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Wednesday, 20 November 1974
Page: 2560

Senator MAUNSELL (QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is it correct that the Federal Conference of the Labor Party, to be held in February, can negate any decision or action already taken by the Labor Government?

Senator MURPHY - I suppose that strictly speaking the answer would be no. If something has been done, I suppose it has been done. I do not think the Senate needs another lesson in how the Labor Party works. We know that there is a democratically elected Federal Conference consisting of delegates elected by the Party congress in each State, the Labor Premiers or the Labor Leaders of the Opposition in each State and also now the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Senator Willesee and myself. I am reminded by Senator Wriedt that it is probably a far more democratic version of the Federal Council of the Liberal Party. Our Conference meets in the open, in the presence of the Press, radio and television, and its deliberations are conducted publicly. They are spread out all over the country in exactly the way one would expect a democratic political party to work. If the honourable senator can suggest some other way in which a democratic party should work, we would be interested to know what he has to say. I think the people of Australia are very satisfied that they have a great political party which is conducting its affairs in the way that it does so that the people know what it is doing and what decisions it is coming to. The whole country is aware, when the people go to vote for it, just what the Labor Party stands for. If we want to find out what the honourable member's Party stands for we would have to get hold of the huge number of backers who are able to manipulate those opposite like a stack of dummies. It would be very difficult to find out the real power structure behind the Country Party and the Liberal Party. Those parties certainly would not be meeting in the open or in the presence of the television, radio and the Press and having its decisions put down where everybody can read them.

Senator MAUNSELL -Mr President,I have a supplementary question.

The PRESIDENT -Is it to seek elucidation?

Senator MAUNSELL - I ask the Leader of the Government whether the decisions of the Federal Conference of the Labor Party were binding on members of Parliament. That is what it amounted to. I want to know yes or no; that is all.

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