25 July 1975, New Zealand Parliament
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Hon. Dr A. M. FINLAY (Minister of Justice)—The Privileges Committee has carefully considered the matter of privilege raised in the House on 21 May relating to the remarks made in a television interview on 1 May by the nightclub owner named Tione Rupe, but known as Carmen, and, to avoid confusion, herein designated simply as “A”. The committee now has the honour to report as follows: (1) The committee studied a transcript of the television interview, viewed a videotape replay, and also heard the master tape of the interview. (2) The committee examined “A” and heard submissions from counsel. It also examined Mr Spencer Jolly, the employee of TV-1 who conducted the interview. Mr Jolly was accompanied by his counsel. (3) The committee considers that the statements made by “A”, to the effect that some members of Parliament were involved in the practice of homosexuality and in bisexuality, tended to lessen the esteem in which Parliament is held, and that, accordingly, a breach of privilege was established. (4) “A” stated that there was no basis or truth in this statement, and that “A.” had no knowledge of or belief in the truth of the allegation that a member or members of Parliament were involved in such behaviour. Before the committee “A” unreservedly apologised for and regretted having made the statements. (5) It was claimed that, taken unaware by leading questions on sexual deviation which arose out of publicity attaching to a forthcoming publication, “A” did not give considered answers. “A” stated that there was practically no prior consultation with Mr Jolly as to the scope of the interview, and further claimed that very substantial editing of the interview gave undue prominence to references to politicians and their sexual behaviour. We reject those claims. They are inconsistent not only with Mr Jolly's evidence but with the actual words as recorded on the master tape. Indeed, that goes further and confirms that “A” volunteered all those allegations and more, including reference to a call girl service and other unsavoury enterprises. No ground was advanced for implicating any member of Parliament in these. (6) Notwithstanding what we have said in the preceding paragraph, the committee feels there is some substance to the claim that “A” was induced and encouraged into indiscretions by leading questions put by the interviewer. Questioned on this point, Mr Jolly said he did not think he had led “A” into the answers given, except to the extent that prompting was necessary, in accordance with normal interviewing techniques, to overcome nervousness. When the reply to the question on homosexuality was not expanded, he asked about the link with bisexuality to sustain the interview. He claims that this topic was discussed beforehand, and we accept his evidence on this point. We think he formed an opinion, as a result of this, that the offender could be egged on to make disclosures that would be “sensational”, but not really believed in. The committee is of the opinion that the loaded nature of Mr Jolly's questions was definitely a factor in causing a breach of privilege, and although he was only appearing as a witness the committee considers that some expression of contrition for his part in the matter would have been appropriate. (7) Reference to the master tape establishes that the televised version occupied only approximately 5% minutes of the original 20-minute film. However, the committee is satisfied that there was no material cutting or rearranging of the order of questions, and that the edited version was a reasonably fair summary of the interview. (8) “A” has proffered the attached written apology. To some extent it goes beyond the matters really in issue and is undeniably self-serving in other respects. We repeat that while we do not absolve Mr Jolly from blame, we believe the main responsibility for this baseless and unsavoury incident lies upon “A”, and we do not accept the explanations and excuses contained in the letter. However, it does include an unqualified apology, coupled with due contrition, and the committee recommends that, apart from expressing its strong disapproval of the incident and reprimanding “A” accordingly, the House take no further action. I move, That the report do lie upon the table and be adopted and agreed to. Little more, I feel, need be said about this tasteless and contrived affair, but I would like to take the opportunity of saying one or two things about parliamentary privilege generally. In connection with another such case the Leader of the Opposition charged me with being jury, judge, and prosecutor, and to the extent that there is substance in this it applies with even more force to his role in the present proceedings. He initiated them by way of complaint before this House, sat as a member of the committee, and probed the witnesses more searchingly than any other member of it. If his absence from Wellington prevented him from being present when judgment was sealed, as it were, he concurred in its general terms. Such a state of affairs, however, is inherent in the whole notion of parliamentary privilege, and people are beginning to question its propriety. They wonder, too, at the great length to which we can and do go to protect ourselves from criticism by others when day by day we subject each other to streams of verbal invective which is restrained only by the curious convention that forbids us to use words that could bring a blush to the cheeks of those attending a mixed kindergarten. No doubt there is historical justification for the prevailing rules, but more and more people are questioning whether we should be able to define for ourselves what constitutes contempt of Parliament—or, rather, to refrain from defining it, leaving the term vague and doubtful in its meaning—put an alleged offender on trial before ourselves without any presumption of innocence, and leave him liable to an open-ended range of penalties with no right of appeal. This situation offends against almost every canon of civil law, and we would do well to review it. At the same time, it is timely to mention the difficulties, of providing appropriate protection for a group of people within the confines of the ordinary law. If an individual's reputation is assailed he has an appropriate remedy in libel. If the victim of the attack is more than one, problems arise. To say that a legal firm consisting of three or four partners was crooked would doubtless give each partner a right of action. To say that a jury was bribed would probably give to each of its members the same protection. On the other hand, one may proclaim with impunity that all bankers are usurers, or that all surgeons are butchers, as the thrust of the charge is not sufficiently directed against any one of them. Assuming that an allegation of sexual deviation is defamatory, it is very doubtful whether any one member of Parliament could have sued in respect of the words used in the television programme with which we are concerned. Even to attempt to do so would seem foolhardy, inviting the comment that where there is smoke there is fire. There is a very real need for the law to look at its capacity to deal with what are called group actions, and I was interested to find that the topic was vigorously debated at a recent law convention I attended in Australia. Many of these involve environmental situations, but the need goes beyond this, and it is only gradually that the law is accommodating itself to the realisation that the right of audience before the courts should not be confined to those who allege that they themselves or their own property may be jeopardised by the issue they bring before the courts.
Hon. R. D. MULDOON (Leader of the Opposition)—We had arranged between the Whips that there would be only one speaker from each side in this debate, but I certainly did not expect the Minister of Justice to speak in the way he did, and so I have immediately told our Whips that that arrangement is off, and we will have a little chat about this matter. I certainly did not expect the Minister to launch into a personal attack relating to an earlier case, and then to carry on with the totally unjustified allegation that I was leading the band on this matter when in fact I was not even present when the verdict, if one can call it that—drafted again, I suspect, by the Minister of Justice, as was the verdict in the previous trial, if one can call it that—was agreed to by Government members, agreed to by my colleague on the committee, and presented to me as the last member—I do not blame anyone for that; I just was not here—and agreed to by me. You will recall, Mr Speaker, that the origin of this matter was when you said that, after consultation with the Prime Minister, you felt there was no case to answer—a procedure which is unorthodox, to put it in the mildest possible terms. You were good enough to reverse that decision upon reflection, and it is perfectly obvious, having now seen the evidence, and indeed having seen the remainder of the television tape which even TV-1 was not prepared to telecast—and we know what its standards of taste are at times—that there was indeed a case to answer. I think that the difference between the verdict in this case and the verdict in the earlier case this week will not go unremarked by the public. Again we have seen the Minister of Justice, with that peculiar combination of self-criticism and self-justification which he adopts as an approach on occasions such as this, say, “Really, we are all at fault, and really we all should do very much better; but really I’ll stick my knife into the Leader of the Opposition at the same time”, in a mealy-mouthed manner. The Minister of Justice is a member of this House for whom I used to have some regard. I am bound to say that in the course of this session that regard has totally disappeared. By comparison with his predecessors in my time in the House, he has turned out to be a petty, party politician of the worst type, using his office, with all the dignity it commands, and his parliamentary majority, to indulge in small party campaigning of a type that caused my predecessor as leader of this party, Sir John Marshall, some years ago to refer to him very aptly as a grubby little man; and he is back in the same grubby little manner this year as Minister of Justice.
