22nd Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers. death of ex-senator the honorable alexander john mclachlan.
Senator O’SULLIVAN (QueenslandMinister for the Navy). - by leave - It is my sad duty to inform the Senate of the death of a former senator and Leader of the Senate, the Honorable Alexander John McLachlan, who died in hospital yesterday at the age of S3. The late exsenator was born at Naracoorte, South Australia, on the 2nd November, 1872. He was educated at the Hamilton Academy in Victoria, Mount Gambier High School and the University of Adelaide. He was called to the bar in South Australia in 1895, and he became a member of the bar in Victoria in 1929. Ex-Senator McLachlan practised his profession in Adelaide. He was a former chief of the South Australian Caledonian Society, and at one time he was the president of the South Australian Liberal and Country League.
Ex-Senator McLachlan was elected to the Senate at the general elections in 1925. He was not due to take his seat in the Parliament until the 1st July, 1926. However, in February, 1926, he was appointed by the South Australian Parliament to fill a casual vacancy in the Senate. He retained his seat as a senator until the 30th June, 1944. His period of service in the Senate exceeded nineteen years. Ex-Senator McLachlan was appointed an Honorary Minister for the period from 1926 to 1929, and acted as Attorney-General from 1926 to 1927. He was Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister administering the Development Branch of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research from 1932 to 1934. He again acted as Attorney-General from March to July, 1932, from April to July, 1934, and ‘ in 193S. Ex-Senator McLachlan was Postmaster-General from 19St t” 1938, and Minister administer- ing the Development Branch of the Com.monwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research from the 12th October, 1934, to the 29th November, 1937. He was the Leader of the Government in the Senate from 1937 to 1938. In 192S, he was the Leader of the Australian delegation to the League of Nations, and he was Plenipotentiary for Australia for. the signing of the Kellogg Pact in that year. From 1943 to 1944, he was a member of the War Expenditure Committee. Indeed, he had a remarkable political and parliamentary career, and it can be truly said that he served his country well.
I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Alexander John McLachlan, former Leader of the Government in the Senate, Commonwealth Minister and senator for the State of South Australia, and places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania- Leader of the Opposition). - I associate myself and members of the Opposition with the remarks of the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan), and support the motion that he has submitted to the Senate. The record of service of exSenator A. J. McLachlan, which has been read by Senator O’Sullivan. is a very distinguished one extending over a very long period of years. From the diversity of offices that ex-Senator McLachlan held, it is obvious that he must have had a very great and wide genera] capacity. He was fortunate in that he had some twelve years of retirement, and I trust that they were happy years for him. To members of his family, his friends and former associates, inside and outside this Parliament, we of the Opposition extend our sympathy.
Unfortunately, J did not have the pleasure of knowing the late senator. He retired from this chamber on the 30th June, 1944, and I became entitled to enter it on the following day. One cannot help noting how quickly changes take place in this chamber. I think I am correct in saying that on the Government side to-day there would be only two senators, Senator Spicer and Senator Cooper, who would have served in the Parliament with the late senator. I think the position is very much the same on this side. Five senators on this side, Senator Brown, Senator Cameron, Senator Courtice, Senator Sheehan and Senator Tangney, sewed with the late Senator A. J. McLachlan. The present members of the Opposition did not have a close association with the deceased gentleman but we know of his high repute, and we join with the Government senators in regretting his passing.
Senator COOPER (Queensland - Minister for Repatriation). - The members of the Australian Country party desire to be associated with the motion before the Senate. I associate myself with it most intimately as I was in the Senate for a number of years with the late Senator A. J. McLachlan. I remember well tho fluent arguments he was able to put forward in respect of the various portfolios he held. He first held cabinet rank in the Bruce-Page Government and later in the Lyons Government. He was not only a brilliant debater and good administrator but also a very lovable man. I am quite sure that, he had no enemies at all on either side of the Senate. Members of the Australian Labour party and members of his own party thought a great deal of A. J. McLachlan. We express our sympathy to his family and to his friends, and our deep regret at the passing of a man who has had such a distinguished carper in association with the National Parliament of this country.
Senator SHEEHAN (Victoria). - I desire to associate myself with the motion i»f condolence. It. is remarkable how few honorable senators are here to-day who were with Senator McLachlan during the period mentioned by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan). I came to this Senate in rather peculiar circumstances. My predecessor, the late Senator Barnes, had died between polling day and the day on which the newly elected senators were to take their seats. A controversy arose as to the constitutional power to fill the vacancy and when I was appointed it was suggested that the appointment be made a test case. Senator McLachlan was Leader of the Government at the time, and he possessed great legal knowledge. On the morning of my arrival in tho Senate he received me- and was most courteous and sympa thetic to me. During the time that we remained together in the Senate I felt that he was a senator who had the esteem and respect of all honorable senators. Whilst he differed from honorable senators on this side in politics, he displayed no bitter antagonism towards his opponents. When we were engaged in debate - and in those years there were some very vigorous debates on the disallowance of regulations and that sort of thing - Senator McLachlan always conducted himself in accordance with the highest standards of public life, and gave the Senate the benefit of opinions formed by great experience of parliamentary practice and great knowledge of the world. In 1940, 1 was defeated at a general election, but he remained in the Senate. However, I was privileged to continue my friendship with him; and his sympathetic’ attitude towards one in defeat was something that I have never forgotten. 1 regret his passing very very much indeed, because T feel that Australian public life has lost a man who filled his position in it most ably and well.
Senator SPICER (Victoria - AttorneyGeneral). - One of the great compensations of undertaking responsibilities associated with public life is the development of close friendships with colleagues on both sides of the chamber, friendships which we should otherwise not be privileged to enjoy. It was my good fortune to enter this chamber for the first timewhile the late Senator McLachlan was still a member of it. At that, time hr was something of the elder statesman, and I a mere novice who turned to him, among others, for advice and guidance. That advice and guidance, which contained much wisdom, he readily gave to me. Out of that association there developed a friendship which I was privileged to enjoy until his death only yesterday. “A.J.” as we affectionately knew him. had a long and active life, during which he made contributions not only in - politics, but also in law, business and pastoral pursuits, which added to the progress and development of the land that he loved so intensely. He was a shrewd judge of sheep. In fact, he was born among sheep and ended his days among. the, too. on his lovely property near Melbourne. which he so greatly improved in his days of retirement to which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has already referred. During his earliest days in the practice of the law, he had associations with Mount Gambier, andI understand that he served his articles in the office with which Senator Laught is now associated. Later, he was a partner of Kingston, who played such a distinguished part in the early days of federation.
His distinguished political career has been recounted for us by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’Sullivan). “A.J.” chose to describe himself as an “ f.a.q. Australian “. That, I feel, was a great compliment to his fellow Australians which, nevertheless, typified his great devotion to the country of his birth, his active interest in which continued to the clay of his death. I join in the expressions of sympathy towards his relatives which have been uttered on behalf of all honorable senators, knowing that they will derive great consolation in rheir loss from the knowledge that many others will regret that memories must now replace the personal contact that they were privileged to enjoy for so long.
Senator LAUGHT (South Australia). -I desire to associate myself with the remarks of the previous speakers. Certainly, a most colourful figure has been removed from the legal profession in South Australia, and also from its political life, by the passing of Senator McLachlan. He was descended from vigorous Highland parents who were well settled in South Australia when he was born there more than80 years ago. As the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) has said, the late former senator had an intense love of the countryside and of animals.It was my privilege to meet him in South Australia, particularly in the country. He would reminisce upon the early days of the law in South Australia and grazing practices in the southeast of that State.
The Attorney-General has spoken of the former senator’s life in general. He entered articles in the office in Mr Gambier in which I now have an interest and, preserved in that office, are records of deeds and documents written in his own bold handwriting. An interesting feature of his political career was the fact that he started it rather late in life. He practised at the South Australian bar from about 1895 and, at an early age, rubbed shoulders with some of the great figures of federation, including the late Senator Sir Josiah Symon and the late Senator Sir John Downer. He was a partner of the late C. C. Kingston, who was an early Minister of Trade and Customs. Although he took no active part in the politics for the first 25 years of federation, he met some of its prominent figures in his work at the South Australian bar. Sow, after 56 years of federation in Australia, we mourn the loss of such a figure. I offer my sympathy and condolences to his family and to his relatives who are well known in South Australia. I pay tribute to the fact that the former senator, in the twilight of his life, was able to record in a book, which he distributed among his friends, his rich experiences in the law, politics and South Australian life on the land. I was privileged to have a copy given to me by him and I am grateful that such memories have not been lost to humanity.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
Assent to the following bills re ported : -
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1955-56.
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1955-50.
Notice of motion in the name of Senator Wood for the disallowance of Regulation 5.15 under the Air Force Act 1923-1952, as contained in Statutory Rule No. 92 of 1955, withdrawn.
– Has the Attorney-General read a statement by the Premier of Tasmania advocating the addition of representatives of the States to the joint all-party committee to consider alterations to the Constitution? Would not such additions be unwise and make the committee too unwieldy? Does not the Attorney-General agree that, as Senator Wright, a constitutional authority and a former member of the Parliament of Tasmania, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) are members of the committee, Tasmania has very worthy representation?
– I certainly agree with the honorable senator’s last comment that Tasmania is very well represented on this committee in the persona of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and my colleague, Senator Wright. I have not seen the newspaper report to which the honorable senator has referred, but, from what he has indicated of its contents, it seems to me to show that perhaps the Premier of Tasmania does not altogether appreciate the” purpose of this committee. Its purpose is to have a number of members of both Houses of this Parliament, and from both sides, devote themselves to the task of reviewing the Constitution with a view to seeing if there are means by which it might be usefully amended in certain respects on which both parties could agree. From time to time over the years, we have had agitations for the creation of a constitutional convention. They have never come to anything. In many ways I do not regard that as very surprising because the truth is that if we have anything like an elected constitutional convention we shall have merely a replica of this Parliament. What is overlooked these days is the fact that this Parliament is in truth a continuing convention of the people of Australia to consider amendments to the Constitution. The great difficulty for a number of members is to find time to devote to a consideration of the kind of amendment which the years have shown to be desirable. Therefore, it. seems to me to be a very wise course to commence the process by creating a committee of this Parliament drawn from all sides of both chambers to concentrate on that task. If, as a result of our deliberations, we reach agreement on matters, upon which no doubt it will be necessary to he in agreement, then we shall have gone a long way indeed along the road to getting a desirable constitutional reform, because those decisions will have been reached by a committee comprising members of both. Houses of the Parliament; and it must always be remembered that the consent, of both Houses of the Parliament is a’ necessary step in the process of constitutional alterations which, after being approved by this Parliament, must be approved by the people by way of referendum.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether his attention has been directed to statements made recently by the PrimeMinister of Great Britain and by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer wherein they state that in order to deal with Britain’s economic dangers they would take steps to control dividends and profits as well as wages. Does the Minister agree that Australia’s economic dangers might be met in a similar manner ?
– I am sorry to say I have not seen the statements to which the honorable senator has referred. Therefore, I do not know the full circumstances, or the background against which they were made and, for that reason, I cannot apply a set of suppositious circumstances to what might be the position, in Australia.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether most of the information made available to the general public concerning recent events in Singapore is gleaned from the Australian press. Isthis information dependable and accurate? Can the Minister give the Senateuptodate information concerning the present political and general situation in Singapore? If not, will the Minister ask the Minister for External Affairs to supply the Senate and the people with a comprehensive report of the recent
Marshall talks between the Chief Minister of Singapore, Mr. Marshall, and the Colonial Office, and also a report concerning the present position in Singapore?
– About ten days ago, I circulated among honorable senators a paper prepared by the Minister for External Affairs.
– I did not receive a copy.
– Copies were clr. culated to all senators, and if the honorable senator did not receive one he can be supplied with a copy.
– I was away.
– This paper contained detailed information relating to the progress of the talks in London, and indicated the course which they had taken. I certainly would not be prepared to vouch for the accuracy of everything that has appeared in every Australian newspaper on this subject. I will make inquiries from my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, and ascertain whether there is any more recent information which he can supply to honorable senators.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the passages in the judgment of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court of Friday last deprecating the discordance which exists in the industrial field on wage fixation, arising out of differences in the method of applying cost-of-living adjustments in some States as against the federal court. I ask the Minister whether any consideration has been given to a. course of action designed to reconcile the conflict between Federal and State wage-fixing authorities? Has the Government considered whether the occasion would be appropriate for a Premiers conference, in view of the industrial disruption that is being threatened on nil sides, arising out of this question ?
– The state of affairs referred to bv the honorable senator is one over which the Commonwealth has no direct control. If this matter were to be ironed out in existing circumstances, it would have to be done by the StatePremiers acting, perhaps, in consultation with the Commonwealth. It certainly seems desirable that some steps should be taken to get out of the present unfortunate position, and I will direct the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to the suggestion of the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise or the Minister for Trade, whoever may be the more appropriate. Is the Minister aware that the Government’s policy of restricting imports has operated inequitably among States, and has discriminated particularly against the States of Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania? Is the Minister aware that, prior to the imposition, on the ground of necessity, of the controls and restrictions on imports, some of the smaller States imported their requirements of certain goods through principals with businesses established mainly in Victoria and New South Wales? As a result of the import restrictions imposed by the Government, importers in those two States enjoy import quotas at a higher rate than would have been the case had they been importing exclusively for their own States. Is the Minister aware that, the quotas for those two major States having been established, importers in Western Australia and the other smaller States cannot obtain quotas in respect of goods which previously were imported by importers in New South Wales and Victoria, because the Government has related its import restriction policy to a base year in which normal trading activity per:mitted Western Australia and other smaller States to obtain goods through principals in Victoria and New South Wales? Will the Minister consider a full investigation of the application of this policy in order to permit Western Australia, South Australia. Queensland and Tasmania to have the benefit of import quotas, approved by the Government, based on a year other than that which hai been selected, and to permit those States to obtain equitable quantities of goods subject to import restrictions?
– Any policy that requires restriction of imports must have a number of aspects of its administration. I cannot accept the proposition that the present policy of import restrictions is so gravely astray that its administration has not covered the point made by the honorabe senator. I cannot accept his contention that the administration has been so inequitable as to give to New South Wales and Victoria import quotas to which the smaller States are entitled. I have heard the point mentioned before, but when specific instances have been brought to my attention, at least, I have found that there was no case against the arrangements. I suggest to the honorable senator that this is the type of thing that cannot be dealt with in generalities. General statements do not do justice to the administrative problems that are always involved. I also suggest to the honorable senator that the best test that he can make is to bring a specific complaint, or a specific allegation, to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for Trade. If he does so, I shall be very surprised indeed if the Minister is unable to give him a satisfactory answer.
– I point out to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation that the dependence of Flinders Island on air transport has increased considerably during the last few years as the result of war service land settlement and has reached the stage where practically no facilities for passengers are provided on the ketches and other small craft which trade to the island. As a result of the high rainfall in Tasmania recently, the inadequacy of the surface of the only aerodrome on Flinders Island has been brought more forcibly to the notice of the residents there. Very few aircraft have been able to visit the island, so that it has become practically isolated. “Will the Minister consult his colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, with a view to having a permanent, all-weather surface placed on the runway at the Whitemark aerodrome, so that the people who live on the island will have a chance to maintain contact with both Tasmania and Victoria ?
– I myself am not aware of the condition of the surface of the aerodrome at Whitemark, on Flinders Island, but I shall bring the question to the notice of the Minister for Civil Aviation, and ask him to look into it and provide the honorable senator with information on the matter.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Repatriation by extending to him my own thanks and that of the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association of Western Australia for receiving a deputation from that association during his recent visit to Perth. Will the Minister inform me whether he has yet reached a decision regarding a request by the association to be permitted to obtain component parts for the manufacture of artificial limbs for civilian amputees from the Repatriation Department’s artificial limb factory in Perth? If he has not done so, will he undertake to expedite this matter, as the need for such parts is daily becoming more urgent if the association is to continue its humanitarian work for the less fortunate members of the community?
– As Senator Tangney will probably remember, when she raised this matter on the 21st March, I said that, if the materials mentioned could not be supplied by the Repatriation Department, I would get in touch with the manufacturers from whom the department obtains them to see whether they would be prepared to supply similar articles to the Civilian Maimed and Limbless Association of Western Australia. The Repatriation Department has since got in touch with the various manufacturers about this matter, but no definite reply has yet been received from them. I assure the honorable senator that I have not lost sight of her request and that, as soon as information on the matter is available, I shall let her know.
– In view of the large expenditure of public money on the Showy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, will the Minister for National Development arrange for a party of members of Parliament to visit the project before the forthcoming budget session in order to see what progress is being made with it?
– I am sure that I could arrange with the commissioner, Sir William Hudson, for members of the Senate to have a look over the scheme before the budget session. Of course, as we know, the next few months is not the warmest time of the year on the Snowy Mountains. I shall discuss this matter with Sir William, and see whether suitable arrangements can be made for such a visit.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers : - 1,2 and 4. The companies holding television licences have been authorized to enter into commitments for the procurement of programme material from overseas on the assumption that, in each year ending on the 30th September - commencing with the year ending the 30th September, 1956 - they will be provided with overseas exchange to a maximum of £60,000 for expenditure in that year on the importation of programme material. No more than two-thirds of each annual allocation may be spent in dollars, and the companies concerned may not enter into contracts which have a duration of more than three years or the financial commitments of which could not be accommodated within the annual expenditure allocations. Up to the end of April, 1936, approval had been given under these arrangements to overseas remittances totalling approximately £78,000 in respect of payments for imported programme material by the four companies concerned and the Australian Broadcasting Commission, to which the arrangements also apply.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
For the information of visitors to Canberra and others, will the Minister give consideration to the idea of having name platesaffixed in suitable places to certain trees, giving their ordinary and botanical names together with the country of origin?
– The Minister for the Interior has furnished the following answer: -
The question of labelling trees in Canberra for the information of visitors has already been given some attention by the department and it is intended as a first step to affix labels showing the botanical and common names and country of origin to trees in suitable places in Canberra where there are good collections of trees, such as in the vicinity of Parliament House and at Telopea Park. The preparation of labels for this purpose is already in hand. It will be appreciated, of course, that such labelling of trees can only be undertaken on a limited scale; the labelling of all trees in Canberra would be a tremendous task and could not be justified.
– On the 15th
May, Senator Wedgwood asked me a question regarding the quality of milk sold in Canberra.I undertook to refer the matter to the Minister for the Interior, who has now furnished the following reply : -
The butter-fat standard for milk in Canberra is 3.5 per cent. Samples are taken by Health Department inspectors regularly and frequently for chemical analysis. The results of these tests show that the standard is being well maintained.
– On the 15th May, Senator Tangney asked me the following question : -
In view of the number of immigrant ships arriving at Fremantle with very defective life-saving equipment, on which thousands of persons have been dependent for their lives during the long voyage to Australia, will the Minister see that certain tests, comparable to Australian standards, are carried out in respect of these vessels before they leave their home ports so that the lives of future settlers in this country will not be jeopardized.
I advised the honorable senator that I would make inquiries in the matter, and I now answer her question in the following terms: -
The migrant ships in question are not Australianowned, nor are they chartered by the Common wealth Government.
The Commonwealth Government has no control over any vessel registered overseas until it enters Australian waters. However, it takes an interest in the conditions which apply in the ships bringing immigrants to this country; and officers of the Department of Shipping and Transport inspect, among other things, their life-saving and fire-fighting equipment. In recent weeks several masters have been fined because of defects and deficiencies in such appliances in their vessels.
Earlier this year, when the Department of Shipping and Transport brought to notice serious defects in the life-saving equipment on certain migrant ships, the Department of Immigration at once made strong representations to the owners or charterers to remedy these defects.
The Government is fully conscious of the danger to life if a passenger vessel has defective equipment; and it will continue to keep a close check on the position.
– by leave - During the recent debate on the sales tax bills I undertook to make a statement to the Senate in respect of sales tax upon freight. The statement has now been prepared for me by my colleague, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden). As it consists of five pages and contains tabulations, with the concurrence of honor able senators, I shall have it incorporated in Hansard. The statement is as follows : -
Exclusion offreight from the Taxable Sale Value of Goods.
Ever since the inception of the sales tax in 1930, the successive governments have been urged by various persons and organizations to amend the law so as to exclude freight from the taxable sale value of goods. It will be appreciated that in considering a proposition of this kind it is essential to have regard not only to such advantages as appear likely to result, but also to the disadvantages which would ensue and to reach a conclusion calculated to have the best results for the community as a whole. The conclusion reached over the years has been that it is impracticable to give effect to the proposal.
The sales tax law does not tax freight as such. The tax is payable, in respect of goods sold by wholesale in Australia, upon “ the amount for which the goods are sold”, and there is no authority in the law to exclude any of the costs which enter into and form part of the sale price. There are good reasons why this shouldthe so. This was emphasized by Starke . J. in his judgment in the case of Commonwealth Quarries (Footscray) Proprietary Limited v. The Federal Commissioner of Taxation (59 C.L.R. 111). That company sold crushed stone for which it quoted, to its customers, prices including cost of delivery to the purchaser. The High Court held that the sale value upon which tax was payable was the price actually charged, including the cost of delivery. In his judgment Starke J. said -
If sales and purchases are made, as here, for one inclusive price, that is the amount for which the goods are sold.
The act for obvious reasons of convenience and certainty takes that sum as the amount upon which sales tax shall be levied, and is not concerned with the various items of cost, labour and expenditure which arc elements in the sale value.
