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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 1883

Senator WHEELDON (Western Australia) - I have very little knowledge other than what I have read in newspapers about the affairs of Alexander and Thomas Barton or of Mr McCaw whom I have never met or heard of apart from what I have read in the newspapers. All that I know of the matter that has been raised by Senator Gietzelt is that I know the information which he gave to the Senate tonight was information which had only recently come into his possession. In fact, it came into his possession only today. I believe he was acting properly in drawing it to the attention of the Senate. The very fact that there had been litigation about another matter related to the Barton companies but not related to the specific allegation made tonight, which relates to claims which have been made by an investigating officer of the Corporate Affairs Commission of New South Wales, is beside the point.

What prompts me to rise is to comment on the absurd impertinent hypocrisy of Senator Wright- that Senator Wright should of all people have the audacity today to come into this Senate and accuse people -

Senator Laucke - I rise on a point of order. The word 'hypocrisy' has been used in reference to Senator Wright. It is offensive and should be withdrawn.

The PRESIDENT -Is it offensive to you, Senator Wright?

Senator WHEELDON - I will withdraw it. I do not want to haggle about it. I only wish to say that I find Senator Laucke 's sensitivity rather disarming.

Senator Wright - I rise on a point of order. I think the Standing Orders preclude as a matter of parliamentary propriety the use of any expressions that impute dishonesty or lack of principle.

Senator WHEELDON - I have withdrawn.

Senator Wright - The word 'hypocrisy' would be within that category. For the standing of the Senate I would think that the use of such a word would attract an automatic requirement of withdrawal.

The PRESIDENT - I have a dictionary of forbidden words, but I cannot find that one amongst them.

Senator WHEELDON -Mr President,I have withdrawn. But having withdrawn, I would like to comment that I am surprised at the sudden sensitivity which has overcome Senator Laucke, who was quite happy to hear the word 'mudbag' being used by Senator Wright and I also was quite startled to hear Senator Wright suggesting that words which impute impropriety should not be used when he described Senator Gietzelt as a 'mudbag' on several occasions a few moments ago.

I will not use the word 'hypocrisy' but I will say that it is a sign of the selectivity of Senator Wright in approaching these matters. I find it completely audacious on his part to come into the Senate tonight to complain about an abuse of privilege when only yesterday when this very Senate was discussing the purchase of a painting by this Government he referred to corruption on the part of people who were not involved in politicspeople engaged in business. He in his coward's castle accused of corruption people whom he knew could not answer. Yet he now comes along with this fulsome manner he has, which of course impresses no one, even his own colleagues in the Liberal Party who have approximately the same opinion of him as I have, and tries to impress us with this superior virtue that he, Senator Wright, would never traduce anybody outside the Parliament, when he has made a career of it ever since he has been in the place. I do not think anybody is impressed. I do not think the Press will succumb to his insults. The Press will have watched him down the years and will not take very seriously what he has said tonight. Senator Gietzelt has drawn the attention of the Senate to a serious matter. He has made a specific proposal that there ought to be an inquiry by way of royal commission into this matter. The fact that there are or are not elections to be held is not in my view a matter which affects the validity of what he has said tonight. He raised this matter as soon as the information was given to him and I believe he has properly raised it. I do not believe that the insults of Senator Wright will overcome what he has said. The only way that it can be overcome is to have a royal commission or inquiry along the lines Senator Gietzelt suggested.

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