Mr SPEAKER—Order! The honourable member was quoting somebody else for a start, but he then went on to use the words as his own. I must ask him to withdraw his own reference.
Hon. R. D. MULDOON–It has been ruled in order.
Hon. R. D. MULDOON.—It was ruled to be in order when it was used by Sir John Marshall some years ago, and you were then a member of the House.
Mr SPEAKER—I have ruled it out of order myself. I do not think it is a term we should use. I do not object to the member using it as a quotation of somebody else.
Hon. R. D. MULDOON–If that is your ruling, then naturally I withdraw. The public will make its own decision on this matter and on the Minister of Justice. The case should have gone to the Privileges Committee, and there is not a member of the House today who does not know that. The case has been dealt with in the way these things normally are dealt with, and I think will in future be dealt with, and I put no store whatever in the meanderings of the Minister of Justice on the question of privilege and the like. If he were a Minister whose views on these matters commanded some respect, it would be different, but the political activities of this Minister in the last few months have ensured that in this kind of affair, in which we would normally look to the Minister of Justice for guidance, he commands no respect whatsoever in this House. It is a pity that the Leader of the House cannot make some observations on this matter. I guess he is talking to a Lions Club somewhere. It is a pity he cannot give a lead, but these days we do not expect him to give too much of a lead. I guess his deputy will match the occasion.
Hon. R. J. Tizard—I certainly will.
Hon. R. D. MULDOON.—Yes, I thought he would. I will just take this opportunity of telling the Minister of Justice that no one on this side of the House appreciates his party politicking in the role he has been given by his Prime Minister, a role that should be treated in a much more responsible manner.
Mr O’FLYNN (Kapiti)—One is obliged to comment on that remarkable outburst and, in particular, the remark about the Leader of the House possibly being away addressing a Lions Club, coming as it did from the itinerant pedlar of politics to Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, and any organisations he can find anywhere in the country. His feeble attack on the well qualified Minister of Justice, and on the sensible and dignified remarks the Minister made about parliamentary privilege, is a measure of the man. We are faced with a question that calls for some serious and thoughtful consideration, and twice this week such a question has received it from one of the best qualified Ministers the House has had. The reception given to those comments has been the reverse of thoughtful; it has been frivolous and political. The questions to which the Minister directed attention are exercising the public mind. The Minister has put forward in a non-partisan and dignified manner a number of matters that call for serious consideration. I referred to them myself in the earlier debate this week, and I do not propose to repeat what was then said other than to say I think we should take an early opportunity in the next Parliament to set up a committee to review those matters in a sensible way. I want to point to the contrast between the present case and the previous case dealt with this week, since contrasts have already been made. It is all very well to say that there was a case to answer, but I suggest to the member who raised the matter and put it before the Privileges Committee that he would have been wiser to have exercised the kind of discretion that any ordinary police sergeant in the community exercises from time to time as to when one ought or ought not to prosecute. I should have thought that mature consideration would have persuaded the honourable gentleman and some of his more sensible colleagues that though there might have been a case, common sense, maturity, and balanced judgment would have suggested that it would better have been ignored. One of the ways to assert the dignity of an assembly such as this, just as it is one of the ways in which an individual with dignity can assert it, is to ignore insults of that character as simply being beneath notice. That is the attitude that the Prime Minister, and you yourself, Mr Speaker, had begun to take up, and I think it would have been a much better idea to have continued to adopt it throughout. I cannot sit down without drawing attention to the aftermath of the other case we had this week, which led the aggrieved person to describe the tribunal whose judgment we are reviewing this morning, as we did earlier in the week, as a “kangaroo court”.
Mr SPEAKER—Order! I must ask the honourable gentleman to confine himself to the report now before the House. We must not discuss the report that has already been agreed to and adopted by this House.
Mr O’FLYNN-Thank you for that direction. I merely observed earlier that we have already had, in the speech I am replying to, some contrast between the two. I content myself by saying that the measure of acceptance by the honourable gentleman of the processes of the House can be seen from the way in which he received them earlier in the week.
Hon. B. E. TALBOYS (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)—I do not know what gets into the Minister of Justice, but for some reason best known to himself he seems incapable of simply reporting what happened in a committee. He must always grasp the opportunity to insinuate some personal vindictiveness which is not at all becoming to a Minister. He was determined to widen the debate, but before he did so he had to wrap himself in his judicial dignity. I hope that one day he will learn to stop it. I was a member of this committee. I have listened to what the member for Kapiti had to say, but I am sure every member of the committee would be in no doubt that there had been in fact a breach of privilege. It was an extraordinary committee on which to be. We had a witness setting out an argument, and then another witness telling a completely different story. “It happens every day with the member for Kapiti,” some member has just interjected. Well, that would not surprise me. All I can say is that I think that the decision that was made here was probably the only one that could be made, but it does stand in very strong contrast, as has already been observed, with the decision in another case. I say again to the Minister of Justice that he utters wise thoughts which, if they were taken on their own, and if he would allow people to consider them on their own, would be worth listening to. But he cannot do that. At every opportunity he seeks to insinuate his personal vindictiveness, and I think it is time he gave it up.
Hon. R. J. TIZARD (Deputy Prime Minister)—As a member of this committee I think I should say something about the case itself first. Nobody would value the opinions of the person referred to as “A” in this instance, and therefore I ask, why was attention ever drawn to them? I do not place any value on these opinions myself, and after seeing both the televised film and the original from which the actual programme was made up, I would say that the best thing that could have happened to it was that it should have remained in the obscurity to which it had descended immediately after the programme had been screened. But no, for some reason known only to the Leader of the Opposition, the case was put into prominence, and therefore Parliament was required to consider it. I would have gone along with the earlier opinion expressed by the Prime Minister and the Speaker that the case was better dropped because nobody in his right mind could have taken it seriously.
Air Commodore Gill—Parliament did.
Hon. G. F. Gair—A point of order, Mr Speaker. The Deputy Prime Minister has just insulted every member of the House. The House, through its Privileges Committee, is asked to find “A” at fault in a breach of privilege. The Deputy Prime Minister has just explained, in his language anyway, that nobody in his right mind could have taken it seriously. I suggest that by taking that approach he himself is insulting the Privileges Committee and making a farce of this debate.