The question of freight as part of the sale value of goods was raised again later, before the Board ofReview, in the case of a soap manufacturing company which had its main factories in Sydney and Newcastle but also maintained three country depots from which it supplied retailers in the vicinity. Some of the soap in stock at these depots was manufactured there, and othersoap delivered to the depots by rail from the company’s factories at Sydney or Newcastle.
Retailers who purchased soap supplied by the company from country depots were supplied with two invoices, showing, respectively -
the list price of the goods f.o.r. or f.o.w. Sydney or Newcastle: and
a “freight” charge, including an amount purporting to represent freight from Sydney (or Newcastle) to the country depot.
The company contended that it entered into two distinct contracts with retailers - one contract to supply soap at list price, and a separate contract to re-imburse the company in respect of freight charges.
The board upheld the view of the department that it was inconsistent with the facts to claim that soap which was held at a country depot, and may even have been manufactured there was sold f.o.b. or f.o.w. Sydney or Newcastle when it was never intended that the property in the soap should pass at Sydney or Newcastle.It was considered that the property in the soap did not pass to the retailer until the soap had arrived at the agreed point for delivery - the country railway siding, unless the retailer carried on business in the town in which the depot was situated in which event the company would deliver the goods into the retailer’s store. The board held that tax was payableupon the full charge for the goods including freight.
In view of the persistent requests made from time to time for exclusion of freight charges from the incidence of sales tax, my colleague, the Treasurer, referred to the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation the question of the desirability of amending the Sales Tax Assessment Acts so as to allow exemption from sales tax in respect of all charges for freight included in the sale price of taxable goods.
The report of the committee was furnished on the 19th August, 1953, and it has been available to honorable senators, in printed form, since that date. The committee found itself unable to recommend any departure from the present basis of sales tax in this regard. The committee expressed itself as follows: -
From its examination of the subjectmatter, the committee is satisfied that theoretical equity is virtually unobtainable. It is fundamental that sales tax should be simple enough in form to be collected economically, and, to this end, a small measure of equity might be sacrificed. In the opinion of the committee, the present basis of the tax is a reasonable compromise.
It has been suggested that the sales tax in other countries does not fall on charges for freight. This is definitely not the case in the United Kingdom. On the contrary the law relating to the Purchase Tax specifically provides that in any case where freight is excluded from the sale price, as for example, in the case of a sale f.o.r., the value upon which tax shall be charged shall include the cost of freight.
Canada changed over from a manufacturers’ and wholesalers’ tax to a manufacturers’ tax but apparently has not found that the change solved the difficulties of differential values. In certain cases, even in their changed system, tax still falls on freight charges as part of the sale price, whilst other disadvantages have arisen.
A significant fact is that Canada is still seeking a solution for the problem of differential sale values and recently sponsored a visit to Australia by the members of a committee appointed to advise the Government on sales tax problems. It was apparent from the comments of the members of this committee that in their view such inequities as were encountered in the Australian sales tax system were less important than the problems arising under the present Canadian system.
It is clear that the Canadian scheme lends itself to a “ snow-balling “ of tax to a greater extent than the Australian tax, because of the levy being paid as a general rule, by manufacturers and the wholesalers adding their profit on the tax, as well as the retailers by whom the goods are subsequently sold. Further reference to this aspect will be made later.
It is a fact that under the Australian scheme a city wholesaler who sells goods to a country retailer or consumer, or to a retailer or consumer in another State, may so arrange the transaction that tax will not be payable upon the cost of freight from the vendor to the purchaser. This is achieved where the goods are soldon an f.o.b. or f.o.r. basis and property in the goods passes to the purchaser when the goods are placed on the ship or train. The freight cost is then the responsibility of the purchaser.
A wholesaler, however, is not in a position to exclude, from the taxable sale value of goods sold by him, the freight costs incurred in getting the goods to his store. He is obliged to pay tax upon his sale price which normally covers all his costs including inward freight. This is the type of case which has led to the complaints which have been made by wholesalers from time to time.
It should not be assumed that retailers buy goods on an f.o.b. or f.o.r. basis merely to gain a sales tax advantage. This was a common basis of purchase before the sales tax came into existence. In buying on this basis, the retailer, in fact, accepts certain disadvantages, in that the risk of loss, theft or damage during transit falls upon him instead of remaining with the vendor until the goods are delivered. Probably the retailer is able to secure a more favorable purchase price by accepting these disadvantages.
Hi. The problem affects goods purchased by country wholesalers for sale to retailers in rural areas, as well as the large quantities of goods which are sold by manufacturers in one State to wholesalers in another State.
Amendment of the law would be necessary to remove the cause of complaint. The amendment would evidently need to be in one or other of the following forms: -
an amendment of the sale value provisions of the Sales Tax Assessment Acts, expressly to exclude freight costs from the sale value upon which tax is payable; or
the repeal of the existing legislation and thesubstitutionof a tax payable at the point of importation in respect of imported guilds, and upon sales, by manufacturers only, of goods madein Australia.
In considering thefirst of these alternativenamely to provide for the exclusion of freight from taxable sales values, it is necessaryfirstly to determine precisely the limits within which freight costs would be excluded. Freight costs can arise in various ways -
the cost of freighting fully manufactured goods from overseas countries to Australia ;
the cost of freighting raw materials and aids to manufacture from their varioussources into the factory of an Australian manufacturer;
the cost of freighting the goods made by that manufacturer to the stores of wholesalers who buy his goods; and
the cost of freighting the goods from the wholesaler’s premises to the retailer or consumer who purchase them.
If freight costs on imported goods were tobe excluded, the effect would be so substantial that the imported goods might gain sucha competitive advantage over like goods of Australian production as to force them off the market, unless there were a corresponding adjustment of the protective tariff.
As regards freight costs on a manufacturer’s raw materials and aids to manufacture, where the goods are sold by the manufacturer to a wholesaler and the latter is liable to pay tax on his sales, the wholesaler would obviously have no knowledge whatever of the amounts of the freight costs borne by the manufacturer, and it would be quite impossible for him to allow any deduction of those amounts from his sale prices of goods to determine the value upon which tax should be charged by him.
It appears, therefore, that the amend ment would have to be limited to excluding, from the taxable sale value of goods sold by wholesalers, the costs incurred in Australia in getting the goods into the wholesaler’s store, from the point of importation or the place of manufacture of those goods. It is considered that wholesalers generally would be strongly opposed to any such requirement. It has been represented by many persons and organizations that persons liable to pay sales tax are already over-burdened with the work of classifying goods according to the different rates in operation, calculating the tax and compiling sales tax returns. Many of them would not be slow to express their resentment if the law placed upon them the added obligation of excluding freight costs from their taxable sale values. Special records would need to be kept of the freight involved in respect of each consignment of goods purchased by them, and each parcel of ponds sold by them would have to be identified with a particular consignment and a calcula tion made of the proportion of freight applicableto the particular goods sold. Some wholesale merchants might have to make special inquiries of the manufacturers from whom they have bought goods before they could determine what amounts of freight had been paid. In practice, it is thought that many merchants would decline to go to all this trouble and would simply pay and charge tax on their full sale prices,” for obvious reasons of convenience and certainty” - to quote again the apt comment of Starke J.
It has been concluded, therefore, that it is not a practical proposition to amend the sales tax laws merely to exclude freight from the sale value. All that can be said for the proposition is that purchasers of goods from wholesalers would bear tax on a somewhat lower sales price. Against the proposition are the following considerations: -
The gain would be offset by the increased rates of tax which would have to he imposed if the existing: level of revenue is to be maintained;
wholesalers generally would be opposed to being burdened with the obligation to keep special records of freight costs and to calculate the appropriate deduction on each sale;
the present system of taxing the actual sale price is preferable, to taxpayers and the administration alike, on grounds of simplicity, certainty and convenience; and
allowance of the concession would be likely to lead to requests for exclusion of other elements of cost.
Consideration may next be given to the alternative of repealing the existing legislation and substituting a tax payable at the point of importation in respect of imported goods, and upon sales, by manufacturers only, of goods made in Australia.
At present, tax on imported goodsis payable at the point of importation by retailers and consumers only. The tax is calculated upon a statutory sale value which is the sum of the value for duty, and the duty, plus 20 per cent. of that sum. The addition of 20 per cent. is made with the object of increasing the landed cost by an amount intended to represent a wholesaler’s margin of profit.
Under the existing law, wholesalers who import goods for sale by wholesale obtain the goods through the customs free of sales tax, by quotation of certificate, and subsequently pay tax upon their sales of the goods. Under the proposed amendment, wholesalers would pay tax on imported goods at the customs, in the same way as retailers, and would not pay on their sales. Similarly, wholesalers who sell goods of Australian manufacture would cease to be liable to furnish returns and pay tax on their sales of those goods. The tax on these goods would be paid exclusively by the manufacturers of the goods.
Conversion of the tax to a manufacturers’ tax would have adverse effects with regard to the implementation of those exemptions which are conditional upon the goods being sold for use by particular organizations or for particular purposes. For example, many classes of goods are exempt only when they are sold for use for agricultural purposes. Raw materials are free of tax when sold to manufacturers. Goods for the use of government departments, non-profit hospitals, public benevolent institutions and certain other organizations are exempt from tax. These exemptions are readily secured when the goods are purchased by the buyer who is entitled to exemption direct from manufacturers or wholesalers who have tax-free stocks. If whole- salers’ stocks are to be tax-paid stocks, there will be practical difficulties in securing tax adjustments and these difficulties could cause a partial failure of the exemptions system.
The strongest criticism of the proposal springs from the practical certainty that its adoption would not, in fact, bring any real benefits to the country or interstate buyers, for whom the change is sought. On the contrary, it would be likely to be to their ultimate disadvantage. Sales taxes in many parts of the world have been criticized for what is called their “snow-balling effect”, which arises from the fact, that, in the normal course of business, each trader not unnaturally seeks his margin of profit on his whole outlay for goods, including the sales tax. One of the few recommendations for a retail turnover tax is that, as the tax falls on the last sale by a retailer, there is no “ snow-balling effect “. The converse occurs in the case of a tax which is payable at the point of importation or manufacture. The wholesaler has to bear tax when he obtains his stock of goods. When he sells the goods, he applies his mark-up to his total outlay, including the tax, and he thus takes his profit on the amount of the tax. Later the retailer does the same, so that when the goods reach the consumer two merchants have inflated the weight of the tax by applying their margins of profit. Under the existing law, the wholesaler does not do this.
The position is illustrated by the following example. For the purposes of the example, it has been assumed that the present general rate of 12½ per cent3 would have to be increased to 15 per cent. to maintain the revenue at the existing level.
To sum up, a change to a, manufacturers’ tax would result in some saving of work, because of the elimination of wholesaler’s monthly returns, and, in theory consumers would gain by reason of the tax being calculated on values which would not include costs of freight between manufacturers and wholesalers. However, these advantages would be outweighed by the following factors : -
From the foregoing, it has been concluded that the benefits to be gained from either of the two proposals discussed are more theoretical than real. The adoption of either of those proposals would clearly lead to undesirable consequences which outweigh the advantages. The retention of the existing system is, therefore, considered preferable.
Ordered to be printed.
-by leavePursuant to the motion moved by me on Thursday last, following upon a message received from the House of Representatives relating to the appointment of a joint committee to review the working of the Australian Constitution, I should like to make the following explanatory observations.
With respect to paragraph 2 of the message, I have been informed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) that neither he nor the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Dr. Evatt) will be sitting constantly on the committee, but there may be occasions when it will be of value for both to attend sittings of the committee. They have, therefore, entered into an arrangementto notify each other when they want to attend the sittings.
Paragraph 4 of the message requests the Senate to appoint four members of the Senate to serve on the committee and to appoint one of those members to be the chairman of the committee. I think it is appropriate that on a committee such as the proposed joint committee, the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) should be chairman. Indeed, I think the committee will be fortunate to have as its chairman a man with so much legal and political experience and ability.
With respect to paragraph 8 of the message, it is not proposed that the committee should carry out its functions in the manner of a royal commission. It will not have a lot of people giving evi dence but will attempt to solve the problem around the table and, as occasion demands, it will invite persons with particular knowledge or experience to help in its deliberations.
With respect to paragraph 11 of the message, honorable senators will agree that the Government should have the final say on the procedure of the committee but not on matters of substance.
-by leave - The motion to which the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’Sullivan) has referred was recently before the Senate, but there was no opportunity to debate it. I feel I should not allow the occasion to pass without saying, first of all, that the setting up of this committee has the complete and wholehearted concurrence of the Opposition. The Opposition was consulted by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) regarding the terms of reference and constitution of the committee. We find ourselves in complete accord with the terms that have been announced.
I regard the appointment of this committee as being of the utmost importance because if, on examination, it turns out that the Constitution is outmoded then it is badly in need of revision, because an outmoded constitution will not only impede the development of Australia but also must act as a brake upon the prospects and careers of all persons in the Australian community. Personally, I regard it as a very distinct honour to be a member of the committee in such very distinguished company. I believe that the committee, if it sees fit to make any recommendations for change, should probably include in its recommendations means by which the ultimate result may be obtained. I feel that it might recommend to the Government that certain powers that may be within the powers of the States should be sought from the States. I think that would be a natural step. It would be unwise, I should think, to make such recommendations without taking that preliminary step.
– The committee might recommend that some powers be taken from this Parliament.
– That is definitely a possibility. 1 think the committee as constituted will approach its task in an objective way. ‘1 trust its deliberations will be for the ultimate good of not only the Commonwealth but also he States.
– I move -
That this Senate has no confidence in the President. 1 think that the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’sullivan), as Leader of the Government in the Senate, has taken the proper course, in elevating this motion to a position of first importance in the course of to-day’s proceedings. It would be embarrassing for everybody concerned if it were to be left to take a slow course on the notice-paper. At this stage, I express the wish that the matter may conclude at this one sitting. I suggest to the Minister for the Navy that as Standing Order 127 will necessitate the interruption of the debate at 5 o’clock unless the Senate orders otherwise, he might consider, if necessary, moving that the debate be extended beyond 5 o’clock to enable the matter to be disposed of completely to-day. However, that is a matter within the control of the Government.
Mr. President, I shall refer to four matters in respect of the motion that 1 have moved on behalf of the Opposition. I put them, not in any order of relative importance, hut in chronological order. The first matter is your failure to notify the Senate of your decision to recognize one senator in this chamber as leader of a party and leader of himself. I am referring to the fact that the first time that 1 and my colleagues in the Opposition became aware that you had so recognized Senator Cole was when a debate took [dace in another place and when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), on the 17th April last, indicated that the granting to Senator Cole of special facilities not made available to an ordinary senator had flowed from the principle that you had recognized him as a leader in this chamber. It is a very significant fact that Senator Cole, until the 8th May, had never made any such claim in this chamber. He kept that matter a secret from this chamber, and I am submitting that you, Mr. President, also withheld from the Senate, knowledge of your decision to recognize Senator Cole as the leader of a party, although it is quite obvious that you indicated the effect of that decision to the Government itself.
We believe very firmly that that was a government decision only, with which neither you nor the Senate had anything to do until the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) announced the principle of the event on the 17th April in another place. That is the first fact which the Opposition objects to, the withholding of all the circumstances of that matter from, this chamber. Its’ real significance in the case that I am presenting will appear as I proceed.
The second matter concerns events connected with the passage of the Fishing Industry Bill 1956 through this chamber on the 10th May. The second reading of that measure did not evoke many speeches in this chamber. In fact, there were seven from the Opposition and eight, including the Minister’s reply, from the Government side of the Senate. That does nor. constitute a very protracted debate, and one could argue that the debate had been disposed of by the Opposition with expedition up to that point. When we went into committee, in less than an hour - certainly after not more than three-quarters of an hour of committee proceedings - the Minister in charge of the bill, Senator Spooner, declared that the bill was an urgent measure. That was in committee, T emphasize, and his allotment of time was six minutes for the completion of the committee stage.
I used one or two minutes of that time to protest against the procedure, and addressed myself for only four minutes to posing questions directed towards probing the integrity and good faith of the Government regarding the sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission. Of course, in the time available, I got no answer. Now, Mr. President, you were not present throughout the committee proceedings because you had retired from the Senate. However, you have an opportunity to know what goes on in coinmittee, although you may not be in tho Senate personally. I have no knowledge whether you did avail yourself of that opportunity on that occasion, but in due course you came back to the Senate and Senator Spooner moved that the report of the committee be adopted.
Officially, you had no notice of any guillotine move in the committee, as in fact you had no official knowledge of- any of the committee proceedings. But, in the event of your having that knowledge nevertheless, you knew that the Leader of the Opposition had a right, subject to your call, to move for the recommittal of the motion for the adoption of the report. We had that very instance under your presidency in November, 1954, when the Senate was dealing with the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1954. At that time, I believe that the same Minister had moved the guillotine in committee, and you ruled against Senator Spicer to the effect that the Leader of the Opposition might properly move, by way of amendment to the motion for the adoption of the committee’s report, a motion for recommittal upon the motion for the adoption of the Opposition might advance arguments in the course of his speech in support of his motion. In short, such a motion would enable the speaker to traverse the whole of the purposes of the bill.
The moment that Senator Spooner moved that the report be adopted, I. rose and importunately asked for the call. I asked very loudly, and I have no doubt but that you heard me. I rose ahead of Senator Spicer, who rose also, and the fact that I rose ahead of him is recorded in Hansard of that day.
– I was quick.
– I was also quick, and I have no doubt that I was quicker than Senator Spicer on that occasion. T have lost on other occasions, but the Hansard report of that date shows that T rose and addressed the President first, and that Senator Spicer then rose and moved in great haste, “That the question be now put “. Yon. Mr. President, gave that call to Senator Spicer Von ignored the Leader of the Opposition. although the practice here - and it is a practice that custom has hardened into a rule - is that you look alternately to different sides of the chamber. That is a traditional rule, and is the practice nol only of this chamber, but also of the House of Commons. i had spoken for only four minutes on the bill, and I particularly wanted to put forward some views. I was in doubt about whether I should talk on the Fishing Industry Bill or reserve my remarks for the debate on the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill which was to be brought up after the Fishing Industry Bill had been disposed of. In the light of the gagging that took place on the Fishing industry Bill, I was properly and justifiably fearful that I would be denied an adequate opportunity of speaking on the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill. Accordingly, I had two opportunities before me. One was to move the recommittal upon the motion for the adoption of the report, and I have told the Senate what happened to the Leader of the Opposition on that occasion, and the other to speak on the third reading of the bill.
I shall now come to the third reading of the measure. Senator Spooner moved the third reading and Senator O’Sullivan, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, shot out of his chair as though he were jet-propelled - certainly ahead of me because I could not match that speed - -.creaming out his motion, “That th, question be now put “. The only thing that I have seen to equal his speed w&e the speed with which you, Mr. President, acknowledged him and put that motion. That, I repeat, was the only thing that 3 have ever seen to equal the celerity with which Senator O’Sullivan moved. From what had gone on before, you knew beyond doubt what the procedure was. Ton had ruled in my favour on a previous occasion in similar circumstances, and you knew that I wished to put th,viewpoint of the Opposition in the concluding stage on this hill. The fact thai you repeated that action twice in a few minutes at such speed, shows what your intention was the first time.
I put it to the Senate that yours was a high-speed performance which was both unfair and unjust to the Opposition. I make the allegation that the President of the Senate and Ministers were quite obviously and openly in collusion to prevent the Leader of the Opposition, or any member of the Opposition, from having a voice at all on a bill which had been before the ‘Senate, not for a protracted period, but for a perfectly normal period. I should say that in doing that, you lent yourself to the stifling of debate. The President of the Senate became a mere party tool and, in the final analysis, and having regard to what happened before, it was the President who applied the closure, and not the Government. In effect, I say it was the President who applied the closure - that is, the referee applied the closure - and it was a sorry spectacle for the whole of the Senate to see you tumble from the pedestal upon which you had rightly been placed in the minds of all honorable senators.
You must have been gravely mortified, Mr. President, when the Government showed you up - and itself, too, by the way - on that same afternoon, because what was the hurry for the gag? Immediately this matter was disposed of, the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill came before the chamber. It was gagged through in one hour, and on the motion of the Leader of the Government the Senate rose at 4.30 o’clock on the afternoon of Thursday.
– With the approval of the Leader of the Opposition.
– I repeat, at 4.30 o’clock in the afternoon. I suggest that that demonstrates just how unjust and unfair it was to apply the closure. As I am submitting, you, Mr. President, and not the Government, applied the closure. I suggest that if you had done the right thing, you would have allowed the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to speak, either on the motion for the adoption of the report or on the third reading of the Fishing Industry Bill, lt is bad for democracy and for this Senate that that sort of thing should take place. You would have increased the respect in which you have been held by the Ministers themselves had you rejected their suggestions of undemocratic and unparliamentary procedures. You would have grown in stature with Government sup porters, and would not have suffered the loss of respect from honorable senators on the Opposition side. 1 put it to the Senate that we on the Opposition side do not mind how many blows the Government and its supporters give us. We are prepared to take them and to hand them back in kind, but we do object when the referee knocks us out of the ring in the course of the contest. We object to the referee participating in the conflict. In this instance, we were knocked out, not by the Government, but by the referee.
