In the aftermath of the Gair Affair, the Coalition opposition announced that they would block the passage of the Whitlam government’s appropriation bill in the Senate.
A half-Senate election had already been called for May 18 but on the evening of April 9 speculation centred on whether Whitlam would call a double dissolution election. He eventually announced a double dissolution on April 10.
In the House of Representatives on April 9, the Liberal Party’s Jim Killen jousted with the Minister for Administrative Affairs, Fred Daly, in the debate on the Appropriation Bill.
Earlier in the evening, the convenor of the Australia Party, Gordon Barton, appeared on the ABC’s This Day Tonight to discuss a High Court appeal against the method of election of the House of Representatives. Barton was attempting to overturn the unequal distribution of electorates in the House of Representatives. The Whitlam government’s legislation to introduce one-vote-one-value had been rejected by the Coalition in the Senate. The bills were ultimately passed at the Joint Sitting in August 1974.
- Listen to a portion of Daly’s speech – shown in bold below (5m)
- Listen to Gordon Barton on This Day Tonight (10m)
- Listen to the 10pm ABC radio news (3m)
Speech by Jim Killen (Liberal-Moreton) on the Appropriation Bill in the House of Representatives.
Mr KILLEN (Moreton) – I was fascinated by the Minister for Overseas Trade, the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns), when he said that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) of Australia had made friends in Asia and South East Asia. I detected a note of regret on the part of the honourable gentleman that the Prime Minister did not say that he had made friends in Lalor. But still, be that as it may, as I listened to the honourable gentleman I was reminded of the life of a very remarkable Australian, a clergyman by the name of Knight, He was an archdeacon. Indeed, he christened me and he used to delight in telling me a story.
Mr Garrick – I wish he had that chance again.
Mr KILLEN – I think he would do it twice. He used to delight in telling the story that as a young acolyte priest he prepared his first sermon, took it into his tutor and showed it to him. He said: ‘Sir, what do you think of this?’ The tutor read it through and said: Knight, this shows remarkable promise. Obviously you have a great vocation. The sympathy, the empathy, the style, the sense of conduct and of language that you have intruded into it all make it a glorious thing to read’. The young acolyte went to leave the tutor’s study. As he got to the door the tutor called him back and said: ‘Knight, may I make a suggestion to you?’ The acolyte said: ‘Oh, yes, Sir. What is it?’ The tutor said: ‘Knight, may I suggest to you that your sermon would be improved if you cut it in half, and it wouldn’t matter greatly which half you left out.’ I say that to the Minister for Overseas Trade; it would not mattei which half he left out.
I would not seek to combat in every detail the speech of the Minister for Overseas Trade, but I am reminded of another story – not a clerical one on this occasion but one which was told in one of the Parliaments of this country, the Queensland Parliament.
Mr SPEAKER – Order! Is this clean?
Mr KILLEN – Cleanliness has followed me all the days of my life. The speaker in that Parliament turned to the Government and said: What is this Government trying to do? I will tell you what this Government is trying to do. It has gathered up the reins of the ship of state and it is galloping pell mell towards the edge of the precipice’. That is exactly what this Government is trying to do. One of the chief pilots and captains in this business is the Minister for Overseas Trade, as is the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), who is now sitting at the table with an exulting smile on his face. I do not want to indulge needlessly in the polemics of the occasion.
Mr Sherry – It is a seductive smile.
Mr KILLEN – You would need to be desperate to be caught by it. There are very few certainties in this world. One of course is taxes and another is death. For myself, 1 find the greatest of difficulty in facing and accepting either of them with equanimity, at least cheerfully. Apparently there is a third one which, speaking in terms of general events, one may say looms in front of us, that is, the prospect of a double dissolution. I want to say something about that. For myself I would welcome a double dissolution – both Houses out to the people. There is no doubt about that. I hope that even the dumbest among us would understand that – both Houses out to the people to face our masters and to settle the dust of conflict once and for all. I would like the Minister for Services and Property and all my friends opposite to know that I welcome that. For my part, I say to them: We will meet at Philippi. I also give them this warning: Do not think for one moment that when that encounter takes place you will be confronted by a ghost. I assure the Minister for Services and Property and all who sit behind him that I will do my utmost, and with what impoverished means I have at my disposal, to ensure that after the election they sit on the Opposition side and we sit on the Government side. It would seem to me to be a very proper response.
