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Wednesday, 8 May 1985
Page: 1560


Senator ROBERT RAY(6.01) —The first question to be addressed regarding Senator Lewis's motion-he did not address it at all-is why this paper should be discussed today and not tomorrow. The normal procedure when dealing with Government papers is that if a particular paper is not reached, as with the electoral redistribution papers during the last sitting, it is considered on the first Thursday following. Honourable senators opposite will have ample opportunity to do that tomorrow. Of course, Senator Peter Rae has given us the answer to that question. Opposition senators want to grandstand on radio. It is not good enough for them to discuss these matters if they are not on radio.


Senator Lewis —The people want to hear what we have to say.


Senator ROBERT RAY —Senator Lewis interjects that people want to hear what he has to say. What has Senator Lewis said about the dairy industry in the last two years? Absolutely nothing. Senator Grimes has pointed out that we have had 20 sitting days this session. What have honourable senators opposite said on this matter? Absolutely nothing. They had the opportunity three or four times today to take the necessary steps to have this matter debated. When they were notified about the papers that would be put forward this morning, they could have moved for the re-ordering of the presentation of those papers. They did not do so. They had the opportunity to raise this issue as a matter of public importance. They did not do so. They did not raise the matter when they had the opportunity in the last 20 sitting days. What has happened is that Opposition senators have come in here today and said: 'We probably do not have the numbers for the suspension of Standing Orders but, nevertheless, we have to do something to look as though we are doing something'. It is no coincidence that today members of the United Dairyfarmers of Victoria have been here in Canberra. I ask Senator Lewis whether he denies that they have seen him.


Senator Lewis —Of course they have seen me.


Senator ROBERT RAY —They have put the needle into Senator Lewis, and he suddenly comes in here and says: 'I will show you what a valiant fighter I am for the people from the bush'. Senator Collard should not smile. What Senator Lewis is about, like all Victorian Liberals, is trying to prove that the Liberals are the real representatives of the country people in Victoria. The Senator Lewises of the world despise the National Party of Australia. They despise the Victorian National Party, especially in Warrnambool, where Senator Lewis comes from. That is why we have had those vicious three-cornered contests in the last two elections. What Senator Lewis is about, without going into the depth and the detail of matters he knows nothing about, is trying to pretend that he has some sort of influence in the rural area. That is absolute rubbish. Senator Lewis has had his chance. Senator Chaney has had his chance to raise any of these matters through urgency motions, through matters of public importance, or by any other means, and they have not done so.

Apparently I missed what narked honourable senators opposite and started them off. They did not approach us and say: 'Look, this is an important issue. Can we debate it here today?'. Not one of them did that. That is the normal procedure, is it not? Instead, they came in and used ambush tactics to move the suspension of Standing Orders in order to make a contribution on a matter that can be dealt with tomorrow. If they are not willing to deal with this matter tomorrow, to give up their two hours tomorrow, and there are only 55 minutes left today, that does not say much for their concern about this issue. Senator Lewis came in and built the grandstand. Senator Chaney painted it, saying that this was an important issue and that we all should be in the chamber, and then walked straight out the door. I am glad he is back to listen to the debate.

If Opposition senators are serious about the urgency of this issue, if they are fair dinkum, they may as well put it to the vote now and have their 55 minute debate, if they can win the vote. But, no, they will not do so. They will have more speakers. They will filibuster, just so they will not have to discuss the fine details of the issue. They have no intention of doing that. We know that. They are just here to grandstand. There were ample opportunities available today for this matter to be discussed. None of them was pursued. I can imagine, when we sat on the opposition benches, how much sympathy we would have got if we had said we wanted more time to discuss Government papers. Senator Sir John Carrick would have got up and just brushed us aside.