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Thursday, 9 December 1976
Page: 3605

Dr JENKINS (Scullin) -by leave-I should like to support my colleague, the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) who also is a member of the steering committee of the seminar. I certainly endorse his remarks that these seminars do not simply happen. They involve a good deal of hard work by many people. The work is more satisfying when one sees it brought to a successful conclusion. I think that we can say that this particular seminar was a success by whatever yardstick one measures success. The yardstick I use is the level of active participation of the delegates. Every one of the 22 sessions had to be closed by the chairman because time had run out.

These seminars are conducted when both Houses of Parliament are sitting. One might think that it would be difficult to conduct a seminar in Canberra during a busy sitting week. But, in fact, it was not. The reason it was not difficult was that so many members of this branch and other people associated with the Parliament gave so freely and so willingly of their time and were always ready to fill the breach when the bells were ringing. I will not embarrass our own members by mentioning names, but I should like to place on record this branch's appreciation of the help given by the staffs of all parliamentary departments; by Mr David Combe, the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labor Party; Mr Tony Eggleton, the Federal Director of the Liberal Party; and, not the least, by our volatile, provocative, amiable, erstwhile friend or enemy, as the case may be, Mr Fred Daly.

I interpose here to say that for those members of this Parliament who took part, there was a spin off. Those attending the seminar obviously expected a higher degree of sophistication from this Parliament than occurred in their own. Yet many of the procedures peculiar to their Parliaments should be considered by us. Many honourable members think that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is a necessary trapping to the institution. They should show more interest. As a Parliament, we should be conscious of the increasing pressure on Parliament and its members, due to changing technologies, powers and, indeed, the changing number and complexion of nations throughout the world. If we believe in the evolution of the Westminster system, we should be helping that system to evolve. I was deeply involved in an examination of the parliamentary committee system. As a Parliament, I believe we should review continuously our procedures and our method of conducting business and, indeed, what our business should be. It is obvious from seminars such as these that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is a fertile source of ideas. It is perhaps a measure of how .well these seminars have caught on that in places as far away as Townsville, local members, such as Mr Max Hooper and Mr Roy Armstrong of the Queensland Parliament, and leaders of civic affairs, such as the Chairman of the Harbour Board, the Vice-Chancellor of the James Cook University and practically the whole of the Townsville City Council, turned out to welcome delegates and give them as much help as they could.

Finally, I should like to say that it was a privilege for me to have something to do with this seminar as a member of the steering committee and to work with my colleagues, Senator Davidson- the chairman- and Mr Lucock and our Secretary, the Clerk, Mr Parkes, who was a prime mover in initiating these seminars. On this day when tribute already has been paid to Mr Parkes, I too would like to praise him for his role in and respect for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Whilst I am not being strictly relevant to the matter before us I would like to thank him on behalf of the present Deputy Chairmen of Committees, and many past deputy chairmen of committees, for the assistance and courtesy he has shown them in his task and for the guidance he has given to many back bench members of Parliament Anything else that needs to be said is in the report. I commend the report to the House.

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