Hon. R. J. TIZARD-Speaking to the point of order, I think we should draw attention to the wording of the committee's recommendation, which puts no value on the apology, but says it accepts it and lets it go at that. I suggest that my remarks are an accurate reflection of the committee's findings.
Mr SPEAKER—It could be very easy to be left with the impression that Parliament had made a mistake in referring the matter to the Privileges Committee. I remind members that this matter was quite properly raised by a member. I was asked, as Speaker of the House, whether I considered that a case should go to the Privileges Committee. The matter having been represented to the House in that way, I agreed there was a case to be considered by the Privileges Committee. The case has been considered by the committee, and we should debate the matter in that way.
Hon. R. J. TIZARD-I very strongly support what you have said, Mr Speaker. You were required to find that there was a prima facie case, not a proven case, and that is what you did.
Hon. G. F. Gair—A point of order, Mr Speaker. You have not ruled on the point I raised that the Deputy Prime Minister said that members were out of their minds if they took a certain stance.
Hon. R. J. TIZARD–I said no such thing.
Hon. G. F. Gair—The Deputy Prime Minister did do so. He included everybody, and his reference could well include you Mr Speaker.
Mr SPEAKER—I do not think anyone was in any doubt about what I said— that there was a case to go to the Privileges Committee. The matter did go before the Privileges Committee, and it is now being reported back in the proper way. It has gone through the proper channels, and I think most members understand the position. It is not a matter of what individual members of the House think. In my opinion there was a case. The Privileges Committee considered the case, and its judgment is in the report. The point of order is finished.
Hon. R. J. TIZARD-I suggest that there was only one reason why the case was pressed by the Leader of the Opposition, and that was simply as a diversionary tactic when he himself was required to appear before the Privileges Committee. The only result of bringing this case forward has been to lift a sordid incident from the obscurity into which it had already sunk. In brief reference to what has been said about my colleague the Minister of Justice, I would say that he has handled this case with dignity. The finding is not just his finding, but is a compromise between opinions expressed by members of the Privileges Committee, because the Leader of the Opposition was strongly of the opinion that there was a case to answer. I was equally strongly of the opinion that the incident was better pushed back into obscurity and forgotten. Clearly, then, the recommendation of the committee is, on balance, an attempt to equate what were clearly differing views in the committee. The Leader of the Opposition has felt it necessary in this instance not to refer to the decision, but to have a go at the Minister of Justice and then drag in the Leader of the House and refer to the fact that he is absent on public business. Those are the hit-and-run tactics we are used to from him. He only hits occasionally when he is here, and runs as soon as he has had a hit. The perverted politics he is preaching will not do him or the House any good if they are allowed to go without comment. I suggest that the decision be taken quietly and as soon as possible. That is the best way for the House to handle the incident.
Hon. J. B. GORDON (Clutha)—The Deputy Prime Minister said that for some obscure reason we had decided to have two privilege cases before the House. May I remind him that the first of the two cases brought before the Privileges Committee was raised by the Senior Government Whip. The Deputy Prime Minister wants both cases to be buried in obscurity and not come before the House, and I accept that. The Senior Government Whip having made his move, the Leader of the Opposition then made his quite valid move. I find myself in some disagreement with the Deputy Prime Minister. I concede that I did not hear the evidence, but I did hear the detailed and deliberate report from the Minister of Justice this morning. He suggested that this case had some merit, and that the person “A” had been guilty. Certainly “A” might have been egged on, but I do not go along with the Deputy Prime Minister's suggestion that the matter should now be left in limbo, in obscurity. The Privileges Committee has proved that a smear was put on members of this House. We started this morning with a report from the Minister of Justice. I cannot technically quarrel with any of it, except the last finding. The Minister of Justice spoke with a determined dignity, with almost pedantic speech—and, might I respectfully suggest, deliberately so. Together with the Deputy Prime Minister, he pushed the matter of the reflection on the moral standards of members of this House back into what he called obscurity, and decided, as did other Government speakers, including a Queen's Counsel, that the Government's attitude did not rest on the cases. The Government shows no discretion. The word “discretion” used by the member for Kapiti merely proves a contrived attack to destroy one man. An agreement has been broken, and that is why I am now speaking. That is the situation the House unfortunately finds itself in. May I remind the House that this business was started by the Senior Government Whip, yet the member for Kapiti, a Queen's Counsel, talks of having a sense of discretion and common sense. I go along with that, but merely ask that learned gentleman where discretion should have started.
Mr O'Flynn–With the Leader of the Opposition.
Hon. J. B. GORDON.—The Minister of Justice has reported back what I think is a mild finding by the Privileges Committee. He said that the person “A” had been found guilty, and that in effect the apology was not accepted. But what do we find at the tail end? No further action, not even a censure.
Hon. Dr A. M. Finlay—Yes, there is.
Hon. J. B. GORDON–There was not even an “appropriate” censure. The Minister of Justice is now trying to qualify what he said earlier. He now claims there was an appropriate censure similar to that applied to the earlier case this week. I would have expected that at the very least the Minister, with his learning, would have told us the difference between “appropriate” censure and “censure”.
Mr O'Flynn–A reprimand.
Hon. J. B. GORDON–The learned member for Kapiti now wants another go.
Mr O'Flynn–Be accurate; that's all.
Hon. J. B. GORDON.—I will try to be. I have not had the legal training of the member for Kapiti, but his accuracy now should be better than it was earlier this week. There can be no question in anyone's mind this morning that we in this House have virtually been led up the garden path. The Minister of Justice himself said that the House had descended to the state of a mild kindergarten. If that is so, I, with him, regret it. I merely suggest that the manner in which the committee's finding was reported back—I cannot quarrel with the report of the committee itself—did the House and the Minister of Justice no credit, and did the Government much less credit. There was not an unbiased, unqualified, and factual reporting back on the single issue before the House—the conviction of a person referred to as “A”—but a political attack designed to destroy one man.
