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Friday, 10 May 1985
Page: 1725

Senator JACK EVANS(10.05) —I hope that I will be given the same indulgence to speak on this matter, following the line of reasoning that was extended to Senator Peter Rae. I am also concerned about what happened last night. I believe that the record needs to be put straight. Senator Rae has spent the whole of his considerable time in this Committee debate talking about that. I wish to clarify the record because Senator Rae did have a copy of this amendment and it is completely erroneous for him to suggest that he did not. As I understand it, copies of the amendment were distributed during the afternoon. Senator Rae, his colleagues in the Liberal Party of Australia and his Party Whip all would have had copies of this amendment. If their system is not organised so that they can ensure that the shadow Minister handling this portfolio is made aware of the fact that there is an amendment which has been tabled some six hours before the debate comes on, that is a problem that they have to resolve. It is not a problem that the Australian Democrats need to take on board.

Senator Peter Rae —We will just apply the same rules in future if that is the way you want it.

Senator JACK EVANS —The Opposition already does that. Indeed, this week our Party Whip sent to my office an amendment in relation to my shadow portfolio responsibilities which was distributed in this chamber. There is another important factor which needs to be borne in mind. Yesterday, at the request of Senator Rae I reduced a 30-minute speech to eight minutes so that this National Welfare Fund Repeal Bill could be dealt with last night. I did that at the request of the Opposition shadow Minister. I cut out a lot of important material from my speech to do so. One should recognise the ploy of Senator Rae last night. At 10.25 p.m. Senator Rae asked for leave to speak on the Bill with the obvious intention of delaying the vote so that he could consult with his party. Having restricted my rights as a senator by requesting me to reduce my speech from 30 minutes to eight minutes Senator Rae, having spoken himself for a lot longer than eight minutes, then sought time to extend the debate beyond 10.30 p.m. and therefore abrogated the very situation that he had set up earlier in the evening. I find that reprehensible, not the fact that he was refused leave to speak a second time during the second reading debate on this Bill.

It also needs to be recognised that just as the division was being called, Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle indicated to a number of us in this chamber that she knew which way the Opposition was going to vote; so I am surprised that Senator Rae did not know which way the Opposition was going to vote on my amendment. Mr Chairman, I thank you for your indulgence in allowing me to set the record straight because there was a lot of confusion last night and there were a number of accusations made that Senator Rae was not getting a fair go.