I come now to the third matter upon which we base the motion before the Senate. I refer to the proceedings of the evening of the 16th May. That was the evening when the debate on the motion for the second reading of the Broadcasting and Television Bill took place. 1 remind honorable senators how the call fell on that night. I began the debate on behalf of the Opposition at 8 p.m. and, on that night, the proceedings of the Senate were being broadcast.- The Whips, at least, will not deny that from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday, when proceedings are being broadcast, is regarded as a most favoured and preferred time by all honorable senators.
– The Leader of the Opposition had the call at 8 p.m.
– That is true.
– Were you not satisfied?
– That is not the issue at the moment. Let us see how the call fell. After I spoke, Senator McCallum was called from the Government side. Senator Cole was next, and then Senator Wedgwood from the Government side. Then Senator Kennelly, who is Deputy Leader of the Opposition, had the call, and, finally, Senator Anderson concluded the proceedings for the night.
– What is the complaint of the Leader of the Opposition?
– There are several complaints which I propose to develop. In Senator Cole’s contribution to the debate, he opposed both the Government and the Opposition viewpoints in relation to the introduction of television. He concentrated the main portion of his attack upon the Opposition’s view of the measure.
– That is all right.
– He had the right to do it, but I am indicating what was his view. He did not support the Opposition, but opposed it. I am informed that the list of Opposition speakers was made available to you, Mr. President, in the sequence which showed that Senator Kennel ly, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, would follow me from this side. It was observed subsequently, 1 am also informed, that you put the name of Senator Cole ahead of Senator Kennelly. In due course, Senator Cole was given the call. The net result was this: On that evening, in the course of three hours, there were two speeches from the Opposition against four speeches from other honorable senators - two out of six.
– What length of time did the speech of the Leader of the Opposition occupy ?
– My speech lasted an hour, and nobody denies that right to the Leader of the Opposition. We had three non-Opposition speakers in a row - Senators McCallum, Cole and Wedgwood. We on the Opposition side had two speakers out of a total of six. We had the first and the fifth instead of the first, the third and the fifth. I submit that that was grossly unfair to the Opposition and showed a disregard by you, Mr. President, of your duty to be impartial. Your action in this matter really reduced the two-party system in this Senate to a travesty and a farce.
– What about the timing ?
– Let us examine the question of time in this matter, as Senator Cole has suggested. He is not only a one-man party in this Senate; he is a one-man party in the Parliament. If he were given his proportion of time in this Senate in a selected three hours’ period, he would get one-sixtieth of 180 minutes; that is, three minutes. You, Mr. President, gave him an opportunity to speak for 30 minutes; that is ten times his proper allocation. I suggest that this performance would not be repeated in any British parliament. I can well understand the President discriminating against the Opposition, but the question arises : Why was the President favouring Senator Cole? I shall leave that question unanswered for a moment or two until I complete my final point.
I come now to the fourth matter upon which the motion is based, and [ refer to the proceedings that took place on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate on the evening of last Wednesday, the 23rd May. The motion for the adjournment was moved at 11 p.m. and in the one hour 25 minutes occupied in considering it, there were two motions of dissent from your ruling, Mr. President, seven points of order were taken, two private Government senators intervened to movethe gag to terminate the debate and, altogether, the proceedings were most extraordinary. My recital gives only a slight indication of how far you, Mr. President, allowed the Senate to get out of hand under your presidency on that occasion. I put it to honorable senators who were present that the whole proceedings were quite unseemly. There was continuous uproar from both sides, and the Opposition very properly demonstrated to the Senate the effect of one of your rulings. I make no claim - nor would any honorable senator on the Opposition side claim - that that was seemly, but you, Mr. President, were obliged to uphold what was done because of a ruling that you gave during the evening.
– What ruling?
– It was a. ruling upon which I am not permitted to reflect, but it arose from a remark by an honorable senator to Senator Hendrickson, a remark that was permitted under a ruling of the President. That ruling was followed during the rest of the evening by the worst behaviour in this Senate for twelve years.
– The Leader of the Opposition has a short memory.
– I repeat that it was the worst behaviour in the Senate for twelve years. For that, you must take full responsibility, Mr. President. You have shown again and again, during your occupancy of the chair, your capacity to obtain instant order and to preserve it continuously, but you chose not to exercise that capacity last Thursday evening, lt was your capacity to show tact and impartiality which led me in this chamber, earlier this year, to convey to yon, sincerely and publicly, a tribute of esteem and respect from this side of the chamber on your return from a trip abroad. I did that then. Unfortunately, recent events have disturbed that viewpoint of the Opposition. That has unquestionably happened because on Thursday night and into the small hours of Friday morning last, you chose not to exercise those great qualities which you have demonstrated previously you could exercise at will. T pose to the Senate this question: “Was it the fact that an attack upon the Australian Labour party and the Opposition had been launched in this chamber by Senator Cole and had to be encouraged and fostered for the reason that it was launched by Senator Cole?
– Is the honorable senator suggesting- that Senator Cole should not attack the Opposition?
– I have no objection to his attacking the Opposition, but I suggest that the President should take no part in fostering an attack from anybody not only to the detriment of his own prestige but also to the utmost detriment of the prestige of this chamber. I shall be glad to hear some honorable senators standing up and justifying the events of last “Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
– Then sit down and give us a chance.
– I shall. In fact. T shall now proceed to sum up the Opposition’s case in this matter. T say to- you, Mr. President, that you showed discrimination against the Opposition in favour of the Government on the Fishing Industry Bill, that twice you rejected the plea for the call made by the Leader of the Opposition; and, I repeat, our objection to that is finding the referee intervening in the conflict. The other three matters with which I have dealt all revolve round Senator Cole. The first is your failure to notify the Senate when you decided to recognize him as the leader of a party. The second is the preferential treatment you accorded him during the second-reading debate on the Broadcasting and Television Bill. The third i3 the licence that you permitted in this chamber last Thursday evening following upon Senator Cole’s attack.
I come now to the crux of the whole matter. Why should you, Mr. President, depart from the high standard that you have hitherto observed ? I regret to say that you are personally involved in an election to take place in this chamber after the 30th June.
– That is typical of the honorable senator’s methods.
– Is that not true? The President will retire on the 30th June. I am merely putting that forward so that honorable senators on the Government side may answer it. The President will retire and the Government will lose its majority at the same time. It will have 30 members, and the rest of the Senate, however comprised, will have 30 members. If the President does in fact secure the nomination of his own party, he cannot be assured of election if those not immediately of the Government parties combine against him and put up another nominee. In those circumstances a nominee from the Opposition would go to the ballot and, on the figures, would have an equal chance of success with a nominee from the Government side. I suggest those are the considerations that have led you astray and have caused you to use bad judgment in th’s Senate for the first time, Mr. President. You leaned towards the Government on the Fishing Industry Bill; and you have cultivated and leaned towards Senator Cole throughout the last few months in the circumstances that I have outlined.
– The Leader of the Opposition knows that Senator Cole has said that he would not vote for the Labour party’s nominee because of that party’s attack on him; yet the honorable senator makes that allegation.
– I am going to deal with that very matter. That very fact supports the very thing I say. Within the last, few days, Senator Cole has stood u p inhis place and told the Opposition, not when the question of the Presidency but when the question of his recognition as the leader of a party was the issue that any nominee from the Opposition who had hopes of achieving the Presidency could forget all about it. On what ground did he make that statement? He said that because the Opposition had indicated it was opposed to the granting of facilities to him. That is the base upon which he put it exactly. Rather than being out of line with the argument that I am presenting, that is the very essence and the very confirmation of it. It is the very base of t he case I am making and of the view which the Opposition takes of the President’s actions. We have no pleasure in putting this forward.
– The Leader of the Opposition is wrongfully using the President to “ get even “ with Senator Cole.
– It is my time to talk now. All other honorable senators will have their chance, I presume. I say in conclusion that we feel that the President has been actuated less by hostility, or perhaps not at all by hostility to the Opposition, and not at all, or not. very much, at all events, by bias towards the Government side than by a motive which is on a much lower level indeed - the matter of his own personal interest. It is because of the sequence of events and actions in this chamber, because of the sequence of events and actions by the President in this chamber and because of the Opposition’s view of those actions that I move this motion on behalf of the Opposition.
Government Senators. - Shame!
– Is the motion seconded ?
– I second the motion.
. -The reason why the Government gave precedence to this notice of motion by the Leader of the Opposition . (Senator McKenna) was not because of any merit or validity in the motion itself. It, was because it was deemed proper that the matter should be dealt with expeditiously. This change that has come over the Australian Labour party recently in connexionwith the very high opinion it has had of you is rather extraordinary, Mr. President. A.the Leader of the Opposition reminds us. it was only earlier this year, uponthe occasion of your welcome back from Jamaica, that very gracious and very generous, and I have no doubt at allat that time very sincere, references were made to your personal qualities and to the admirable manner in which you discharged your onerous duties as President of the Senate. Now, we are asked to believe that all of a sudden, almost overnight, as it were, all those admirable qualities have vacated you, that you have shed all your virtues.
– The rats gothim while he was away.
– I can hear one gnawing now. Now, we are asked to believe that all of a sudden, and without rhyme or reason, all your virtues have vacated you and in the chair of the Senate we now have not a man whom we admire but a man from whom all decency has fled. Why this sudden change? It came out only in the last few remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I was hoping that he would not descend to such levels. I was hoping he would resist the pressure which undoubtedly has been placed upon him in that regard. The real reason is not to attack you at all ; you are completely exonerated. The real reason is that this chamber is being used as the vehicle for an attack upon Senator Cole. I assure honorable senators opposite that so far as we are concerned Senator Cole will get no favours but, in the name of common decency, he shall be allowed, within theforms, procedures and rules of the Senate, to speak here on behalf of the very considerable electorate which he represents here. No threats, no bullying, no intimidation on the part of the Opposition shall deter us from acting decently and in accordance with the best procedures of our British tradition.
Let us examine the points raised by Senator McKenna. Your first omission, Mr. President, although it has been overlooked time and again, is that you did not tell Senator McKenna, or the House, that you recognized Senator Cole as the leader of a party. That is a peculiar complaint to make. But Senator McKenna heard about it only last April, when the matter was raised in another place. Have you ever heard such arrant humbug in your life, Mr. President? Have you, really? I have in my hand a copy ofHansard for August, 1955, which contains a report of Senator Cole’s announcement to the Senate that he had been appointed leader of a party in this House.
– Which party? Read it out.
– Senator O’Byrne would not find the report complimentary to himself if I did read it. I will spare his blushes. I bet that members of the Opposition have read this report again and again. I know that the l eader of the Opposition is a very busy man and has a great deal of work to do. but surely he is not too busy to read Hansard. I bet he reads his own speeches in it - and with great approval, too. Referring again to Hansard of August, 1955, I find printed in the list of members of the Senate on the back cover this line -
Leader of the A nti-Communist Labour Party - Senator Georgre RonaldCole.
What more identification does the honor- able senator need? In October, 1955. when the Estimates were under discussion, Senator O’Byrne made on Senator Cole some very poor attacks containing rather low insinuations that at that time - not just recently - the Government had made some pact with Senator Cole, whose reward was his recognition as leader of a party. Senator O’Byrne started his attack only four minutes after Senator
McKenna had sat down, and Senator McKenna was present during that debate. But he says he knew not that Senator Cole had been recognized as leader of a party, and that he did not know anything about it until it was raised in another place in April of this year. Has the Senate ever heard such arrant nonsense?
Senator McKenna’s second point relates to the debate on the Fishing Industry Bill, and your failure, Mr. President, to call the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition knows, as well as I do, that Standing Order 65 provides that a Minister may, at any time, submit a motion. In other words, the business of the Government must be in the hands of the Government. The Opposition should well remember this. It was the violation of that standing order, and of the principle which it was designed to maintain, that led to the double dissolution. The Opposition at that time with a majority in the Senate, on many occasions contemptuously snatched the business out of the hands of the Government. It was because of that arrogant conduct, which was like the last straw breaking the camel’s back, that the Government was forced to take the opportunity of dragging the Opposition before a. disgusted people, and the Government was returned to office with an enhanced majority.
This standing order specifically provides that a Minister always receives the call when he rises. Senator McKenna has probably forgotten that the Government never abuses this standing order. It is availed of only for a particular reason. Senator Courtice may laugh, butI defy him to name one occasion on which this standing order has been used other than to put an end to proceedings, as it was on that occasion in May last. Few members of the Opposition will be able to speak about it, because few of them were in the chamber. The Government is here to carry on business and not to make a joke or farce of the proceedings. It is better that the sittings of this Senate should terminate than that they should continue in a state of burlesque. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) may well remember that, on that occasion, a very important bill was being given a “ run around “ by casual speakers from the Opposition side, who were just popping in and out of the House. I say, as Leader of the Senate, that it is decidedly better for this House not to sit than to have proceedings conducted in an atmosphere of farce and burlesque. On that occasion, if honorable senators opposite had been serious in debating the bill, the Minister would have been prepared to allow the debate to continue.
– I offered to do so.
– That is so, but the .Minister did not want to have the proceedings of this chamber converted into a circus. The Government is reasonable, and is not in favour of curtailing debate, but we well recall that when Government parties were in opposition they received scant courtesy in this matter. So much for Senator McKenna’s second point concerning applying the gag to terminate debate. I say again that the Minister in charge of that bill offered to allow7 the debate to continue, but instead of the Opposition treating the measure seriously they regarded it as a joke. The Government will not tolerate that attku.de, and will take similar action again if the proceedings of the Senate are treated in such a manner. On the other hand, the Government will always be “willing to give every opportunity for debate.
Senator McKenna’s third complaint is that on the 16th May last you, Mr. President, called Senator Cole to speak. Poor Senator Cole ! The Opposition will not let him alone. Fancy one honorable senator causing the Opposition so much irritation ! “What is it that they are so afraid of that they do not want him to be allowed to open his mouth? But because you, Mr. President, gave him the call, you are accused of being biased and bigoted, and unworthy of occupying the high office which you fill with such distinction. This argument is just as fallacious as all the others advanced by Senator McKenna.
I remind the Senate that Senator Cole is not a Government senator, and the traditional procedure in the Senate, through the years, has been for the
President to call, in order of speaking, a Government supporter and a nongovernment senator. The President has no reason to treat Senator Cole differently from a non-government senator. Senator Cole, on some occasions, may wisely vote with the Government, and I hope that he will, but the President does not know beforehand how he will vote, and neither do I. It is quite correct and proper, therefore, for the President to call a Government and non-government senator to speak in that order, and it is on that basis that Senator Cole was called to speak. I hope that the President will continue to follow that procedure. Senator McKenna said that he could well understand, Mr. President, your discrimination against the Opposition. Perhaps Senator McKenna can.
Senator McKenna, in his fourth point, complained about the debate on the adjournment, and said that the incident to which he referred was the worst in his twelve years’ experience. I suppose that it would probably be one of his most uncomfortable. But so far as behaviour is concerned, Senator McKenna and his Opposition colleagues took part in a most disgraceful episode in 1951. The bells of the Senate were ringing, summoning honorable members to attend for the purpose of considering legislation, and Opposition senators behaved like a lot of truant schoolboys - giggling, laughing and poking their heads around the doors to see whether or not a quorum of Government senators was present. In those days, we had a hare quorum. On account of sickness, or for some other reason, we did not have our twenty senators present. We numbered only 24 altogether at that time, whereas the Opposition numbered 36. As I have said, honorable senators opposite were like a lot of giggling schoolgirls or errant schoolboys, putting their heads round the various doors of the chamber and laughing at the discomfiture of the Government because there was no quorum. Of course, that did not prevent them from collecting their pay for that day. Yet, the Leader of the Opposition speaks about a complete sense of irresponsibility! If his memory needs prodding about the worst occasion of his experience in this Senate, I ask him to remember that very disgraceful day. The happenings on the evening of the 23rd May were most unfortunate, but, after all, they were brought on substantially by the Opposition itself.
The real reason - not the ostensible reason - for the attack on the President, the Leader of the Opposition made clear in the concluding words of his remarks. The President is being attacked for permitting Senator Cole to be viable, to be vocal, and to have recognition in this chamber. The whole gravamen of the offence appears to turn on that point.
Going hack to the position of the President and his right to exercise judgment, I have here - and I shall cite it with great approval - the Parliamentary Debates of the House of Commons, Fourth Series, Volume 107, of the 28th April to the 12th May, 1902, column 1032. The authority is no less -a person than the late A. J”. Balfour. Dealing with circumstances in which presidents or presiding officers shall determine whether words are objectionable or not, and whether what has been said should be withdrawn, Mr. Balfour stated, using words which could be used with particular precision of the occasion from which emerged all this bother -
The Speaker for the time being, whoever he may be, is obliged constantly to make a decision upon the spur of the moment as to the precise character of expressions that fall in the heat of debate from one member or another. In a large class of these expressions, of course, the decision is obvious; the Rule is clear, the line of demarcation cannot he mistaken. But there must be, and there is, a large margin on which the right decision of the moment depends upon the character of what has preceded the remark. It does not depend on the mere sentence, the mere phrase taken in its isolation, but it depends upon the judgment of the Chair as to the effect -which the expression may have on the general course of the debate. And I should say, on the general question, that it is the gravest and grossest abuse of the privileges of the House that we should be brought down, that the House should have to assemble, to defend the Speaker against a charge of having given a decision at such a moment and on such a class of question which happens to be distasteful to a certain section of the House. It is manifest if this is to be a precedent for our ordinary practice, that if every member of the House who can get a seconder is to ballot for a. day in order to discuss whether the Speaker was right or wrong upon some question which in the nature of the case is doubtful, you not only do your best to bring the authority of the Chair into discredit, but you are lowering the whole character of this assembly. For my own part I should make these observations, and I should vote as I am going to vote, even if I were of the opinion that the judgment of the Speaker on such an occasion and in such a case was one which after a week’s quiet reflection is one which I should not have adopted myself.
I have nothing further to add, exceptto ask Opposition senators to act on their real assessment of the position. 1 am sure that the encomiums which they and we have passed upon you since your occupancy of the chair, Mr. President, have been well founded and well meant. I believe that this is merely a sporadic attack which does not reflect their real feelings at all. I am sure that you, Mr. President, enjoy not only the respect but. also the unqualified confidence of every member of this chamber. Accordingly, by way of amendment, 1 move -
That all words after “That” be left out with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ this Senate expresses its full confidence in the President. This Senate further expresses its appreciation of the dignified and impartial marner in which the President has discharged his duties.”
Senator KENNELLY (Victoria) ~4.42]. - The motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) should not be taken lightly. At the outset, perhaps we should consider the functions of the President. He is not only the Presiding Officer in this chamber, but also a link between the superior house of tUe Parliament of this nation and the GovernorGeneral, who represents Her Majesty the Queen. Therefore, a motion of this nature must indicate the seriousness of the case to be made out, at least in the minds of those responsible for the motion. I endorse the remarks of my leader and I adopt the cases that he has submitted. There have been, admittedly only in recent weeks, instances of absolute bias in the performance of your duties as President of this chamber. The Leader of the Opposition has referred to an instance in which you gave the call to various speakers, although I myself had referred to you - I believe in a courteous manner - a. certain question. I had asked how it was that you called three honorable senators who spoke in support of the question before the Senate, and the retort that you made to me, sir, was that it ill became an honorable senator to ask such a question.
– I think the President said that it was in bad taste.
– And I thought it was not in bad taste. The question was couched in terms which no one could consider to be in bad taste. All I sought was information, and if the President had had a case, one would not have expected him to use the words that he in fact used. To my way of thinking, he has not yet answered the question. He has relied on words that one could rightly say were in extremely bad taste, and his action has permitted the state of affairs, abo,11 which I had asked, to continue in the Senate, so that there are three speakers in succession from the one side of the chamber. I believe that, in cases sued as this, the President, in order to be fair and to prevent a suspicion of bias entering peoples’ minds, should call another speaker who, from past experience, would not be expected to speak along similar lines.
– Senator Cole was not called on that basis.
– Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to hear Senator Cole speak in this chamber. I mean that, despite the smiles on the faces of Government senators. As far as I am concerned, Senator Cole is at liberty to speak at any time. The party to which I belong has dealt with the likes of Senator Cole before.
– When is the honorable senator going to start on Dr. Evatt?
– Of course, we realize that, over the years the Liberal party, has taken such people to its breast. In this instance, we hand Senator Cole to you on a silver platter.
– This is the same old abuse.
– I do not want to be personal, but is it not remarkable that the only other member of this chamber to whom my remarks could refer is becoming annoyed?
– I am not annoyed.
– As I have said before, the President of the Senate is the link between the superior House oft the Parliament of this nation and Her. Majesty the Queen. Therefore, w**believe that the occupant of that officeshould conduct the affairs of this chamber worthily.
I come now to another matter. It istrue, sir, as Senator McKenna has said, that when the Fishing Industry Bill 1956- was before this chamber, you called. Senator McKenna. Hansard records that fact. It was while he was on hisfeet to speak to the motion, “ That the report be adopted “, that theAttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer)’ moved, “ That the question be now put”. If, in fact, you did not callSenator McKenna, the Hansard report isincorrect. I submit that in normal circumstances the Presiding Officer of thischamber, or of another place, would call the Leader of the Opposition, and wouldpermit him to continue his speech. 1 regret to say that, in my opinion, if there had not been collusion between the Government and the President in this instance, Senator McKenna would have been allowed to continue his speech ; that is, if you, Mr. President, had not been advised that the Minister intended to move the closure. On the occasion in question, there is no doubt in my mind who rose first. Of course, I am relying on my memory and, as we all know, the memory can sometimes lead one into trouble. But I am not at liberty to quote from Hansard of the present session. I remember remarking to one of my colleagues at the time that it was not even a photo finish. I arn reluctant to think that such collusion existed because, if the present system of government is to continue - and I believe that all of us desire its continuance - the Chair must be strictly impartial.
