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Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Page: 4485

Senator MINCHIN (7:07 PM) —by leave—As Senator Faulkner and others well know, it is a long established principle that votes of this kind are recommitted when one or other senator for whatever reason is absent. That has occurred in my experience, in the 15 years I have been here, on both sides of this chamber. It is to the credit of this Senate that that convention has properly been observed. The other part of that convention is that the recommittal should occur as soon as possible after the initial vote that was prejudiced by the absence of one or other member. The fact is that the adjournment tonight is at 7.20 pm. We can have a technical debate about whether the government agreed that the consideration of government documents would be forgone. We understood that was the case, that government business would continue until 7.20. In any event, all senators know that the adjournment is not until 7.20 and that they should be available for votes until 7.20.

This Senate is not going to be easy for any of us to manage for the next two or three years, as it is so finely balanced. Senator Faulkner has properly recognised that for the management of this Senate it is critical that both sides recognise the principle of recommittal in these circumstances. But I would appeal to the Labor Party to grant leave for this recommittal to occur this evening in the interests of ensuring as best we can the efficient, effective and conciliatory management of this Senate over the next two to three years. There is no good reason for the recommittal not to occur now. The division bells can be rung now and this vote will be concluded by 7.20, which is the time for the adjournment. I would, with all the goodwill that I can bring to bear, appeal to the Labor Party not to deny leave for this recommittal to occur now.