that occurred? You know, Sir, that there would be a fight on that side of the fence again. We understand that the Country Party is only the second most important Party on that side of the Parliament. What would happen if the honourable member for Maranoa were called twice and the honourable member for Bradfield were called only once? Imagine the consternation and the disarray. On this side of the House we do not like disunity and we do not want to see it on the other side. We hate to see these public displays. We do not want to see honourable members opposite fighting publicly. What would be worse than to see them fighting over something like question time? These are matters that concern us here. If honourable members opposite only knew it we are doing them a good turn by trying to keep harmony in the ranks of the Opposition. What better can a government do for those people seeking power?

Is it not good to know that in the distant future when honourable members opposite may get to this side of the Parliament again at least we will have made them democrats? They will let us have a number of questions. Will it not be nice if the honourable member for Maranoa is made Speaker and gives us 3 questions to 1 as against his own Party? Will it not be glorious? Last night he said that television stations were in business for the fun of it - that they did not want to make a profit. That is the kind of chap who is putting these things up. I ask the honourable member to read the report and if he wishes to add to it he can do so when his Party gets back into office in the far distant future. When we are on that side we will remember what he has said and we will ask him to adhere to it.

I feel that I have said enough but the point at issue is that I am unmoved by the statements of the honourable member for Maranoa and the honourable member for Bradfield. The honourable member for Bradfield is a great reformer who talks one way in the Parliament and votes another way when the chips are down. I have no respect at all for those people who will not vote as they think because in this place it is how you vote that counts, not how you talk. The honourable member for Maranoa and the honourable member for Bradfield should put their votes where their hearts are and then we on this side of the Parliament will believe that they are fair dinkum.

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