I revert now to the proceedings on the night of the 23rd May. In view of your fairness, Mr. President, during the time that you have occupied the chair prior to that time, the Opposition was prepared to think that it was human to err, but divine to forgive. But on that night, when the Senate was in committee, the Chairman (Senator Reid) gave some extraordinary rulings. I now repeat to my personal friend, Senator Gorton, what I said when I raised a point of order at she time that the statement by his colleague that Senator Hendrickson’s mind was in the gutter, or words to that effect, was offensive to me. Unfortunately, I I am not permitted to quote from the Hansard report of his remarks.
– The honorable senator should know that it is now permissible to quote from Hansard of the current session.
– I do not think that it is permissible for me to do so. The Opposition has the right to demand fair play from the occupant of the chair. It is true that for the time being you, Mr. President, can look to the other side for protection, but one does not know how long that position may last. An impartial occupant of the chair should not worry which party occupies the Government benches. All he should do is carry out the functions of his high office in the manner they have been, or at least should have been, carried out over a long period of years.
– The Senate did not have the advantage of the honorable senator’s presence in days gone by.
– I cannot imagine Senator Wright giving anything away if he believed that some other occupant of the chair was biased or unfair or had allowed words to be used in this chamber that would be insulting to a man in the street, let alone unparliamentary. By permitting such a thing the occupant of the high office of President is not helping in the carrying out of the functions of this House.
A lot of comment has been made about this matter in certain quarters over the week-end. In fact, I discussed the matter, after it had been brought to my notice, at, a very important meeting in Victoria. People there were amazed to think that you, Mr. President, could so lose your sense of balance - I am quoting their words - as to rule that certain words were parliamentary for the sake, perhaps, of some gain that may come to you in the future. Had you returned to this chamber on the morning of the 24th May and admitted that you had been wrong it would have placed you in an unassail able position before the people of this country. Apparently, you were quite content to rest on the decision you had made. I regret that this position has arisen but I believe that my party is quite entitled to take the action which it has and I support my leader in the case he has submitted.
– Is it not really a case of the Leader of the Opposition supporting Senator Kennelly, and very unhappily too?
– I think that the speech of the Leader of the Opposition gives the lie direct to Senator Wright. How’ could a man be unhappy and at the same time put up a case such as the Leader of the Opposition submitted a short while ago ?
The Minister for the Navy (Senator O’Sullivan) attempted to answer the Leader of the Opposition. He quoted from Hansard of last session. The procedure, after each election, is for the Government to announce its ministry and for the Opposition to announce its officers. At that time, others who claimed to be leader should have announced their leadership.
– It was not a new Senate.
– All I say is that it should have been done. No announcement was made. I remember the words of the Minister for the Navy very distinctly when he replied to a question- asked by Senator O’Byrne. If he looks at Hansard he willsee that he referred to Senator Cole’s position in conjunction with seven others who were then in another place. I believe the position should be the same as it is in Victoria and elsewhere, that is that before anybody can be classified as the leader of a party there should be a certain number of members belonging to that party in either House of the Parliament. When the Minister for the Navy was reading from Hansard he was referring to the time when Senator Cole had seven col- leagues in another place. Since then a general election has been held and those sevencolleagues have disappeared from the political horizon. No announcement was made after the election until, I understand, some one asked a question of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in another place. Because of those facts, T do not think there is much weight in the reply given by the Minister for the Navy.
The Opposition believes that the present, position arose because of the 3tate you, Mr. President, allowed this chamber to get into on the night of the 23rd May last. For no other reason than your lack of control and biased decisions on that night the Opposition is warranted in taking the step it has taken.
– I should think that a motion of this kind has seldom been moved in a deliberative assembly with less reason than exists for this motion.
Government Supporters. - Hear, hear !
– And with less conviction.
– I think my colleague is right in saying, “ And with less conviction “. The Minister for the Navy (Senator O’Sullivan) has, I think, sufficiently dealt with every matter that was raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). However, I desire to make one or two remarks about the incident in which, apparently, I was concerned, and which Senator Kennelly has made a basis for part of his attack upon the President. It was during the later stages of the Fishing Industry Bill or the Whaling Industry Act Repeal Bill, T forget which one it was. We had been in committee, and the “guillotine” had been imposed. A motion was then moved, I think in relation to reporting progress. The moment that, the mover of that motion sat down I was up on my feet. I have never moved as quickly before in my life, and if I were to record my own impression of the occurrences at that stage T would say that I believe I was on my feet before Senator McKenna, despite what is recorded in Hansard. That is my own honest belief. Being a Minister, the President gave me the call linder Standing Order 65. which states that any motion connected with the conduct of the business of the Senate maY be moved bv a Minister of the Crown at any time, without notice.
I can understand honorable senators of the Opposition objecting to the tactics - if they may be called that - of the Government in this matter. That is all very proper, and 1 am prepared to accept it. However, it is a mean and miserable business to transfer what should be an attack upon the Government to an attack upon the President in this chamber, who is doing no more than obeying the Standing Orders. Then Senator McKenna had a great whine and wail because you, Mr. President, called three speakers who happened to deliver speeches, one after the other, supporting, more or less, the same viewpoint. You called a speaker from the Government side of the Senate and he supported the Government’s proposal. . You then called Senator Cole from the Opposition side of the chamber. How could you, Mr. President, have knownwhat viewpoint Senator Cole was going to put in regard to that bill? Do the Opposition senators go so far as to suggest that the President had communed with Senator Cole to find out what he was going to say before he called him, and deliberately called three sneakers one after the other to support the bill ?
– According to Senator McKenna, he did that.
– Apparently, according to Senator McKenna, the President would do that. I am not surprised at that at all, because the party to which Senator McKenna belongs has been conspiracy conscious for a very long time. This is not the first conspiracy which hasbeen evolved by the Labour party in th» course of the last two years. To-day, we have seen the deplorable spectacle of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) getting up and seriously saying that because at one stage during a debate Senator Cole indicated that he would not be supporting the Opposition candidate when next the presidency of the Senate falls vacant, all this matter must come out of some kind of dealing that has taken place between the President and Senator Cole or the Government ann? Senator 004 - T am not sure which. Surely a man who was not disposed tofind’ a conspiracy around every corner would be likely to assume that that wa» the first the Government had ever heard! of that particular matter, or that it was the first that you, Mr. President, had ever heard of it, and not proceed upon the basis that there was some undertaking obtained from Senator Cole in return for some unknown service that was going to be rendered to him.
– Perish the thought.
– Yes, I would like the thought to perish, lt is about time that honorable senators of the Opposition grew ‘ up and forgot all this silly conspiracy business. Of course, in the light of what Senator Cole said on the earlier occasion to which I have referred, why should the President be worried further to curry Senator Cole’s favour? Senator Cole was not going to support a.n Opposition candidate for the presidency in any event. Yet, in view of all that, we are asked to believe that all this silly business is an attempt by the Government, or you, Mr. President, to curry favour with Senator Cole!
The whole thing is nonsense, and, more (than that, I say that it is wicked. Of course, this de::a:: has turned just as much into an attack upon Senator Cole as an attack upon you, Mr. President. T.n other words, the attack upon you has been used as the vehicle whereby, an attack can he carried to the Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party (Senator Cole) in this chamber.
As far as the proceedings of last Wednesday night and early Thursday morning are concerned, complaint has apparently been made, Mr. President, about some rulings that you gave. I suggest that they were very proper rulings, and that they were rulings other than which no self-respecting president could have given. It is quite clear that on that occasion the Opposition objected - *n.d I can understand the objection - to some one saying that the Labour party, under its present leader (Dr. Evatt) was encouraging the development of communism in trade unions. Surely such a statement is not going to be held to be unparliamentary. If it is, then, as I aid the other night, we might just as we1! give up the business’ of carrying on this institution as a deliberative assembly.
– That was not said.
– It is all reported in Ilansard.
– The three last words were not said.
– The Hansard. report states -
– I say those words in the latter portion were never used here. I am not attacking Hansard, I am attacking what happens in regard to alterations when honorable senators get it.
– Now the honorable senator is adopting a quite different line.
– I am not adopting a different line.
– The honorable senator is conspiracy-happy.
– It is another conspiracy apparently.
– I did not have the Hansard proofs delivered to me on that occasion.
– All that I can say about it is that the Hansard report of that statement completely coincides with my own recollection of it. I believe that if honorable senators will read my speech delivered on that occasion, they will find that I more or less recapitulated, not. the exact words, but the thought expressed by those words as being the utterance under attack. As Senator Kennelly now apparently concedes that the statement as reported in Hansard is a perfectly parliamentary statement-
– No, I do not. You are up to the old game of putting up an Aunt Sally in order to knock it over.
– It is not that at all. Now that I have quoted the statement to Senator Kennelly, he has replied, “ No, that is not the statement that Sena tor Wright made “. Why does he say that?
– I say that the statement did not include the last three or four words that were read by the Attorney-General. The honorable senator who objected to it is in the chamber, and he would know, too. It was doctored.
– The honorable senator apparently claims that the statement, as uttered, did not contain as many words as the statement that is reported in Ilansard. I would still be interested to hear from him the words in the statement he heard to which he objects as u unparliamentary
– I am not saying.
– No, because you obviously cannot say.
– Oh, yes I can. You want to build up Aunt Sallys and knock them over. That is your game.
– When this matter is examined in relation to that particular statement, the Opposition has not a case with any basis at all.
– How about the statement about the gutter? Let us get on to that one.
– I will stick to the one I have mentioned.
– Get on to the statement about the gutter.
– I am a bit frightened of getting in with some of your company, so I am going to keep out of the gutter and stick to this statement.
– We objected to that one about the gutter.
– You objected to both of them. So far as this statement is concerned, T say, without the slightest hesitation, that a presiding officer who had ruled that statement out of order should have had a vote of no confidence against him, because he would not. have understood his proper place in the determination of questions of that sort.
– How about the gutter statement now?
– I will take that, statement now. The honorable senatorwants to get down into the gutter. Let us have a look at the statement. So far as the report is concerned, I suggest that it is r?ot-
– The AttorneyGeneral did not know what the statementwas.
– This was the statement by Senator Wright - l wish to bring this subject into its proper focus as a matter worthy of the attention of the National Parliament, and not one to berelegated to that insignificant gutter along the trend of which Senator Hendrickson’s mind travels.
– What is wrong with that?
– I find it difficult to consider that statement to he unparliamentary ; very difficult, indeed.
– Naturally. Your mind is always in the gutter.
– I have given my opinion. That is one view. It is a statement about which there might be a difference of opinion.
– Quite true!
– I am prepared to go that far with honorable senators on the Opposition side if they like. Menmight have honest differences of opinion. T might say that the statement is not unparliamentary - and I do not believe that it is - but I can understand the attitude of a purist like my friend, Senator Kennelly, in adopting the opposite point of view. T would respect his opinion.
– Thank you.
– But when the President has to decide which is right and which is wrong, surely neither Senator Kennelly nor 1 could claim the right to move a vote of no confidence against him simply because he gave one decision or another. It is just so much nonsense. Of course, it is the foundation upon which this biased attack is conducted against our friend. Senator Cole. It seems to me m great pity that the view which the Opposition has always taken, very properly, of your conduct of the proceedings, Mr. President, is to be thrown aside for these insignificant and hopelessly flimsy reasons. You can derive consolation from the fact that you have been made the excuse for just another political battle.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna J presented rather a pitiful spectacle this afternoon. I fear ;that, before very long, we shall have Senator Kennelly saying to Senator McKenna, “ Look, brother, I have the feel of this business now; you can go home”. This debate appears to have become an attack on certain actions that have been taken by the Government so far as 1 am concerned personally. I believe that many of the points of view that have been expressed were thought out after the events of last Thursday morning. Honorable senators on the Opposition side who support the Evatt Labour party have had to go through Hansard in their endeavour to make up a case. “What they really wanted to do was to bring into focus the happenings of the early hours of Thursday morning, but they had to go back through the pages of Hansard to buttress their case. I was in the chamber when the Fishing Industry Bill was under discussion in committee. Actually, we were making a farce of the proceedings. The report in Hansard of the proceedings at the committee stage of the bill shows that various honorable senators on the Opposition side had an enjoyable time making second-reading speeches. They were threatened by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), who said that, if honorable senators did not proceed with the discussion on correct lines, the closure would be applied T remember Senator Kennelly saying, “If von want it tough we will ari vp it to yon tough “. When they did “ tret it tough “ Senator Kennelly began to squeal. That is not a proper Wa V to conduct the proceedings of the Senate.
The whole debate is centred upon the happenings of last Thursday morning and the two points of order that were taken. I should like to deal with the second point of order that was raised. Senator Wright had said -
Since this schism developed in the Labour party, it has been the constant . endeavour oi its leader, Dr. Evatt, to allow opportunities for the growth of communism in the trade union movement to develop.
Objection was taken to that statement by Senator Ashley-
– I objected to the association of Dr. Evatt’s name with the growth of communism.
– The honorable senator can say that after reading this report, but he finds it offensive only because Senator Wright has made reference to the matter in this Parliament. The statement was quite parliamentary; it was quite factual, as well. The honorable senator should have asked Senator Wright to prove the truth of his statement.
Senator O’Byrne interjecting,
– My Communist friend, Senator O’Byrne - or is he a “ fellow traveller “ ? - is interjecting again. If we trace Dr. Evatt’s career through we must admit that the facts prove conclusively that he has allowed communism to flourish in this country, in the unions and everywhere else. He first entered the New South Wales Parliament after standing against an endorsed Labour candidate. He was then removed from the Australian Labour party. Later he was re-admitted, and in 1941 he became Attorney-General in the Curtin Government. His first act on becoming Attorney-General was to release Ratliff and Thomas, two Communists, from internment. Very soon after that, he lifted the ban on the Communist party.
– I rise to order. I am sorry to have to do this, but all this has nothing whatever to do with the motion before the Senate.
– What is the point of order?
– My point of order is that all this is out of order on this motion.
– Under what standing order is the honorable senator taking a point of order?
– I am using common sense. This has nothing to do with your ruling.
– I have made up my mind on this matter. I have decided that I will not restrict the debate in any way. You may say just what you think about my position.
– Then why are you restricting me now? Why do you not stick to that?
– A point of order has been raised. This is an involved matter, and it is not my intention to restrict the debate. I have been allowing things to go along quite easily this afternoon, and I have no intention of restricting the debate now.
– When I was interrupted, I was about to prove the accuracy of the statement made by Senator Wright and to which objection was taken.
– Did the honorable senator know all these facts when he eulogized Dr. Evatt in this chamber a little while ago ?
– I did not eulogize him.
– The honorable senator did. I can show him the record of his remarks in Hansard.
– Give us the eulogy now.
– I am trying to point out the facts. When we examine Dr. Evatt’s career a little further, we find that he established diplomatic relations with the Soviet. Then his brother became president of the Australian-Soviet Friendship League. We then follow his record as Minister for External Affairs, until we come to his latest activity, that of defending the Communists and the Communist point of view before the Petrov royal commission.
The facts show that all through his history he has encouraged communism. Now, we find him going one step further. He is now destroying the industrial groups which are the only effective means of fighting communism in the unions. His action in destroying the industrial groups has made it possible for those seeking offices in the various unions to stand on a Communist-Labour party unity ticket. Here, I should like to mention again what is happening in Victoria at the moment. In that State, there will be an election on the 6th June for positions in the Australian Railways Union. In that State we find that an avowed Communist, Mr . J. J. Brown, a great f riend of the Evatt Labour party of Victoria, is standing on a unity ticket with the Evatt Labour party, and Evatt supporters, with the blessings of Dr. Evatt, are helping him in his election campaign. I remind honorable senators also of the fact that a short time ago Mr. Brown was passing’ through Canberra and he was met by our friend.
– Which friend?
- Dr. Evatt. From these facts it will be seen that Senator Wright’s assertions are correct. A moment ago, Senator Hendrickson interjected and referred to the President. In my opinion, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) did a diabolical thing this afternoon when he suggested that the President was actuated by personal interests in granting certain amenities to me. That was a disgusting thing to bring forward. There is nothing worse than that.
– What if it were true ? We do not know whether it is true or not.
– Not one of the Opposition believes it is true.
– I would rather believe Senator McKenna.
– He does not believe it either.
– He suggested that the President has to toady to me to get my vote. I might mention that Senator Hendrickson did say to me, “ I thought you were going to vote for me as President? “I said, “ From what I can see of it, you will fit the chair very well but not with dignity “.
– I rise to order ! I have never atany time asked Senator Cole or any other senator to vote for me, andI ask for a withdrawal of that statement.
– Under what standing order is the honorable senator taking the point of order? There is no point of order.
– Senator Hendrickson said, “But I thought you were going to vote for me for President “. He might have said it in a joke, but the fact is that he did say it.
– I would not ask the honorable senator or anybody else to vote for me.
– The honorable senator would do so if he thought it was worth his while. As I mentioned earlier, it was diabolical of the Leader of the Opposition to make the suggestion he did. 1 emphasize that before the last general election I enjoyed all the amenities that I now have. That being so, how can the President be prompted by consideration of his own personal interests in granting to me what I am entitled to have in this place? I had these amenities before the last election, and at that time the President did not know whether my party would be holding the balance of power in the Senate. The President has not, in any way, approached me - nor would I expect him to do so - and nobody else has approached me as to how I will vote in the Senate.
– The honorable senator said that I did.
– The honorable senator said “nobody” had approached him.
-I do not think that any honorable senator on either side of the House would be game to come to me and try to bribe me to do anything. I will do what I consider is right in voting in the Senate.
– That is why your erstwhile colleagues so resent you.
– I take great exception to what Senator McKenna has said this afternoon, not only with regard to the action of the President, but also concerning myself. My job in this Senate will be an onerous one and it would be as well for Senator Kennelly and Senator McKenna to look after their own business while they really are in Opposition. Senatorelect McManus and I will help all we can in the government of this country in a way that will bring credit to it, and I hope that the Labour party will do all that it can to help also. There is no substance in the arguments brought forward by Senator McKenna and if he had any. decency, after his final suggestion aboutyourself, Mr. President, he would seek leave to withdraw the motion.
– I shall make a brief excursion into the debate, especially because I was the Minister in charge of the Fishing Industry Bill when ministerial conduct was complained about. In reply to the criticism of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) I hope to establish that that criticism has been only a pretext for bringing forward this motion. But before doing so, I wish to make the point, which has not previously been made in this debate, that one of the grounds upon which this attack has been made was your failure, Mr. President, to notify the Senate of your decision to recognize one senator as the leader of a party. The short answer to that criticism is found on the inside cover of the weekly Hansard first issued after the Senate met on the 15th February last following the election. The Hansard report records the formal proceedings of the opening of the Parliament, and printed on the inside of the cover are the names of the President, the Leader of the Government, and the Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Chairman of Committees, the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and finally, in that group of names appears the line -
Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour Party - Senator George Ronald Cole.
So that in the record of proceedings on i he first day on which the Senate met after the election is contained a statement showing Senator Cole as the Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party. I completely fail to understand how, in those circumstances, the Leader of the Opposition, with any sense of responsibility, can make the allegation that you, Mr. President, have been remiss in observing some courtesy to the Senate. This fact illustrates the point, made earlier in the debate, and which, no doubt, will be made again, that the attack is not upon you, Mr. President, and your impartiality, but is merely another symptom of the deep unrest that exists within the Australian Labour party itself.
I now refer briefly to the circumstances governing the incidents during the consideration of the Fishing Industry Bill, f ask honorable senators to cast their minds back to the second-reading debate on the bill, in which the Leader of the Opposition said fifteen honorable senators had taken part. The debate was free and untrammelled and there was no suggestion that the closure or the gag would be applied. My attitude was, “ This is an important measure and the debate may be continued as long as any senator feels he has something to say on the bill That attitude was maintained until the following day. I ask honorable senators to recall the circumstances of the closing of the second-reading debate, ft is entirely true to say that a series of scurrilous attacks were made upon my colleague, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) in which it was alleged that he did not call for tenders for the purchase of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission at Carnarvon. Senator Tangney implied that the chairman of the Country party had come from Perth to Canberra to use his influence on the Government in connexion with the proposed sale. Be that as it may, my complaint is that those statements were made over the air, and as a matter of common sportmanship and decency, T. expected that I should have been given an opportunity to answer them over the air.
Honorable senators may recall that such an opportunity was not provided. At the last minute I was a little troubled because I believed that, as a matter of decency the Opposition would give me an opportunity to reply to those statements while the Senate proceedings were being broadcast, but it had not the courtesy to do so. Consequently, at the last minute, I asked one of my supporters on the back bench to step into the breach so that I might not gratuitously give to the Opposition an hour and a half on -the air in which to repeat to listeners in Western Australia statements which were dishonorable and completely unjustifiable. What was I to do in those circumstance’’?
