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Wednesday, 13 June 1984
Page: 2889

Senator HARRADINE(10.17) —I was not going to speak about this matter because I recognise the difficulties with which the Chairman and members of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence are faced. They are precisely the points that were made by the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Chaney. However, Senator Georges's contribution has influenced me to respond and to say that the Senate should not regard this as a precedent. I will be voting against Senate committees sitting at the same time that the Senate is sitting because I believe that this practice is becoming too frequent. This is a danger to the proper representative character of this chamber and it could, if it continues as a practice, lead to a situation in which debates in this chamber simply are a farce.

This is a most important question. It is a most important question for the parties and it is also a most important question for individual senators who not only have responsibilities to the committees, which are subordinate to the Senate, and to their parties but also as individual senators they do have representative functions which need to be discharged in this chamber. It is unfortunate that if Senate committees are meeting outside this chamber their members do not have the benefit of hearing the viewpoints that are expressed here by honourable senators representing their constituents. Also honourable senators present in the chamber do not have the advantage of hearing the views of the honourable senators who are in the committees meeting elsewhere. As I have said this could lead to a situation in which debates in this chamber are reduced to a farce. On this occasion I recognise that the Chairman and members of the Committee have a very real problem which has been brought about by the extended period of sittings. This was not foreseen at the time the arrangements were made with these overseas guests. I simply make that comment in response to Senator Georges's remarks.

Question resolved in the affirmation.