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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2583

Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats) —by leave-Mr President, do I understand that the Senate is about to vote on the matter which has been declared formal? I am not going to inject any heat into this because, as Senator Chaney said, the negotiations between Senator Button, Senator Chaney and me have been most amicable. I am deeply distressed at the thought that we are going to pass a motion which makes the Senate sit three nights next week- three nights this week and three nights next week, the third week-with no guarantee that the Senate will complete its business for this session. I have expressed on repeated occasions in this place my concern about the health of senators, and I just seek clarification now. We have a frightening list of legislation before us. We are still only one-third advanced in our debate on the National Crime Authority and we are expected to sit three nights this week and three nights next week with, as far as I am concerned, no hope in the world of completing all the business of the Senate next week even if we sit three nights. I cannot see the value of taking a vote on it at this time.

Senator Button paid me the courtesy of telephoning me yesterday, saying that this proposition was negotiable. I would have thought it could be left, except for the necessity to pass that part of the motion which relates to sitting tonight, with which we concur. I paint this scenario: If we agree to this, we are committed to sitting three nights next week. If my view is correct, that there is no way we can finish all the program in the three days and nights next week, a gun will then be held at all senators and we will be told, right, we either come back the next week, the fourth week, or we sit until 1, 2 or 3 o' clock in the mornings during the third week. That is something which I will oppose with all the force I have. What is the point of it all? Why cannot we pass that part of the motion now about tonight, to which I agree reluctantly, and then leave next week until we are further down the track, to see if it is conceivable that we can finish the business before we adjourn next week for the winter recess. If we cannot, for goodness sake let sanity prevail and let the Senate agree to sit a fourth week rather than have the crazy thing of sitting all hours of the morning next week.