Let me take the story a stage further. When the Senate met on the following morning, I wound up the debate, and I think I can say fairly that I answered effectively every argument and accusation advanced by the Opposition. I gave honorable senators opposite every opportunity to interject. Indeed, I stopped my speech to allow Senator Kennelly to interrupt and make his points. It, was a matter of great importance to me that the name of my colleague, the Minister for Trade, should be completely cleared in this matter. What was the result? I was subjected to a series of interjections and arguments and the atmosphere and spirit behind them plainly indicated that the Opposition was taking the attitude that if a Minister dared to reply to Opposition criticism, senators from that side would teach him a lesson. Let me tell honorable senators opposite that they will not teach me a lesson. When I have something to say, I shall say it, and nobody on either side of the chamber will call me down. Those were the circumstances at the winding-up of the debate. Honorable senators opposite thought they would make criticisms, while the proceedings were being broadcast, that would remain unanswered. I could not get on to the air. but I answered those criticisms the following day. Tt will bc a day to note when I allow myself to be browbeaten for answering criticisms! Let. us have no misunderstanding about that.
The second-reading debate was wound up in the atmosphere T have indicated. Questions were asked and answers given across the table. I shall not repeat what they were, but I suggest that there was an attitude on the part of honorable senators opposite of, “ We will teach this lad who has taken us on ! “ Let them deny that, if they want to play fair. They intended to give me the “ run-round “ at the committee stage. Do not let us walk away from the truth of that statement. I let them give me the “ run-round “ so far as my temperament would permit me to do so. I call honorable senators opposite to bear witness that I stood up in the Senate and said, “ I shall answer any reasonable question in committee. I shall do the right thing “. There is no question about my being prepared to answer questions at the committee stage. I forget the exact terms I used, but they were something like, “ If you are going to give me the ‘ run-round let me remind you of this:I have the best argument of all, and that is the numbers”. There was no honorable senator who did not understand what I meant by that.
Now let me refer to Senator Benn. I bear the honorable senator no malice, because he was doing his job. I am certain he was doing what the party wanted him to do - to hold up the bill. I had the courage to reply to his arguments. When we began to discuss the definitions, Senator Benn started to speak about fish eggs, and he said, “Remember, every fish egg is a potential fish “.
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m.
– There are others who wish to speak in this debate, and for that reason I propose to finish very shortly. I do not intend to recapitulate whatI said previously, except to repeat the point I made before the suspension of the sitting - that the action I took in bringing down the “ guillotine “ was taken because I had been provoked. I felt that an attempt was being made to intimidate me, in effect, and I think that justified my doing what I did. Having decided to bring down the “ guillotine “, with the assistance of my ministerial colleagues, the task was done efficiently and effectively. The plain truth, Mr. President, is that you are bound by the rules of the Senate just as we are. You had no option but to act in the way that you did. I support your action in this matter to the uttermost.
I say, Mr. President, that the Leader of the Opposition must be thoroughly ashamed of himself for the manner in which he concluded his remarks on this matter. I put it to the Leader of the Opposition that his position is no different from mine. In this position he is called upon, no less than is a Minister, to show courage in the face of intimidation. We on this side of the chamber know the position. I shall be surprised, indeed, if the hearts of honorable senators opposite are in this motion. I shall be surprised if they are not being pushed into it. In those circumstances, the least that they might have done was to pay tribute to the work of the President since he has held his high office, instead of making the dastardly allegations that have been made against him.
Senator HENDRICKSON (Victoria, [8.3]. - I did not intend to take part in this debate, but since it has taken this course, I think that I should say something in support of the motion moved this afternoon by my leader (Senator McKenna).
– I thought your leader was a “ fellow traveller “, a bloke called Evatt.
– Probably, if Senator George Rankin had not thought so much, he might have beena better general. But he has thought too little too late, and that is why he was in the bush when the last war was on.
– You were a sanitary corporal, were you?
– I will back my record in World War I. against the honorable senator’s. The position is, Mr. President, that you said that this debate would be all in. That proves conclusively, to me, that you have no respect for the Queen’s Parliament. The Queen’s Parliament, I think, should be above the class of debate that was carried on in this chamber last Wednesday night.
– Hear, hear ! Who was responsible?
– The honorable senator from South Australia asks who was responsible. Senator Cole. who had made an onslaught on a member of the executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party, was responsible.
– The president.
– A member of the executive. The honorable senator made that onslaught without knowledge of what should have been correctly reported in the daily press. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity, during the week-end, to find out the real facts concerning the press statement ; and they are that the resolution carried by my central executive, that is, the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party, and the resolution carried by the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, are quite the reverse of the views that were expressed in this chamber last Wednesday evening by Senator Cole.
I took the opportunity, sir, to defend Mr. Stout, who is, when all is said and done, the choice of the rank and file in Victoria, and is our president. He is the choice of the trade union movement as secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. When Senator Cole criticizes Mr. Stout, he criticizes those hundreds of thousands of people in Victoria who support whole-heartedly the resolutions carried by both those organizations.
– That will be the day !
– Irrespective of what the representative of Holyman’s, Senator Henty, says, that is correct. I venture to say that had Senator Wright not been listening from his observation post in the sewer he would have heard clearly - what I said in my statement last Wednesday night. So low has he got that he has to look through a periscope from the sewer that he lives in, and from which he listens in order to hear what is said in this chamber. I, sir. want to say that Senator Wright is lower than it is possible for people who are in the gutter ever to get. Senator Wright observes the affairs of this House of the Parliament from his listening post in the sewer. That is much lower than the gutter.
I defended, in most parliamentary language, the statements attributed to my leader - that is,- the secretary of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party and the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. What I said was that we, in conformity with the Government’s policy - and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator O’sullivan) must admit it - must have a look at our immigration policy. I asked was it right that we should bring thousands of immigrants to this country to live under the conditions under which some of them are living to-day. I pointed out in this chamber that there are as many as 40 Italians living in South Yarra in a home that was built to accommodate a man and his wife and three or four children ; that they have built domiciles in the yard, and that when the night shift comes home, the day shift gets up and goes to work and the night shift occupies the beds.
– How long has that been going on?
– It has been going on for years, under the administration of this present Government, and it will continue unless we are prepared to take a hand in the curtailment of the large scale of immigration that is going on.
– There is plenty of hostel accommodation for them.
– Where? My dear girl, you are about as familiar with the accommodation that is available for immigrants as 1 am wilh lion-taming, and 1 could not make a success of that.
What I want to say in the course of this debate is that my leader brought before this chamber to-day a complaint that the President of the Senate had been biased. When I made my speech the other night - and any honorable senator, or anybody else, may read it - I used no words that were unparliamentary. I tried to point out that the statement attributed to Mr. Stout by Senator Cole was a statement of the great trade union movement of Victoria, along with the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party.
– Does the honorable senator believe in their policy?
– Of course, I do. I subscribe to it 100 per cent. It was not even the words that Senator Wright spoke that were offensive; it was the way in which he said them. Senator Wright made statements in a manner which was not conducive to the proper conduct of debates in this chamber.
– The honorable senator did not object.
– The day when the President has the same views as those he expressed this afternoon, when the President of the Senate makes this chamber open to a fair go for all - and I do not want any protection from him - I shall look after myself. I. shall continue to look after myself as I have done all my life. I repeat that Senator Cole said all those naughty, nasty things about our present federal leader, Dr. Evatt. Let me read to the Senate some of the things that Senator Cole said about Dr. Evatt in the Clarion of Launceston in 1953.
– Was there an election pending then?
– Of course there was, and Senator Cole was a candidate at that election under the leadership of Dr. Evatt. I am referring to Senator Cole, who came into this chamber as a Labour senator upon the policy that was enunciated by the leader of the Australian Labour party, Dr. Evatt.
– Was this before the unity ticket?
– I shall tpl] Senator O’Sullivan something about the unity ticket before I finish. I remind the honorable senator that he got in on a unity ticket with Archbishop Duhig, who said, “ If you have O’Sullivan, you will get our vote”. No wonder that the Minister is quiet on that issue. Although he is now laughing, I remind hi in that the sectarian question was raised back in 1920 when I returned from World War 1. It was raised bv the opponents of Labour, when it suited them, in an attempt to defeat the great
Australian Labour party. They have always used it. Over the years, Dr. Evatt has always been a democrat. This afternoon, Senator Cole tried to convey to this chamber something that Frank McManus had prepared for him, but he could not read Frank’s writing. I refer to Senator-elect McManus. In the issue of the Clarion that I have mentioned, under the heading, “Dr. Evatt Proved Worthy Leader “, the following appears : - “ The Australian people are indeed fortunate to have such a leader as Dr. Evatt in the Federal political sphere,” Senator George Cole said yesterday. “ Ho is a most worthy successor to those mighty Australians - Mr. Curtin and Mr. Chifley- who guided us so surely and safely through the treacherous years of war,” said Mr. Cole.
In view of those comments, how can Senator Cole justify his statements this afternoon? The report in the Clarion continues -
I feel that I am merely giving voice to the inherent hope of many hundreds of thousands of Australians when I say that we look forward eagerly to the day when this most eminent and practical Parliamentarian will take masterful grip of the reins nt Canberra and make certain that Australia’s future shall he what our sailors, soldiers and airmen fought for, and what the civilian population - male and female - backing them to the last ounce, strove for only a few short years ago.
– Is this what the President said?
– No. Senator George Cole said it.
– But the motion refers to the President.
– I suppose I was the President when I asked Senator Cole to give me his vote! This great democrat that has been foisted on to this chamber by some outside influence
– Not Dr. Evatt’s influence?
– He was under the leadership of Dr. Evatt when he came into this chamber, the same as were other people who have crawled into this House under Labour leadership, and have afterwards sneaked over to the other side.
– Who are they?
Senator Hannaf ord ; we would never have had him in the Labour party. Senator Cole’s statement, as reported in the Clarion continues as follows: -
Dr. Evatt has won many honours here as well as overseas.
This is what Senator Cole said in 1953, when he was on the platform seeking election to this chamber -
He is an Australian figure. He is a world figure. I do not believe that this country has ever had a leaderbetter fitted to guide the destinies of our nation.
Just imagine that, in the light of Senator Cole’s assertion to this chamber this afternoon to which, Mr. President, you did not object, that Dr. Evatt was not fit to be a member of this Parliament. The Clarion report continues-
Among the greatest academicians that this or any other country has produced - he is a Doctor of Literature, a Doctor of Laws and a Master of Arts, and has wide parliamentary experience in both the New South Wales and Commonwealth Parliaments.
SenatorO’Sullivan. - Why not tell us about the unity ticket?
– I will tell the Minister about the unity ticket that he organized.
– Will the honorable senator tell us about the letters that his leader wrote to Molotov?
– I advise the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) not to be too caustic about Molotov, because both the Queen and Lady Eden have received very precious gifts, including ponies, from the erstwhile Corns.I want to remind honorable senators that we might see the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) galloping back here on a Com pany.I could tell honorable senators of the time thatI saw photographs of Stalin prominently displayed in wealthy homes in Toorak and other places in Victoria when the Russians were our allies.
SenatorO’Sullivan. - What was the honorable senator doing in wealthy homes?
SenatorHENDRICKSON.-I would not be doing the same as Senator O’Sullivan - trying to rob the joints.I was there as a guest. But let me get back to the Clarion’s report of Senator Cole’s statement. It goes on -
He has been deputy Prime Minister, AttorneyGeneral and Minister for External Affairs at Canberra. He led important Australian missions to Washington and London in 1942 and 1943, which resulted in additional war supplies for the South-West Pacific area. Always he has been a doughty fighter for Australia and things Australian.
This is the man whom Senator Cole maligned in this chamber this afternoon.
– What is Mr. McManus’s opinion?
– All I want to say to my friend who is interjecting is that I do not quarrel with Senator-elect McManus.
– The honorable sena tor had better not quarrel with him, because he knows too much.
– He certainly has been elected to this chamber. The person whom I object to is one who was elected to the Senate on a Labour ticket and who, just before entering the election campaign in his own State, ratted on Labour. The non-Communist Labour candidate in Tasmania was overwhelmingly defeated.
– That is a lie.
– Had Senator Cole faced the electors then, we would not be having the pleasure of his company here to-night. He would have been defeated too. But the report goes on - this is wonderful-
– To whom is the honorable senator referring?
– I am quoting what the Rafferty man, whom the President has suggested is not a Joe Bell - stated in 1953. The report goes on -
He sat in the United Kingdom War Cabinet on each occasion. In 1945 he was a member of the Australian delegation to UNCIO at San Francisco, when 50 allied nations appended their signatures to the charter of United Nations. Also, in 1945, he was the Australian representative at Empire tal ks in London and Chairman of the Far Eastern Commission in the U.S.A. In1941, he was appointed Chairman of the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Reconstruction.
Dr.Evatt led the Australian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference in1946, was President of the Pacific-
Senator Henty interjecting,
– I know this is not nice for honorable senators opposite, or for Senator Cole either, but it is true. The extract continues - was President of the Pacific Region Con ference in 1947, and Chairman of the British Commonwealth Conference on the Japanese fence Treaty in the same year.
He was President of the UnitedNations Assembly Session in1948-49, one of the greatest honours any Australian has ever earned.
Quite true ! Great credit to one of the greatest Australians this country has ever seen, Dr. Bert Evatt. The extract continues -
Dr. Evatt made an unprecedented sacrifice ofhis personal interests when in 1940 he resigned as a High Court judge to contest the Federal seat of Barton, which he has held ever since.
We have the statement made by Senator Cole this afternoon that Dr. Evatt did something corrupt when he came down from the High Court bench.
– I never mentioned that.
– All I can suggest is that the honorable senator read Hansard.
– It is not in it.
– It is all very nice for the honorable senator to say he did not say it. The article continues -
His great talents and sound judicial approach to all problems made him indispensable in the Curtin and Chifley governments and his elevation to Labour leadership was inevitable.
Mr. President, those are the words of Senator Cole.
– Read the rest.
– I do not mind reading the rest, because I am in good humour to-night. The article continues -
The gentlemen in the corner of this chamber
To whom was Senator Cole referring? It might have been some of the members of the Government; I do not know. Let us read on -
The gentlemen in the corner of this chamber try to destroy this great Australian at every opportunity.
He was referring to Government supporters in this chamber, the peoplewho are supporting Senator Cole to-day. On this previous occasion he said about them -
They are trying to destroy a man who, when this nation was at war, stepped down from a job offering life security. The right honorable member for Barton led quite a lot of these same gentlemen to membership of this Parliament, and helped to save this nation during World War II.
– He did not save the Labour party.
– You cannot keep your cheese in an open cupboard if you have rats around. The same applies to the party of which the Attorney-General is a member. We cannot keep our party intact when there are rats in it who are prepared to divulge information to honorable senators opposite who are prepared to pay for it. The President is prepared to sacrifice the sacrosanct rights of this chamber in order to become President again after the 1st July of this year.
A Government Supporter. - The honorable senator ought to be ashamed of himself.
– Irrespective of what my friends opposite may say, that, is quite true. Furthermore, the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’Sullivan) has been interjecting and asking me to tell him about the unity ticket. Does the Minister know anything about the group ticket? If he does not I shall explain it to him and to honorable senators. The effect of the group ticket was that those who did not belong to a group could not stand for any executive position in any organization. Those who the groupers thought had a chance to win an official position in a trade union or in the Australian Labour party were not allowed to join a group because the groupers knew that if they allowed such persons to join a group the latter would win. And if they stood, they were classed as fellow-travellers or Corns. That is why to-day the great trade union movement and the Australian Labour party in the Commonwealth sphere have banned the groups organization. Let us have a look at the unity ticket. The Minister for the Navy has interjected, “ What about the unity ticket?” Senator Robertson is in this chamber to-night supporting the Government on a unity ticket. Yet, before the last general election, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said she was too old or too decrepit to be a member of the Liberal party. She is still here supporting the Government. T ask honorable senators opposite to have a look at their own unity ticket, and I shall have a look at ours.
The position is that press propaganda and the propaganda of Government supporters in this Parliament claim that the great Australian Labour party is prepared to support Communist candidates in various organizations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Labour is the only party in Australia that has ever opposed any other “ ism “ with the exception of “ British-ism “, under which it is our privilege to live. This is the only party that has always opposed Nazi-ism, fascism and communism; and I warn the people of Australia not to be misled into thinking that because they are supporting Senator Cole and the Government they are not supporting something that cropped up in Germany some fifteen or sixteen years ago and, as every one knows, is just as bad as capitalistic communism. Communism revealed its real self in England when the Communist delegates from Soviet Russia visited that country recently and said that if they lived in England they would bolong not to the Labour party but to the Conservative party. Of course they would, because they believe in capitalistic dictatorship. The Labour party believes in a democratic way of life, and people who support it arn willing to sacrifice their lives in order tn defend that way of life.
Let me now go back to the time when Senator Cole commended Dr. Evatt, for his stand on the anti-Communist bill.
– What about getting back to the motion?
– I know that the Attorney-General, now that hehas had his say, does not like the truth, to be told; but let me tell him about this chap whom honorable senators opposite have co-opted in an effort to keep the President where he is. Let us havea look at his form. Senator Cole’s colleagues, headed by Senator-elect McManus and Mr. Ogden, the president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party, gave Dr. Evatt a dinnerafter the 1951 referendum and congratulated him on keeping Australia free for democracy. What would have been the position had the Labour party supported the anti-Communist bill? The PrimeMinister did not want the antiCommunist bill introduced to become effective; it was only a bogy. My deputy leader said the other day that thelittle red rabbit had again been drawn from under the table. Goodness knows where the Prime Minister is going to get. the next one from. He may return galloping on a Communist pony. TheantiCommunist bill was intended to confuse the people of Australia; but when that fact was clearly pointed out to them by our present leader, Dr. Evatt, what happened? Senator-elect McManus and’ Mr. Ogden, the president of the Victorian branch of the Victorian Labour party, gave a dinner in the Hotel Windsor, Melbourne, and congratulated- Dr. Evatt on the fine job he had done in defeating the fascist tactics of which the anti-Communist bill was typical.
– What about the £13,000?
– All 1 hope is that the £13,000 that is alleged to have been paid to the great Australian Labour party was not a reality. I venture to say that the party has no funds other than those provided by people whobelieve in it. This party wants nobody to be in it, unless he believes in it. It does not. want stooges ; it wants peoplewho believe in its platform. It is not a platform that was brought into being in 1.955, or 1956; it has existed since federation. The party has always had1 the same name, the great Australian Labour party. It has never found it necessary to change its name; but for over 50 years it baa retained the same name and the same platform and I hope it will continue to retain them. Let me have a look at. the other side.
– Who got the £13,000?
– I think the honorable senator must have got most of it. Before World War I., we had the Conservative party. While the war was on, the rats went over with Billy Hughes and we then had the Nationalist party. Then there was the “Win the War “ party, then the Country party, then the Liberal party, and then the United Australia party. The party to which honorable senators belong has had all the names under the sun, with their party made up of rats and scabs mostly from this side of the chamber. We are glad to be rid of them because, as I have said, we believe in this party and we do not want anybody in it who does not believe in it. We do not want any one who does not believe in our platform to vote with us. But’ the Opposition want3 every honorable senator in this chamber to remember that the Senate is conducted by our President on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, and I say quite frankly that early last Thursday morning Mr. President’s ruling on the words uttered by Senator Wright was wrong. May I digress for a moment to apologize for my voice, because I have influenza, perhaps through getting my feet wet. However, I ask how you, Mr. President, would like Her Majesty the Queen, if she were listening to the debate here, to hear the words spoken by Senator Wright, to the effect that our minds are in the gutter, or to hear that her Opposition in this chamber was fostering communism in this country. I suggest that such a thing would never happen, because honorable senators on the Government side would not dare to utter words like that in Her Majesty’s presence. However, they seem prepared to do almost anything when there are no such distinguished visitors, or when the debates are not being broadcast.
I suggest that the Opposition has proved that the amendment moved by Senator O’Sullivan in order to save his face, should not be carried. Mr. President should have declared to this chamber that Senator Cole was to be considered the leader of an official party, and as he did not do so - and because of his rulings in this chamber - I say that he has no right to be our President. Whether he was right or wrong in not making that statement about Senator Cole, Mr. President has failed to act in an unbiased way to all honorable senators, and if honorable senators do the right thing as members of Her Majesty’s Parliament, they will vote for the motion so ably moved by my leader, Senator McKenna.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. Senator Hendrickson has just read a long screed from the Hansard of the House of Representatives, in which I was reported to have said certain things during a general election campaign. I desire to correct the impression left on honorable senators by that speech. I suggest that the newspaper article mentioned was brought up here by Senator O’Byrne, and given to an honorable member in another place ia order that he could bring the matter forward there.
The Labour party in Tasmania established a newspaper which it called the Clarion. Only a few editions of that newspaper were published, and all members of the Labour party were supposed to support it. However, after appearing on three or four occasions, the newspaper became bankrupt. T have never received a copy of the Clarion which contained that article. In fact, I did not know the article was in the newspaper; I did not read the newspaper, and I had no idea of its contents. The whole point of this matter is that it occurred during a general election campaign, and the editor of the Clarion said to me, “ What about something for our newspaper? We want to get it out, and as you are the leader of the party, what about giving us something for the paper?” I said, “ I have no time to do that, but you could work something out yourself, sign my name to it and put it in the newspaper “.
– How do you like that? And he does not see anything wrong with it!
