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Tuesday, 17 September 1974
Page: 1243

Mr GARLAND (Curtin) -The Opposition wishes to dissent now from your ruling, Mr

Speaker,because it believes that it is an incorrect one. As you would be aware, Mr Speaker, we have disagreed with your rulings on other matters. We do not believe that we can let this matter go by without making our full protest.

Mr Beazley -I take a point of order. I think the House is entitled to know the form of dissent moved in writing, as it is supposed to be, and the ruling that is being dissented from. I think we are being treated to an exercise in obstruction. I do not believe that the seconder of the motion even knows what it is.

Mr SPEAKER -As I see it, the motion of dissent is on the question whether the Speaker has power, after the House has adjourned and when he is forced to leave the Chair without being given the right to make an announcement as to the next day of sitting, to take action on a later day of sitting in regard to disrespect shown to the Chair.

Mr Collard - I take a point of order. My point of order is that this motion was not put in writing and was not seconded before the honourable member for Gippsland debated the question. Therefore it should be ruled out of order.

Mr SPEAKER -It was in writing and it was in the hands of the Clerk.

Mr GARLAND -The Minister for Education speaks about obstruction. I point out to the House that he did not let me get into the third sentence of my remarks and explain the position as the Opposition sees it. I pointed out to you, Mr Speaker, that what is in dispute here is whether you have the right to demand an apology from a member after the one day sitting that was held in this House on 23 August when certain events took place at the conclusion of the proceedings. Some of those events are set out on pages 1 1 67 and 1168 of Hansard. Other events took place afterwards and are not recorded. You have ruled, Mr Speaker -

Mr Scholes - On a point of order -

Mr GARLAND - The Government cannot take it.

Mr Scholes - I cannot take idiots. Mr Speaker, in specific words your ruling was that you were in charge of the House until such time as you left the chair. The matter at present under debate was resolved by a resolution which was carried by this House some half an hour ago. The only question which can be subjected to your ruling is whether you are in fact in charge of this House until you leave the chair. I suggest that honourable members ought to be justifying a dissent motion on the basis that you are not in charge of the House while you are hi the chair, because that is what they are saying.

Mr SPEAKER - I ask the honourable member for Curtin to keep to the motion of dissent.

Mr GARLANDThat is exactly what I intend to do, Mr Speaker. I refer to standing order 304 which perhaps the honourable member may care to read. Under the heading 'Disorder' standing order 304 states:

If the offence has been committed in the House, the Speaker shall forthwith put the question. . .

That is the whole point at issue. Mr Speaker, you were in charge of the House- of course everybody agrees about that- at the time you were occupying the chair. On the last day of sitting you were in the chair but you did not force the issue, call for an apology and go through the motions that you have gone through this afternoon. You waited all these weeks and you have now brought the matter to a head. Mr Speaker, that is the ruling you have made and that is what happened. What the Opposition is dissenting from is the ruling which you gave and which was incorporated in Hansard in response to the request by the honourable member for Gippsland.

Mr Scholes - I take the point of order again. Mr Speaker, you were asked specifically by the honourable member for Gippsland whether you were ruling that you were in charge of the House after the motion for the adjournment of the House had been carried. Your ruling specifically was that you were in charge of the House until you left the chair. The honourable member has just said that he does not question that, but he wishes to dissent on another question.

Mr GARLAND - If the honourable member cannot follow the debate I am afraid there is nothing further I can do to elucidate it for him. We are protesting about your conduct, Mr Speaker, and I think it is right to refer to the protests that have been made to earlier rulings. I make the point that we are opposing your ruling today because of the context in which it falls in your conduct of the House. I remind the House that the Government, which has undoubted rights and obligations to govern, nevertheless through its election of a Speaker and the conduct of affairs here has the obligation to allow Opposition members to speak and to ensure that rulings are fair and that the House is equitably run. The honourable member for Mackellar did his best all through that day to raise serious matters. You will be aware, Mr Speaker, that the Government has since appointed a royal commission to deal with one of those matters. The honourable member was prevented from speaking, so naturally he became upset towards the end of that day.

Mr Young - On a point of order, Mr Speaker. My point of order is that the detail that has been put into the debate by speakers from the Opposition has led to a great deal of confusion in the House. May I suggest that the dissent motion be read to the House so that we know exactly on what we are taking the points of order?

