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Wednesday, 30 August 1972
Page: 569

Senator CARRICK (New South Wales) - Mr Acting President-

Senator O'Byrne - I rise on a point of order. It has been the practice over the years that the Opposition should have the opportunity to present its case. Since the sitting was resumed tonight a number of honourable senators have spoken in this debate. Senator Gair spoke in favour of the Government. Senator Gair was followed by Senator Hannan and then we had one speaker from this side of the House. He was followed by Senator Bonner. Then we heard a speech by Senator Negus. Now Senator Carrick has received the call. The Opposition is not getting the opportunity to present its case. I would like to see a revision of the practice whereby the whole of the time given to the proceedings of this place on the air can be taken up by proGovernment speakers and the opportunity to speak is not afforded to those on this side of the chamber.

Senator Negus - I am an Independent senator and not a member of any party.

Senator Drake-Brockman - I listened to what Senator O'Byrne had to say. My understanding is that the call is given alternately to a senator on the Government side and then to a senator on the Opposition side of the chamber. I accept that Independent or Australian Democratic Labor Party speakers are not Government supporters. Therefore the practice is that a Government speaker and then a speaker from the other side of the House is called. It is also my understanding, Mr Acting President, that a list of names determined by arrangement between the Whips of the Government and Opposition parties is placed before you to call as speakers.

Senator Young - As Government Whip who discussed this matter with the Opposition Whip, Senator O'Byrne, I should like to pass one comment. Quite honestly I did not know what Senator Gair was going to say in his remarks on the Budget. On previous occasions he has criticised many areas of the Budget and on most occasions the Democratic Labor Party has moved amendments. I was not taken into the DLP's confidence to enable me to know what it intended, nor was I taken into the confidence of Senator Negus, who is an Independent and who tonight declared himself as an Independent.

Senator Bishop - But you know now.

Senator Young - Yes, I know now, but at that stage when we agreed on who would speak I did not know. I can say quite frankly that the order of speeches was not premeditated or arranged; it was a case of speakers from each side being given an opportunity alternately to speak. I can understand the view expressed by Senator O'Byrne. Because we have a good Budget, tonight Senator Gair supported the Budget. I did not know that he would do that. In addition, Senator Negus has been complimentary of certain areas of the Budget. In my view both these honourable senators are not Government supporters and as such I regard them as belonging to the other side of the chamber. They are definitely not on our side. It is up to them to speak freely on the Budget as they see it.

Senator McLaren- The Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) has just said that in the past it has been the practice that irrespective of whether an honourable senator who wished to speak in the debate was a member of the Democratic Labor Party or an Independent, speakers have been drawn in order, one from the Government side and then one from the Opposition side. Senator Bonner was the last Government speaker. If Senator Carrick speaks again it will mean that 2 Government speakers will have been called without a Labor Party senator being given the opportunity to speak. I suggest that what the Acting Leader of the Government has said is right and that we should continue with the practice which has been adopted in this chamber in the past.

Senator Withers - I always thought the custom was that the occupant of the chair called the person who first caught his eye. Whatever might be the arrangement between Whips is nobody's business - it is a matter between the Whips. It has nothing to do with the Chair. The Chair must always be independent and it is customary for the occupant of the Chair to call the person whom he sees first. Mr Acting President, if you saw Senator Carrick as the first person on his feet after Senator

Negus had spoken you would be quite entitled to call him, irrespective of what the leaders of the parties or the Whips might have arranged. If we are going to allow party leaders or Whips in this place to take over the authority of the Chair we might as well abolish the Chair. I am not in favour of that. I believe, Sir, that you should call the person whom you saw first.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I would not have addressed myself to this point of order had it not been for the remarks which have just been made by Senator Withers. The arrangement made on this side of the chamber last night was that I would follow Senator McAuliffe in the debate, but because Senator Bishop from South Australia had put his name on the Opposition Whip's list prior to my name being added to the list it was agreed between Senator O'Byrne, Senator Bishop and-

Senator Webster - That is your affair. It has nothing to do with our side. That is your pigeon.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I agree with Senator Webster that it is our affair, but perhaps I may be allowed to finish the story. Senator O'Byrne, Senator Bishop and I agreed that Senator Bishop would take my place on the list.