Hon. A. J. FAULKNER (Minister of Labour)—I listened very carefully to the report from the Privileges Committee, and I cannot disagree in any way at all with the decision of that committee. Perhaps it would be useful if I read the decision again: “However, it does include an unqualified apology, coupled with due contrition, and the committee recommends that, apart from expressing its strong disapproval of the incident and reprimanding ‘A’ accordingly, the House take no further action.” I think that in these circumstances a reprimand from Parliament is a very strong decision to make. After all, the committee was dealing with someone who is not a member of Parliament. It seems to me that the decision is totally appropriate to the Circumstances. For centuries, ever since there have been Parliaments, people have taken what could be described in modern language as the mickey out of members of Parliament in vaudeville acts and so forth. It is noticeable, however, that people generally are very anxious to get a testimonial from members when they need some support in the community. I am disturbed that thoughtful suggestions made by the Minister of Justice on our procedure should be described as a contrived attack on one man. It should be remembered that an Opposition member of the committee voted for the recommendation, yet the Opposition now suggests that the decision was contrived, and that a reprimand is less of a penalty than has been recommended in other privilege cases. The Leader of the Opposition, who complained that everyone is making personal attacks on him, made one of the most bitter personal attacks on the Minister of Justice that I have ever heard in the House. For the life of me I cannot see how any remarks made by the Minister of Justice could have provoked such an attack. He simply outlined the circumstances and laid out clearly the evidence which led the committee to make its decisions. Simply because the Minister of Justice made a suggestion that Parliament should review its procedures when it is attacked as a group, the Leader of the Opposition made a bitter personal attack on him. It was totally unjustified, unless it is thought necessary to have an incident of this kind in Parliament every day to help bring the place into further disrepute. If that is part of a campaign I can understand the motivation, but there was no justification for that attack in the circumstances this morning. I very much support the suggestion for a review of our procedure on privileges. We do appear to go behind closed doors and hear evidence. If we can protect ourselves from ill-informed and vested-interest attacks on ourselves in an open way so that the public can be aware of the general standards of this Chamber, we will serve Parliament and not destroy it. We should be indebted to the Minister of Justice for his proposal for a review of the procedure. As I see it, we have no alternative but to uphold the unanimous view of the Privileges Committee in its recommendation.
Hon. G. F. GAIR (North Shore)—l think the remarks of the Minister of Labour can be disposed of as pious nonsense. Surely one speaker from either side would have been sufficient in this debate if the real subject of the debate had been the only matter at issue. But the Minister of Justice himself, in reporting the finding of the committee to the House, opened this matter up into a much more serious affair, which calls into question the rights and position of another man in this House, and also raises the whole question of the privileges system. I want first to refer to the remarks made by the Deputy Prime Minister. He asked why attention had ever been drawn to this person “A”. I would ask him why the television programme was produced in the first place. Apparently somebody thought it of interest. He accused the Leader of the Opposition of being the only person who had taken this matter seriously. In that sense I submit he is insulting you, Mr Speaker, and every member of this House who saw fit to refer this matter to the Privileges Committee. I do not recall that the Deputy Prime Minister voiced a protest at that time. In saying the House is out of its mind in taking this matter seriously he cast a slur on all members, including himself. I remind the Deputy Prime Minister that in 1969 his own former leader, as Leader of the Opposition, moved in an almost identical situation that the House should refer a somewhat similar case to the Privileges Committee. You will recall that on that occasion the editor of the Evening Post was called before the committee to answer certain insinuations in a headline which had made the charge that four members of the House were probably homosexuals. This debate has gone off the rails because of the immaturity of the Minister of Justice, who cannot resist the temptation to pick up some mud and throw it when he sees an attractive target in the form of the Leader of the Opposition. I remind the House that this is not the first time the judgment of the Minister of Justice has been at fault. In this very Chamber he made a devastating attack upon a man who was found to be completely not guilty. That man was the former President of the National Party. Mr Meadowcroft. I recall also his diatribe against NAC and its purchase of Boeing 737s. His argument was later found to be considerably at fault. This is essentially a vendetta against the Leader of the Opposition, and people outside this House who are removed from the subjective atmosphere we are debating in this morning will see it as that. If there was no case to answer, why did the House send the matter to the Privileges Cornmittee and why did the committee make the report we are asked to approve this morning? Quite clearly, the Leader of the Opposition was justified in raising this matter, and I remind the House that he raised it in circumstances in which he personally was being attacked by the arrogant Labour majority through the voice of the Senior Government Whip. Twice this week we have had occasion to debate a report from the Privileges Committee. Twice this week the Minister of Justice has chosen to force the debate downwards and stir some of the sludge from the bottom. We should remind ourselves that this whole matter was raised by a charge made by the Senior Government Whip. The Leader of the Opposition was not the man who threw the first stone, and the first stone was not thrown inside this House. I should like to refer briefly to the observations on privilege made by the Minister of Justice. All procedures can from time to time be usefully reviewed, but the Minister of Justice is in error if he implies that the protection of privilege is not an essential part of the operation of Parliament. If it were not for the privilege that Parliaments for many generations have seen fit to allow themselves, the opportunity for the free, frank, and open debate that the Chamber should provide would be seriously impaired.
Hon. Dr A. M. Finlay—That has nothing to do with contempt.
Hon. G. F. GAIR-It has a great deal to do with why privilege should be preserved. It is inevitable that feelings in this House will at times be strongly aroused and strongly expressed. It is impossible to have a situation in which full-blooded men and women, arguing issues of moment on matters of great importance, will not have clashes, not only of opinions but also of personalities; but we have managed to convey the impression to the country in the last 12 months, since the present leadership of the House followed in the footsteps of the late Norman Kirk, that the House is run in a disorderly manner. I am perhaps not the best judge of that, but I can see that when the House operates in a leadership vacuum we are bound to have troubles that would not arise if real leadership were available. The stakes are high this year; the Government realises that its position is somewhat desperate.
Mr SPEAKER—Order! I am afraid I will have to stop the honourable member. We must remind ourselves that we are dealing with the report of the Privileges Committee. It is true that charges and rebuttals have been made, but I hope the honourable member can come back to the committee's report. We are not really dealing with the leadership of the House and the election.
Hon. G. F. GAIR-When this type of debate develops it is very appropriate to ask why, and to consider the consequences. Torrid debates like this may well continue this year when we have a Government that is fighting to retain the Treasury benches, and while we have a continued vacuum in the leadership of the House. I express deep concern at the way a debate, which should be a very elevated and very objective feature of the work of the House, has been converted by the attitude of the Minister of Justice into a subjective feeling of frustration and into an attack upon the Leader of the Opposition. There was a perfectly acceptable mutual agreement between both sides that one speaker from each side should dispose of this problem. Why did the Government permit its representative to take the debate right off the rails, using it as an attack upon a member who had properly brought this matter before the House and to the Privileges Committee? If this were not so, the Privileges Committee is wrong in its recommendation. The Deputy Prime Minister cannot have it both ways, though he always tries to do that. Whatever we in this House might think, the people following this debate will note with some concern the way the Minister of Justice has mishandled his assignment.