Mr SPEAKER - I should like to make perfectly clear once and for all exactly what happened on that particular occasion. I have done this already and I will emphasise it again. Everybody who was in the House will recognise that what I am saying is factual. I intended to announce the next day of sitting. I stood in my place, as I am doing now, and appealed to the honourable member for Mackellar on 3 occasions.

Mr Nixon - Why did you not name him?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting while I am addressing the chamber.

Mr Nixon - Answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will cease interjecting. On 3 occasions I appealed to the honourable member for Mackellar to be seated to enable me to announce the next day of sitting. By shouting and making his own prepared speech to the gallery, as he said he would, he declined to give me the opportunity of announcing the next day of sitting. As a result of that I would have been here for half an hour before I could make the announcement. Instead of that I had to leave the chair. I was forced to leave the chair because he denied me the right -

Opposition members- Oh!

Mr SPEAKER - Anybody who was in the House would know that what I have said is right. Even the honourable gentlemen on the Opposition front bench will agree that what I am saying is quite correct. The honourable member denied me the opportunity to make an announcement. That is why I had to leave the chair at the time. That is quite clear.

Mr Malcolm Fraser - May I speak to the point of order?

Mr GARLAND - I have only a certain amount of time.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Curtin has the floor. The honourable member can take a point of order on the speech of the honourable member for Curtin if he wishes.

Mr GARLAND - I have only a limited time, as honourable members know. These interventions and points of order are very interesting, but I should like to make one or two points. I point out that the matter before the House is your ruling, Mr Speaker, on the request for an apology. I point out too that there were some mitigating circumstances. I refer you to an item on page 1 167 of Hansard. At one stage the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) moved that the question be now put. Sir, you said:

I promised to deal with a personal explanation pertaining to matters outside this House.

You declined to take that motion -

Mr SPEAKER -Order! Let me clear up that matter.

Mr GARLAND - It is not fair to intervene; let me finish.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will resume bis seat.

Mr GARLAND -You must be fair, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER -I am trying to be fair as I was with the honourable member for Mackellar previously. The honourable member had come to see me earlier and said that he would like to make a personal explanation because of something that had been said by an announcer on the radio. I did not tell the Leader of the House that a personal explanation was to be made and he moved the adjournment. In fairness to the honourable member for Mackellar I appealed to the Leader of the House that there was a personal explanation to be made. I intended to call the honourable member for Mackellar to do so before the adjournment of the House was moved.

Mr GARLANDT agree with that and I accept that that was the position exactly. I was in the House and I was aware of that situation. I was saying, Mr Speaker, that this discussion is about whether the procedures of this House are being correctly carried out in relation to the ruling that was made. I am pointing out the mitigating circumstance which applies to the honourable member for Mackellar. Having declined to take that motion, which was the gag, several minutes of debate or cut and thrust took place and then you said:

The question is that the House do now adjourn.

That motion had been declined. The honourable member for Mackellar intervened on other matters, and then later you said:

Order! I have not put the question.

Then, Mr Speaker, you said :

The question is that the House do now adjourn.

The relevance of these extracts is that it shows that the situation was a highly confused one. The honourable member for Mackellar, believing that he had the right and duty to raise the 2 matters to which I have alluded already, did so. You left the chair.

Our major point is that, if you wished to take action against the honourable member for Mackellar in the way in which you have this afternoon, it should have been done on that occasion and at no other time. You have said yourself that you were in charge of the House. You were in the chair. You were responsible for the conduct of the House. That is not in dispute. What is in dispute is your action this afternoon in raising the matter in these confused circumstances. I point out that you asked the honourable member for Mackellar to apologise for what happened when he was endeavouring to raise those matters. Naturally he felt very deeply about them particularly as he had in his hand at the time documents which indicated some corruption in the community. The Government has appointed a royal commission to look into one of those matters. It cannot be said to be a matter of no substance. In those circumstances, for you, in the name of the House, to ask the honourable member, as you did this afternoon, to apologise to you, is we believe incorrect. I suggest to you that it is not right and it is not fair.

I conclude on the point that the essence of democracy is divided power and the essence of parliamentary proceedings in this House is fairness. Democracy includes the opportunity for minorities to have their voices heard. The Opposition has the right to be reasonably heard and to have standing orders upheld. This right is being stifled by your decision this afternoon and by your conduct on previous occasions.

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