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Tuesday, 20 November 1973
Page: 3562

Mr McLEAY (Boothby) - I should like to go on record because in the years ahead these debates will be read by other people, by those who follow us and, who knows, perhaps by some of our children. I wish to support the honourable member for Wentworth in what he had to say about the events of last Wednesday and Thursday. Like him, I reject completely the allegations about the honourable member for Barker (Dr Forbes). I was here throughout the whole of the proceedings, and I have no hesitation in saying that all of the matters raised by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) were untrue. The honourable member for Barker was nol sprawling on the table as the Prime Minister described. During most of that evening we were - I would think probably 20 of us - watching television in the Party room, and the honourable member for Barker was one of those present, watching. I would also say that anything the Prime Minister had to say about what happened the next day was a complete falsehood. To say that the honourable member was hung up was unfair and untrue. Unfortunately, we are not able to say the words that we believe-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I would remind the honourable member for Boothby that I have allowed quite a lot of latitude. However on the motion for the adjournment the honourable member may not refer to a debate that took place in the House on a motion.

Mr McLEAY - 1 appreciate that, Mr Speaker. I am not referring to that debate.

Mr SPEAKER -I do not think the honourable member for Wentworth went into the debate, but the honourable member is now proceeding to deal with that debate.

Mr McLEAY - I am talking about what happened last Wednesday and Thursday, and what happened during the weekend outside the House. I wish to make the point that as from today, without reflecting upon this debate, any member in this place can reflect upon any other member in a way that would imply that that member was drunk or had been drinking - whether it be true of false - and, according to the precedent laid down today, nothing can be done about it. I could say, for example, that the Minister for Transport (Mr Charles Jones) was at this moment reeling, drunk in the aisles and you, Mr Speaker, to be consistent, could not possibly correct me. Yet we all know that the honourable gentleman is a teetotaller. It is this aspect of what has happened in the past few days that I deplore most. Anybody can say anything along those lines about anybody in this place, and completely destroy his character, whether it be true or false. I deplore what I believe to be the reduction of the standard of parliamentary debate and parliamentary democracy. I am disappointed in people on the other side of the House because not all the good guys are on this side of the House. There must be some decent fellows on the Government side of the House who are as disturbed as we are about what has happened. I can remember when the Minister was in Opposition and he was righteously and, I think, reasonably concerned, and called me a liar. He was named. When he withdrew, the whole thing was blown over. However, those good old days of chumieness have gone. It is to my eternal regret that there were not at least 4 people on the Government side of the House who had enough courage to stand up and say what they knew in their hearts to be right because the honourable member for Barker was completely innocent of all the things of which the Prime Minister accused him. I am pleased to be associated with the honourable member for Wentworth in placing this on record. I think that posterity will be the judge.

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