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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3469

Senator CHILDS(9.36) —I want to speak very briefly in this debate to oppose the proposal. Clearly, it is the morning after the night before and there is a very stroppy sort of atmosphere in the chamber. It is unfortunate that we are not looking at this problem a little more objectively. If honourable senators looked at it they would see that the only way a significant change would work would be for the Senate to allow time for committees to look at Bills in exactly the same way as matters are sent to Estimates committees. If the system is to work it should work in that way. Many honourable senators want to replicate the system which operates in the House of Representatives. The simple fact is that it is very difficult for the Senate to try to have every debate that the House of Representatives has and, at the same time, have additional committee work. I suggest to those honourable senators who want a qualitative change that they should have a look at that aspect of it.

As far as I am concerned the problem is a question of resources and staff. The Senate Standing Committee on Industry and Trade has a major reference to inquire into the manufacturing industry. We are prepared to go. Meetings are set for the first and second weeks of February. A piecemeal approach at this stage to the program that we have will impose difficulties on us. I do not wish to speak at great length. If the idea has merit it is unfortunate that a matter such as this is always dealt with when we are approaching the Christmas period. In the case of my Committee, if there were to be a public debate with people coming before it there would be pressure on members of that Committee. In view of the nature of the inquiry we are conducting I think that would detract from the work that we have to do.