Mr MAYSON (Hastings)—I am astonished that the House should even be discussing this case, and I am astonished for some of the reasons the member for North Shore has given. If we cannot stand the heat of very animated debate in this House and some of the bruises that will result, I do not believe we should stand for public office in the first place. I am sure that all members, and especially the member for North Shore, who has taken a few and given a few, will accept that that is the case. So why do we set ourselves apart from the community? When somebody outside gives us a blow and we feel the bruise, why do we take it upon ourselves to refer that person to a tribunal, the Privileges Committee? Why do we sit in judgment on that person in a way in which we never sit in judgment on ourselves? We have here a perfect case of the double standard—a standard for what parliamentarians may say about each other, and a standard of what people may say about parliamentarians. That is one of the reasons why our Standing Orders are not relevant to the needs of Parliament in modern society, and it is directly related to this case. The House will recall that when the Standing Orders Committee presented its report last year I said it had flirted with change and opted for security and the status quo. This week we have seen perfect evidence that that is so. The irony of it is that the man who was most vocal in opting for the status quo and refusing to alter the Standing Orders is the man who is saying by implication that the Standing Orders are unfair. That man is the Leader of the Opposition. One cannot avoid the fact that the mover of this motion, who sent “A” to the Privileges Committee, was the Leader of the Opposition, the man who saw no need for change in the Standing Orders. Obviously this was a diversionary tactic. Perhaps it was understandable, and perhaps the same tactic would have been employed by other members if they had been referred for judgment to the Privileges Committee. I am not condemning it; I am just stating it as a fact; but I think it did colour the judgment of the House. The House accepted that “A” should go to the committee only because it did not want to appear to be selective in passing judgment on a member of the House on another matter. I do not believe the House would have agreed to the motion to send “A” to the Privileges Committee had not the Leader of the Opposition also been required to attend before that committee. Here again we get back to this matter of two standards. We can abuse people outside from the protection of this Chamber, and we can abuse each other in this Chamber— we do it every day; I am as guilty as anybody else—but when someone outside uses the terms that we use every day among ourselves we get all uptight. I believe the House is losing esteem not because of the squabbling that goes on in this Chamber, but because of the two standards we apply, one for the protection of ourselves and one against the community. The community does not have that same protection. As the Minister of Justice has said, we cannot have good-quality debate and make good progress in this House as long as we tell ourselves that we are beyond reproach in the community, and as long as we exercise a different set of standards. I have to agree with the Deputy Prime Minister that this case has done nothing more than lift a sordid matter from the obscurity it deserved into a position of publicity. In my words, it has given unnecessary notoriety to the person in question. It is sad that the matter should have been referred to the Privileges Committee in the first place. However, I suppose that, the case having been so referred, it was necessary to bring in some form of censure; but the sooner we review the Standing Orders seriously, and apply in this House the standards we expect in the community, the more respect the community will have for us.
Air Commodore GILL (East Coast Bays)—It seems to me that some of the speeches made by Government members today have been a very strong reflection on your judgment, as Speaker. It has been said repeatedly—and the member for Hastings who has just spoken was no exception—that the case we are discussing should never have been referred to the Privileges Committee; that it was an error of judgment to do so. I am surprised, Mr Speaker, that you have not taken exception to that comment, which has been repeatedly made by members on the other side of the House. Parliament and the Speaker decided that there was a case to answer. Now we have received the report of the committee, and no one on this side of the House is arguing very strongly about it. I do not have very much confidence in it. I have sat on the Privileges Committee. I have heard the evidence given to that committee in public. I know that the evidence was accepted while representatives of the press were present. I have heard evidence being given to the committee which was not ruled out of order as irrelevant, and then I have gone back to the Privileges Committee and found that the chairman has thrown a motion on the table and said, “That's it; none of the evidence before us is relevant.” He did not say that when the press representatives were present, or when members of the public were there to hear. No, it was behind closed doors, with neither press nor public present, that he threw the motion on the table and said, “That's it.” He knows he has the support of the Government majority on the committee, and he knows he can do what he likes. He knows he can turn a select committee into a kangaroo court if he wants to, because of the power he has. He shows no restraint or understanding at all, and makes no effort to divorce himself from party politics and to sit as a member of a tribunal in judgment. Of course, throughout his history he has not had the responsibility of sitting in judgment on men. He may have been associated with the justice, but only through talking, and when he is faced with the situation, as chairman of the Privileges Committee, of sitting in judgment on someone, he does not have the capacity, the experience, or the knowledge of how to go about it. Therefore he sits in the quiet of his room, drafts a motion, and throws it down on the table and says that none of the evidence is admissible. We managed to persuade the Prime Minister to agree to delete one or two of the very provocative statements from the report, and after all that performance, when the report is brought back to the House, we on this side of the House raise no strong objection to it. What we are debating this morning is the fact that the Minister of Justice began his debate on the report with an attack on the Leader of the Opposition. Of course, we know his phobia about the Leader of the Opposition; we know he is mesmerised by him. We have seen the Minister of Justice sitting there, in the presence of the Leader of the Opposition, with the sweat running down his face, terrified like a ferret. We have seen that, and we know the mesmerism from which he suffers. Today the Minister is trying to do a little twinkle-toe ballet dance, but he is not doing it very successfully. The Deputy Prime Minister has stated that anybody who thought this case should have been sent to the Privileges Committee must have been out of his mind. I am sure that is what he said, because I wrote it down very carefully. My colleague the member for North Shore rose to a point of order on that statement. I did not hear the ruling on the point of order—I must have been preoccupied at the time—but I am sure that is what the Deputy Prime Minister said: anybody who thought this case should be referred to a select committee must have been out of his mind. If that is not a breach of privilege, I do not know what is. How can the Deputy Prime Minister say that when he is aware that the Speaker decided that there was a case to answer and that it must go before the Privileges Committee? How could the Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Leader of the House make that statement in good conscience? Of course, I know the reason: he could make such a statement because of the type of conscience he has. On our side of the House, we have a phenomenon. Government members thought that, because the Leader of the Opposition had been Minister of Finance—and a very successful Minister of Finance who carried the country through economic difficulties and brought it out on top— they were dealing with a man whose vision was only on a financial track; but then they found out their mistake and they are rather terrified about it. They found that the man we have as our leader has responsibility across the board.
Mr Wetere—Which leader? You have three of them over there.
Air Commodore GILL-We have only one leader, and no one knows that better than the member for Western Maori. In fact, all Government members are very well aware of that. [Interruption.] There is no need for the Acting Leader of the House to point his finger and shout at me. He has had his say and he made a mess of it. Now Government members are suddenly faced with the fact that we have a phenomenal leader who appeals to the people throughout the country.
Mr SPEAKER—Order! I am afraid I shall have to intervene again. We are getting away from the question before the House. It is inevitable that some rebuttal must be allowed of the charges made, but members must not develop their own ideas of what they would like to discuss in this way. The question before the House is that the report do lie upon the table and be adopted and agreed to.
Air Commodore GILL–Thank you for reminding me of the question, Mr Speaker. I shall not take very much longer in replying to the very strong and venomous attack made on the leader of the Opposition by the Minister of Justice when he opened this debate. His vindictiveness has been apparent for many months now, and he knows the cause— his recognition and his fear of what will happen to him in November. The Minister can be venomous when he wants to be. However, when he really got down to the important things he had to say, I believe he made some good statements. I have felt, as have many other members on both sides of the House, that our position of privilege as members is perhaps a little too great, and that we tend to rest a bit too much on a pedestal.
Hon. Dr A. M. Finlay—Listen to the Venom.
