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Wednesday, 13 November 1974
Page: 2350

The CHAIRMAN -Order! Senator Keeffe, you will withdraw the remark entirely about the Premier of Queensland and you will not place a variation on it as you are attempting to do.

Senator KEEFFE - Mr Chairman,it is obvious that you have 2 sets of rules. You allow one bloke on the opposite side to make all the false accusations in the world but you do not allow me to tell the truth about somebody. What do you want me to withdraw? If you will explain to me the words that you want me to withdraw I will withdraw them.

Senator Greenwood - I rise to a point of order. This conduct of the honourable senator seeking to disobey a request from the Chair has never been tolerated by a Chairman or a President of whatever political complexion. I submit that Senator Keeffe has an obligation to withdraw as you, Mr Chairman, requested.

Senator Cavanagh - Speaking to the point of order, I think we have to get some sense and clarity into this. Senator Keeffe did make a remark about the Premier of Queensland taking money on the side and to which objection was taken. You, Mr Chairman, asked him to withdraw it. He did withdraw it.

Senator Greenwood - He did not.

Senator Cavanagh - He did withdraw it and he substituted in lieu thereof the words that the Premier took money as a speculator. I think that is something which is quite a legitimate transaction so there is nothing derogatory about that. It is not a matter of saying someone took money underhand or on the side. I submit that Senator Keeffe did withdraw. Now someone wants to make a scene over this by canvassing your ruling, Mr Chairman, but he got involved tonight in personal hatreds as a result of an earlier debate. I commend you, Mr Chairman, for the attitude you adopted during the evening. I hope that we can get over this problem now and not have this personal animosity carried on.

Senator Greenwood - I submit that Senator Keeffe did not withdraw.

Senator Cavanagh - You have spoken on the point of order.

Senator Greenwood - I am rising on the point of order.

Senator Cavanagh - No, I am raising a point of order. How many times can a senator speak on a point of order? Senator Greenwood has spoken on the point of order. I have spoken on the point of order. He seeks to come back into this not to help you, Mr Chairman, but criticise what I have said.

Senator Button - Speaking to the point of order, I do not know whether the term 'speculator' is considered to be offensive at this time but really of course it depends on the context in which the expression is used because one who is a successful speculator might be quite highly regarded in Australia. For example, if one is in the position of the Queensland Premier and one holds shares in a company such as Comalco Ltd that might be regarded as a successful speculation. Nobody would suggest that Senator Keeffe was saying anything derogatory by using that expression. In the light of the subsequent expression which was used by the senator, I think the point of order can no longer be regarded as valid.

Senator Greenwood - I rise on a point of order.

Senator Cavanagh - Is it another point of order? senator Greenwood- The point of order I raise is that the allegation was made that Senator Keeffe had withdrawn. My recollection is that Senator Keeffe did not withdraw, and I speak only to ensure that the proprieties of the Senate are adhered to.

Senator Cavanagh - I have a further point of order.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Webster -I will hear it after Senator Greenwood has finished.

Senator Cavanagh - My point of order relates to his being on his feet.

The CHAIRMAN - You will not take a point of order while Senator Greenwood is speaking to his point of order.

Senator Greenwood - My point in rising was to say- this is a matter of record and, I suppose, your recollection ultimately, Mr Chairman- that Senator Keeffe did not withdraw. If the rules of the Senate are to be observed it appears to me proper to insist that a remark which is contrary to the Standing Orders be withdrawn. From time to time every senator is faced with this situation and every senator, with some solitary exceptions, withdraws in accordance with the request of the Chair. I submit that Senator Keeffe knows that he has breached the Standing Orders, and he should clearly and in a manly way withdraw his words. He has not yet done so.

Senator McLaren - I rise on the same point of order. Mr Chairman, I wish to draw your attention to the fact that Senator Greenwood has now taken offence at the remarks of Senator Keeffe. Repeatedly in this chamber tonight Senator Greenwood has accused this Government of indulging in political patronage. I think that his accusations are far stronger than anything that Senator Keeffe said here tonight. I sit alongside Senator Keeffe, and in my hearing he did withdraw the words which Senator Greenwood asked to be withdrawn and substituted for them other words. In my opinion, Mr Chairman, he complied with your ruling.

