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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1573


Senator MISSEN(7.18) —I am sorry to delay the Senate at this late stage, but I think it is important to put on record the disgraceful situation that yesterday's Senate Hansard is not yet available to senators at 7.20 this evening, at the time when we are about to adjourn. One of the important features of this chamber since I have been a member of it has been the relatively early period when Hansard has been available to enable senators to have some idea of matters they may have missed on the previous day and, if necessary, to enable senators to raise matters which are considered to be important. I understand the reason for the delay is that there was firstly some dispute last evening in the Government Printing Office. I hasten to add that I make no criticism of the Senate itself or of Senate officers. I think they are as embarrassed by this as anybody else. But the main reason why the publication of Hansard has been delayed-and I trust that your inquiries, Mr President, will indicate whether my information is correct-is that the Government has given orders that priority shall be given to the House of Representatives debates and also to House of Representatives Bills, which are coming in at a rate that can only be described as amounting to tremendous sausage machine activity. This is an insult to this chamber and to the whole Parliament in the way in which legislation is being processed and forced forward. Because of this urgency the Senate has been sent to the bottom of the pool. Its records of debate are not being processed. The result is that even as late as five or ten minutes ago I was at the Hansard office inquiring and was told that the Senate Hansard was still with the binders and was not yet available.

It is outrageous that the Senate is being given such a low priority. Its records of debate are essential and ought to be available to us early in the day. Mr President, I hope that you will inquire as to the precise reasons for this delay. If I am wrong, I am sorry; but I believe, from what I am told, that the reason is that the Government has determined priorities and has decided that the Senate is not so important, and, therefore, can wait third in line for the obtaining of printed documents. This being so, I trust that you, Mr President, will make inquiries and report the situation to the Senate so that it may be cured and not happen again. With that, I urge the Senate to take account of its important precedence in the scheme of things in the Parliament and not to allow itself to be pushed aside in this way by the action of the Government.