Air Commodore GILL–I shall come back to the venom. The Minister of Justice has referred again to his venom, and I must answer him by telling him that it is not winning him any votes or any support. In fact, his venom is not very clever at all. I admit that he does make clever speeches sometimes, but when he introduces the sort of venom we heard from him today he is not being at all clever. The Minister did say that we needed to look at ourselves and decide whether our position of privilege was soundly based. I had much sympathy with that statement. Of course, there are alternatives: you can, for example, restrain people such as the member for Kapiti from naming others from a privileged position in the House. If we could have a leader on the Government side of the House to restrain people from saying, from a privileged position, things they would be terrified to say outside the House, that would help a great deal. Something must be done. Obviously the Standing Orders will not be changed this year; but as a first step I advise Government members to get hold of their Prime Minister—if they can catch him— and ask him to make at least a start by stopping members on his side of the House from using their privileged position in a way that offends people outside the House, particularly because the people have no recourse against the allegations made. This debate would have ended almost an hour ago if the Minister of Justice had not tried to sneak in on the record another personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition. On this occasion he thought he might be able to do that without being answered back by the Opposition, but of course he is being answered by Opposition members. His number is up. We know his little flyweight situation, and it will be dealt with in due course.
Mr SPEAKER—Before I call another member I must rule that from now on we discuss only the report before the House. As I said before, charges have been made, but I think at this stage there has also been rebuttal of those charges. It is time we came back to the report before us. Recommendations about Standing Orders and the Privileges Committee are very important, but I do not think this is the atmosphere in which they should be discussed. The only motion before the House is that this report be laid upon the table and be adopted and agreed to.
Hon. R. L. BAILEY (Minister of Railways)—I rise to support the motion of the Minister of Justice. The Privileges Committee had an unsavoury task to do, but it measured up to its responsibility. I would be one of the first to object to the privileges accorded to members of Parliament being taken away from them, but with these privileges comes responsibility, and we have not seen too much of that from the Opposition this morning. We must have the right to be able to our minds in Parliament in the knowledge that what we say will not be used against us in a law court. We have a responsibility not to abuse that privilege. Unfortunately, some have abused it. I would say that the greatest transgressor has been the Leader of the Opposition, who has used his privileged position in this House—
Hon. G. F. Gair—A point of order, Mr Speaker. You have given a ruling on the course that the debate should take. . I submit to you that for the last half minute, if not for the last minute, the Minister of Railways has been right off course. I am quite sure that Opposition members are only too willing to debate this matter on the broadest terms of reference we were given by the Minister of Justice, but if the debate is to be tightened up it behoves a Minister of the Crown to set a good example. He is very much transgressing, and I thought you would have interrupted him.
Mr SPEAKER—I appreciate the point, but I was speaking to the Deputy Speaker, who came to see if I wanted to be relieved. I must confess I did not hear what the honourable member said, but I do know that if he was getting off the line he would be prepared to go back to it.
Hon. R. L. BAILEY-I was speaking about our privileges, and I think the remarks I was making were quite relevant to the debate. I thought I was respecting your request that we speak to the matter before us, and that is the breaching of privilege.
Mr SPEAKER—Order! No, we are not discussing the general question of breach of privilege, but this particular case.
Hon. R. L. BAILEY_Yes, I accept that. I support the motion moved by the Minister of Justice. I do not think the Privileges Committee could have done anything other than what it has done. I agree with those who have said that this is a storm in a teacup, and that the matter need not have gone as far as it has. I am more than disturbed that Opposition members have not discussed this matter as we are required to discuss it under the Standing Orders. I think your request that we should go back to discussing the motion is timely. I fully support the motion that this report do lie upon the table. Personal attacks have been made—and the Leader of the Opposition can sit there and chuckle because he was able to say lots of things that had no relevancy.
Hon. R. D. Muldoon—I’m sorry; I wasn't listening to the member.
Hon. R. L. BAILEY-He can sit there and chuckle as much as he likes. I heard the member for North Shore say that the Minister of Justice could not resist throwing mud at the attractive face of the Leader of the Opposition. I cannot find any substance in that remark. Since when has the Leader of the Opposition had an attractive face?
Hon. G. F. Gair—A point of order, Mr Speaker. I remind you that before the Minister rose to speak you gave a ruling to the House. This is the second time the Minister has transgressed, and the second time you have not interrupted him. When a Minister talks about throwing mud in the face of the Leader of the Opposition, you should sit him down or accept the fact that this will inevitably broaden the debate.
Mr SPEAKER—My attention had again been diverted by a member coming up to speak to me. If the member on his feet transgressed in that way I ask him to confine himself to the question before the House, which is that the report of the committee do lie upon the table.
Hon. R. L. BAILEY_Yes, Mr Speaker. I was just rebutting a remark that had been made earlier, and I thought that it was relevant. The motion before us is one that we must support, and I think it is a pity that the matter ever had to come to this. I hope that in the future, after this sorry affair has received the publicity it no doubt will receive, people in the community will act in a responsible manner. I support the motion.
Hon. DAVID THOMSON (Stratford)—It is now 17 minutes past 10 and no member of the House who has spoken on the motion that the report of the Privileges Committee should lie upon the table has spoken against the motion. I agree with it. I was considering whether I should get your call and move that the question be now put, and I am sure you would have had some sympathy for such a thought. The issue really is whether an individual outside calling himself, shall I say commercially, Carmen, should have been censured or should have been in any other way dealt with by Parliament, notice having been taken of the fact that he had made some reflections or observations which were regarded as reflections on the conduct of members of Parliament. He alleged that there was some indulging in rather off-beat sexual practices. It seems to me that the precedent that was set in 1969 by the late Mr Kirk and the House at that time justified our proceeding as we have proceeded, and I think that the report of the committee in this respect is about right. It has taken note of Mr Carmen's observations, if that is the right way to address him. It has said, in effect, that Parliament does not think they were very wise or very nice, and that, in any case, they are not proved, and so he ought to be reprimanded. That is about the lowest sentence in the military jurisdiction; the lowest one is that he could have been admonished. There are these degrees of penalty, and I wonder why the committee did not consider that Mr Carmen should have been admonished. But this episode has been much ado about nothing. I think the Minister of Justice will have learnt, or at least I hope he will have learnt, a lesson from this debate. I hope it will end shortly, and we will all support the motion. It is clear that, when the Privileges Committee has dealt with such a matter, the most appropriate way of putting its findings and recommendations to the House is for the Minister in charge to put it flatly and dispassionately, and not try to make profit out of it as the Minister of Justice did this morning. However, the Government is in charge of the business of the House, and if its action has led to the waste, as we believe it has been, of more than 14 hours, that is the Government’s responsibility. I always want to see Parliament respected and held in the highest regard by the people, because we are more than just a House of Representatives. But I do hope the time might come when there will be a sufficient understanding of the need for greater freedom of speech, without umbrage being taken at descriptions by entertainers. After all, I suppose it was telecast for the purposes of entertainment, but such remarks were taken note of in 1969, and now they have been taken note of again. I think the effect of this report will be to give a renewed warning to all people outside Parliament—and particularly to people in the entertainment world, who are inclined deliberately to be provocative in order to be entertaining—not to make unsubstantiated allegations against members of Parliament. Of course, on the other side I suppose the committee's report reminds us that we have to sustain the dignity of Parliament, which I am sure could have been better sustained by the Minister of Justice if, in moving the motion before us, he had been able to refrain from indulging himself in the temptation to attack the Leader of the Opposition. It was unnecessary, it was irrelevant, and it did not help the debate at all. I do not think Mr Carmen will have his commercial standing in any way reduced by his experience. Indeed, he may well find that he has profited by it. He has become even more famous—or notorious, if that is the better word—because of it. But I hope the matter will stand as a reminder to the people that Parliament is the people's institution, and that it deserves respect and should not be taken lightly and treated as a 'matter of fun, which most definitely it is not. Finally, I hope that the Minister of Justice has at last learnt a lesson on how to deal with members of Parliament in the House.