Dr J F Cairns – A beautiful after dinner speech, Jim.
Mr KILLEN – When I look at the Minister, 1 conclude that it is no wonder that people spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. I want to say to the House and to the country that while in this House I challenge on the most proper of grounds the basis of this election – and I will do so in the electorate – I will have something to say about the circumstances under which it is brought. I say to the House that I believe that the Government, led by my friend the honourable member for Werriwa, is one of the most disastrous governments in Australia’s history.
Mr Birrell – To the Liberal Party.
Mr KILLEN – I did not expect you to receive this with exultation. This Government has encouraged in the country the view that there is no sense of discipline to be observed in any measure of things. And now in this Parliament, the national Parliament of the country, one cannot even get a cup of tea or a sandwich. The Government cannot run a refreshment room. What prospect has it to run a country?
Mr SPEAKER – Order! I have to be fair to my colleague, Senator Sir Magnus Cormack. He shares the difficulty that I have with regard to the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms.
Mr KILLEN – Obviously difficulty has a catholic selection. What has happened in the country is that industrial conditions are so desperately disturbed that apparently no obligation is cast upon people to observe any norm in any sort of operation. Whatever consequence this may have had, it has had the consequence of contributing enormously to inflation in this country. Let no person here or outside the Parliament sneer at inflation. It was all very fine for my friend the Treasurer (Mr Crean) to say as he sat in Opposition: “There is no duty cast on those in Opposition to do anything about inflation’. The fact is that inflation today in Australia is raging between 13 per cent and 16 per cent. This is making the rich richer and the poor poorer and it is undermining the whole stability and the whole fabric of this country. That is why I say to my friends opposite: ‘No matter how this election may be brought about, count upon one thing: Wherever I am given a platform in this country, I warn you, I will ensure that the people of Australia understand the sense of irresponsibility that controls you.’ Having said that, I hope by way of splendid neutrality, I turn to a matter that gives me considerable anxiety, which I do not disguise. I have had nearly 20 years in this place.
Mr Keogh – Too long.
Mr KILLEN – Yes, but threatened men live long. Whatever else, I have come to respect the authority of this House and I hope to take a quiet pride in its authority. Therefore, I want to turn to something that probably would cast me more in a sense of controversy with those on this side than those on the other side, not for the first time and, I would like to think, not for the last time.
Section 53 of our Constitution provides – with incipient old age gathering upon me, 1 have to put on my glasses to read it:
Except as provided in this section, the Senate shall have equal power with the House of Representatives in respect of all proposed laws.
That brings me to our present dilemma. Three exceptions are set out, and they all deal with the introduction and amendment of money laws and with taxation. They put in simple language, I suggest, the difference between this House and the Senate. I am accused of succumbing a little too willingly to the Westminster practice. That may well be. I just want to say this: Every cent that governments in this country spend originates by the authority of this House, and the fact that the Crown and the Senate approve of it merely passes it into law. Without the authority and the initiative of this House, not one cent is to be spent by any government. If one is to take section 53 of the Australian Constitution, one is drawn inexorably to one conclusion, namely, that technically speaking the Senate has a right to reject a Supply Bill, but the very moment that it accepts that right it infringes the Constitution because it is no longer exercising a power which is equal to that of this House; it is exercising a power which is superior to that of this House.
Let me put this to my friends – and it worries me greatly in terms of the present aggregation of problems but not in terms, I assure you, of eternity: Let me assume that my friend the Treasurer (Mr Crean) puts down a Supply Bill, we pass it here, and it goes to the House of Representatives.
Mr Birrell – The Senate.
Mr KILLEN – I am sorry. One is entitled to a minor aberration on occasions. It goes to the Senate and it is rejected by the Senate. What is the consequence that follows from that? It is not the Senate that goes to the people; it is the House of Representatives that goes to the people. A lot of confusion has intruded into our .present circumstance because double dissolution machinery is already ticking over, as I have described it, and, if the Senate rejects an Appropriation Bill or Supply, it is not that rejection that enables the Prime Minister of the country, whoever he may toe, to go to the GovernorGeneral and say ‘Your Excellency, I request a double dissolution’; it is the fact that the Senate has twice, pursuant to section 57 of the Constitution, rejected a Bill passed by this House.