Senator Webster - We do not want to hear about that.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Senator Webster has said that he did not hear about that, but, Mr Acting President, you heard about it. I went to you and told you of the arrangement, and you told me that after Senator Bishop had spoken Senator Gair would speak, to be followed by a Government supporter. Senator Negus, another Government supporter and then myself. It is all very well for Senator Withers to stand up now and say that he understands the position to be that whoever catches the eye of the person occupying the chair is entitled to the call. We all know the practicalities and realities in this game. If the honourable senator tries to hoodwink the Senate with statements of that nature, how can the public trust the Government? How can the public have faith in a government that tries to hoodwink the Parliament? We know what the custom and practice has been in the Senate over the years. Senator Withers has occupied the chair on occasions and he was formerly Government Whip. He knows that the practice has been to call speakers whose names appear on the list that has been provided to the Chair. It is complete eyewash, utter rubbish and poppycock for Senator Withers to say that you should call the person whom you see first. Anyone who believes in fair play must believe that a terrible thing has been done tonight, not only to the Labor Party but also to the Parliament. Honourable senators opposite have been talking at great length today and tonight about bias in another area. It is about time that we were given a fair go in this place.

The ACTING PRESIDENT - On the point of order, what Senator Withers said is the correct procedure for the Chair to follow, that is, that the person who stands first should have the call. However, over a period of years there has been an arrangement between the 2 major parties for the Whips to provide the Chair with a list of proposed speakers so that Government and Opposition senators may alternate. We are able to get through the business in that way. In recent years we have seen the advent of the Democratic Labor Party and a number of Independents. It is necessary to give these people a fair opportunity to speak and to bring them into the debate. Consequently, the principle that operated when 1 first came to this chamber 23 years ago has almost disappeared because of the addition of the Democratic Labour Party and the Independents. I remind honourable senators that it is always the intent of the Chair to do the fair thing.

There has been mention of a list of speakers being submitted to the occupant of the chair. Senator O'Byrne, who is the Opposition Whip and who raised this point of order, earlier this evening handed me a list containing the names of 2 Opposition senators who were to speak. They were Senator McAuliffe and Senator Douglas McClelland. Both honourable senators are listed, Senator Douglas McCleland's name appearing for late in the evening. I do not know how the list which is now before me came to be here. It was not handed up while T was in the chair. However, the list that is now before me is the one that has been followed in the debate. Since Senator

O'Byrne handed me the list of Labor Party speakers Senator Bishop's name has been added and he has spoken already. It has been said that Senator Gair and Senator Negus supported the Government in their remarks on the Budget.

Senator Little - They were the first two outside the major parties to speak on the Budget in the last fortnight.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- That is so. These people have a right to speak. The Chair is not able to know the way in which Independents or members of the Democratic Labor Party will speak. On a number of occasions members of the Democratic Labor Party and Independent senators have opposed the Government. It was mentioned also that on occasions the Democratic Labor Party has moved amendments and sometimes has sought support from the Australian Labor Party. On occasions it has received support but on other occasions it has not been supported. The Chair's concern is to be fair. It is most unfortunate for the Opposition that the arrangements have turned out this way, but the list is here before me. Apparently the list has been followed until now. In those circumstances I do not think that at this late hour of the night I should start to alter the procedure. I regret that the point of order cannot be upheld.

If there is to be any argument about the order of speakers in future I suggest that it would be far better for the Whips from the Democratic Labor Party, the Opposition and the Government to find out where the Independent senators want to appear in the list of speakers. The smaller groups such as the Democratic Labor Party and the Independents must be given their fair share of time in a debate. It is a matter of trying to be fair to everyone. In those circumstances I shall continue to follow the list which has been followed until now.

