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Tuesday, 19 November 1974
Page: 2545

Senator SIR MAGNUS CORMACK (Victoria) - I rise merely to defend the Chairman of Committees. Mr President, the

Chairmanof Committees is your deputy when you are not present. On the occasion which has caused this adjournment debate I understand that the Senate was in Committee. Whether that is so or not, the facts are that you, Sir, are responsible for the conduct, the decorum, the behaviour, the style and the quality of this chamber. When you are not in the chair your Chairman of Committees or your deputy is equally responsible. I am sure that Senator Webster must be defended. Senator McLaren, following upon action taken by his leader in South Australia, Mr Dunstan, who is the world of fashion and the ball of style there, decided that that should be conveyed into this Parliament. Honourable senators will recollect the matter very clearly. The decision was taken that the honourable senator should return to the normal style that is accepted in the Senate until such time as the House Committee had examined the matter and reported back to the Senate. The House Committee examined the matter. I was the Chairman of the Committee. I do not intend to disclose to honourable senators the discussion that took place. All I will say to honourable senators is that the report was a unanimous report and it required that all honourable senators should conform to the accepted dress and pattern that had distinguished the Senate over many years. The matter was subsequently put to the vote and was carried on the voices. Senator Webster was completely within his rights in being obedient to that ruling of the Senate that was accepted and carried on the voices as to the style and quality of dress that was required.

Public servants who come into this place do not have any more privilege by being public servants than has any honourable senator. Public servants must conform to the style and quality which is required of honourable senators in this place. Any public servant who comes in here and attempts to set his own pattern should be thrown out by whoever is in the chair. Public servants must conform to the Senate patterns of behaviour and not their own. Therefore I will say no more about shorts, stockings, bikinis, bathing gowns or whatever it is that Senator McLaren and his colleagues in this place may elect to invest themselves in and appear in the Senate.

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