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Wednesday, 24 October 1984
Page: 2356


Senator MASON(5.47) -The Australian Democrats will not be supporting the proposed suspension of Standing Orders for the reason suggested by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Button). There are probably 40 or 50 honourable senators in this chamber who have material in their files that they would like to bring up, if time were available-another three or four weeks or a month-in the consideration of the Appropriation Bills. It is not really rational that one matter should be brought forward. However, we have a sympathy with Senator Harradine in this matter. I think it would be reasonable and appropriate if Senator Harradine were to withdraw his motion and seek leave of the Senate to refer this matter back to Estimates Committee A. Mr President, I suggest, with all respect to you, that that is a possible way to overcome this matter.

I do not think we really welcome the continuous harping by Senator Chaney on the Democrats' iniquities when the fact of the matter is that for years in this place members of the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Party of Australia have had freedom of debate on almost every issue that has come forward because the Democrats have held their hands over them and protected them. For months and years they have not had any gag or guillotine moved on them and they have been able to debate things freely. Let us get that point absolutely clear. I am merely responding to the remarks made by Senator Chaney. I would like him to examine his conscience in this matter and understand that, in the future, the Opposition will be requiring that same protection it has had in the past from the Australian Democrats, and they will get it.