Senator CARRICK - Mr Acting President

Senator Georges - You are the third speaker from that side. You should yield.

Senator CARRICK - I am quite prepared to yield to a member of the Labor Party if it is the view of my Leader that it is a fair thing to do so. I am not privy to any arrangement that has been made. I speak in the order arranged by the 2

Whips and I have been called. Nevertheless, if it is the view of my Leader that it would be fair to yield, 1 will of course do so. I defer to my Leader.

Senator Drake-Brockman - He has been called and he speaks.

Senator CARRICK - I believe that in the history of this Parliament no Budget has contained more enduring or more imaginative social reforms, more practical help for the sick, the aged, the handicapped and the poor, a more comprehensive programme to give effective aid to the rural community, a more effective programme to help students at colleges and universities, to help the people in their own homes, to give a real stimulus to the community, to strengthen employment and at the same time to provide significant tax cuts to increase purchasing power. Against that background of the Budget, which 1 commend fully, I want to draw to the attention of the Senate the fact that in my view this Budget contains 4 remarkable and distinctive features. Firstly, it was almost universally commended upon its presentation by the public, by the Press, by the media and by those who are regarded as expert commentators in the economic and political field. Secondly, the responding speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in another place was equally almost universally condemned by the same people - the public and the media. In the strongest terms a leader of an alternative government has been condemned for his speech on the Budget.

Senator Georges - You cannot support those 2 statements.

Senator CARRICK - I will proceed without the help of the Opposition to support what I have said by again reminding the Senate of the editorial of the 'Sydney Morning Herald' in which it was stated:

It would be unrealistic to expect Mr Whitlam in his Budget speech not to look towards the election. What is dismaying in the speech is not this but its low opinion of the intelligence and sophistication of the electorate. It offered little analysis. It offered not the foggiest notion of what Labor's fiscal alternatives might be. It was brazen in its insincerity. What can be said of the sincerity of a man who attacks the Government's means test decision as 'a vague uncosted promise' (ignoring Mr Wentworth's well publicised figures) and then immediately matches it with a similar promise from Labor? Such behaviour degrades politics. 1 repeat that almost universally the leader of the Labor Opposition was condemned.

Senator Georges - Almost.

Senator CARRICK - Yes. The only response in his favour came from some members of his Party, and that only some, and that weakly. The third phenomenon that I want to draw attention to is that the response of the Labor Party in this chamber and in another place in its so-called attack on this Budget has had the animation and the intellectual output of stunned deep sea mullet. 1 have never in my time witnessed a more demoralised approach to a Budget presentation. If 1 may make a very weak pun - I apologise for making it at this time of night - I would draw attention to what is now, along with the flu virus in Canberra, a new medical symptom called the Van Gough syndrome. That arises from Gough's election van which, having for a year or so careered recklessly all over the community without Ralph Nader's approval, like the second hand car in the television advertisement, distributing election promises right and left is now falling to pieces as the sheer weight of public opinion focuses upon the stream of policies which now have no legs with which to run, and as the force of the alternative budget and the value of our promises leave it for dead. The Van Gough syndrome is parallel with the old master himself in that it contains the same suicidal and neurotic tendencies, but I am bound to say that in this case its left ear is still intact and still attuned to the Left.

Senator Georges - How did Van Gogh lose his ear?

Senator CARRICK - He lost it, as indeed your leader will, as a result of neurotic and suicidal tendencies. (Quorum formed.) There is reason for the phenomenon that 1 have diagnosed. It is very clear because the Labor Party is on the horns of a tremendous dilemma on just about all of the great issues of this Budget. Those issues are divided into one of 2 classes, either those that it knows are right and yet are opposed in its own platform and therefore should be opposed - in an election year it will not oppose them but will remain silent - and those that it would want to commend but will not because it is an election year. Let me demonstrate this dilemma of the Labor Party, lt would be a good exercise in this chamber to refer to the issues of the Budget. For instance, on probate this Government has brought forward enlightened and great social reforms aimed at doubling the exemption amount of the smaller property owners, both city and country, and aimed, along with gift duty, to allow in the lifetime of a person the transfer of property. This ought to be enormously commended, lt is particularly valuable to widows and to the farming community which will save subdivision at a time of crisis. I commend it, but the Labor Party of course must remain silent because the Labor Party is opposed in its policy to the serious easing or the abolition of probate because it has an insensate hatred of private property and seeks to destroy it wherever it lies. If the Labor Party in fact favours the abolition of probale duty, let its members stand up and say so. I challenge them to say so.