Whatever blemishes of conduct we may have individually or corporately in this place, I want to make my position perfectly clear. I refuse to accept the proposition that the House of Representatives in the national Parliament of the country is inferior to the Senate. Is that clearly understood? I refuse to accept the proposition that the House of Representatives can, in particular circumstances, be sent packing to the country by the Senate. 1 may stand alone on this issue.
I may be wrong on this issue. I have not the slightest doubt that if I am wrong on this issue time, with its own immaculate determination to remember the error, will remind every person of it. If I should perchance be right on this issue, I would ask for nothing else than to be left in peace.
The last thing I want to say to this House – the House which has favoured me on occasions and frowned on me, I suspect more frequently than it has favoured me – is that, if the Senate sets this precendent, then we are cast into a circumstance that may call for an entirely new initiative in Australian politics. I have indicated – I suppose I was wrong to indicate it, but being as I am I have done so – that if the Senate does what is in prospect I will introduce a private member’s Bill which would seek to add to section 57 of the Constitution a provision which would read to this effect:
Where the Governor-General is required to dissolve the House of Representatives pursuant to the Senate rejecting a Supply or Appropriation Bill, the Governor-General shall simultaneously dissolve the Senate.
It seems to me to be a quite extraordinary proposition that the Senate, by dint of obduracy or wilfulness or sheer antagonism to the politics of this place, could say to the House of Representatives: ‘We reject Supply; out you go. We stay here virgo intacta’. The great authority of the Australian Parliament, I suggest, resides in this chamber. I refuse, no matter what the pressures may be, to succumb or to bow to them or before them. I have had exquisite pleasure in sitting in this chamber. The fact that I have sought to get some humour from the conflict is not meant to indicate that I do not dislike the philosophy or the policies of my opponents and I hope that the fact that I have risen here will not indicate to people that I have abandoned the essential philosophy of the Party to which I belong. We will meet at Philippi. Do not forget that, Mr Minister. I can assure you of one thing: You will not.
Speech by the Minister for Services and Property, Fred Daly (ALP-Grayndler) on the Appropriation Bill, to the House of Representatives.
Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property) – The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) is much more educated than I. I generally have to look up the following week the expressions that he has used to see whether he has insulted me or not. In due course I will investigate his last remark. But one thing for which we can admire the honourable member for Moreton is that he stands out like a beacon among honourable members opposite as one who has the courage of his convictions. Never have I heard described in a more eloquent way than tonight the brutality of numbers and the nakedness of ambition and lust for power by members of the Liberal Party, the Country Party and the Democratic Labor Party. I remind the honourable member that I like him so much that I do not mind if he insults me. I say to him that he stands in illustrous Liberal company because Sir Robert Menzies – the founder of the Liberal Party, the great white father and the highly respected former Prime Minister of this country who today writes articles in relation to constitutional reform – stands beside him in his attitude on this matter. It was Sir Robert Menzies who said:
It would be a falsification of democracy if, on any matter of Government policy approved by the House of Representatives, possibly by a large majority, the Senate, representing the States and not the people, could reverse the decision.
This, of course, would create an impossible situation and would make popular Government unworkable.
Tonight the honourable member stands in his company and, somewhat shabbily, his comrades have deserted him. For the sake of political gain they seek to destroy every vestige of democracy in this country and to throw out the popularly elected Government for sheer political power.
Mr Sinclair – We are seeking to preserve it. You did not get the message.
Mr DALY – I do not take any notice of the interjection by the bushranger from the Country Party who sits at the table. That is all they are – a collection of political bushrangers raping the nation in every possible way. This is the situation today: The Opposition has made continuous and deliberate attempts to obstruct the Government by blocking important legislation in the Senate. That is what the if ,e is about. The honourable member for Moreton and Sir Robert Menzies stand together at this stage. At this very moment the frightened men in the Senate who are seeking the numbers know that they are destroying democracy. Let us look at the reasons they give for this. The first is the Gair appointment. It does not matter when the appointment was made. We are told that it is the appointment itself to which the honourable members opposite – the Liberal Party, the Country Party, the Democratic Labor Party and the multiplicity of parties opposite – object. There has to be a double dissolution to give every parly in the Senate a chance to get on a ticket because there are so many of them.
