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Thursday, 23 March 1972
Page: 897

Senator McLAREN (South Australia) - It was not my intention to bring this matter before the Senate today because honourable senators wanted to finish early. 1 intended to raise it when the Senate resumed. Because of a reply given by the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to my colleague Senator Douglas McClelland in which the Attorney-General accused Senator Douglas McClelland of seeking cheap political headlines, I feel that I must now raise the matter which I had intended to raise when the Senate resumed. I want to make reference to the cheap political headlines that Senator Young and Senator Jessop have been endeavouring to capture in the Senate for some time now, particularly this week. They have used question time as a platform for the Attorney-General to launch a daily attack on the Australian Labor Party and on the conduct of its domestic affairs.

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator McLaren, are you referring to questions asked this morning?

Senator McLAREN - I am referring to things that have taken place over a period of weeks.

The PRESIDENT - Are you referring to matters which took place today?

Senator McLAREN - No. I am referring to the fact that those 2 senators have been very vocal in this respect, particularly during the first 2 sitting days this week. The reason why they have asked questions is to endeavour to draw attention away from what has taken place in the LiberalCountry League in South Australia this week. A deep split has taken place.

Senator Webster - That is a cheap political gibe.

Senator Mulvihill - What happened in South Australia?

Senator McLAREN - I will tell the honourable senator what happened in South Australia. The cheap political gibe would not have been raised if the AttorneyGeneral had not seen fit to make accusations against Senator Douglas McClelland who asked a genuine question and who did not get an answer. I shall continue my remarks. I was saying that Senators Young and Jessop have been endeavouring to cover up what has taken place in the LCIin South Australia this week. The LCL in South Australia is split deeply down the middle, lt is split into 2 factions - one faction supporting Mr Steele Hall the exPremier and former Leader of the Opposition and the other faction supporting Mr DeGaris. We have not been told which faction either of the 2 senators supports. We know that Senator Young has preselection problems which have been complicated further by the possibility of Mr Hall seeking a berth on the Senate ticket for the next election. Mr Hall was interviewed on radio last week after the debacle which took place. The Press statement that he released said that there was a festering sore between members of the Assembly and the Legislative Council and thai he had had to look over his shoulder for the past 3 years to guard his own back. Senator Young finds himself in a somewhat similar position and seeks to use the Australian Labor Party as a whipping horse to bolster his chance of pre-selection. He uses the case of Barry Johnston as his launching pad.

Senator Rae - I wish to raise a point of order. I draw your attention, Mr President, to the standing order which deals with the reading of speeches.

Senator Keeffe - What is its number?

Senator Rae - 1 will refer to the number. Senator McLaren has been reading his speech for quite some time.

Senator Withers - Obviously.

Senator Rae - It was very obvious that he was reading it. I refer to standing order 406.

The PRESIDENT - Standing order 406 states:

No Senator shall read his speech.

Senator Rae,do you wish to address yourself to the standing order?

Senator Rae - No. I simply draw your attention to it and to what was happening.

The PRESIDENT - Senator McLaren,I have already addressed myself to you earlier this session because of what I assumed to be a habit that you have of reading speeches. I want to address myself further to you. I have always believed that the Chair should lean kindly towards senators who have taken their place here for the first time. Making speeches in a parliamentary chamber is a task that certainly creates tension on senators and, I assume* on members in another place. I have been through the experience. Therefore I have not placed any restrictions on inexperienced senators reading - to use a phrase you used recently and which is quite well known in the Senate - from copious notes. It is obvious from the fire which you are now bringing into the debate - I think it is a good thing in a senator - that you are really in touch with the atmosphere of the Senate. 1 think you are perfectly capable now of presenting your speech to the Senate without reading it.

Senator Cavanagh - That should apply to all senators.

The PRESIDENT - It applies to all senators.

Senator McLAREN - I bow to your ruling, Mr President. I would like to pass the comment that I have not been the only senator to read his speech. I have, noticed many members on the Government side reading their speeches.

The PRESIDENT - Order? Let me attend to the matter. The relevant Standing Order has been mentioned and I now apply it.

Senator Cavanagh - Senator Gair and Senator Kane read their speeches.

Senator Gair - Senator Murphy reads his, too.

The PRESIDENT - I grant an exception to leaders of parties.

Senator McLAREN - The electorate at large is vitally concerned about what has been taking place among the ranks of Government members. They are trying to use the Barry Johnston issue as a whipping horse for the Labor Party. I hope I am not prevented from quoting a letter which appeared in the Murray Bridge 'Murray Valley Standard' of 16th March 1972. lt is headed 'Law and order bogey?'. The letter is addressed to the Editor, lt reads: Sir,

The Federal Government at every opportunity is raising the suggestion that law and order is at stake and is apparently intending to create a bogey to bolster its chances of winning the next Federal election.

This is evident in Federal Parliamentary debates. Il is also evident in the action by the Attorney-General in .stepping up prosecutions against national service objectors in this the election year while some of these prosecutions may well have been effected two years ago.

Liberal Party manoeuvres reek wilh suppression and political expediency over the approval of an objector lo the National Service Act as a candidate for a Federal seat in Victoria.

Consider the then brave words of Mr 0"H. Giles, Liberal Member for Angas, quoted in the "Murray Valley Standard" May 30, 1968, from a radio broadcast which the member made concerning the National Service Act and reactions to it:

If they did not like the law, then they should throw their members of Parliament out and put in people whose views actively coincided with the majority view of the electorate'.

Mr Gilesof course was democratically, correct, except that those whom the law affected did not have a vote.

Now that a man is old enough to vote and is prepared to offer himself as a candidate, Mr Giles and his party-

Of course, that includes Senators Young and Jessop - arc not prepared lo stand by their much publicised conviction. They now seek to secure their position by pressing for a court conviction.

In (he final analysis, it is the electors who are being denied their democratic right in this instance.

The danger of law and order myth as even a semblance of an issue lies in the re-election of a Government which could then claim a mandate for more and more repressive laws as did the Nazi Party in Germany. Then the first to feel the crunch would be the news media, quickly followed by the churches.

Need one say, then, anything about dissenting individual or minority groups?

That letter was signed by Mr J. A. Bignall of 68 Eleanor Terrace, Murray Bridge. I wish to inform the Senate that Mr Bignall was a member of the Aus'ralian Imperial Force in the last war. He fought for his country and he is very concerned at the way the Government is now trying to prevent a man from standing for Parliament so that he can do the very thing that Mr Giles said he ought to do, namely, get in here and try to repeal these offensive and oppressive laws . which were invoked because of an illegal war in . South Vietnam.

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