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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1558

Senator GRIMES (Manager of Government Business in the Senate)(5.46) —I doubt that it is necessary to do so but I would like to say that the Government opposes the motion for the suspension of Standing Orders. I suppose that it is probably not necessary to make that point in view of the words and demeanour of Senator Lewis in bringing it forward. Standing order 448 reads:

In case of urgent necessity, any Standing or Sessional Order or Orders of the Senate may be suspended on Motion . . . without Notice: Provided that such Motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of Senators.

Senator Lewis should have attempted to demonstrate today why the suspension of Standing Orders is urgent. He gave two reasons. The first was clearly phoney. He wanted the opportunity to debate further the report of the Australian Trade Union Training Authority. The second reason is such an absolute farce and so phoney that I shall spend a little time dealing with it. This Parliament has been sitting for 20 days-

Senator Chaney —Only 20 days?

Senator GRIMES —Only 20 days, no matter what Senator Chaney thinks. If this matter was urgent in the mind of Senator Lewis, who spends as much time out of Victoria as he does in it, like the rest of us, he could have raised the matter on any of those days as a matter of public importance, by way of an urgency motion, or in the adjournment debate. He failed to do so. Yet suddenly he gets up in this House and says that it is terribly urgent that we debate that report today, even though he knows, and everyone else here knows, that he can raise the matter tomorrow afternoon. The Opposition can devote the whole two hours of General Business tomorrow afternoon to this matter. But no, it has to be done this afternoon. The sessional order, which provides that the Senate has half an hour to debate papers, was agreed to by the Senate. If Senator Lewis wants to change the order, and I know that many people are dissatisfied with it, he can have it changed. He can go to the Standing Orders Committee and try to get the support of a majority of Senators. If he wants to debate something he claims to be urgent, he can bring it up at any time as a motion of public importance, as an urgency motion or on the adjournment. But no, he puts up this motion this afternoon without warning.

Senator Lewis —What do you care about the dairy farmers?

Senator GRIMES —I repeat the challenge to Senator Lewis that I made to Senator Boswell a little time ago. If you want to see who can milk a cow the best-Senator Harradine was in on this, too-we will all line up. The only one we will not challenge is Senator Collard. But Senator Harradine and I are quite happy to challenge a bush lawyer like Senator Lewis on how to milk a cow. Senator Lewis has not demonstrated why this is a matter of urgency, and that is the reason we oppose it. If he thought it was urgent or important, if he was so concerned about the dairy farmers, he has had ample opportunity in this place to get up and talk about dairy farmers for the last three weeks or so, and he has not done so. Senator Button and I know exactly why this petulant little display is going on, and Senator Chaney knows why it is going on. I am sorry but I will not divulge to the Senate how hurt some poor senator on the other side is about a remark that was made to him, and therefore he egged on Senator Lewis in this matter. He is wasting the time of the Senate. The Government will oppose the suspension of Standing Orders.