For All Nails #51D: Victoria's Secret (Part 4)

by Jonathan Edelstein

"All these black people are screwing up my democracy."

- Ian Smith

Extracts from Hansard
Parliament of Victoria
19 March 1973

SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the honorable member from Mombasa North.

MR. DIETRICH SCHARPING (MOMBASA NORTH): I have a question for the honorable Prime Minister...

THE PRIME MINISTER (MR. RICHARD PATTEN): That's what question time is for.

(Laughter from Victoria United Party benches)

MR. SCHARPING: If I may, Mr. Prime Minister, I have a question about an issue that has been much in the news of late; namely, the trial of Victoria Madoka. I would like to know how your government justifies its pursuit of an indictment against this woman.

MR. PATTEN: As the honorable member is aware, it was not my government's decision to indict; it was the public prosecutor's decision. I need hardly remind you, need I, that the independence of the public prosecutor is guaranteed by our Constitution, and that I fully respect that independence.

MR. SCHARPING: Be that as it may, I believe there are reasonable grounds to question the wisdom of pursuing an indictment under these circumstances. The accused, I believe, is a citizen of Victoria...

(Hisses from some of the Conservative and Victoria United benches)

MR. SCHARPING: As I said, a citizen of Victoria, and she voiced her electoral preferences at a bar association meeting where they were most unlikely to lead to any breach of the peace. I was present at that meeting, sir, and I can testify that her demeanor was calm and her arguments were reasoned. I have the honor of being an attorney, and I can't remember any other time that an indictment was sought under such circumstances. I think a reasonable person might be forgiven for believing, in light of all this, that the current government is taking a somewhat ... selective attitude toward our constitutional freedoms.

MR. PATTEN: Perhaps you had better ask this question of the Attorney General during his question time.

MR. SCHARPING: In the event of a conviction, would the honorable Prime Minister consider a pardon?

MR. PATTEN: I will consider all things in their due time, but it's certainly silly to consider a pardon before justice has run its course. Are there any more questions from the floor... yes, the honorable member from Nakuru-Westlands.

MR. PETER MELENCHON (NAKURU-WESTLANDS): On behalf of the Conservative Party, I also have a question about the Madoka case. I note that throughout this session, and in public comment, the honorable Prime Minister seems to have taken pains to disassociate himself from it.

MR. PATTEN: Is that a question, Mr. Melenchon?

MR. MELENCHON: No, sir, an observation, but I am curious about why you seem to have so studiously declined to endorse the actions of the public prosecutor's office. Can it be that you consider it an embarrassment when the public prosecutor enforces the law?

(Cheers from the Conservative benches)

SPEAKER (gaveling): Order!

MR. PATTEN: As you know well, sir, neither I nor the government of Victoria have ever been anything less than zealous in pursuit of law and order...

(Cheers from the Victoria United benches)

MR. PATTEN: But it is precisely because we enforce the law without fear or favor that I do not take a position on a pending criminal case. The enforcement of the law, Mr. Melenchon, is simply not a political matter.

MR. MELENCHON: But isn't sedition a political matter, Mr. Prime Minister? This country is in danger -- yes, in danger of its very existence -- from black revolutionaries, so should it not be the policy of this government to pursue them wherever they are, and to fully endorse the actions taken against them by the public prosecutor? Even, dare I say, when they wear lawyer's robes?

(Sustained cheering from the Conservative benches)

SPEAKER (gaveling): Order! Remember where you are!

MR. PATTEN: I yield to none, Mr. Melenchon, in my will to combat the menace of black revolutionaries. As you are aware -- as, I daresay, you are well aware -- this danger was among the reasons why my party entered into a compact with your own. You have no right -- none at all -- to impugn my determination to protect the Victorian way of life. But I feel, as is only proper in a constitutional system of government, that the law should be left to those bound to enforce it...

Government House
Nairobi, Victoria
19 March 1973

"So how did you like that, John?" asked Richard Patten.

"Not a bit," answered the Foreign Secretary, John Amalfi. "Do you think Harry put him up to it?"

"This is Melenchon we're talking about," responded the Victoria United Party's parliamentary whip, Alistair Reid. "I doubt he'd remember to breathe if Harry didn't leave him a note."

"Point taken," Amalfi said. "So what the hell is Harry up to, then? You'd almost think the Conservatives were part of the opposition, the way Melenchon carried on."

"Unfortunately," said Reid, "I think they are."

"Do you mean they're going to quit the government?" asked Amalfi.

"They hardly need to," answered Patten, "given that we have to hold an election within two months. I think what Alistair means is that they'll be running against us as much as the Democrats and Liberals."

"That's about it," Reid said.

"But what do they have to gain by weakening us?" asked Amalfi. "We're their bloody partners."

"Strength within the partnership," said Patten. "The more seats they have compared to us, the more of the shots they can call -- and our seats are the most natural place for them to make gains. They're playing to the Goldies and the working class, don't think they aren't."

"So for the next two months, we're going to have to listen to the Democrats telling us we're threatening the constitution and the Conservatives telling us we're soft on the nogs?"

"You've got it, John," Patten said. "I knew I had a bad feeling about this bloody Madoka case..."

Extracts from Hansard
Parliament of Victoria
20 March 1973

THE PRIME MINISTER (MR. RICHARD PATTEN): ... The past four years have been years of great achievement in Victoria. Our economy has grown apace, industrialization has proceeded, we have made great strides in providing education and health care for all our citizens...

... it is our new immigrants, as always, that are our greatest resource, and these have come in record numbers during the tenure of the present government. And they have come, I say to you, for the reason that they have a better chance of realizing their dreams here in Victoria than in any other place. In the CNA, those not of 'good family' are invited to stay where they are; in the USM, immigrants and native-born citizens alike are hemmed in by a Byzantine web of regulation. Only here in Victoria can the son of a hod carrier grow up to sit in Parliament. It is this that gives Victoria its dynamism, and it is this -- this -- that strikes fear into the North Americans lest their own people demand what is due them. I take great pride in my contribution to bringing these valuable and cherished citizens to our nation...

... As I said, these past four years have been good years, and I fully believe that this government deserves a chance to make the next four even better.

(Sustained cheers from the Victoria United benches)

Nevertheless, that decision is left to the people, as it must be in a free society, and it is once again time for the choice to be made. I must call a general election, and I hereby do, to be held on the seventeenth of May...

Forward to FAN #51E (4 April 1973): Victoria's Secret (Part 5).

Return to For All Nails.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.