– That, of course, was my mistake. The editor of the Clarion obtained quotations from what Senator McKenna said during his election tour and put them together. Honorable senators heard the result to-night. For my part, I did not even know that Dr. Evatt ever went to any of these meetings or, indeed, anywhere else. The editor put them in under my name and that is my fault. I have to take the responsibility for it, because I told him to do it. However, as far as my eulogy of Dr. Evatt is concerned, I quite honestly tell the Senate that they were not my opinions. I did not write them, and I did not hear of them until Senator O’Byrne took them to an honorable member in another place and raised the whole matter in that place. I heard these statements over the radio, and I can quite honestly say that that was the first time that 1 ever heard of them. If they were my views, all I. can say about them is, how could a person who had reached such heights fall to such a depth?
.- lt would perhaps be of advantage to the Senate at this stage to recall the motion that is at present before us, because Senator Hendrickson has been pursuing the usual tactics of the Opposition. He has been talking about anything at all but the motion or the amendment before the Senate, because quite obviously the Opposition does not want to discuss either of those matters. 1 support very strongly the amendment moved by Senator O’sullivan to the effect that honorable senators on the Government side, and in fact all honorable senators, have great confidence in the President. This afternoon, I was very sorry to hear the way Senator McKenna spoke, because we on this side of the chamber have always entertained a very high regard for the honorable senator as Leader of the Opposition in this place. Indeed, we have regarded him as the best behaved man in the Senate, just as ] regard Senator Grant as the worst. Senator McKenna, as far as behaviour goes, wins in a canter. I never thought that I would sit in this chamber and hear Senator McKenna charge you, Mr. President, with lacking the qualities necessary for the discharge of your duties. It was so unlike him that I am sure he was driven to do it. At any rate, I prefer to think that certain words from the Book of Genesis apply in this case, and that -
The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
I do not think there is any doubt about that. Now let us consider the grounds upon which Senator McKenna’s motion was based. The first was that you, M. President, did not stand up and state to the Senate that you were recognizing Senator Cole as the leader of a party in this place. It is quite clear that this is not the only thing that you did not stand up and state. For example, you have never stood up and stated the privilege that have been accorded to Senator McKenna. You have never stood up and said that Senator McKenna has three offices in Australia - one in Hobart, one in Canberra, and one in Sydney. Yon have never stated that he has a secretary in Hobart, whom he brings to Canberra every week and, unlike other honorable senators who have a secretary-typist who has no travelling privileges, he has an assistant secretary whom he is able to bring at the Government’s expense from Sydney to Canberra and send back again. None of those privileges was announced by you, Mr. President, in the Senate, and if you should have announced the privileges extended to Senator Cole, why should you not have announced the privileges extended to Senator McKenna? What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
The second point upon which the motion is based involves motions submitted and points of order raised in this chamber in the early hours of last Thursday morning. Whenever any honorable senator mentions something that the Opposition does not like, or whenever an honorable senator mentions the friend* of the Opposition with whom they are fighting elections on unity tickets; in fact, whenever anybody mentions Communists, the honorable senators of the Opposition get up and roar. Where did they learn that technique if not from those with whom they associate? If they are not Communist tactics, then I know nothing about communism. The Opposition will do anything to stop us from putting forward our viewpoint, and they adopted those same tactics last Thursday morning. The Opposition will do anything to stultify a debate.
This matter arose out of a statement attributed to J. V. Stout, an Evatt supporter in Victoria, to the effect that immigration to this country should be suspended. That is the position. 1 have here a copy of the press report which stated that a resolution of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council asked the Australian Council of Trades Unions to investigate the intake and placement of migrants and to ascertain their effect on living conditions of other workers, particularly in relation to housing and social advancement. The resolution added that, pending the inquiry, the Australian Council of Trades Unions should ask the Government to suspend immigration commitments. They wanted to stop immigration altogether. Senator Cole asked whether that was the policy of the Evatt Labour party. That was the whole purport of his remarks. The Opposition employed all sorts of devices to avoid answering that question. We saw the well-known tactics. Honorable senators tried to get away from the point. They raised points of order. They were prepared to do anything rather than discuss the point that was under discussion.
Let me remind honorable senators of the remarks that were made by Senator Kennelly this afternoon. They were very interesting. This was the voice of the new boy. because he has not been in this chamber very long. We have heard a lot of him during this session. I am wondering whether he is trying to get it all off his chest before the 30th June, when a fellow hatchet-man from Victoria will come into the Senate. It will be very interesting in this chamber after the 30th June. We shall watch the proceedings with much interest when one of these gentleman sits on one side and the other sits on the other side. They have been through the mill together, and what a mil1 it is! Then we shall see what’s what! As T have said, perhaps Senator Kennelly is getting as much as possible off his chest before the 30th June, arid then he will go quietly. He would be very well advised to watch his step. To-day, Senator Kennelly said that the President was biased. He said that the President who now occupies the chair was one of the most biased presidents he had ever seen or heard. He merely showed his shining newness when he said that. If Senator Kennelly had been in this chamber in 1950-51, and had experienced what we went through, he would know what it was to sit under a president who was biased.
– A bushranger !
– My word ! Let me Cell Senator Kennelly some of the things that happened then. One of the greatest of all expositions of bias was given by the President of that day when he said, “I am not going to be bound by the dead hand of the past “.
– Hear, hear!
– The President of that day said that the Standing Orders were of no account whatever. “ I do what I like”, he said. Senator Annabelle Rankin was on her feet and speaking when he left the chair and walked out of the chamber, stating, “ The sitting is suspended “. Out he went ! That was the sort of treatment we had in 1950. Senator Wright was thrown out of this Senate because he would not withdraw a true statement. He said that Senator Morrow, who was then a member of this chamber, had been suspended from the Australian Labour party, and the Opposition said it was not true. The President of the day said, “ You will withdraw “. Senator Wright replied, “ I will not withdraw because it is the truth “. How touchy they were on the Opposition side even in those days when anybody said anything about any association with the Communist party of which Senator Morrow, who sat in this chamber for many years, was a member. Yet, Senator Kennelly speaks of bias. Brother - I know T should not use that word - when you have been here a little longer, and have had a little more experience of the Senate and read the records, you will realize what bias is.
– One toot and you’re oot.
– My word! The third’ point of objection by the Opposition is related to the statement that the Evatt Labour party was encouraging communism in the trade unions. They objected most strongly to that statement.
– It is a lie. It is not true. You are encouraging that sort of thing.
– One of these days I hope we shall have the privilege of presenting to the Senate one of the unity tickets which shows the candidature of J. J. Brown, a Communist, for the Australian Railways Union leadership in Melbourne alongside Labour candidates.
– You cannot stop them.
– You do not have to stand with them. Why do Senator Grant and his colleagues object? Because they went to the workshops in Victoria, and” when they started to preach the Communist doctrine some of the new Australians booed them out of the place. Of course, the Opposition objects to any references to its encouragement of communism in the trade unions, but all its objections cannot stop the people of Australia from seeing what is happening and watching it grow at every turn.
– The Government parties are making it grow.
– The Opposition has charged the President with bias. T did not think at any time that I would ever see a Labour senator rise and talk about bias. The President has conducted the proceedings of this Senate with the greatest dignity and fairness to everybody. You, sir, have given a great deal of latitude; far more than T would have shown if I were in the chair, and I am not canvassing for any votes in this chamber. If T were, the poisoned mind of Senator Grant would suggest tthat I was looking for Senator Cole’s vote.
– It would be informal.
– The Opposition has been after it many a time if I read correctly a statement attributed to Senator Sheehan in the Melbourne Herald, which suggested that he was working up to a fail accompli on the 30th June. I do not know whether it was true or not.
– What are you talking about?
– T conclude by saying that I am confident that the Senate will reject the motion. It should never have been submitted. I reject it with all the emphasis of which I am capable. It is unfair to submit such a motion. It is a display of petty spite on the part of those who engineered the Australian Labour party into submitting it. There are many honorable senators on the Opposition side who did not want to see the motion submitted.
I was sorry to sec the deterioration of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), and to hear him use the arguments he adduced. I have watched for signs of deterioration ever since Senator McKenna left Tasmania to live in Sydney. One could expect a few signs of deterioration when he left Tasmania, but I must admit that I noticed none at the time. However, since he has been hobnobbing with the Yarra bank, he has gone downhill. 1 ask him to get away a little from the Yarra bank, and return to the standard he always upheld until he launched this unsavoury attack. I reject the motion, and I am confident that it will be rejected by every decent honorable senator.
– I support the motion that is before the Chair, and I regret that this debate has followed the lines traversed this afternoon. It has been my privilege and pleasure to serve under four presidents in this Senate. During that time I have never known a debate of this character to take place before this, and I hope that T shall never participate in another one. The Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) was fairly correct this afternoon when he said that this debate was possibly unique iin the history of the Australian Parliament. T think it is.
What is the reason for this debate to-day? When we first enter the Senate we are presented with a copy of the Standing Orders setting out the proper conduct of honorable senators and of the President. This debate is taking place because one of those Standing Orders denies to us the right to make a direct move in connexion with a vote that took place here in the early hours of Thursday morning. I suggest that after we adjourned on Thursday morning and thought over the events of that day in a calmer mood we all regretted what had taken place in this chamber. I feel that the President himself, upon calmer reflection, would feel that the debate that took place here and the decision given on that occasion were not in the best interests of what has always been looked upon as the supreme Parliament of the country. Parliament is something more than an ordinary meeting that might be held in the back bar of an hotel in the days that have gone. lt is something more than a meeting that might be held in some obscure room, just as it is something more than a meeting of a number of persons who have very little knowledge of the ordinary decencies of life. We have been elected as the representatives of the Australian people and we should conduct ourselves accordingly. We should obey the rules of the organization to which we belong.
This question arose as the result of a reference by Senator Cole to a press statement alleged to have been made by the president of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour party and secretary of the Trades Hall Council, Mr. Stout. The question of immigration is not new. The question of whether immigration should he limited in Australia is not something peculiar to utterances by Mr. Stout. It has been canvassed far and wide. To-day reference was made to a remark passed by one honorable senator opposite who suggested that one honorable senator’s mind moved in the gutter. I have before me a list of about 300 words and expressions which have been ruled by Mr. Speaker in the other House of this Parliament to he unparliamentary and which he insists shall he withdrawn immediately they are uttered. One such expression is “gutter tactics”, and another is “gutter practices’”. Standing Order 418 says -
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 allpersonal reflections on Members shall be considered highly disorderly.
That is a standing order under which this Parliament has been conducted since its inception. Has that rule been observed since the beginning of this debate this afternoon ? For the last three hours or so, honorable senators have, with impunity, hurled at one another remarks and epithets which, until the early hours of last Thursday, no honorable senator would ever have dreamed of being able to use without being asked to withdraw immediately. Where is this Senate getting to? What will be the use of these Standing Orders after to-day? Are they to be of any avail at all? Are they to be of avail any longer in this chamber ( Are they to continue to be the text-book for the future conduct of the business of the Senate? How are we to obliterate from the records of the Senate the decision of the President, last Thursday morning, given, I feel, on the spur of the moment and under the stress of emotion at the time, that an interjection was not disorderly?
The President alone is not to blame for this position. I think the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) spoke very truly this afternoon when he said he had the numbers. Th majority of this Senate is equally to blame with the President for the position in which we are at the moment and which will continue to exist for so long as it- is ruled that under Standing Order 418 a reflection upon an honorable senator is not disorderly. This position will obtain for so long as it is ruled that we can with impunity stand in our places and cast reflections upon an honorable leader in another place and accuse him of all sorts of disloyalty, whatever it might be, and of being a person who espouses a cause that could destroy democratic govern-: ment. So long as that position continues, how can this place be looked upon as an important part of our bi-cameral system of government?
What has actually happened here this afternoon? The attack has been very adroitly diverted from its real purpose.
No honorable senator has any other course of action open to him under the Standing Orders to remedy what was done here last Thursday. The only course open to us is a direct motion such as the one before us. It is the only way by which we can expunge from our records the ruling that was upheld by a majority in this chamber. But what has happened? The Attorney-General adopted a role in law that I have never known him # to adopt previously. I appreciate his forensic ability to plead a case, but to-day he did not adopt the attitude of learned counsel who appeals to the judgment of his learned brothers on the Bench. To-day, we saw him adopting the tactics usually used by those who appear in the lesser but still very important branches of our legal jurisdiction. He imagined that he had a jury before him this afternoon. He sought to confuse those jurors. He wanted to appeal to their prejudices. The merits of the case were actually pushed far into the background. But he wanted this jury later to-night, with those numbers of which Senator Spooner spoke, to uphold a ruling which will make orderly debate impossible in the Senate. Tn the future. ».’! sorts of innuendoes will be levelled by one senator at another. These were the tactics adopted by Senator Spicer this afternoon, and they are far removed from the part he usually plays. I regret that a man of his ability who, in his heart, must know that this Senate cannot wry on while this ruling stands, should have adopted that attitude. It. would h”<-n been better if he had applied his legal knowledge to making some suggestions to the Senate to overcome the difficulty which has been created. He might have moved that the motion be withdrawn, …! other action taken to restore good conduct in the Senate.
Some honorable senators have spoken about conspiracies, but I am not concerned with them. I have seen some honorable senators quietly disappear from particularly important positions which they held in this chamber, unbeknown to the majority of honorable senators. They have been quietly debunked or demoted fr- n! ‘he high and honorable positions in which the Senate had placed them previously. T have seen lesser senators also removed from positions of honour and trust in this House. However, though some refer to conspiracies, they are better left where they belong - somewhere forgotten.
Suggestion has been made abou’ intolerance. Since I have been here I have sat under the control of four Presidents, and have heard rulings given not by one or two, but by four, with which I have not agreed. We should have liked to argue those rulings, but because the* were justified by the Standing Orders that was the end of the matter. I ask honorable senators to rectify the present position if possible. Let us devise some means of expunging from the records the ruling that has been given, as a result of which I will be able to rise and make all sortof charges against honorable senator* opposite, and they can do the same to mt in reply. Surely we are entitled to be protected, and to conduct the business of this Senate in a proper manner.
The honorable senator who has occupied the presidential chair for nearly three years past with dignity, and with whom we have been pleased to associateas one of our colleagues in this chamber, has made a mistake, assisted by Government senators. By so doing they hav*pulled him down from the high regard in which he was held among honorable senators until last Thursday morning. The onus is on the majority, of which Senator Spooner has spoken, to remedy the position. I cannot suggest a way out at the moment other than the carrying of the motion. The amendment submitted confirms the ruling, and if it is agreed to I know that the ruling so confirmed will be regarded by Government senators in their hearts as entirely wrong, and one which should never have been allowed to be recorded. If Government senators have a solution, let them put it forward. The Opposition has no desire to see any man dragged down from his high position, and we are concerned that the business of this Senate should be conducted in a proper manner and in accordance with its high traditions. It is up to Government senators to rectify the matter ; otherwise I intend to vote for the motion.
Senator GORTON (Victoria) [9.6 J.- lt is clear to mc that the last speaker has been trying to make this debate die of inanition. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has submitted a motion which honorable senators opposite know has no substance, but because they have stuck their necks out they hope that the debate will die, die, die, so that their arguments will not receive the fate they deserve. Since I have been a member of this House I have heard offered to you, Mr. President, from the other side of the blouse, encomiums of the most fulsome nature - particularly from the Leader of the Opposition who, having submitted his motion, has now cleared out, before the debate has finished.
– He has had it!
– It is true that he has had it. I have heard him pay you, Mr. -President, the most fulsome compliments, but none of them was so complimentary as is this motion, and the futile arguments advanced by honorable senators opposite in support of it. Here is an important motion of no confidence in the President, one which is not lightly moved in any parliament. The Leader of the Opposition has had days in which to prepare his case in support of it. He is a very industrious man, and honorable senators can well appreciate that he will have dredged through Hansard for months past in an endeavour to find some substance to back up his motion. He will have overlooked nothing. He will have sought to find every small thing that could be used or twisted to suggest that you are partial in some way or other. In spite of all his efforts, he has been able to bring forward only those poor, puerile, feeble arguments which he placed before the Senate this afternoon, and for that reason this motion is one of the greatestcompliments the Leader of the Opposition could have paid you, Mr. President.
An examination of those arguments reveals their weakness. The first charge of the Leader of the Opposition is that he was not told until April last that Senator Cole was to be treated as the leader of a party in this chamber. The answer is simple. In October last, Senator Cole announced to the Senate that he was leader of the Anti-Communist
Labour party. You, sir, accepted that announcement, the Senate has been a continuing Senate ever since, and Senator Cole’s name has been published in Hansard each week as the leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party.
The next charge of partiality is that you accorded Senator Cole the rights of a leader of a party in this House. You would have been failing in your duty if you had not done so after Senator Cole had announced his leadership, and it had been accepted by the Senate. A third charge is that you called a Minister before you called the Leader of the Opposition. The Standing Orders lay down that you must call a Minister before you call the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition, who has now returned to the chamber, elaborated his attack on you, Mr. President, by saying, “ Senator O’Sullivan jumped to his feet as if he was jetpropelled and put to you the motion, ‘ I move that the question bc now put ‘, and you immediately put it “. And that is supposed to be an argument suggesting that you are a partial president ! If you had not done that, you would have breached the Standing Orders. Standing Orders 2S1 and 433 both provide that when any senator moves that the question be now put, you must immediately, without discussion and without debate, put that question to the Senate. You must do it immediately.
– Nobody contradicted that.
– Oh yes, they did. The Leader of the Opposition claimed that the President was partial because he put that question to the Senate immediately Senator Spicer moved it.
These matters, after days of dredging, are all that can be put up against you to support a claim that you are partial. If that is all that can be advanced, I say once again that you must have a record of impartiality second to none amongst those who have held the presidency of this chamber. We know, on both sides of the Senate, that all that is camouflage. We know that this motion has been moved in irritation, directed at you because, in this chamber last Wednesday evening, statements were made which annoyed and upset the Labour party and which you did not insist should be withdrawn. I am going to concern myself with a particular statement, of which I have a quotation here, which you were asked to force a senator to withdraw, and in respect of which, because you did not force the senator to withdraw it, you are charged with being a partial President. This is the statement -
My apprehension is that since the schism in the Labour party developed it has been the constant endeavour of the leader, Dr. Evatt, to allow opportunities for the growth of communism in the trade union movement.
That was the statement you were asked to force the senator who made it to withdraw. I say this in relation to that statement, that if you had made the senator withdraw a statement such as that, you would have been stifling all opportunity for free debate in this Senate. The honorable senator said, “ My apprehension is this”. He said that he believed that to be so, and he has a right to believe it. That is one reason why you should not ask for it to be withdrawn; but over and above that reason, another reason why you should not ask for it to be withdrawn is that it is demonstrably true, and demonstrably a matter of proper political debate. There can be no question that since this schism was brought on by Dr. Evatt, quite deliberately, he has been making opportunities for the development of communism in the trade union movement.
– I am told that that is rot.
– Rot, yes.
– I should like to ask a simple series of questions of the interjectors on my right, leading up to the question of the development of communism in the trade union movement. I ask +he interjectors : When Dr. Evatt was previously in the Labour government, did he or did he not release from gaol the Communists Ratliff and Thomas, who hadbeen imprisoned for subversive activities against the war effort of this country?
– Yes. Like the fellow in the pub, they had to come out some time.
– Very well, he did so. Did he or did he not remove the ban. which previously had been placed by the Menzies Government on the Communist party ? Did he or did he not, as a responsible member of the Labour government, remove that ban? Did he imprison, as a result of Communist information, people belonging to what was known as the Australia First movement, who later had to be released and were found innocent by a court, and who should have been paid compensation, but were not paid compensation because Dr. Evatt invoked the Statute of Limitations? Is that true or is not not? Did Dr. Evatt, or did he not, appear in the courts for the sake of the Communist-dominated wharf labourers’ union?
Senator Grant interjecting,
– I am not interested in whether it was his duty or not. E want to know: Did he or did he not do that? Did he or did he not take an outstanding part in persuading the people of this country not to allow this Parliament to have power to ban the Communist, party? Honorable senators opposite know that he did.
However each of those individual acts may be explained, they all are pertinent to the statement made by Senator Wright. This is more pertinent still : Did he or did he not lead the fight against allowing trade unionists to have secret ballots for the election of their trade union officials, in the same way as we have secret ballots for the election of people to this Parliament?
– Have a look at the legislation of 1942.
– I have seen the legislation that the honorable senator is speaking about. That legislation does not allow a secret ballot by right. It only allowed a secret ballot if people could prove previous malpractice in a. union dominated by Communists who had all the ballot-papers and all the evidence. Did he object to a real secret ballot by right ?
– The answer, I take it, from my friends interjecting, is “ Yes “.
Did Dr. Evatt, as leader of the Labour party, at one stage before this schism, approach a man whom honorable senators opposite are always screaming about in this Senate - Santamaria.- and ask him to write a rural policy for the Labour party at the election then to come? If honorable senators opposite deny that, then let them deny it in terms and not in long sentences. If Dr. Evatt did that, then why, after the schism he had brought on, did he direct all the forces he could marshal in the Labour party against the man he had previously approached? All of those things are pertinent to, and follow on, the statement made by Senator Wright that this man had given opportunities for the growth of communism in the trade union movement.
