Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2765

Mr TIM FISCHER(10.13) —I wish to make a brief inquiry of the Leader of the House (Mr Young) in relation to this motion and make one other point, because I realise that the House is anxious to proceed with its business. It is important that in this motion, in effect, the Minister has reconfirmed the Monday to Thursday sitting pattern for the third week, which means that, in each of the three-week groupings of sittings which we have on this occasion and the one coming up late in May, in two of the three weeks we will be sitting from Monday to Thursday and in the first week we sit from Tuesday to Friday.

That is getting closer to the concept put forward by the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Procedure that the House should proceed on a stabilised sitting schedule basis-that is, Mondays to Thursdays and never on Fridays-as a permanent pattern of sitting so that members can plan ahead for the Budget session and beyond. We are asked by organisations and Ministers particularly to allocate dates even early next year, especially with the bicentennial year coming up, to do something. We cannot safely do so because we never know on which Mondays or Fridays the House may be sitting in, for example, the first half of our bicentennial year.

I made a submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Procedure, as did other members. Its report was debated on the floor of this House. It came down very strongly in favour of the stabilised sitting schedule pattern of Mondays to Thursdays-never on Fridays. I understand that the Leader of the House is investigating the matter and finalising a Government response to the Procedure Committee's report. I wonder whether he would be good enough to tell the House what stage he has reached and whether he has finalised that Government response to the suggestion of the stabilised sitting schedule pattern. I say with some disappointment that already the projected sitting pattern for the Budget session is out which, once again, destroys the concept of the stabilised sitting schedule pattern. Perhaps the Leader of the House could enlighten us today in relation to that. I am pleased to note that the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh), the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, is in the House at this time. Once again he is certainly looking unhappy, following the collapse of that factional deal in Queensland.

Finally, what this motion does is create four extra days of sitting for the House of Representatives. That is most welcome, as the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Spender) has pointed out. I will not canvass again the reasons that the honourable member for North Sydney advanced, but certainly members of the National Party of Australia welcome every opportunity to debate the economic agony of rural Australia and the economic agony of this nation, with its huge gross national debt, and to debate in detail the mini-Budget coming down at 7.30 on Wednesday night, 13 May.

It is time that a whole lot more reality was injected into the proceedings of the House. It is time that we took the opportunity to look in detail at some of the crazy things which are happening at this time. For example, some well paid Australian Broadcasting Corporation drongos are dishing out this Dingo Principle nonsense to the disadvantage of our great export industries. Who do they think pays them their money to go ahead with their work on the Dingo Principle program? It is the Australian taxpayer. Also, just briefly, Madam Speaker, who generates that tax revenue? To a large extent it is our export industries. Yet the ABC is cheerfully knocking off one country after another in its program. I do not for one moment advocate censorship.

Mr Cohen —You are advocating censorship.

Mr TIM FISCHER —I stand by what the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) said on this matter, and I would be very surprised if my good friend the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen), who is at the table, would go against the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister himself said that it is time the ABC had some sensitivity on this matter. It has no right to track progressively through our export trading partners and destroy export markets for Australian export industries, particularly primary industries.

Madam SPEAKER —I am hesitant to interrupt the honourable member for Farrer, but I suggest that he is straying well away from the matter before the Chair.

Mr TIM FISCHER —Madam Speaker, I am always guided by your ruling. I was mentioning this matter in the context of the need for greater debate on these sorts of matters and on the economic agony gripping so much of Australia. It is for those reasons that I support the motion before the Chair.