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Monday, 7 December 1998
Page: 1502

Mr McMULLAN (5:30 PM) —Mr Speaker, I seek your indulgence to make a comment briefly on that before we proceed to the cognate debate.

Mr SPEAKER —Indulgence extended.

Mr McMULLAN —Thank you very much, Mr Speaker. The government and the opposition are still in, shall we say, strenuous negotiations about the arrangements to debate A New Tax System (Goods and Services Tax) Bill 1998 and the related bills. One of the matters under discussion is this cognate debate arrangement. It is obviously appropriate that backbench members who speak before this matter is resolved are allowed to participate in a cognate debate because they will not get two chances.

The member for Hotham will be opening on behalf of the opposition in this debate. He will be speaking in this instance just about the GST bill. So we will not be regarding his contribution as part of the cognate debate. But, of course, we have no objection to subsequent backbench and other speakers being given licence to range over a cognate debate because that will facilitate their opportunity to contribute to the debate.

Mr SPEAKER —For the purposes of the debate, the chair needs to determine whether or not there is an objection to the cognate debate. Bearing in mind the comments of the member for Fraser, I rule that there is no objection. The chair will allow the course of a cognate debate to be followed.

I should indicate to the House that the member for Hotham has circulated a lengthy amendment that he proposes to move to the legislation. I have determined that it is reasonable for this amendment to be moved. It does not create a precedent in that there have been similar lengthy amendments in the past. It is what I would regard as an action that is not welcomed by the chair but, recognising that there are 16 bills to be dealt with, the chair will allow the amendment circulated by the member for Hotham to be moved. Also, I would want the reading of the amendment, in spite of its length, to be incorporated in the normal time frame allowed for the speech.