What opportunities has he given? First, he made a deliberate and definite attack on those who were most active in fighting communism in the trade union movement and who, despite what Senator Grant may say, were not by any means all Catholics. He attacked most of those who had been leading the fight in the trade union movement against communism. Not only did he deny these people the right to band together against communism in the unions, but he also went further than that - many people sitting on the opposite side of the chamber know it to their secret discredit. He allowed, in many trade unions, the Labour party to run tickets, so that members of the Labour party and members of the Communist party, both known to each other, could stand for election as trade union officials on united tickets. There used to be a rule in the Labour party that no man could stand for election to a union position on the same, ticket as a Communist. Honorable senators opposite know that that used to be so. I do not know whether that rule has been repealed, but I do know that it has been completely and utterly disregarded. I do not know what those on the other side who arn really opposed to communism think of that, because it is undoubtedly true that it is in the unions that the real fight must go- on.
It is all very well to elect people to this Parliament from the Labour party or the Liberal party, and to have here either a Liberal government or a Labour government, but if there is Communist domination in the unions, then neither a Liberal government nor a Labour government will be able to run this country and its economy as they ought to be run. Honorable senators opposite know that as well as we do; yet they sit there and help the Communists to get into union positions where they can disrupt the economy of the country. They will help them to do that while saying, rightly, in their individual capacities, that they are not Communists themselves.
– A lot of rot!
– It is all very well for Senator Benn to say, “ Rot “ Here is one of the union tickets to which I have referred, lt concerns the Australian Tramways Union. We have the president, Mr. G. Grace, who belongs to Evatt Labour, standing on the same ticket as secretary C. O’Shea, who is a Communist. That was in November. 1955, after this schism took place. That is not rot. It is a ticket that has been put out by the Labour party, allowing his cobbers to get into positions, and so helping them.
Here is another one - the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia - in which the Communists made a greatfight to try to take over from the nonCommunist leadership. Again, State president Taylor, a well known Communist, stood on the same ticket as C. W. Matthews for Labour. How can the Labour party say that this rule has ever been rescinded or waived, when it is helping the Communists to control the unions? I think it was Senator Grant, who has been ineffectively interjecting, who said that these things were never to be insisted upon. Here is the railways union Gazette, from Victoria, in which this appears -
Wo. the undersigned, as a unity team for the elections-
Here again, we have this integration of Evatt Labour with the Communists in seeking union positions. We have Evatt Labour - Cain is only a hanger-on - coupled with the state secretary, J. J. Brown, the well known Communist, under whose direction the Victorian railways had the greatest record of strikes they have known in the last fifteen years, and under whom his union did more damage to the economy of Victoria and Australia than any other union has done during the last fifteen years. And so it goes all through.
In the face of black and white, Senator Grant suggests that Dr. Evatt’s cynicism Kas not helped the growth of communism in the trade union movement. Honorable senators opposite have the impertinence to suggest that the amendment should be withdrawn; and further, to suggest that you, Air. President, are partial if you do not insist that it should be withdrawn. But the evidence adduced does not back the case that has been
There is only one more thing that I want to say, and that is, that I believe that Senator McKenna ought to be ashamed of himself and is ashamed of himself for suggesting that there is some accord between you, Mr. President, and Senator Cole, whereby you treat Senator Cole partially in the hope of gaining in return his vote when you come to stand for re-election to the chair after the 1st July. A case was made in one breath with a knowledge that it was not true, and destroyed in the next breath by the statement that, months before, Senator Cole had declared publicly that he would not support a member of the Opposition, anyway. For one to argue a case like that in one breath, and destroy it in another, and to read a lecture, to this Senate on dignity and the proper conduct of affairs, is completely and utterly ludicrous.
Senator Grant interjecting.
– It is all very well for Senator Grant to keep barking in the corner. He is only carrying out like a loyal man the new policy of the Labour party in the unions - that if they can get sufficiently mixed up the Communist thread and the real Labour thread, and make enough noise in the process, the ordinary observer will be bamboozled, and will not be able to tell the warped from the woofs.
– I remind honorable senators that the motion before them is -
That this Senate has no confidence in the President.
I listened carefully to Senator Gorton, who has just resumed his seat, and I must say that I have never seen a worse example of professional jealousy. He was like a fifth-rate solicitor parading around the country trying to calumniate and back-bite and detract from one of his own profession, who happened to be the leader of another political party. It is on that very ground that we have felt it imperative to bring this motion before the Senate. I believe that for no longer can this chamber afford to defy Standing Order 418. The points of order that have been taken, which are the foundations of this no-confidence motion, have regard to Standing Order 4 IS, which provides -
Vo Senator shall use offensive wOrds against either House of the 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 ail imputations of improper motives and all personal reflections on Members shall br considered highly disorderly.
I do not suppose that, in the history of any British parliament, any one man has been subjected to so many snivelling, unjust and untrue attacks as has Dr. Evatt, the Leader of the Australian Labour party, during the last five years.
– Does not the honorable senator believe that he has brought it on himself?
– Senator Gorton devoted the whole of his speech to a bitter hate campaign against a man whom I respect very highly. I admire his great intellect.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the President?
– No. I am referring to the Leader of the Australian Labour party, Dr. Evatt. The time has arrived for us to put a stop to the continual transgression of Standing Order 4J 8 because, by the effluxion of time, all of us will eventually pass through this chamber and on to our reward, whether good or bad. This particular phase of the proceedings of this Parliament will do it no credit. I do not think there has ever been a period in the history of this Parliament, or in the history in the Mother of Parliaments, when one man has been for so long subjected to continual, bitter, unjustified and unsubstantiated attacks of a nebulous nature. After all, this whole business of the alleged association of Dr. Evatt with Communists, its flavour, the importance that is placed upon it, and the attempt to tie up the Labour party with the Communists is done so subtly that it is difficult to combat. If we could see things in black and white we could deal with them, but the practice has been to use undermining tactics. *[Quorum formed. * The situation has been reached in whim we have been forced to move this motion in order to show you, sir, that we on this side of the chamber believe that you should exercise firmer control of the conduct of this chamber. AVe know that you have the ability to do so, and we suggest it is your responsibility at all times to be unbiased and impartial in carrying out. the duties of your exalted position.
One of the main points put forward by previous speakers has concerned your attitude towards Senator Cole. I honestly feel that it will help you if you can see this matter from my point of view. It is significant that in another place before the last general elections there was a period of bitterness unparalleled in the history of this Parliament for recrimination, sectarianism and the imputation of motives. While that influence remained in another place the business of the Parliament seemed to drift with the result there was continual disagreement and bitterness. By the grace of the electors that influence was removed. Business in another place is now carried on with the ordinary parry and thrust of political debate. There is the usual hard-fighting and the clash of opinions that result in compromise, which is the essence of democracy.
The disease which previously existed in the other chamber has now broken out in the Senate. It is an intolerable disease, and one of the points that have been brought forward as the result of thi? motion is that your actions, either b) accident or design, have enabled this particular influence to become established iii this Senate. I believe that had you taken what I consider to be the right action, you would have stamped out this influence like a cigarette butt. The position is thai a certain senator, who had been elected as a member of the Australian Labour party - and we heard reference mad, earlier this evening to the type of thing? he said in order to be elected - announced himself as a representative in this chamber of that excrescence on the body politic in another place. That was quite all right; he was a worthy representative here of that excrescence. Then, the matter was raided in another place about his recognition a-5 a leader with the status and privileges of a leader of a party in this chamber. It has always been recognized that, the Leader of Her Majesty’s Government should be given a status and afforded facilities of which he is worthy. The same thing applies to the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition.
Now, the argument has been put up in a snivelling way that this particular senator should have ‘ all the rights and privileges of a leader ; and Senator Henty challenges the right of the Leader of the Opposition to have similar facilities. By way of an aside, I should like to say that the Parliament and the country are fortunate to have a man of the calibre, magnitude of mind and capacity of thought of Senator McKenna to apply himself full-time to his duties as Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, and, I might say, at the expense of his health on many occasions. “We have indeed an excellent man in the person of Senator McKenna. Now, the argument is pui forward that another senator who announced himself as the representative of another party should be given the facilities of a leader. When his position was challenged in another place and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was asked why this nian was given the status of a leader and the privileges associated therewith, the excuse that was made was that the President of the Senate had recognized him as a leader. The question had never arisen in the Senate. This matter has been debated already, but it is a matter on which we are joining issue. It was subsequently that this particular senator announced that he was the leader of a party.
The position as 1 see it is that this influence has been encouraged. It was eradicated from another place; yet, we now see it taking root in this chamber with the help of decisions made by you, Mr. President. We believe those decisions have not been in the best interests of the conduct of the Senate. Whether we like it or not, the status and dignity of the Senate will diminish as long as that influence is encouraged and sponsored.
Last, Thursday morning I took some part in another occurrence that has been mentioned during this debate. That was the use of certain words by an honorable senator. I suggest that if you, Mr. President, had been asked in accordance with the Standing Orders to direct the Clerk of the Senate to write down verbatim the words used by Senator Wright, the whole matter would have been in black and white before the Senate, and Senator Wright could have explained his words or could have been asked to withdraw them. Thus the whole matter could have been cleared up, and we should have been able to decide whether words to the effect that an honorable senator’s mind was in the gutter was an accents bie phrase for use in this Senate. However, yon, in your wisdom, decided otherwise, and that is one of the reasons why the Opposition has to-day launched a no-confidence motion against you.
In the second matter Senator Wright w,is again the impish mischief-maker who introduced further trouble into the Senate. To-day Senator Spicer had something to say about conspiracy. “Conspiracy” is another word which has recently been given a lot of publicity, and it is quite marvellous what, some people can do with words. Indeed, it is wonderful what has been done with the word conspiracy. Senator Wright himself proved that conspiracy did take place when he was the Government Whip. Another honorable senator, a great soldier and a very highly respected gentleman who is now on the back benches, must also remember another conspiracy. Therefore, I suggest that it is not correct to say that Opposition senators are the only ones concerned with conspiracy. Indeed, there are conspiracies going on all the time. 1 remember when a most gracious lady, Senator Annabelle Rankin, held an honoured position in this chamber. A certain amount of conspiracy went on then, in which a little fellow from down south was concerned. To the great advantage of this Senate, this gracious lady was again placed in the position that she had previously held.
I believe that this impish SenatorWright - if it is not unparliamentary so to call him - does not come into the category of fifth-rate solicitors -that J referred to earlier. He is a man with a high level of intelligence, in fact his intelligence is on a level similar to that of Senator McKenna, Dr. Evatt, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). But intelligence is on a level simmilar to such a great, active mind is now feeding this cancerous disease that has come to the Senate. As long as Senator Wright, has an opportunity to stir up trouble and to agitate and inflame honorable sentaors, he will do so. That is, provided he is allowed to do so by you, Mr. President. I therefore believe that it was wrong for you not to insist upon the withdrawal of the words that he used.
In your actions on that occasion, you placed a mark upon the previously clean record of your impartiality and general conduct as the President of the Senate, Moreover, that occasion has commenced an era of bitterness which is new to this Senate. If an honorable senator takes exception to words spoken by another honorable senator and asks for a withdrawal, then, for the maintenance of the dignity of this chamber, the words should be withdrawn. After all, we must maintain a certain level of good conduct, because it is in the best interest” of the Senate and of the country. I hope that the courtesy that has existed here in the past will continue into the future, and will not stop short because of this occurrence.
Another matter that I should like to mention is one of continuing irritation to the Opposition. After an honorable senator has sat on this side and has then violated many of the principles that we hold dear, he should no longer be considered one of us. To consider him one of us is a continuing irritation and insult to us. He should be in the corner like one of his school kids, or sitting on the Government side of the chamber. He himself admitted that he was the least intelligent man in the Senate, and I never heard so much honesty from any one.
– The honorable senator should be careful, because I will not be carrying him on my back any more.
– Senator Cole was once asked by Senator Marriott whether he was trying to be smart, and he replied “ No, I arn not. I am the most unintelligent man in this chamber “ - and that statement is reported in Hansard.
– Senator O’Byrne could not have been present on that occasion.
McKenna has stated that we must also maintain some measure of balance in calling upon honorable senators from either side to speak in debates. 1 believe that every honorable senator of the Opposition - and there are 2S of us - resents the fact that Senator Cole is classified as one of us. Why does not Senator Cole move over to his friends?
– You are just a Communist adjunct of the Labour party.
– It does not hurt me to be called those names, but I do not like my friends to be insulted. You can call me what you like, but T always defend my friends, and that is more than you will do. You will stab your friends in the back. When you speak of bringing me into the Senate on your back, I remind you that I was in this chamber long before you intrigued to get into the Parliament. You were never a member of the Australian Labour party until you got into the Senate, and were worked in for certain purposes. Now you are showing your true colours.
– Would you like me to give the true story of how you came to be elected to the Senate? You joined up with Senator Morrow.
– We on the Opposition side must insist that the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate should receive every courtesy. He has cited several cases to-day.
– Why does not the honorable senator ask the Leader of the Opposition to say that himself?
– He has said it. He cited a particular case when he asked for the President’s call, as he wished to submit a recission motion.
– The Opposition has had more courtesy from this side of the House than we, on the Government side, have ever received.
– We must see that every courtesy is observed in the future. For that reason, and for others that have been stated in this debate, the Opposition has submitted the motion that is under discussion. It expresses lack of confidence in you, Mr. President. Often, much good can come out of an open debate. J hope that you, sir, will realize that the matters I have mentioned can only be of disadvantage to the Senate. They will engender bitterness. The episode last Thursday started with a statement by Senator Cole. Mr. J. V. Stout, the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council, had announced a resolution of the council on immigration. Senator Cole asked whether that was the attitude of the Evatt Labour party to immigration. He said -
I would say that Stout’s racial policy is indistinguishable from the Hitler superman creed that led to pogroms and annihilation.
Senator Cole did not mind guarding prisoners of war dunnar World War TI. Where did you spend the war. daddy? The answer is: Guarding the prisoners.
– What about yourself?
– Senator Cole alSO said, when referring to Mr. Stout and his so-called “ racial policy “ - lt is completely opposed to the Christian concept of human dignity.
That, is a dreadful thing to say about <i man. The President of the Senate did not draw attention to it. You, sir, should prevent such statements being recorded, and should stop the perpetuation of such bitterness. It was a dreadful statement to make about any decent man.
– Why did not the honorable senator object at the time?
- Senator Cole asked whether that was the Evatt Labour party’s policy. He said -
Stout’s attacks closely follow what has been i.he Communist policy for quite a long time. t direct the attention of honorable senators to the sentiments that are being fostered in this chamber by Senator Cole. Fortunately, they were eradicated from the House of Representatives, and you are aware of the situation, Mr. President. That spirit has been evident in this Senate for the past six months, and since your return from overseas. After the :tOth June, the Government will not have a majority in this chamber. Senator Cole is said to have stated that he will vote for the Government although he ~.its on this side of the House. This situation has introduced a new note of bitterness into the Senate, and it is deplorable. The pattern that has been followed has lowered the dignity of this House. 1 hope that you, Mr. President, will take measures to rectify the situation. For that reason T support the motion before the Senate.
– T noted with interest a statement by Senator O’Byrne that he was wrestling with a disease which had become evident in the Senate. That was obvious to us all. but he did little to justify the motionnf the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). That is an impish motion and, indeed, is probably the most impudent proposal that has ever been put before the Senate. It is to the effect that the Senate has no confidence in its President. When I recall that this motion comes after your occupancy of the office of President of some two or three years, and when I recall the international and interstate work that you have done, as well as your efforts to ennoble the office you occupy, I. am ashamed, indeed, that anybody with any sense of responsibility could give supporto such a contemptible motion.
Not only did Senator McKenna abuse his role in this House when he sub-, mitred his motion; in speaking to it he did not face the occupant of the chair, but stood with his back to you, Mr. President, all the time. That is an insult to the occupant of the office of President. In addition, he did his best to tarnish the office itself. That is typical of his achievements in this chamber because, while he has occupied his office, he has displayed to us a degree of prostitution of the parliamentary vote unexampled and unsurpassed elsewhere in British parliamentary history.
Let me recall to the Senate that when the issue of communism and its legality in Australia was directly at stake, and we had before the Parliament of the Commonwealth a bill to invalidate the Communist party, Senator McKenna came into this chamber and spoke 0U of his own conviction. He echoed the sentiments of Dr. Evatt and then, together, they combined to defend the Communist party.
– And the majority of the people voted with them.
– After their challenge was accepted and the statutory interval had gone by, the bill was re-introduced. When its rejection would have carried a significance involving the personal political skin of Senator McKenna himself, he chose to accept the direction of the executive of the Australian Labour party - a junta of twelve - which directed him to reverse his parliamentary vote. If that does credit to a member of Parliament, I am sadly lacking in my knowledge of these matters.
Senator McKenna has suggested now that you have been wanting in impartiality, Mr. President. Upon what does he base his charge I He has said, in the first place, that you refrained from informing the Senate that Senator Dole was the leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party in this chamber. Indeed, it shows how the oil lamps have burnt over a seemingly technical presentation of what is a shabby motion, a contemptible motion dressed up in a garb which, to the undiscerning, would make it appear to wear a veneer of logic. The whole tiling is answered by the simple reflection that if one turns to the fly-leaf of Ilansard for the first sitting of this session, one sees that Senator Cole is recorded in the Official Hansard of the Senate as the Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party. That shows the degree to which even the ordinarily placid Leader of the Opposition can be rattled. When he finds Senator Kennelly, his pseudo-deputy, that rising figure, edging in behind him, he shoots out to take the lead even on a shabby motion such as this and loses all idea of the basis of fact on which his arguments should be built, because the fly-leaf of Hansard completely falsifies the first claim he put before us. Then, be had the audacity to suggest that because, during the debate on the Broadcasting and Television Bill you, Mr. I ‘resident, exchanged the call from our side of the House to the Opposition, and included in the Opposition’s calls the call of Senator Cole, you did it with the design that over the air should go a succession of five speeches in favour of the bill. But the candour of the Leader of the Opposition was not equal to admitting to those whom he addressed in that vein that, in substance and in truth, Senator Cole, when he rose to speak, in effect opposed the Broadcasting and Television Bill. Of course, that matters nothing to the Leader of the Opposition so long us it might seem to indicate the purpose that actuates the President in giving the call.
Then, T take considerable pleasure, not too impish I hope, in finding that all the trouble that has arisen about this matter comes from a few innocent remarks which tumbled from my lips when I said that it been the constant endeavour of the leader of the Labour party, Dr. Evatt, to allow opportunities for the growth of communism in the trade union movement to develop. I should think that was a truism that would pass any decently seasoned politician. The Labour party has had to carry that incubus on its back for the last six or seven years. The people outside have shown at the last two general elections how they share the conviction that Dr. Evatt’s association with communism disqualifies him from their confidence. Yet, when I make those few innocent remarks in this chamber, all this hubbub arises and, because the President allowed that as a parliamentary statement, partisanship is imputed, to him.
Senator Benn interjecting.
– When Senator Benn’s burble subsides, may I be permitted to say that Senator Kennelly, who is now absent from the chamber, gratuitously - surely it must have been maliciously - suggested that those words were all right, but that I, this ogre from Tasmania, has been altering the transcript. Did ever one hear of a lower depth of ill-founded insinuation? That was the best Senator Kennelly could do in supporting this motion proposed by the Leader of the Opposition.
I took the course of requesting, through the courtesy of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, that the originals and all copies of the transcript of my speech be produced. That officer has been most helpful in acceding to that request, and those documents are on the table for inspection by any honorable senator. They show, of course, what is the fact. Anybody with a knowledge of the integrity of the Hansard staff, anybody without an ill-founded malicious motive for tarnishing me as well as you, Mr. President, will find that there is not a syllable or letter of alteration in the typescript of those words. If they want anything further before they rise in their places and apologize with the slightest remnant of manhood left in them, the shorthand notes are in existence; and I have the assurance of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter that those shorthand notes correspond exactly with the printed record. And Senator Kennelly stoops to that as a final refuge, to clutch a handful of dirt to defend this motion ! I. trust that the satisfaction of the Senate will grow because, when the debate on this motion began, the Leader of the Opposition expressed the hope that the Government would see the motion through to-day and allow ample opportunity for its debate. I have noticed how, during the last speech made in support of the Leader of the Opposition - the unavailing effort of Senator O’Byrne - there was an audience of not more than five on his side of the chamber. Honorable senators can see the vacancies in the seats opposite now. We can see how confident the Leader of the Opposition feels, how ennobled he feels to think that he is the author - no, I am wrong - that he is the echo of this motion which discredits the Senate and discredits the senator whom, in the words of Lord Thurlow, “ I now look down upon “.
.- Would it be quite all right if. while I speak, I do not abuse anybody and do the unusual thing of conforming to the Standing Orders? This has been a most unusual debate, lt would seem that we have completely suspended Standing Orders right throughout the debate; and I do not think this has added to the dignity of the Senate or of the debate. I propose speaking in accordance with the rule laid down in Standing Order 419 which provides that every honorable senator shall speak relevantly to the question before the Chair. I rise in the hope - perhaps it is a vain one - that we might be able to recognize the problem that has been worrying me for some time. I refer to the way in which the Standing Orders have been administered. If we can draw some clarification for the future, even from some of the disgraceful speeches we have heard today, my hope may not yet be completely in vain.
When the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) was speaking this morning, he freely admitted that he rapidly got to his feet during the day in question last week. I think every honorable senator will agree that it is most unusual to see the Minister moving quickly. During the whole of the time I have known him, he has been, about the slowest man I have ever met. What intrigued me was that, after a few minutes, he said there was no need to move quickly because, under Standing Order 65, he had the right of call, being a Minister. I wish that someone who occupies the chair, whether it be you, Mr. President, or your deputy, would clarify that point for the sake of the Senate, because I believe that there has been a misuse of Standing Order 65. It reads -
Any motion connected with the conduct ot the Business of the Senate may be moved by a Minister of the Crown at any time without Notice.