Senator Devitt - I take a point of order. A committee of the Senate is at present investigating this question. Therefore I think it is inappropriate for Senator Carrick to raise it at this time. If he wants us to stand up and say what he has suggested, I will do so but I prefer to await whatever recommendation the Senate committee makes to this Parliament.

The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order! An Opposition senator has taken a point of order. If other members of the Opposition will be quiet, they might hear what their colleague is saying. What is the point of order?

Senator Devitt - My point of order is that a committee of the Senate is at present examining the question of probate duty. Therefore, it is incorrect, inappropriate and improper for Senator Carrick to taunt members of the Opposition into the situation of having to speak on this question. I have accepted his challenge, but I say it is inappropriate and improper to suggest at this time that the Labor Party has any attitude to this question when, in fact, members of thai Party are combining with other honourable senators in a complete examination of the whole question of probate duty.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! A committee of the Senate may be investigating some subject, but 1 still have not caught the point Senator Devitt was trying to make. What committee it is. I do not know. A question that a committee of the Senate is investigating does not, I think, preclude an individual senator from expressing his opinion.

Senator CARRICK - I am fully seized of the tactics of delay and humbug which are being-

Senator Devitt - 1 must rise in response to that remark. I did not rise in that sense at all. I rose in response to a challenge from the honourable senator and the taunt which he flung in our direction. As a member of that Committee--

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! Will honourable senators on the Opposition side please keep quiet while their own senator is trying to explain to this chamber what he meant. If honourable senators do not keep quiet I will take the appropriate action.

Senator Devitt - I sincerely suggest that there is a misrepresentation in the statement that the Labor Party is not interested in this matter of probate or in any attitude it may be taking. I think it is quite inappropriate to raise this matter at this time when honourable senators on this side of the chamber, wilh Senator Carrick's own colleagues, are seriously examining in great depth and with great sincerity this matter of probate duty. The suggestion that I have tried to cut into the honourable senator's time after having been taunted in that way is a rather improper imputation and I resent it.

Senator Davidson - I rise to order. I think the honourable senator's raising this point is a lot of nonsense.

Senator Devitt - How would you know?

Senator Davidson - Of course it is. The honourable senator saw no objection to talking about repatriation, and he knows perfectly well that a Senate Committee is inquiring into repatriation. Committees are inquiring into a number of things. Why cannot Senator Carrick nail home the point he has raised? I object to this delaying tactic.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! The point of order is not upheld. I say this to Senator Carrick-

Senator Devitt - I did not raise a point of order. It was a matter of misrepresentation.

Senator Drake-Brockman - If Senator Devitt did not raise a point of order then I take it he claims that he has been misrepresented. If he has been misrepresented the forms of the Senate enable him to rise at the end of Senator Carrick's speech and claim that he has been misrepresented.

Senator CARRICK - There can be no doubt in this Senate that whatever matters are before Senate committees are not sub judice. Therefore I made the remarks that I made, lt would be utter nonsense to suggest that for this Senate or for any political party at election time-

Senator Devitt - Then why do we not quit?

Senator CARRICK - The honourable senator who sought an explanation and who is gabbling on so that he cannot hear it gives no sense of decorum to this chamber. The fact of the matter is that this Senate committee may well go on past the time of the election. Is the Labor Party not making its own policy speech, its own policy determination, now? Are its policies going to be sub judice now and after the election if we hold matters in relation to the Senate committee on ice? To the nth degree this is the lunacy in argument. I make no apology for the strength of my remarks at all. 1 repeat that either these interruptions are done in complete ignorance of the forms of the Senate or they are done to delay. On either, all I do is ask the people of Australia to understand that the Labour Party, which over the years has set out to destroy freedom of speech outside and inside this chamber, tonight is using the same techniques, and it will not succeed.

