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Wednesday, 4 December 1974
Page: 3142

Senator BISHOP (South AustraliaPostmasterGeneral) - Mr Deputy President-

Senator McAuliffe - I rise on a point of order. Just for my own edification, Mr Deputy President, I wonder whether you would assist me and possibly other honourable senators with an explanation. You asked Senator Wheeldon to withdraw because he referred to Senator Greenwood as being corrupt.

Senator Wheeldon - Cowardly.

Senator McAuliffe - Cowardly. You, Mr Deputy President, said in your ruling that certain action can be taken when one senator refers to another but that it is a different circumstance when a senator refers to a party or government. Standing order 4 1 8 states:

No Senator shall use offensive words against either House of Parliament or any Member of such House, or of any House of a State Parliament or against any Statute, unless for the purpose of moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall bc considered highly disorderly.

So that we will know how to behave in the future, do you still claim that a senator can reflect on the corruption of a Party or government, and that that is allowable in this chamber, but may not reflect on the honesty of another senator? Do you rule, as you did in the case of Senator Wheeldon, that where it is a matter between a senator and another senator the point of order is upheld but that if the senator makes the same accusation against a Party, government or a House of Parliament it is allowable? Is that regarded in your opinion as being fair comment? 1 am not trying to be difficult; I am looking to the future in seeking your guidance based upon your experience in the chair.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- Senator McAuliffe has asked a question of me. I think reference to Hansard tomorrow will indicate that he has used a variety of words to test the answer that I gave. He has used the word 'government'; he has used the word group'; he has used the word 'Party';, and I think he used the words in relation to a political Party? I will take advice from the Clerk on the matter. My understanding is that standing order 4 1 8, as Senator McAuliffe has read it, states:

No Senator shall use offensive words against cither House of Parliament. . . .

I believe that no offensive words were used against either House of Parliament. Then it says: . . or any Member of such House . . .

I believe that in respect of the words used by Senator Wheeldon it was my duty to construe those as offensive words to me used against a member of this House and I would do the same were a Labor member or any member of this Senate said to be cowardly. I would see it as my obligation to immediately take that as an offensive word whether an honourable senator raised the point or not. Standing order 418 goes on to say:

Or of any House of a State Parliament . . .

I think Senator McAuliffe would agree with me that from some sides of the House in this place I have heard words used on many occasions against State Houses of Parliament. Standing order 418 goes on to say 'against a member of a State House '. However, that was not the case on this occasion. Standing order 4 1 8 then goes on to say: or against any Statute . . .

That does not come into question- unless for the purpose or moving for its repeal, and all imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.

It would be my own ruling that I have ruled correctly. I will seek the advice of the Clerk. I ask the Senate to hold to order for a moment. (The Deputy President having consulted the Clerk)-

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The Clerk advises me that he finds nothing to disagree with in my ruling.

Senator Greenwood - I refer to standing order 410 to claim the right -

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I will hear Senator McAuliffe.

Senator McAuliffe - Thank you for that ruling, Mr Deputy President. If Hansard tomorrow or the proofs, if we could see them this evening, show that Senator Greenwood charged the Government with corruption in this matter of tax deductions, and it is recorded that way in Hansard, can I presume that you will ask for a withdrawal from Senator Greenwood- that is, if he has made that statement? I feel that he has but I am speaking from memory. If the proofs of Hansard, if we could see them, show this- and I honestly feel that Senator Greenwood did reflect on the Government by saying that it was corrupt in this matter and also on an officer in the Taxation Office- can I presume that you will subsequently ask Senator Greenwood to withdraw?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have been through the standing order and I find nothing in it which states that a senator or member cannot refer to a government. I think Senator McAuliffe would agree with me that it would be improper if a government were to be relieved from all responsibility of any charge and that must stand in my view. If Hansard does show tomorrow that a charge of corruption was made against a government I would find no reason to vary my own attitude.

Senator Greenwood - I rise under standing order 4 1 0 which states:

A Senator who has spoken to a Question may again be heard, to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood -

It goes on but I do not quote the balance of it. I rise because I certainly did say in a -

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I believe the appropriate time to rise on this matter is when the senator who is on his feet, who is in actual fact Senator Bishop, has completed his statement.