To me that seems, to a degree, to be incompatible with Standing Order 405, which lays down -
When two or more Senators rise together to speak, the President shall call upon the Senator who, in his opinion, first rose in his place.
That, of course, allows a degree of latitude to the President, because it says “ in his opinion “. The other night, when discussing a point of order, I suggested that, because this Parliament had been going a long time, I did not “ kid “ myself that that was the first time that such a point had arisen, and you are not the first President who has had to decide it. During the debate dealing with this Standing Order, when it first came before this place, the President of the day gave his views upon it. Subsequent presidents have added to the knowledge that is at the disposal of honorable senators if we care to use it. When Standing Order 405 was first included in our Standing Orders, the president, of the day, Mr. President Baker, had this to say, when he was quoting the rule -
The President shall call upon the Senator who, in his opinion first rose in his place.
I presume this means in the bona fide opinion of the President, that he iR not to pretend to believe that which he knows to be untrue, and, consequently, that if two or more members rise, the President is bound to call upon the member who, in his iona fide opinion, first rose; . . .
I think that that clarifies a position which could be left a little bit clouded by the Standing Orders. It places the responsibility of complete honesty upon whoever happens to be acting as chairman of the particular debate. Later,
Mr. President Givens, in 1917, pointed out that this to some extent, had been amended. He said -
The practice is to give priority to the Leader of the Senate when lie rises, and next to him to give priority to the Leader of the Opposition; . . .
I quote that because this is the very question which triggered this whole matter some time ago. As a matter of fact, Mr. President, you followed the same procedure about eighteen months or two years ago, and I “was perturbed about it at the time. I believe that it is a very fair rule which provides for the calling of one Senator from one side and one from the other. By that procedure the clash of debate is developed, and there is an evenness of discussion as the debate proceeds. This is lost when you suddenly drop Standing Order 405, and swing over to give two Ministers the call, as happened when I rose on a point of order. Senator Reid claimed that he was justified under Standing Order 65.
But this is the part T want to have clarified : It is logical and reasonable to suggest that the only time a Minister should get the call in that way - that is, to interrupt the normal process of debate under Standing Order 405 - is to permit of the proper conduct of the business of the Senate. I appreciate that the rule must be there - for example, as in tha committee stage of a bill when several senators are particularly interested in a clause and are raising all sorts of problems, and the Minister halts the debate to answer the questions which have been asked up to that point. The Minister should always have the call in those circumstances, because he knows the best way to handle the subject, and give the most intelligent replies.
I can imagine that the Leader of the Government should be given priority in a case of national emergency, such as during a time of war or when special legislation is brought down by the Government for maintaining law and order in the country, but it is an abuse of the power suddenly to say, “ “We are going to gag the debate, and we claim privilege under that rule”. This it not the first time it has happened, and it may be that in doing this you have felt that you are interpreting the Standing Orders in a proper manner. I suggest that if you give it mature consideration, you would not make such a claim, and neither would any one of the Ministers. It is merely that the practice has grown up under this particular rule, and I believe it is a bad one.
Senator Spooner, who became more heated than I had ever seen him before, misinterpreted the position when he decided first to threaten to apply the gag, and then proceeded to do it. After all, if, as he alleges, second-reading speeches were being made at the committee stage, and honorable senators on this side were abusing the committee procedure, it was not for the Minister to make a decision; it was for the Chair to do so. I am a great believer in holding a debate to order, and in the past few weeks that has been successfully done in this chamber.
You will remember, Mr. President, that I drew a distinction between what Senator “Wright had said and the opinions that had been expressed on what is unparliamentary language. I suggested that Senator “Wright’s two utterances went far beyond what had been permitted by previous presidents. You will recall that I pointed out, also, that it had been the practice - and rulings had been given by previous presidents to this effect - that whenever a senator felt aggrieved, it was the job of the President to rule that the expression used was unparliamentary, and to ask for it to be withdrawn. I think that is a very wise practice, and it should be followed by anybody who may occupy the chair in future. “When wc force a motion in the Senate as to whether language is unparliamentary, the’ expression is added to the written list, or worse still, it is removed for all time from that list. “We have had examples of that, and now the hands of the Senate are tied because of the vote taken the other night.
However, I do not wish to traverse that ground again, but I should like some clarification of the reason for departing from Standing Order 405 and acting under Standing Order 65, merely for the application of the gag, which I believe is a misuse of the power. I believe that Standing Order 65 does not truly apply, because it applies to “ the conduct of the business of the Senate”. I believe you are drawing a long bow when you say that the phrase “ conduct of the business of the Senate “ allows the gag or “ guillotine “ to be applied, particularly at the desire of the Minister - and in this case by a Minister whose blood pressure was up. He misinterpreted the Standing Order and misapplied it, either deliberately or otherwise.
Senator WOOD (Queensland [10.20]. -To-day has been a most regrettable day in the history of the Senate, for two reasons.
– The honorable sena tor ought to be the last to say a thing like that.
– I rattled the bones et” the Labour party in Queensland-
– The honorable senator enjoys living in a coward’s castle.
– It is the privilege if this Parliament-
– Which the honorable senator abused.
– I did not abuse it. I shall have something more to say about that matter later, and I shall endeavour so leave Senator Ashley more enlightened concerning the rights of members of this Parliament. As I say, I rattled the bones of the Labour party in Queensland, and rightly so, too. There is a lot more I “ould say. However, as I said before, 1 make no apology for anything that I have said. This is a national forum in which people are supposed to be able to speak their minds.
This has been a regrettable day for two reasons. The first is that the motion now before the Senate has been moved. It is h very serious motion because it challenges the authority of the Chair and asks the Senate to say that you, Mr. President, have lost the confidence of this chamber. I cannot think of anything more serious that could happen here, because the President occupies the topmost position in the Senate. That being so. the occupant of the chair should be held in the highest regard by honorable senators generally. It is unfortunate that this motion, expressing lack of confidence in the President, should have come forward. It is the duty of the occupant of the chair to rule the chamber in a fair and impartial manner. We must recognize that, whilst we have rules for theconduct of debates in this chamber, it is always within the bounds of possibility for the President, being a human being, to make a decision with which we, quite honestly, may not see eye to eye. But he is the man who occupies- the position of President, and he is therefore given the right to adjudicate. Whether we agree or disagree with a decision, it is the President who gives the ruling. It is only in very extreme circumstances that such a motion as this should be brought before the Senate.
Despite what Senator Willesee and other honorable senators have said, I am not convinced that the matter referred to by them “ triggered off “, to adopt Senator Willesee’s expression, the moving of this motion. I believe that what happened in the early hours of Thursday morning last was really the crux of this motion. Those events were concerned with two matters, the first being a statement made by Senator Wright about Senator Hendrickson. Let us think this thing out calmly. A matter concerning immigration had been raised, and Senator Wright stated that he wanted to bring the subject of immigration back to a real national focus, which I think was a very proper statement. He said that he did not want it to be relegated to an insignificant gutter, the trend along which Senator Hendrickson ‘s mind was travelling. People jumped quickly to the conclusion that the suggestion, was that Senator Hendrickson’.? mind was down in the gutter. Very often we use expressions which other people construe wrongly. I believe that that statement of Senator Wright’s could well be taken to mean that Senator Hendrickson was in a rut. We often say that we get into a rut concerning this or that, and possibly Senator Wright’s statement could have meant, that. I do not believe that he meant bis words to bp derogatory.
– Then why did he not withdraw it. if he did not mean it?
– If he did not mean it, he had no occasion to withdraw it. 1 should say that it was a statement to which no very great offence could be taken. Therefore, when the matter was made an issue, the President ruled that there was no ground for offence and nothing to withdraw. That, I believe, set off the chain of events which has occupied this chamber for the whole of the day.
The second matter which gave rise to this discussion concerned Dr. Evatt and his creation of opportunities for Com.munists to infiltrate the trade union movement. Once again, offence was taken by an honorable senator. Perhaps 1 should point out that, in respect of the first instance, objection was taken not by Senator Hendrickson himself bus by another senator. In relation to the Statement concerning Dr. Evatt, objection was taken by Senator Ashley, and again the President ruled on the matter. The President, in adjudicating on the question, had the right to ask, in his own mind, whether or not that statement was correct. I believe that sufficient evidence hai been given here to-night, together with the evidence that has been published and statements that have been made from time to time, in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, to justify any president in saying, “ No offence is given by that statement: it lias been published often. It has been stated freely. It is a public matter.” As many honorable senators Iia ve pointed out to-night, it is in the minds of lots of people that Dr. Evatt has been associated with Communists and has taken a stand that has enabled communism to develop in the unions. “We heard in the House of Representatives, during the previous Parliament, accusations being made against Senator Kennelly, in conjunction with Dr. Evatt, and statements to the effect that they had gone along to unions and asked for £13,000 to fight the anti-Communist bill. “We heard talk about that sum being only chicken feed. Therefore, the President would be justified, in my belief, in deciding in his mind that that statement concerning Dr. Evatt was factual and had been stated publicly time and again, so that it had become a public matter and could not be offensive.
For those reasons, I believe that when we are dealing with this matter we want to give it mature consideration and be fair to the President.
– “What about being fair to us, whom you brand as Communists every day of the week?
– I do not brand you as Communists. I know that there are men on the other side of the chamber who hate communism just as much as we hate it. Senator Hendrickson stated that the rats, the people who had left the Labour party, were on this side of the chamber, but I acknowledge quite freely that there are members of the Opposition who hate the Communists just as much as we do. I also say that on the opposite side of the chamber there are men who are not in sympathy with many of the things with which Dr. Evatt is in sympathy. We must approach this matter iv a fair-minded manner, because we are, by the terms of this motion, asked to judge the President of this, the senior House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth. In my opinion, it is to the discredit of the Opposition that this motion has been aimed at the President. In my six and a half years in this Parliament, this is the first time that I have seen such action taken. I do not, know of any previous occasion in the history of the Senate that a similar move has been made.
In considering the adjudication of thu President, let ms go back to former days. A former President, Senator T. Givens, who was President of the Senate for thirteen years, gave a ruling which, in my opinion, gives the present occupant of the chair the right to adjudicate as he. did recently. The late Senator Givens said -
It is entirely in the discretion of the President to demand the withdrawal of dig orderly expressions.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– If Senator Givens’s ruling was correct on that occasion, then it was completely within the rights of the present occupant of the chair to give the decision that he gave. I think that we should rest our minds in the belief that the President is a man of honour, integrity and honesty, and that his decisions were in the best interests of this chamber. Let us go further. A former President of the Senate, Senator Gordon Brown, ruled-
– For eight years.
– Yes, he presided over this chamber for eight years. That is an accomplishment of which any man might be proud. On one occasion, he ruled -
When a Senator makes a charge against another Senator, and a withdrawal is sought, it is the duty of the President, and within his power, to decide whether or not the words complained of are offensive and should be withdrawn.
– That is right.
– That does not preclude a senator from moving dissent from, a ruling of the President.
– On another occasion. Senator Brown ruled -
Offensive words against any member of the Senate are not in order; the Chair decides whether words objected to should be withdrawn.
T believe that those rulings go to the crux of the matter, and that the President acted within his rights in deciding whether or not the remarks complained of were disorderly.
– But the Senate may move dissent from the President’s ruling.
– I agree with Senator Brown, but the point is that former presidents have ruled that it is the prerogative of the President to decide whether or not a remark is disorderly. In this instance, the Senate stood behind the Pre sident’s rulings.
– They were both wrong.
– The previous rulings that T have mentioned support what the present occupant of the chair did in the early hours of Thursday morning last. I do not think that this debate has added to the dignity of the Senate, and I was very sorry to see Senator McKenna lose the high esteem in which he has been held in this chamber for his gentlemanly conduct, by suggesting that the President ruled as he did in order to curry favour with Senator Cole when seeking re-election, as President after the 30th June.
– We remember what the honorable senator said about Mr.. Foley, in Queensland.
– Throughout the State of Queensland, the people know whether my words were right or wrong. I am prepared to stand by them. However, that is beside the point. I believethat it was wrong of Senator McKenna to make that statement. That is the second very regrettable feature of this debate.
I believe, Mr. President, that you. correctly adjudicated on the incidents that occurred in this chamber in the early hours of last Thursday, and I therefore strongly oppose Senator McKenna’s motion which, I am convinced, was not of his own making, but was inspired to a very great extent by his deputy leader,. Senator Kennelly, who adopted a mo3t truculent attitude when moving dissent from your ruling. He stepped forward to the table and, in his usual manner,, tried to impress honorable senators on this side with the fact that if they did not do certain things, he would do certain other things. I remind the Senate that I have had a lot of experience chairingdebates, apart from those held in thischamber, and I assure honorable senatorsopposite that there are men on this side who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe to be right.
– The honorablesenator himself did not do that.
– Senator Ashley’s interjection does not call for any replyapart from my saying- that I do not get newspaper men in Sydney to write my speeches for me. We on this side of t hechamber are prepared to stand by what we believe to be right.
– Does the honorablesenator think that Senator Wright’s statement was parliamentary when he spoke* about the mind of an honorable senator on this side being down in the gutter?
– I believe that the President’s rulings were correct and, therefore, I object strongly to Senator McKenna’s motion. I support the amendment, which endorses the actions of the President.
– in reply - Having listened to the whole of this debate, 1 say at once that I have nothing to subtract from what I said this afternoon, and very little to add to it. When I launched this motion to-day, I realized that it would be met with digressions, distortions, abuse, and that kind of thing. I have not been disappointed. I say to you, Mr. President, that I am surprised that, although your position in the chair to-day has been a difficult one, you have abdicated your authority upon this occasion by permitting honorable senators to say anything they liked. I put it to you, sir, that that is one additional count that would weaken the confidence of members of this Senate in you. There were occasions in the Senate to-day when certain honorable senators were screaming at each other, and it was impossible for me to hear what the main speaker was saying.
– I heard everything that Senator Hendrickson said.
– The difficult -situation that has confronted you, Mr. President, is one which, from time to time, the occupant of the chair must be prepared to face. It did not justify your abdicating your authority as you did to-day. That is the one major point that I wish to add to what I said when stating my case this afternoon.
I now want to reply to some of the statements that have been made. I say at once that I directed this motion at you, Mr. President, or perhaps I should say, at your actions. The motion was not directed, as some supporters of the Government seem to think, at Senator Cole. I say at once that, so far as I am concerned, he is the merest incident. This motion was not directed at him. I inform the Senate that, with what I believe to be the unanimous approval of honorable senators on this side, it was launched after consideration and discussion. In fact, I was pressed to go on with it on the last day of sitting, while I was. at the table waiting for the Senate proceedings to begin. Therefore, the suggestions that have been made to the contrary are utterly without foundation.
Let me say a word about Senator’ Gorton. He completely misrepresented the position when he said that Senator Cole had declared many months ago that he would not support the nomination of an Opposition senator for the presidency. The truth is that that was never said by Senator Cole although his position in this chamber was brought into the light by a motion that was moved from this side. Senator Gorton also said that Senator Cole had announced his leadership of the Anti-Communist Labour party in October last. What he announced was, that he was the representative in this chamber of a party that he named. He made no claim to leadership. Still less when the new Parliament assembled did he make any claim at all. When the Leader of the Government in the Senate announced the Government team and when I announced the office-bearers of the Opposition, then was the time for Senator Cole, if he had a claim, to make an announcement regarding it, instead of presenting it to the President behind the back of the Senate. If it was done in that way it was your duty, Mr. President, to acquaint this chamber that you had accorded such recognition to Senator Cole. Then, we would have known what consequences flowed from that recognition and how the whole matter originated. When the fact became known, that was the first thing that began to cause senators on this side of the House to question your judgment and your actions.
That was followed by what happened during the debate on the Pishing Industry Bill. Three Ministers entered into the discussion of that matter during the day, the Minister for the Navy (Senator O’Sullivan), the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer). The Minister for National Development sought to justify it against the background of what happened in the Senate on that occasion. His was what I would term the emotional appeal. Honorable senators will recall that he waved his arms and raised his voice during the course of his utterance. He is perfectly entitled to do that, but it is usually an indication, with the honorable senator, that he is on weak ground. In this case he professed to be very indignant at the actions of the Opposition on that occasion. As he confessed himself, there was no trouble at all during the second-reading debate and then at the committee stage, far from the Minister being angry and upset, he was the leader of the mirth. [ just remind him of that. Senator Benn had developed the theme that there was a waste of potential fish in that fish eggs were used for caviare. I am informed that Senator Benn was quite serious. The Attorney-General had been talking about it for some days and was quite disturbed about it. Perhaps, with justification, the Minister for National Development thought that Senator Benn was being completely facetious. He picked the matter up in that spirit, and I recall very well that he said, “ And what happens if an egg loses its potential ? “ That brought mirth not only from the Senate generally, but also from me., because I remember that one of my rare interjections was, “ You get another egg”. I mention those matters, because although they are minor, they do indicate, the real atmosphere in which the Minister, notwithstanding all the imagined wrath and sense of injury he displayed earlier to-day, “gagged” this debate. As a matter of fact, he led the mirth. Then he pretends, to-day, with an air of great virtue, that he was being given the “ run-around “.
– “Was not that so?
– I deal with the honorable senator’s remarks on that basis.
– Try and deal with it truthfully.
– I shall now deal with the Attorney-General’s contribution. To my surprise, Standing Order 65 was relied upon by him as a justification for you, Mr. President, giving the call to two Ministers in succession on twooccasions towards the close of the debate. Standing Order 65 reads -
Any motion connected with the conduct of” the Business of the Senate may be moved by a. Minister of the Crown at any time without notice.
The Attorney-General asks the Senate tointerpret that as meaning that at anytime a Minister may do such a thing; but there are several qualifications to thatstanding order. In the first place, that rule must be considered in conjunction with Standing Order 422 which provide-that for such purpose a Minister may not interrupt an honorable senator who is speaking. Secondly, it is subject toStanding Order 405, which reads -
When two or more Senators rise together tospeak, the President shall call upon the Senator who, in his opinion first rose in his place.
Thirdly, and above all, it is subject to theimportant practice, hardened into a rule, that the President will look alternately from side to side. Standing Order 65- is not simply an affirmative proposition to apply under all conditions. The fault we have charged against you, Mr. Presi dent, is that twice in succession, with complete knowledge of what was afoot, you not only did not look left and right, but you heard a voice from the left audi gave the call twice in succession to Ministers, who, with your full knowledge of what was afoot, could only have intended1 to close the debate. The whole weight of the complaint of the Opposition is thaT you, as the referee, knew that the Leader of the Opposition was particularly anxious to get into that debate. You knew perfectly well he had two opportunities, one was on the motion for theadoption of the report and the other o» the third reading of the bill. Anybody who was present in the chamber on thatoccasion does not need to have any argument addressed to him as to what happened to know that you participated with cbe Ministers in that closure. The speed and the whole concert with which the Ministers and you acted cannot be recreated now, but was completely evident at the time without a word being spoken, to anybody in the chamber. Anybody who was present needed no convincing of your determination to keep the Opposition out of that debate. There is no doubt in the minds of members of the Opposition at all.
The other incident is connected with Senator Cole and his preferment on the air to Senator Kennelly, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. 1 think that on reflection, Mr. President, you will agree that while Senator Cole forms one-sixtieth part of this chamber and one-one-hundred-and-eighty-third part of the whole Parliament, he is entitled to a hearing; but you will hardly agree that he should be placed in the same position as the leader of one of three equal parties in this chamber. That is the basis upon which you, in effect, treated him. There are not three equal parties in this chamber. We operate mainly under the twoparty system and I suggest that whilst you are entitled to place Senator Cole somewhere in the order of debate, I put it no higher than that he must come definitely behind the officers of the Opposition. He is not ahead of the Leader of the Opposition - and you have not offended there - but he is certainly not ahead of any officer of the Opposition and certainly, not ahead of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I hope you, sir, will recognize the force of that proposition because the Opposition will not accept the fact that Senator Cole is preferred at a preferred time to the officers of the Opposition of which there are 28 members in this chamber whereas Senator Cole is the sole representative of his party.
I refer again to what happened early on Thursday morning. I think everybody deplores the state to which the Senate was reduced on that occasion. The Opposition felt that it must take a stand and must make a protest if all the bitterness, slander and scandal that was unleashed in the House of Representatives last year was allowed free rein here. We feel that unquestionably it was given free rein last Thursday, because the attack was launched by Senator Cole; and we would be hypocrites if, feeling and believing that, we did not have the courage to stand up in this chamber and say it. We have said it. It has not been a pleasant task to undertake. Nobody on this side has relished the task or his participation in it. Whatever the outcome of the vote, I have the feeling that what has happened, on a long-term view, will be all for the good of the dignity of this Senate and the preservation of the dignity of the Chair. I do not desire to labour the matter further to-night. At this stage of the debate, I am grateful to honorable senators for the hearing they have given me on this matter that proved very noisy and troublesome throughout the day.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be leftout (Senator O’Sullivan’s amendment) be left out.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. A. M. McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator O’Sullivan’s amendment) be so inserted.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon.
A. M. McMullin.) Ayes .. .. ..27
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 May 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1956/19560529_senate_22_s8/>.