Honourable members opposite criticise the practice of jobs for the boys. They say it is dirty and unprincipled that the Government should appoint the man whom they have held up in the country for years as the saviour of all that is good and decent. They say it is dirty and unprincipled politics. What a lot of rot! Since when have honourable members opposite who talk about dirty politics had clean hands? They have a murky and sordid past and present. Let us have a look at the situation. What about those who plotted the downfall of Mr Gorton as Prime Minister? The honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser), one of the prospective new Ministers, said of the former Prime Minister, Mr Gorton:
This man, because of his unreasoned drive to get his own way, his obstinacy, his impetuous and emotional reactions has imposed strains on the Liberal Party, the Government and the Public Service.
What clean hands that man has! The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) refused to serve in the Gorton Ministry. He said:
I will not be available to serve in any future Cabinet headed by the present Prime Minister, Mr Gorton.
If Labor were defeated I suppose they would be side by side in the Cabinet. Senator Wood in another place, that mastermind of political intrigue, moved a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Gorton. He said:
The fact is that we picked the wrong man for the job and it is time we faced up to it.
Now honourable members opposite are seeking to put Mr Gorton and others – the people they condemned – back into power.
Let us look at the long list of Liberal political appointments. There was Sir Percy Spender to the United States of America, Sir Howard Beale to the United States of America, Mr Joe Gullett to Italy, Mr Dan McKinnon to the Argentine and Peru, Mr Gordon Freeth to Japan and Mr Hugh Roberton to Ireland. Fancy sending a protestant to Ireland anyway. I do not know what Ireland has done to deserve Mr Gair, but what did it do to deserve a protestant? Let us look at the high commissioners appointed by the Liberals. There was Sir Kenneth White, Sir Eric Harrison and Sir Alec Downer to Britain, Dr Donald Cameron and Dame Annabelle Rankin to New Zealand, Sir Hubert Opperman to Malta, Sir Joshua Francis to New York and Mr Roger Dean to San Francisco. If I had another quarter of an hour I would finish the other couple of dozen. So what is unusual about appointing some distinguished personage? Honourable members opposite are supposed to be the people with clean hands. Whilst there are some notable men amongst them, there are also some of the greatest deadbeats who ever came into this Parliament.
I might add that the position of Ambassador to Washington was once offered to Mr McMahon by Mr Gorton to get him out of the way, but he said that it was not good enough for him. I thought he would have been going well to get anything at that stage. The honourable member for Farrar was offered the job of High Commissioner in London and he has been crying ever since because he did not take it. History has shown that the Liberals have made a number of political diplomatic appointments to get rid of opponents and enemies within and outside the Parliament. Who stole the late Billy Hughes from the Labor Party to give him the leadership of the party that sits opposite? Who took Joe Lyons from the ranks of the Labor Party to scab on the movement that gave him political birth? Who took him over there to lead? No rotten trick was too contemptible for honourable members opposite to take advantage of, and they talk about having clean hands.
Now let us look at the people opposite who say that they can be the government of the country. They say that they are a unified body. Do honourable members remember what Senator McManus said today. He went out and begged for mercy because he said that honourable members opposite were splinter parties deluxe and asked for unified tickets. Let us have a look at the situation in this House and in the Senate. In the Senate there is a Liberal Party and a Country Party. There is a Country Party here and a Liberal Party here. One does not know what the other is doing. They eat out of each others hands – right up to the elbow – and never talk to each other between sessions. Every time someone on this side of the Parliament wants to make a statement he has to give a copy to the Liberals and a copy to the Country Party because they say: ‘Whilst we are united we have 2 separate policies’. If we do not let Mr Sinclair speak when Mr Peacock speaks somebody will be offended. To keep harmony in the camp I generally give way, because it is not for me to show it. In this Parliament we have seen the Liberal Party and. the Country Party vote one way in this House and another way in the other on such matters as devaluation and rural assistance. The Opposition even has 2 rural policies – one Liberal and one Country Party. On matters such as tariffs and education the Liberal Party went one way and the Country Party went the other. One thing about those who sit in possum paddock is that they know how to get in out of the wet.