Senator BISHOP -Mr Deputy President-

Senator Greenwood - Mr Deputy President,I understood Senator Bishop had not said a word. I was choosing to use the opportunity at this stage whilst the memory of what Senator Wheeldon had said was -

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- The Clerk advises me that Senator Greenwood should have an opportunity to speak.

Senator Greenwood - Mr Deputy President -

Senator Georges - I raise a point of order. Standing order 410 clearly says that no senator who wishes to make an explanation shall interrupt any senator in possession of the Chair. Senator Bishop was in possession of the Chair.

Senator Poyser - He was called.

Senator Georges - Yes, and Senator McAuliffe raised a point of order. Senator McAuliffe can interrupt the proceedings on a point of order. But under standing order 410 Senator Greenwood cannot interrupt the proceedings, nor can he take the Chair away from Senator Bishop, and so it ought to be ruled.

Senator Missen - Senator Bishopdoes not have the Chair.

Senator Georges - He did have the Chair.

Senator Poyser - He has the call.

Senator Georges - That is what it means. Why do you not understand the Standing Orders?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I think the Senate may assist me to regain order in this place. I had called Senator Bishop. Senator Bishop yielded, on my request, to Senator McAuliffe. Senator Bishop was not in control of the Chair at that stage. I am advised, and I believe correctly, that Senator Greenwood should be heard at this moment.

Senator Greenwood - I rise only because of what Senator Wheeldon said and I believe that I have been misquoted or misunderstood. I certainly accused the Government- and I do not retract from the accusation I made- of corruption, and my recollection is that I said that that corruption or the taint of it had extended to its officers. Senator Wheeldon has said I therefore accused the First Assistant Commissioner -

Senator Poyser - I rise to a point of order. I understood that Senator Greenwood was going to make a personal explanation. He has not suggested that he was going to do so. If he is not making a personal explanation he is having a second crack of the whip in the debate that is now before the House.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Senator Greenwood has the call on this matter. I believe he is making an explanation.

Senator Greenwood - Senator Wheeldonin the course of his interpretation of my remarks accused me of saying that Mr Curtin, the First Assistant Commissioner, was corrupt. I make no such allegation.

Government supporters- Oh!

Senator Greenwood - It does seem to me that the noise on this issue is a noise which indicates that they have been touched on the raw on the whole question. I certainly did not intend to make any such accusation. I withdraw any suggestion that my remarks carried that implication and all I say is that I thoroughly disagree with the ruling. I do not think it is a proper exercise of the discretion of the Commissioner. That I am prepared to say inside or outside this place. But to suggest- and I do not suggest it- or to imply that I am saying that the First Assistant Commissioner was in some way corrupt or motivated by money, I do not allege nor did I intend to allege and I do not believe that what I said fairly raised that suggestion. But I think it is a quite erroneous ruling, not justified by the Act and I think it does favour the Labor Party and that Labor Party Government, I do not hesitate in saying, is a corrupt government.

Senator Grimes - I raise a point of order. Standing Order 410, as you know, Mr Deputy President, gives a senator an opportunity to make an explanation where he has been misquoted or misunderstood. Senator Greenwood is now introducing debatable matter and extending the debate beyond that, surely, and therefore should not be able to go beyond explaining how he had been misunderstood or misquoted.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- 1 believe there is a firm basis to your comment, Senator Grimes. I believe Senator Greenwood has completed his remarks. I call Senator Bishop.

Senator Wheeldon - On a point of order, I rise to make a request to you, Mr Deputy President, that in view of Senator Greenwood's denial that he alleged corruption against the First Assistant Commissioner of Taxation, may an arrangement be made whereby the tape of Senator Greenwood's speech can be played to yourself, Senator Greenwood and myself so that we can verify the veracity of what Senator Greenwood was said by me to have said before the pinks of the Hansard debate are tampered with by anybody?

