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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3353

Mr VINER (Stirling) - The Minister for the Capital Territory (Mr Bryant) has quite misunderstood the arguments put forward by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). There is a very simple proposition here, that there are 2 things which govern the passage of this Bill. They are, firstly, the Standing Orders and practice of the House and, secondly, the Constitution. The Constitution comes after the procedures in this House. In order to determine whether this Bill has been validly passed in accordance with the Constitution, it is necessary to determine whether it has been passed by this chamber. In order to determine whether it has been passed by this chamber, it is necessary to look to the procedures of this House. Mr Speaker, I direct your attention to standing order 1, which reads:

In all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by sessional or other orders or practice of the House, resort shall be had to the practice of the Commons House of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in force for the time being, which shall be followed as far as can be applied.

Having observed standing order 1, Mr Speaker, you have then to determine whether there were any sessional or other orders of this House in operation at the present time - at the time when this Bil! was debated - and, as has been pointed out by the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), standing orders 193 and 263 are in operation at the present time. Therefore, in order to test whether there has been an absolute majority in favour of this Bill, you must look to those 2 standing orders, Mr Speaker. I am sure that Hansard will record that the motion 'That the Bill be now read a third time' was put and declared carried on the voices and that the Bill was read a third time by the Clerk. That having been done, the Standing Orders of this House were completely carried out and put into effect. There was, therefore, no opportunity whatsoever for a division to be called for or put into operation and for the tellers to be asked to count the votes.

Mr Innes - Rubbish. You were here.

Mr VINER - Of course I was here.

Mr Innes - Why did you not stand up?

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable member for Stirling is entitled to be heard in silence.

Mr VINER - If the honourable member for Melbourne has anything better to say than I have, I invite him to get on his feet afterwards and say it. The Minister for the Capital Territory said in his argument that our proposition was that the only members of the House who could move for a division were those on the Opposition side of the chamber. I suggest to the Minister that he is completely wrong. The Leader of the House (Mr Daly) was caught with his pants down - the most unedifying spectacle we have yet seen in this House. Had he been sitting at the table, rather than the Minister for External Territories (Mr Morrison), he would have realised what had happened. What had happened was that there was no call from the Opposition side of the House for a division and no honourable member on the Government side called for a division. Therefore, the motion was put on the voices, carried on the voices and declared to have been carried by the Clerk of the House. That, Mr Speaker, in my most respectful submission, is the end of the matter.

Had you observed the procedures of the House, we would not have had the position where the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) was called upon to withdraw a remark and expelled from the House and there would have been no cause for the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to be called upon to withdraw and to be quite improperly and unjustly treated, as he was by the supporters of the Government.

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - That is a reflection upon the Chair.

Mr VINER - Not upon you, Mr Speaker; upon the supporters of the Government, because they knew that they were in error and they were trying to get an expulsion from this side of the House in order to save their own skins. Mr Speaker, the matter, in the end, is very simple. If the House looks at the procedures of this House and then looks at the Constitution it will see that the answer is straightforward and clear. I suggest, Mr Speaker, that there is every reason why the motion of dissent from your ruling should be carried. The matter is clear. The supporters of the Government know that they are in the wrong. They know that they have messed up what this afternoon was declared by them to be a most vital matter of constitutional importance. It may be that the matter would have gone through properly if the Leader of the House had been on the ball, but he did not pay the attention that he ought to have paid to this very important matter. He was, as I have said, caught with his pants down. That is where he stands at the present time.

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