Now we find that the Opposition parties are going to get on a double dissolution ticket. Every time one looks at the television screen one sees Mr Snedden and Mr Anthony. They remind me of those famous characters from my boyhood many years ago – Mutt and Jeff – saying: ‘I am jazzing along with Billy’. He has changed his name to Bill. One has to be respectable in the Liberal Party now.
Mr Sherry – Not trendy.
Mr DALY – Not trendy. One has to have decency. Mr Anthony and Mr Snedden are always lining up and the Leader of the Country Party is pushing the Leader of the Liberal Party along. The Leader of the Opposition stands quietly by, smiling, as he can. Most people take it for a smile but intelligent ones would think it was a snarl. Now let us look at the situation of this unified body opposite. The parties are running against each other in every electorate and in practically every State in the Commonwealth. In Victoria the Liberals are attempting to contest every Country Party seat and the Country Party is taking its revenge by standing for Liberal seats such as that of the honourable member for Wannon. As I said, in the Senate they have so many tickets that there needs to be 10 vacancies in order to fit them all on in every State. Mr Anthony called the Victorian Liberals thick heads and idiotic. For once in a while he was right on the ball.
Then there is Senator Hannan. He has broken away. He is the non-trendy. Then there are the trendy Liberals. You take your pick – abortion on demand or not. If you do not want abortion, vote for Hannan; if you want abortion vote for Snedden. In Queensland the Liberals and the Country Party are running separate Senate tickets. The Country Party has joined the DLP to form the National Alliance. In case anyone gets carried away let me add that that is only this week’s name. They change every week. In Western Australia there is open warfare between the Liberals and the Country Party. Country Party members are so desperate that they are even throwing beer cans at public meetings. The Country Party and the DLP have formed the National Alliance. As I said once, one of them will pray for you and the other will prey on you.
In New South Wales Sir Charles Cutler, the New South Wales Leader of the Country Party, will not change the name. He will not have any alliance with the DLP and he will not contest metropolitan seats or Liberal held seats. That is quite different from what the new aspiring young cavalier of the Country Party says. So why have the Opposition parties got together? What a motley, weird collection they are. It is the same old gang tossed out about 18 months ago which is now seeking to rule this country from the grave. The decadent old collection of deadheads on the opposite side in another place, . elected years ago, are trying to vote a duly elected government out of office. I will tell honourable members why they are doing these things. They are inspired by the multi-national and foreign dominated business interests. The Country Party is paid by the oil companies to double the price of petrol and oil for the people of this country. They strive to serve those who would buy Australia’s assets and their coffers are overflowing with monopoly and foreign finance. If honourable members opposite do not believe me, why did they bring on the threat of a double dissolution when I announced that the Government would be introducing legislation to reveal the source of political funds? Honourable members opposite have dirty hands. I was giving the Australian Country Party a chance to get rid of its sordid past and go straight but it did not take it. Those who sit opposite cannot afford to let the Australian people know the sources of their financial sinews and that is why these 2 open enemies of the Labor Party are joined today in an effort to defeat this Government.
We find a lot of things to talk about. We have been told that there has been extravagant spending and a terrific amount of wastage by this Government and that we are wasting the taxpayer’s money. Let honourable members listen to a letter I received from an office bearer of the Opposition parties. I will not reveal his name because I am not that type of fellow. But the point I make is that this is one of the men who is constantly complaining in this Parliament about extravagance. This is the letter he wrote to me about certain equipment that he wanted for his office:
There are several matters which have been outstanding for some time in relation to furniture and I would be appreciative if you would advise me when action could be expected to take place:
1. two cupboards ordered for telephone books, etc., and for tea cups and saucers.
2. chairs to be re-covered to match curtains and existing chairs.
3. filing cabinets ordered with wood grain top to match existing cabinets.
I wrote him back a nice letter in which I said:
At first glance your request would appear to be a classic example of meticulous extravagance. I find it difficult to believe the efficiency of your office would suffer if the cupboards were not provided for the telephone books, tea cups and saucers, the chairs not re-covered to match the curtains, etc., or filing cabinets with a wood grain top not provided.
