Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3489

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Leader of the Australian Country Party) - Yes, I second the motion. I would have preferred to reserve my right to speak later but, on the performance of the Government in relation to the last motion which was before the House, it appears that the Government will gag the debate on this motion and so deprive us of a full debate. I rise with very great feeling. I think that this is the blackest day I have seen in the Parliament.

Government members - Ha, ha!

Mr ANTHONY - I fail to see how men sitting behind the Prime Minister (Mr Whitiam) can laugh so easily. I have such respect for the private members of the Government that I know that within their own minds there must be a good deal of stirring as to their respect for their Prime Minister because of such unmanly conduct as we have seen over the past few days, and because he has prevented the court of Parliament making a judgment on whether his actions or the actions of the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes) have been appropriate. That is what has happened by the refusal to allow this matter to go before the House of Representatives Privileges Committee. Surely there are such decent instincts among honourable members of this Parliament as not to allow this sort of thing to go on unbridled as we are seeing today. We have before us a motion of censure of the Prime Minister. It covers 2 matters. The first is the unpardonable, vicious, malicious, and unmanly attack which he has made on a colleague in this

Parliament, and the second is an implication against honourable members of the Liberal Party in this House. I do not see why the Prime Minister should distinguish between members of that Party and the Australian Country Party, other than to try to be smart and create a division between the Opposition parties. I was here last Wednesday. I was here in the afternoon and I was here in the evening. Fortunately no accusations can be made against me because I was at the function for only about 5 minutes. But if any accusation had been made against me I would have retaliated exactly as did the honourable member for Barker because it was unfair and unjust-

Mr McLeay - And untrue.

Mr ANTHONY - And untrue. I was here and I had my wits about me watching the proceedings. It was not a disturbance just after dinner as a result of the party. There was an uproar in this Parliament during the afternoon as you, Mr Speaker, know only too well because you warned a number of us on many occasions that we had better restrain ourselves. We are seeing also the Government using its weight of numbers to repress any chance of this matter going before the Privileges Committee. It is a sad day for the Parliament when a matter cannot be judged fairly and equitably. Even though the Government has the numbers on the Privileges Committee we are prepared for that Commute to make its judgment on the matter. But no, the Prime Minister is not even prepared to do that. He has shown cowardly instinct by trying to restrain this form of action. All I say, in Australian language, is that he is nothing more than a dingo. Over the years no man has been more vile in making insinuations against members of this Parliament and in vilifying them than has the Prime Minister. Now, in a state of intoxication of power as Prime Minister, he thinks that he can make slanderous remarks about members of the Parliament, particularly members of the Opposition, and go unquestioned or unchallenged. If he thinks that he has reached that stage of importance, he will find retaliation not only from this side of the House but also from the Australian people. Every member of this Parliament has a responsibility to preserve and to protect this institution. There can be no protection for this institution and the individuals in it unless this matter can be fairly resolved before the

Privileges Committee. As this has been prevented by the Prime Minister, I must level the severest censure at him. He quite obviously is not a man who is prepared to let independent judgment determine the ruling of the day.

A few years ago, one other example of this sort of slanderous language occurred, but in much more modified tones than have been used by the Prime Minister. The person concerned was a then member from South Australia, Mr Andrew Jones. On that occasion, Mr Andrew Jones said outside this Parliament that half of members of this Parliament were drunk half of the time. The then Opposition, led by Mr Calwell, took offence - and rightly so - at that comment. It was examined. That honourable member was asked by this Parliament to withdraw those remarks and to apologise. He withdrew those remarks. But, as I said, they were modest by comparison with the remarks with which we are dealing now because they were general comments on all members of Parliament and were not related to any particular individual. When the finger is pointed at a particular individual, as has been done so contemptuously and reprehensibly in the case of the honourable member for Barker, as reported in yesterday's 'Australian', there is only one fair and honest course to be taken and that is for the matter to go before the Privileges Committee. Mr Speaker, I am disappointed in you-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The right honourable gentleman will not reflect on the Chair. Whether I made a wrong ruling or not is not the point. The point is that the right honourable member cannot reflect on the Chair. This morning I acted within my powers; I asked for the matter to be resolved forthwith. The right honourable member cannot reflect on the Chair.

Mr ANTHONY - Well, I will not. Maybe that is cause for other action to be taken. But, in relation to the proposed reference of this matter to the Privileges Committee, for the Prime Minister to give a direction to the members of his Party that they are to oppose the reference is, I think, a wrong procedure to be followed in this House. I would have thought that on an issue such as this there might have been enough red blooded men in the Government Party to have this matter examined. I will play politics hard. I will accuse Ministers if there is maladministration of their departments. But I do not ever wish to get into the area of personalities.

Government members - Oh!

Mr ANTHONY - Honourable members on the Government side may laugh. Nobody in this place is pure. On many occasions, one could pick on individuals in respect of actions that they may take. I hope that I will never degrade myself to the level of trying to win a parliamentary debate on that basis. What we have seen today is the worst action that we could possibly witness in this Parliament. The standard of the Parliament is degenerating. If this is the start of the tactics which this Government intends to use in its dictatorial approach to government, it is a bad and sorry day for Australia.

Suggest corrections