10 March 1971

27th Parliament · 2nd Session

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Ministerial Statement

Minister for Supply · New South Wales · LP

Mr President, as honourable senators will know, there has been a change in the leadership of the Parliamentary Liberal Party since the Senate sat yesterday. In the light of this change, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), will be in touch with His Excellency the Governor-General to tender his resignation as Prime Minister and to offer him certain advice as to whom he should give the commission to form a new government. In the meantime, I suggest that the Senate should adjourn until next Monday.

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Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Monday next, 15th March 1971, at 3 p.m.

Senator MURPHY:
New South WalesLeader of the Opposition

– The Opposition will not oppose this motion because it is obvious that certain constitutional changes will need time to take effect. But, on behalf of the Opposition, I would like to say that the policies of this Government have been against the interests of the Australian people and the Government has represented great interests whose policies are against the interests of the Australian people in general. Those policies will not be changed by a reshuffle of the members of the Government. The war in Vietnam will continue. The social injustice of this Government will continue. The endeavours to keep down the ordinary people of this country - the wage earners and others - will continue. We expect no significant change at all from a reshuffle of this Government.

Senator GAIR:
Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party · Queensland

– On behalf of the Australian Democratic Labor Party I would like to say that, being conscious of the constitutional neces sities and processes, we believe that the adjournment of the Senate until next Monday is imperative. We recognise that the new leader of the Liberal Party-

Senator Keeffe:

– What are you going to do with Fraser - give him his job back?

Senator GAIR:

– I certainly would not give the honourable senator a job of any importance because he could never carry it out. He could not run a message. When 1 was rudely interrupted, I was about to say that anyone with any parliamentary experience should know just what is involved with a change of leadership which involves a change of Prime Ministership, and just what the necessities are. I regret very much that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) found it necessary - I really sympathise with him in finding it necessary - to make a political propaganda speech on an occasion such as this. To say the least, Mr President, it shows very bad taste. It shows that the Leader of the Opposition enjoys very few occasions on which to make a speech regarding the defects in the Government’s policies. However, the people can be sure of this: So long as the Democratic Labor Party is represented here - and we are here to stay - any defects in the policies of the government, irrespective of what political party it represents, will be attacked by the Democratic Labor Party which is the watchdog of the people’s interest and the national interest. The people always will have some consolation in the fact that, whatever the deficiencies in the Government, the danger of the alternative government is much greater for Australia and the Australian people.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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Political Parties

Motion (by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) proposed:

That the Senate do now adjourn.

South Australia

– I wish to speak on this occasion only as a result of what Senator Gair said. I do not think we can let his remarks go unchallenged. It was agreed by the Labor Party Opposition that we would not prolong the sittings of the Senate. We recognise the constitutional necessity for a rearrangement of Ministerial positions. I think the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) quite definitely stated our attitude when he said that these events involve a change in personnel and not a political change. He said that the present representation on behalf of the people of Australia will of necessity have to continue in the immediate future and that it is immaterial who holds the portfolios. His statement was a broad statement of our attitude to the change of leadership. Then the leader of a minority group rose and made an accusation.

Senator McManus:

– You are a minority group also.


– The leader of a minute minority group, which is represented here as a result of trading upon the preferences of a bigger minority group or a Government group - that is why it exists in this Parliament - made an accusation and indulged in political propaganda against the Leader of the Labor Party. Then he stated that by its policies and performance the Democratic Labor Party was acting as the watchdog of the people. There are 5 members of the Senate who would say ‘hear, hear’ to such a suggestion and all of them are from that one Party. They cannot be accepted as the watchdogs of the people because they have been very loyal in their vote for the Government’s policy, which has been condemned by the Leader of the Labor Party. The Australian Democratic Labor Party has been loyal to the policies of the Leader of the Liberal Party. That Party has found it necessary to dispose of that Leader today. Therefore, the Australian Democratic Labor Party has no support in this chamber at all.

The Liberal Party has seen fit to make a change within its own organisation. I do not want to comment on that change. Our opposition is directed at policies, not at personalities. That situation always will exist. We have always accepted the fact that from time to time the Democratic Labor Party by its vote has saved the Government from defeat. We have always failed to find a distinction between the Democratic Labor Party and the Liberal Party. Therefore, if we are opposed to the policy of the Liberal Party, equally we must be opposed to the policy of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. We do acknowledge that possibly the Australian Democratic Labor Party represents the extreme right wing Liberal line of thought today. That is the only distinction that we make between the Parties.

What has occurred today in the Liberal Party is being developed by the Democratic Labor Party as an opportunity for it to enhance in its own opinion its prestige. But this prestige is not acceptable to the Australian community. The Australian Democratic Labor Party is unknown and unowned in the State that I represent. It is only because of the manipulation of preferences in other States, with the possible exception of 2 members of the Party, that we must tolerate the presence of representatives of the Australian Democratic Labor Party in the Senate today.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 3.12 p.m. till Monday, 15 March, at 3 p.m. -U -

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