In other words, the honourable member in question talks about the Government wasting millions of dollars and yet writes to me for tin pot things like that.
Then we find honourable members opposite weeping and crying for the pensioners of Australia. This is the crowd that gave 50c now and again while Labor in 18 months in office has given more to pensioners than those opposite gave in the last 5 years. We find that at the Melbourne Town Hall they had a great dinner for these friends of the pensioners. We are told that at 8 p.m. there were 614 guests, including notable politicians, a dozen or so Sirs’, several millionaires and 2 women. They have gone for women’s lib in a big way. Those people paid $50 each to have dinner with Mr Snedden. We get him here for nothing and nobody will listen to him then. Do not forget that there was a fanfare. The master of ceremonies called attention for Bill M. Snedden. There was a grave silence for the guest of honour, the leader of the Liberal Party and Her Majesty’s Opposition and the next Prime Minister of Australia – Bill Snedden. Bill Snedden entered the hall in spotlight and the band played ‘God Bless Australia’. I think they could have changed that to ‘God Help Australia’. Then these friends of the pensioners sat down and struggled through this menu: Selected delicacies served with Amery Bronze Medal Rhine Riesling; turtle soup;-
Mr Hewson – What has that to do with the Bill?
Mr DALY – Imported salmon – that would be right in the line of the honourable member for McMillan – halibut Bretonne; roast salmis of pheasant served with Kaiser Stuhl Cabernet Shiraz. That is almost as good as Killen. They had selected international cheeses; strawberries romanoff served with
Kaiser Stuhl champagne and coffee and port. Cannot honourable members image how they thought of the 50c they would give the pensioners as they struggled along with that menu.
Mr SPEAKER – Order! I think the Minister is becoming provocative.
Mr DALY -It is such an important occasion that I am making a speech quite out of character, Mr Speaker. Do not forget that they consumed almost 1,000 bottles of wine. However, there was one disappointment. One of the highlights of the evening was missing – the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Band. At the last minute the organisers of the dinner received a telegram from the British War Office saying that the band could not play at a political function. What a shame! Imagine how much better God Bless Australia’ would have sounded being played by that band. These are the people who are crying for the pensioners of Australia with multi-nationals and others putting them there.
Tonight I have made these few brief remarks in a courteous and, I hope, helpful way to indicate to the Australian people that those who sit opposite are the same collection of individuals as they have always been – disgruntled, disunited, incapable, wrangling and in every way incapable of governing this country. I ask honourable members opposite in what areas they would cut expenditure. Would it be the Public Service? Would they cut down on social services? Would it be education? Would you sack everybody associated with the Public Service in this country? Would they increase unemployment and all those things. I say to the Australian people that when Labor came to office there were about 120,000 people unemployed. There was stagnation in the community. The economy was failing. Pensioners were down below the bread line in every possible way. Social services left people nothing to live on and in 1,001 ways in relation to the economic management of this country the previous Government had been found wanting. Yet in 18 months this Government has restored over-full employment, the economy is booming and, no matter what the country people might say, farmers and other sections of the community are doing exceptionally well.
In 18 months, the Labor Government has transformed the face of the Australian nation. It has brought about full employment and security. Pensioners have had a S6 rise as against 50c from the previous Government. There is work and employment. The education vote has been doubled and in every way, right throughout this country, tremendous prosperity has been brought to Australian people. Industry is booming, profits have never been higher and in every way the economy is one of which a nation can be proud. Yet there are people who sit in the other place who were elected years ago and who seek to bring down this Government for reasons which the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) mentioned are completely contrary to every democratic process. 1 ask the Australian people to follow the line set down on constitutional issues by Sir Robert Menzies and others. When Labor faces the people in the immediate future after those frightened men opposite have brought themselves to vote against this Supply Bill, I ask the Australian people to return the Whitlam Government because it has brought to this country things that the people desire. Internationally and nationally the future is bright and in every way we have cast aside the decadent past of those who sit opposite. We are seeking to give this country new horizons and a new way of life and in every way there is much to be done. On this occasion, I ask the people to vote against a Senate that refused to face the people itself and yet seeks to force this House to the people. I ask them to restore democracy to this country by giving a majority in this House and the Senate to the Australian Labor Government.