Senator Sir Magnus Cormack - Mr Deputy President,may I--

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I call Senator Bishop.

Senator BISHOP - The rulings that have been requested from you, Mr Deputy President, I suggest to the Senate, show clearly that this Senate is reaching a stage in this debate and also in debates held at times when the proceedings are broadcast- I refer to last Wednesday- when the people of Australia may question whether the parliamentary system is working as it should do and whether the Opposition is using its role as it should in constructive criticism of a government and the way it should perform that constructive criticism. What has been demonstrated here tonight, particularly in regard to the comments of Senator Greenwood, is that he has completely misrepresented a very honourable Treasurer. In my time in the Parliament I have never heard anybody personally attack the Treasurer, Frank Crean, who is known to be personally an honest man and when he gives a decision or gives an answer to a question everybody in the countryside recognises that Crean is giving an honest deal, an honest answer to the questions which are raised.

On 3 occasions this week- this is not the firstthis question of Curtin House has been raised. What is the position about Curtin House? The first thing I want to say is this: I have been in the Parliament for some years and I do not wonder why Australians now wonder whether the Parliament can perform its duties. I say it is a discredit to the Opposition when proceedings of the Senate are broadcast to use that time not to debate the Bills before the chamber but to attack the Government when it is not warranted because last Wednesday we had the same situation, when every member of the Parliament -

Senator Greenwood - We debated the Family Law Bill.

Senator BISHOP - Of course it is very usual for you, Senator Greenwood. You are used to this tactic. In this Parliament when everybody is trying to complete the work of the Government and of the Parliament -

Senator Jessop - Straighten your halo. You have a very short memory.

Senator BISHOP - I will refer to your halo, Senator. You came along here last week and alleged that an arbitration inspector had attended a union meeting--

Senator Greenwood - Last week we debated the Family Law Bill and you know it.

Senator BISHOP - I am replying to this interruption. Talking about halos he came along here and said something about an arbitration inspector. Everybody thought the man had attended a union meeting outside his duties. It happened to be a union member- a member of the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association. The honourable senator attacked the member. He got Press publicity, and that was the situation. He never had the guts to get up in the Parliament and say: 'Look, that member is a member of the union'. Senator Greenwood comes along here tonight. He has read the Hansard. He has read the document from the First Assistant Commissioner of Taxation. He knows what the history is. The history is clearly demonstrated by Mr Crean. Let me quote what he said yesterday in answer to a question asked by Mr Collard. The question reads:

My question is addressed to the Treasurer. While 1 appreciate that even if he is in a position to do so he would never disclose the names of any companies concerned, could he nevertheless tell the House whether or not some companies did apply for and in fact were actually granted tax deductions on moneys donated towards the building of McEwen House?

Mr Creanreplied. This is the Mr Crean who a little while ago you were all so very sympathetic towards because he is going to be the Minister for Overseas Trade. He is an honest man. We all know he is an honest man. Frank Crean said this:

The answer to the honourable gentleman 's question is yes.

Today, for the third occasion Mr Sinclair raised the same question. No doubt Senator Greenwood has read the Hansard copy. Senator Greenwood is using the arena here publicly to broadcast to the people of Australia matters which are not relevant The Government is trying to get Bills passed. Because we are, in fact, trying to do the work and not intervening in debates to the extent that we should, Senator

Greenwood raises these extraneous questions, not only about Mr Crean and the Taxation Office and McEwen House but also about what Mr Cameron is doing in patronising. I refer to Mr Crean 's reply to Mr Sinclair:

No individual, 1 emphasise, may receive a deduction for contributions, to Curtin House, McEwen House or even Menzies House. I am not drawing any distinctions.

Mr Creanwent on to refer to related matters. Senator Greenwood is using this forum to get his story out to Australia.

Senator Greenwood - Quite properly, because no one else will get it out.