Hon. Sir ROY JACK (Rangitikei)— It is my desire to make very brief reference to the remarks—I think the mistaken remarks—of the member for Hastings. He alleged not only a situation of double standards arising from the matter before the House, but also deficiencies in our Standing Orders governing the matter of privilege. If he cared to look at our Standing Orders 427 to 432 he would find that there is not a grain of justification for his suggestion. He has probably never bothered to read Standing Orders on the subject. The standards by which this and other alleged breaches of privilege are judged are matters of usage and custom of this Parliament, and of the Mother of Parliaments going back for a very long time. There is perhaps room for questioning whether the standards are always appropriate. In the present case we had a person appearing on television, presumably before hundreds of thousands of people, and making very unsavoury allegations about members of this House. Subsequently he admitted that he knew not a single member and that he had no grounds whatever for his allegation, and if it is to be said that this House has any dignity but that it should not take any notice of such a thing, then I feel that view is mistaken. It is possible that in some cases the question of privilege may be too readily raised, but I doubt even that, if one looks at how seldom in the last 10 or 15 years a question of privilege has been raised. There have been very few instances per Parliament— extremely few per year—and I am sure there have been many years in the last 10 or 20 when there has been no question of privilege raised from one end of the year to the other. In the circumstances, I wonder whether the views expressed by the member for Hastings, which are quite incorrect if he looks at the Standing Orders, are his own views or whether they were breathed to him. At all events, I think it harms rather than helps this House if a member claims that we are acting on double standards and that our Standing Orders are wrong. The Standing Orders do not even come into the picture.
Hon L. R. ADAMS-SCHNEIDER (Waikato)—We are debating the report of a very important committee, the Privileges Committee, the membership of which almost invariably consists of the most senior members of the House. The committee has reported on a case referred to it by the Speaker and the House. As has been said by other members on this side of the House, the agreement entered into between the Whips would have been adhered to if the report and recommendation had been discussed and presented by the chairman of the committee, the Minister of Justice. There would have been acknowledgement and comment from this side of the House, and that would have been the end of the matter. The House would then have moved on to the other business for the day. But the Minister of Justice, as he has frequently done, brought political material into the debate and launched a personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition. Members of the Labour Party should have learnt by now that in a debating chamber of this nature members on this side of the House are not going to sit by and let that happen. The attack was quite unjustified. You have said, Mr Speaker, that this matter was properly referred, at the request of the Leader of the Opposition, to the Privileges Committee, and I believe it has been properly investigated by the committee. I listened with interest to much of what the Minister of Justice said, and he spoke at some length. Some of his comments were interesting, and I agree that there could well be time set aside by a committee of the House to discuss the matter of privileges and the power of the House in that regard, as well as the way in which matters initiated by people outside the House can be referred to the House for its decision. I agree with my colleague the member for Stratford that Parliament is a very important institution, and that it is proper that Parliament should be able to sit in discussion and in judgment in respect of certain matters where the privilege of the institution is called into question and is breached. I support the member for Rangitikei in his comments on the speech made by the member for Hastings, though I am bound to concede that the speech was much more moderate than speeches made by the member for Hastings in the past. That is quite a change of front and I appreciate it. The member referred to people outside the House attacking us, and implied that we should take a charitable attitude to them. I am bound to point out, on the other hand, that he said nothing about the Minister of Justice, in this House in the past, attacking people outside the House. I have in mind the charge he made against Mr Meadowcroft which was proved to be incorrect. When his colleagues criticise the Leader of the Opposition for launching an attack in this debate, I would point out that the Leader of the Opposition was criticising a person who was in the House and who had spoken. The Minister of Justice should have presented the findings of the committee he chairs and left it at that, but instead he launched into a personal attack on the Leader of the Opposition, which is why Opposition members have entered into this debate today. I support the report. The reprimand is a fair conclusion, but I think it is a pity that the media, and in particular TV-1, give the emphasis they do to this type of case and the people engaged in this sort of activity. When people operating in the media bring forward a person of some prominence in the so-called entertainment world—I was going to use the word “notoriety”, and I could use a stronger expression—on a volatile medium such as television, just about anything can happen. In those circumstances it was proper for the matter to be referred to the select committee, which seriously considered it and brought down a moderate type of recommendation—
Hon. D. J. Highet—A bit wishywashy.
Hon. L. R. ADAMS-SCHNEIDER— Yes, but I do not think the case merited anything terribly serious. Nevertheless, it was proper that it should be investigated and considered by the committee. I support the recommendation. While it should have been stronger, to my mind it does at least indicate that Parliament was doing what it should have done in investigating a matter properly brought before it. I hope that as a result TV-1— or those responsible for it, because I know the Government has no responsibility for it today; we cannot talk to any Minister who is responsible—will watch standards and the type of programme put on at a viewing time when the vast majority of people can see it, and when this sort of sensationalism is introduced virtually into every home. As I said, I support the recommendation of the committee, but I very much regret that the Minister of Justice sought, in what may have been an interesting speech, to inject politics and personalities. It was simply another attempt by the anti-Muldoon party to have a go at the Leader of the Opposition.
Hon. ALLAN McCREADY (Manawatu) —I listened with great interest to the report by the Minister of Justice this morning. Along with many other members on this side of the House I had not intended to take part in the debate, but I thought the report from the Minister took a rather strange turn. It was very full, and I believe it was a little softer than could have been expected in the circumstances. However, it is not for me to judge the committee, because I was not on it and therefore did not hear the evidence and am not qualified to criticise too much. Had the Minister confined himself to the actual report I think it would have gone through the House without debate, but his reference to a previous report was in very bad taste. There is no doubt about that, and it is just another example of antiMuldoonism.
Hon. R. J. Tizard–Who's he?
