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Tuesday, 16 May 1972
Page: 1646

Senator YOUNG (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he can recall Dr J. F. Cairns stating in the House of Representatives last year:

I recognise the law as it is and if I think it is wrong and if the issue is strong enough I will break the law.

Has the Attorney-General also seen reports in today's Press that Dr Cairns is now considering quitting the moratorium movement in Melbourne because of the violence last Friday? I ask the Attorney-General whether there is any statement, or whether he is able to make one, on the obligations of honourable members and honourable senators with respect to participation in violent demonstrations?

Senator GREENWOOD - I do recall that particular statement made by Dr Cairns to which the honourable senator has referred. 1 also recall other statements in similar vein made by the same gentleman. 1 have read, as reported in this morning's newspaper, that Dr J. F. Cairns is considering withdrawing from future demonstrations.

Senator Gair - Is be the same gentleman who said that if the law does not agree with you or you with it, you can break it?

Senator GREENWOOD - That is a viewpoint to which the honourable member for Lalor has subscribed on many occasions. I do not know whether any statement sets out the obligations of members of Parliament as distinct from other citizens in relation to participation in violent demonstrations and generally breaking or observing the law. I would have thought that, without question, members of Parliament had a paramount obligation above the obligation of other citizens to show a respect for the law. The view which has been expressed by Dr Cairns rings hollowly when he has a long record of having contributed to the type of lawlessness which has been seen in the streets.

Senator Murphy - 1 raise a point of order. Question time is to be used for the purpose of asking and answering questions. Answers must be responsive. They must be within the scope of the Minister's public responsibilities. We have listened carefully to this answer which was not designed for the normal purpose of question time but rather to raise argument. The Attorney-General has now departed from what he was asked and that was to make a statement as to the responsibility of honourable members or honourable senators. He is now engaging in an attack upon Dr Cairns. I submit that the remainder of the answer should be ruled out of order. The Attorney-General has answered what he was asked and the rest of his answer is out of order.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I uphold the point of order to the extent that the Standing Orders require that, in reply to a question, a matter may nol be debated. I trust that Ministers will adhere to the Standing Orders in that respect.

Senator GREENWOOD - Mr Deputy President,I was indicating, in response to the honourable senator, that the question of whether a statement ought to be made is a matter upon which there can be differing views, and I have expressed the view that a general obligation ought to be accepted by members of Parliament. I think it is quite apparent that that obligation, as I have stated it, has not been accepted by Dr J. F. Cairns and that the role he has played is a role which has-

Senator Murphy - I again rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy President, on two grounds. The first is the point of order which I raised previously and which I take again. The second is that the AttorneyGeneral has not observed your ruling, Mr Deputy President. He has not dissented from the ruling but he has not observed it. He is therefore doubly in breach of the. Standing Orders.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - The second ground of the point of order concerns a matter of judgment that the Chair must make and the Chair must hear submissions in order to do so. I repeat that question time should not be used for the. purpose of instigating a debate. I would have to see the question in writing before making any further judgment on it. As the Attorney-General has substantially answered the question asked of him I suggest that the Senate proceed to the next question.

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