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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2294

Senator GEORGES (Queensland) - In spite of the plea of Senator McManus I wish to make the point that supporters of the Government - particularly the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who is in charge of this Bill - came into this place today with the deliberate intent of disciplining members of the Opposition and some members of the Opposition have been named tonight on what I state to be very flimsy grounds.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! Senator Georges, I suggest to you that you should not pursue that line.

Senator GEORGES - May I indicate to you, Mr Chairman, that the Government is in complete disarray? It is evident that the Attorney-General has deliberately defied even the acting leader of the Government parties, namely, the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman). I say that because on the motion being put for the adjournment of the Senate tonight the front bench of the Government parties - the senior Ministers of the Government parties - said 'aye* but the Attorney-General, with the connivance of Senator Withers,- who sits behind him, opposed the motion and then proceeded to move a motion that the Bill be considered to be an urgent one. The disarray within the Government at the present time has resulted in 3 members of the Opposition being suspended from this place.

Senator Little - For bad behaviour.

Senator GEORGES - For bad behaviour my foot. They were deliberately provoked.

Senator Wood - I rise on a point of order. Senator Georges is reflecting upon various chairmen by saying that certain Opposition senators were deliberately provoked. I draw your attention to that, Mr Chairman.

The CHAIRMAN - I have been listening carefully to what Senator Georges has been saying. I have already asked him not to pursue a particular line and I repeat that warning.

Senator GEORGES - Mr Chairman,what other line can I take, when that was, as 1 have said, the deliberate intent of the Attorney-General and those who have supported him? It was not the deliberate intent of all Government senators but of those who have supported the Attorney-General, who, for all I know - it appears that this may be so - is engaging in some petty internal competition with other members of the Government parties because it was fairly clear last week that he came into this place and moved an amendment to this Bill without the knowledge of the Government parties and without the knowledge of the rest of the honourable senators in this place. The Attorney-General has deliberately taken into his own hands the control of the Government side of the Senate. He has done it deliberately and without consideration for the rest of the members of the Government parties, and in doing so he has provoked the Opposition to take such action that has led to the suspension of some of its members.

Senator Young - Where did you get that information from because it is not true and you know it?

Senator GEORGES - It has been fairly clear to us as we have viewed it here. There is complete disorder in the Government. The Minister who should be dealing with this Bill is the Minister who represents in this chamber the Minister for

National Service and it has been declared to the Senate that the Minister who represents in this chamber the Minister for Labour and National Service is Senator Wright. He should be the man who is best able to handle this Bill. But what has happened?

The CHAIRMAN - Order! Senator Georges, could you tell me what is the relevance of what you are saying to the motion before the Chair?

Senator GEORGES - The relevance of what 1 am saying is-

Senator Webster - This will be difficult.

Senator Kane - Give him a go.

Senator Murphy - That is why we are in this mess.

Senator GEORGES -.- Yes. If one were properly to define relevance one would find that there has been no relevance to the debate in the contributions of the last three or four speakers. Mr Chairman, I would say that to impose such discipline on me at this point of time is to be somewhat inconsistent. But let me proceed, if I may.

The CHAIRMAN - You will relate what you are saying to the motion, Senator Georges?

Senator GEORGES - I will. I am leading to the intention that we ought to move in some way, if it is within the forms of the Senate, that the Bill be taken out of the hands of the Minister who is handling it at the present time and placed back where it belongs, namely, in the hands of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, Senator Wright. It must be obvious even to you, Mr Chairman, that Senator Wright has not been present during this debate. Why? Is it that he knows nothing about the Bill or is it because he has been affronted because the Bill has been taken out of his hands and placed in the hands of this young Turk who has provoked us?

The CHAIRMAN - Order! Senator, 1 have been very patient and I think it would be better for you to sit down.

Senator Murphy - I rise to order. There have been allegations of infractions of the rules this evening. May I say that Senator Georges should not be required to sit down? If he has spoken strongly it is because he has been subjected to great provocation. An Opposition senator was dealt with for misconduct this evening for suggesting that what was stated was an untruth, yet a few moments ago a clear interjection was directed to Senator Georges by the Government Whip who said that what Senator Georges was stating was untrue. No action was taken by you, Sir, although you voluntarily had taken action earlier. Senator Georges has been subjected to considerable provocation and 1 do not really think that he should be required to discontinue his speech if he wishes to continue.

The CHAIRMAN - Senator Georges may resume his speech if he obeys the Chair.

Senator Cant - Mr Chairman, I rise to order. I would like you, with your clerical assistants on each side of you, to name the standing order under which you can interrupt a senator when he is speaking.

The CHAIRMAN - The Chairman has-

Senator Cant - 1 want the standing order. Give me the standing order.

The CHAIRMAN - You asked me a question.

Senator Cant - I do not want you shouting at me because I can shout, too.

The CHAIRMAN - It is necessary for me to shout.

Senator Cant - Sometimes - the town crier.

The CHAIRMAN - I draw the attention of Senator Cant to standing order 421 which provides:

The President or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition, and may direct a Senator to discontinue his speech:

I requested Senator Georges to explain the relevance of his remarks to the Bill before the Chair. He failed to demonstrate that relevance and in addition to failing to demonstrate the relevance which I was anxious to perceive, he proceeded along exactly the same lines. I suggested, seeing that he appeared to be unable to demonstrate relevance under standing order 421, that he resume his seat. But if Senator Georges is prepared to obey the orders of the Chair he may resume.

Senator Cant - It is always advisable when giving rulings in this place to quote the whole of the relevant standing order, not just the part which it suits the Chair to quote.

The CHAIRMAN - Be careful.

Senator Cant - There is a second paragraph to standing order 421 which was quoted by you. It reads:

Provided that such Senator shall have the right to require that the question whether he be further heard be put, and thereupon such question shall be put without debate.

You quoted the part of the standing order that takes away Senator George's privileges but you did not quote that part of the standing order which gives Senator Georges privileges in this place. Therefore I believe that your ruling is out of order.

The CHAIRMAN - Senator Georges has the right under standing order 421 to require that the question whether he be further heard be put. Should he desire to move that question, it should be put without debate.

Senator Wheeldon - I rise to order, Mr Chairman. I refer to your zeal earlier this evening in naming Senator Keeffe when he described a statement by the AttorneyGeneral as being an untruth. As Senator Young has said that something said by Senator Georges was untrue, I am asking you whether you also intend to name Senator Young. If not, would you inform the Senate as to the difference between the instance in which Senator Keeffe was involved and that in which Senator Young has been involved.

The CHAIRMAN - Standing order 424 provides:

Every such objection must be taken at the time when such words are used, and will nol be afterwards entertained.

Senator Wheeldon - Further to the point of order, Mr Chairman, it was you who took the objection while Senator Keeffe was speaking, and no other senator. I am asking you why, as you took objection while Senator Keeffe was speaking, you did not take the same objection while Senator Young was speaking. If there is some reason, please explain it to the Senate so that we will all be able to understand what, to a simple minded person like myself, appears to be a most extraordinary piece of conduct.

The CHAIRMAN - There is no ground for your point of order.

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