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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3311

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Leader of the Australian Country Party) - The Government's action in seeking to apply the guillotine, especially on a question dealing with an alteration to the Constitution, is deplorable. As the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) said, our national Parliament is becoming a farce when debate on such an important issue is limited and members are denied the opportunity of expressing their opinion on it. I could not agree with him more wholeheartedly. We are seeing a doctrinaire approach to the management of this Parliament by this present Government such as we have never seen before. It is not good enough, and the Opposition will not take it, nor will the Aus.tralion people take it. We saw the prices and wages referendum Bills forced through this House with such indignity that, on that ground alone, I do not believe that the people of Australia ought to accept the proposals in those Bills when they are put to them.

The national Parliament has not had time to debate and to examine the questions so that honourable members in their turn can make their own rightful judgment on how they should vote. If the Government thinks it can use bulldozer tactics in this Parliament and then obtain the support of the Australian people it will be very surprised. Right across this nation every member of the Opposition will say to the people: 'We did not even have time to discuss the matter. The Government is forcing the public now to make a judgment. There is only one action to be taken in those circumstances and that is to play safe and reject the proposals.' If the Government thinks it can apply these jack boot principles on a matter of great importance it is wrong. This is not just a normal procedural matter of the House. This is a proposal to change the Constitution of the nation and the future destiny of our children and our grandchildren. Here is the Government, in a matter of minutes, wanting to use the procedures of Parliament to enable the people to make a decision when they have not all the facts before them. If these are the sorts of tactics the Government wants to play, we can play it rough on this side of the House too.

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