Senator Mulvihill - I raise a point of order, Mr Acting President. 1 would like guidance in relation to Senator Carrick's remarks. The point was epitomised a few moments ago. An honourable senator who stands up in response to a challenge from the other side of the chamber may be in breach of Standing Orders by not waiting until the honourable senator addressing the chamber has finished his speech. What is the position of the honourable senator who issues the challenge or the taunt? If an honourable senator on the other side of the Chamber issues a taunting challenge to members of the Labor Party to get to their feet how can an honourable senator on this side defend himself or his Party without breaching Standing Orders?

The ACTING PRESIDENT - Order! Opportunity is given to each honourable senator during the debate on the Budget, if he has not spoken - plenty of honourable senators have not - to reply.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Not on the air.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- I did not know that the air was so important at this hour of the night. The Chair does not take cognisance of the broadcast. There is opportunity in further speeches to take up any argument which has been made by people on either side.

Senator CARRICK - I repeat my challenge to the Labor Party to tell this Senate--

Senator Davidson - And the people.

Senator CARRICK - And the people of Australia its policy on probate and to deny my assertion that it is thoroughly opposed to the abolition of probate duty. Let me continue to examine the reasons why the Labor Party has run away from the examination of this Budget. I shall take the great social reforms in the Budget in relation to nursing homes whereby not only pensioners but also non-pensioners going into nursing homes will, in further, receive very considerable benefits. The pensioners in nursing homes will be left with money in their pockets. The people who are nonpensioners will be eligible for cover under the hospital benefits scheme. This is an enormous breakthrough, covering in private nursing homes in this country some 38,244 beds. This should have been a subject of acclamation and praise. But let me tell honourable senators why-- (Opposition senators interjecting) -

Senator CARRICK - There is an attempt to shout me down. Let me tell honourable senators why, and why I must raise my voice. The reason is that the stated policy of the Labor Party is to destroy the private nursing homes and private hospitals. These are the official statements of the Labor Party. Indeed, if honourable senators want anything more than that I invite them to turn to the Fabian Society lecture delivered by their Leader - or is he - Mr Whitlam only a few days ago when he said, laying down a blue print of nationalisation that the major act of nationalisation in the traditional sense to be undertaken by a Labor Government in the next term will be the establishment of a single health fund administered by a health insurance commissioner. Traditional, nationalisation is to be carried out immediately and, in Dr Cass's words:

Private hospitals and private nursing homes are irrelevant to the Labor Parly's concept of a national health scheme . . .

They will go. Beds will be built in the public sector to take them over, so the Labor Party says. Mr Whitlam says that he will not have duplication. He must have rationalisation. What the Labor Party is hiding is that without replacing a single bed, without building a single new bed, by an act of socialism it is seeking to create a Taj Mahal of socialism. The Labor Party, by its own statement, is to demolish some 52,000 private hospital and private nursing home beds in this country and construct in their stead, in the public sector, without adding one single bed, something that will cost the most modest figure of $661 m. This is on Labor's own say-so. By abolishing the 81 medical benefit schemes and the 93 hospital benefit schemes the Labor Party is going to build monuments and buildings all over Australia which will cost another $50m or $100m. I make it quite clear that the Labor Party has said categorically that it is out to nationalise the health schemes, it is out to destroy the private nursing homes and private hospitals. I have here a statement by Dr Cass which I will be happy to table. I wonder whether it will be denied? It is reported under the headline: 'Private wards "don't count".' The report states:

He said: 'Private hospitals and private nursing homes are irrelevant to the Labor Party's concept of a national health scheme . . .

Let me make this clear. He said 'A national health scheme'.

Debate interrupted.

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