Senator BISHOP - No, everybody knows you did it last Wednesday. We were then discussing Bills and a number of senators, including Senator Greenwood, used the first reading stage of the Bills to expand on their political analyses of the Australian economy. The Government will rise or fall on its own record. Honourable senators opposite do not have to use the occasions when the Senate is being broadcast to exploit such situations. The Government is bound not to continue the debate and we on this side of the House are containing ourselves to make sure that the Senate rises at a reasonable time. I refer again to what Mr Crean said to Mr Sinclair:

I am simply stating as a fact that some deductions were allowed in respect of McEwen House. No deductions have yet been allowed for Curtin House and whether they are allowed in terms of section 5 1 will be for the Commissioner of Taxation to decide.

That is the clear announced policy of the Treasurer. It is as clear as day. Opposition senators allege corruption on the Government's part. The very shady tenor of Senator Greenwood 's statement was clearly that he intended a personal attack on an official of the Department. We have never done this. It is a pretty poor thing for an opposition or a government to complain about the people that they control. It is improper and it should not be done. I think it is quite unfair. I am not surprised because every now and again Senator Greenwood does those things. He should use this occasion, in my opinion, to apologise for the comments he has made. They are not political comments at all. In fact, in my opinion, they misrepresent the situation. It is clear, if we look at Mr Crean's answer, that companies contributed to McEwen House. Everbody on our side who knew that favours were being bestowed in those days said: 'Why can't we do something for the Labor Party?' In this case some very important people are involved. Are honourable senators opposite saying that people like Sir Richard Kirby and Sir Thomas Playford who are members of the Committee which is trying to get donations for Curtin House as recognition of the work -

Senator Greenwood - The Government was very indulgent to Sir Richard Kirby when he retired.

Senator BISHOP - The honourable senator, who was once Attorney-General, had many matters to deal with in connection with the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Tonight, in respect of a taxation commissioner he makes a number of assertions, influences or reflections which are not proper. I have never heard one of our members make such assertions. It is improper. Honourable senators opposite are alleging that in society today there are no men of principle. I say that Sir Richard Kirby and Sir Thomas Playford are men of principle who believe that the leader of a great political party ought to be commemorated. Consequently Sir Richard Kirby and Sir Thomas Playford are in that group of people who are trying to raise funds.

Finally let me refer, of course, to the principal position. What has been happening in the Senate for several weeks now? I do not contest the right of the Opposition- it is its job- to try to criticise constructively the performance of the Government. We have made mistakes; of course we have. But we have done great things. The great things we have done are now alleged to be patronage. The improvements we have made in the industrial field are said to be things we have done because we want to get votes. Senator Cavanagh has been criticised for patronage because he is improving the lot of the Aborigines. Mr Beazley has been criticised about education matters. Senator Greenwood talks about the patronage of Mr Cameron. I have said this time and time again: This the first time in Australia than any government has ever established a manpower policy--

Senator Sir Magnus Cormack - In peace time.

Senator BISHOP - Yes, in peace time. It has also set about to assist not only trade unions but also management. I have repeated the sorts of things which Mr Cameron has tried to do. He has tried to provide subsidies for management where managers need to be trained and to train people in production to ensure productivity and better management. We are doing all these things. In turn we are giving subsidies to the trade union movement for education. In relation to economic matters the Government proposals are well known. We have unemployment. We forecast it. Mr Cameron says that next year it will decline. In answer to Senator Greenwood I say that the record ofthe Department of Labor has been outstanding. Where we have had dislocations we have readily made remedies. That was not the case with the previous Government. When I was a member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions years ago many waterside workers were to be displaced at sugar ports. It took us many months to get the sort of relocation allowances which the Government has now readily brought about in a few months.

It is to sad to think that in the last stages of this Parliament Opposition speakers have tried to misrepresent the interpretations of a very responsible Minister. I hope that it will not continue. After all, the Opposition and the Government have to make the Parliament work. If honourable senators opposite behave in the fashion in which they are behaving we will see a situation in Australia where Parliament is completely discredited. There has to be some code of principle and honour. Let all of us try to keep it.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- I think the Senate will agree that in the discussion of this Bill I have allowed the debate to roam fairly wide of the mark of taxation. It is traditional and quite in order for the Senate to do that. In the interests of progress I think honourable senators should restrict their remarks to the Bill.

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