The CHAIRMAN - I do not uphold the point of order. Senator Keeffe did withdraw the original allegation that he made regarding the Premier of Queensland. He then replaced the former allegation with other words. I rule that those words do not breach the Standing Orders. I would ask Senator Keeffe to confine his remarks to the debate.

Senator KEEFFE - After all that, thank you, Mr Chairman. The man who precipitated all this has now gone for his evening coffee.

Senator Greenwood - Are you referring to me?

Senator KEEFFE - I am not referring to Senator Greenwood. I do not think that he drinks coffee. He needs something else. I am referring to Senator Jessop who precipitated the arguments. Senator Greenwood needs mostly a good, healthy dose of sedatives from time to time; the chamber would then be a much happier place. I wish to point out that the establishment by this Government of the Department of Urban and Regional Development is one of the farthest reaching things that has happened in the history of parliaments in this country. I know that it is true to some degree that conservative State parliaments have set up shadows of some sort of development project, but they have never carried their windy promises into effect. I do not exclude my State of Queensland in this regard. Queensland has done more than any other State to wreck, if it could, the Department to which we are referring. Earlier today I asked a question in this chamber concerning a certain developer who offends very deeply and who is allowed to offend and get away with it. As my colleague Senator Button said a few moments ago, one can use the word 'speculator' because if anybody has been successful in this field it is the Premier of Queensland. He has speculated in just about everything that moves or walks or for which one can obtain a title by various means. He has become a very wealthy man in his own time because of his ability to use his parliamentary position to speculate in just about everything -

The CHAIRMAN - Order!

Senator KEEFFE -That is not meant to be offensive. It is the truth.

The CHAIRMAN - You will withdraw that remark about the Premier of Queensland.

Senator KEEFFE -What part of it?

The CHAIRMAN - You know the remark. You said that the Premier of Queensland enhanced his wealth by speculation as a result of his parliamentary position. You will withdraw that remark.

Senator KEEFFE - Mr Chairman,you make it very difficult for me because that remark has been made outside the Parliament. I will withdraw it. It has been said outside the Parliament, and the Premier of Queensland has not sued anybody over it. Mr Chairman, as you feel that I have offended against the Standing Orders- I am not sure that I have- I withdraw it.

Senator Greenwood - Hear, hear.

Senator KEEFFE - That is as good as a sedative. Regional development in Queensland has been held up because the Premier has played the game this way. Millions of dollars of Australian Government money are ready to flow into Queensland provided we can spend it in the way in which we wish to spend it. Let me digress for a moment. Recently legislation has been introduced into the Queensland Parliament to block the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation from carrying out development in Queensland unless it is in accordance with the personal wishes of the Premier. So the Burdekin Dam for all practical purposes has gone down the political drain. Yet it was only after December 1972 that the Australian Labor Government decided to carry on with the project that had been the dream of Queenslanders for almost 100 years. Now this has been effectively stopped. Our attempt to develop the regional growth centre of Townsville has been effectively stopped. Our attempt to develop other parts of Queensland has been effectively stopped because of a man who wishes to take Queensland out of Australia for all time. He wants his own flag, his own air force. The aircraft that he flies is now known as Petersen's Air Force 1. He wants his own national anthem. He has registered the Queen as the Queen of Queensland. He has passed legislation to incorporate everybody in the community as Queenslanders, not as Australians. We must go through this diatribe all the time. Yet senators on the other side of the chamber say that this is OK. I hope that a new day Will dawn for the people of this country so that somewhere along the line Queenslanders may again be naturalised and brought back into Australia. The way that we wil do it is to ensure that this Department is under no circumstances stymied anywhere, and that it is given a free go. Why cannot the Premier of Queensland cooperate with the Australian Government in the same way as the conservative Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria co-operate? At least they are prepared to do something for their States in co-operation with the Australian Government. That is all I ask. The criticism that we have heard from the other side of the chamber builds up part of the story to which I have referred. I Will be very careful not to use religious terms about the Premier of Queensland. It builds up as part of the opposition to Australian Labor Government policies. One must live in Queensland to see the daily burblings and utterings of the Premier and to know that the great hatred that has been engendered is pursued right through to the Australian Parliament

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