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Tuesday, 25 March 1997
Page: 2892


Mr CREAN (Manager of Opposition Business)(3.18 p.m.) —Mr Speaker, on indulgence: I just confirm that it is the intention to at least complete the Aged Care Income Testing Bill tonight by whatever mechanism that requires. As for tomorrow, I have asked the Leader of the House (Mr Reith) to ascertain as quickly as possible what the government's priority is for legislation from the Senate coming back by way of message to us.

As I understand it, the schedule from the Senate is unrealistic because it limits time for debate and is not capable of being delivered because there is no gag capacity in the Senate. The reality is that, even on that limited timetable, they would be sitting through till 6 a.m. Thursday. Given the fact that there is no expedition between finalisation of messages from the Senate into here, that would mean we would probably be sitting around until 8 or 9 o'clock Thursday morning if we were to sit through all night.

The point I want to make and impress upon members of the government is that it is in your interests to urge the Leader of the House to actually get some priority in what comes from the Senate so we can have some sensible discussions about how the proceedings after tonight are handled. It is the intention on our side not to require us to sit on Thursday because people have made arrangements to get home. If it requires us to sit late on Wednesday, that we will cooperate with, but we do need to have some indication and direction as to precisely what it is the government wants back here. At this stage, there has been no indication forthcoming.

I would urge the Leader of the House to get that urgency across to us so that we can manage the affairs and the timetable tomorrow as expeditiously as we have dealt with the cut-off to the Senate, with the proceedings on super last night and the proceedings on aged care tonight—both important issues to get to the Senate so they can come back here.