Hon. ALLAN McCREADY-He is the man who will be Prime Minister in January 1976, and the Minister of Finance will then be a back-bencher. It was very interesting to hear the Minister of Justice refer to the person in question as “A”. The member for Stratford referred to the person as “he”, and I think the public is now so confused that no one knows what it is. If we want to improve the standard of this House we must stop the provocation that is going on. Any man worth his salt will come back if he is provoked. I know the temperament of certain people, and I admire them for it because I have a little bit of that in myself. If someone throws one at me, I cannot help throwing one back.
Hon. Dr A. M. Finlay—Putting the boot in.
Hon. ALLAN McCREADY. If the Minister of Justice tries to put the boot in with me he will get a bigger one back, and that is not a threat; it is a promise. [Interruption.]
Hon. ALLAN McCREADY I think Government members are getting a little ruffled, Mr Speaker. Sniping will get them nowhere. The Minister of Justice started up something this morning that he and Government members can take full responsibility for, because otherwise this report would have been accepted by the House, and by now we would be carrying on with the ordinary business of the day. Because the Minister chose to refer back to a previous report that had already been dealt with, he opened up the wound again. Well, if he likes to open up these wounds, we will get together and sew them up again. The action the Minister of Justice took this morning ill became a Minister. From time to time we have been accused of being thin-skinned if we retaliate after people have said what they like about us, as they are able to do. I believe that the Privileges Committee is an avenue of protection for members of Parliament. If the public at large, and particularly people in the category we are dealing with in this report, offer such insults, it does not matter how much they are denied by the members against whom they are made; nobody will believe them. It is only by bringing people before the Privileges Committee that such remarks are proved to be false. I admire the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition in asking for his case to be heard before the news media. That in itself showed that he had nothing to hide, because he was prepared to face the music of the news media. Perhaps it would have been a good thing if the evidence on the matter before us had been heard in the same circumstances. Then the public would have had a better idea of the attitude and irresponsibility of some people. The report was a fair one, but I do not think it went quite far enough. I repeat that it is the Opposition's role to look after the interests of the minority. If the Government takes the lead and sets out to provoke, as the Minister of Justice did this morning, then we lay the blame fairly and squarely on him and on the Government for lowering the good name of this House.
Mr HARRISON (Hawke's Bay)— There is no need for the Minister of Justice to consider replying to this debate. He has already done enough damage to this House and to his reputation. We understood that the debate, initiated by the Minister of Justice as chairman of the select committee, would be a short one, and would be replied to by the Leader of the Opposition as another member of the committee. The matter would have lain there, and that was about all that was necessary for this sorry little case. It is on the shoulders of the Minister of Justice, and his alone, that Parliament is still debating the report of the Privileges Committee and whether that report should lie on the table and be agreed to. I am led to believe that it is not Carmen who is being censured in this debate and being put on trial, but the Minister of Justice.
Hon. R. J. Tizard—Nonsense. You're always shifting the blame. It's the same stunt every time.
Mr HARRISON.—The Deputy Prime Minister has blown his fuse again at very short notice. However, we are used to that and accept it with good humour. I say once again that the Minister of Justice has been put on trial by Parliament. We have become familiar in the past with his actions in the House. This morning he made a well considered speech. The majority of members would agree with most of it. However, he could not resist the temptation of indulging his hate in a venomous attack on the Leader of the Opposition. He has done this in the past, but I would have thought that by now, at his age, he would have learnt wisdom and restraint. Unfortunately, with the passage of time these virtues have not developed in the Minister of Justice. I leave him there. Parliament decided on a previous occasion that an attack on members by people outside Parliament should be a matter for discussion before the Privileges Committee. Fortunately, these instances are few. I think all of us regret it when Parliament sees fit to take these matters to the Privileges Committee for a decision. I remind the Deputy Prime Minister that the House unanimously decided that the Carmen case should be referred to the Privileges Committee. No matter what he might say about the matter now, or might have thought then, his voice was not raised against the case being referred to the Privileges Committee when you, Mr Speaker, decided on further consideration that there was a prima facie case. The Deputy Prime Minister said that the referral of the case to the Privileges Committee gave Carmen a degree of publicity and notoriety that he did not deserve. I remind the Deputy Prime Minister that it was not the referral of the case to the Privileges Committee that gave Carmen the notoriety and publicity, but remarks made in an interview on TV-1. Because it was felt that those remarks were in bad taste and that Carmen had cast a slur on members of Parliament, the House unanimously decided to refer the case to the Privileges Committee. A similar case, in which somebody outside Parliament insinuated that some members were homosexual, occurred once before, in 1969. The then Leader of the Opposition, the late Right Hon. Norman Kirk, brought the matter before the House, which decided that the editor of the Evening Post had infringed and should be brought before the Privileges Committee. The committee was set up, and the editor was brought before it in the same way as Carmen was in this instance. Much the same result came out of that earlier hearing as has come out of this one. It was interesting that the Government decided that the report of this select committee should be brought in first this morning, ahead of all other business. That is an indication of the priority the Government accords the business of the House and the running of the country. I do not doubt that the report would have been agreed to within 10 minutes had it not been for the Minister of Justice. I would have thought that the Bills on the Order Paper were of greater importance and priority than the report of a select committee on a matter of privilege. I would have thought that any Government worthy of being called a Government would have had its priorities more in order than that. However, the Opposition was willing to go along with the Government's request that the matter be dealt with first. It is the Government’s privilege to take such a course, and it has the power to enforce its wish if it so desires. I am rather surprised that the Government did not say something to the Minister of Justice, but perhaps it did not realise that he would wobble off the straight and narrow path of sanity. That has happened before, and it is because of his action today that we are still debating the report of this select committee.
Mr N. V. DOUGLAS (Auckland Central)—I move, That the question be now put.
The House divided. Ayes, 38 Amos; Arthur; Bailey; Barclay, B. G.; Bassett; Batchelor; Brooks; Christie; Colman; Davey; Douglas, N. V.; Faulkner; Finlay; Fraser; Freer: Hunt; Isbey; King; Kirk; MacDonell; McMillan; Marshall, C. R.; May; Mayson; O'Brien; O'Flynn; Rata; Reweti; Ridley; Rogers; Tirikatene-Sullivan; Tizard; Walding; Wall; Wetere; Williams. Tellers: Barclay, R. M.; Drayton. Noes, 29 Adams-Schneider; Allen, K. R.; Allen, P. B.; Bolger; Carter; Comber; Downie; Gair; Gandar; Gill; Gordon; Highet; Holland; Holyoake; Jack; Lapwood; Luxton; McCready; Marshall, J. R.; Muldoon; Schultz; Talbot; Talboys; Thomson; Walker; Wilkinson; Young, W. L. Tellers: Harrison; Birch. Pairs: For: Douglas, R. O.; McGuigan; Rowling. Against: Young, V. S.; McLachlan; Sloane. Majority for, 9. Motion agreed to.
Mr SPEAKER—The question now is, That the report do lie upon the table, and be adopted and agreed to.
Motion agreed to.