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Monday, 23 February 1987
Page: 476

Senator GEORGES(10.12) —By now the Senate must have been reminded of a lesson it has obviously forgotten, which is that it serves no purpose to try to frustrate the Opposition by adjourning a debate in which it is particularly interested. If the Opposition has any nous at all, it will use the procedures that are available to it to take up the time that would have been taken up by the debate itself. I think the motion for adjournment of the debate was moved at about 8.15 p.m. It is now nearly 10.15 p.m. Two hours have been lost debating the adjournment motion when the debate itself could have taken place.

Senator Gareth Evans —It would not have been over, though, with 12 or 13 speakers.

Senator GEORGES —Nevertheless, after a debate which has a long list of speakers has gone on for about two hours everything that needs to be said has been said and the speakers start to fall off or to take less time. I suggest that Senator Evans, now that he is Manager of Government Business in the Senate, leave it to the Whips to determine the program. The Whips will possibly more easily understand the consequences of an adjournment motion being put in the face of a desire on the part of the Opposition to debate an issue. We have a strange situation, to which I have always objected. When I was Whip here--

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator MacGibbon) —Senator Georges, would you speak to the question before the Chair, which is that the words proposed to be left out be left out.

Senator GEORGES —I am saying how futile it is to have such a proposition before us, which brings me right back into order. I commend, Mr Acting Deputy President, the fact that the cloak of impartiality seems to have dropped so easily upon your shoulders. I recall just a short time ago your defying the Chair. But that is to your credit.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Georges, I ask you to speak to the motion.

Senator GEORGES —I am endeavouring to prevent this situation from emerging again. We have a strange situation in this place. We have had it for quite some time, ever since the Whitlam Government decided that it should place some curb upon the late Senator Murphy and appointed a Manager of Government Business in the Senate. It is a strange appointment because there is no Manager of Opposition Business in this place. There is an uneven situation. The control of the Business is in the hands of the Opposition Whip, who does not deal with the Government Whip but is interfered with in some way by the Manager of Government Business. My view is that we ought to take that responsibility away from Senator Evans because obviously he has made a mess of it today.

We do not need this debate. I should now move the gag. I should move that the motion be put. We would see exactly where the Democrats would stand in that situation. They are opposed to the use of the gag. What the Democrats have done today has been to impose a gag, quite futilely, by way of adjournment of a debate which should have taken two hours. What will happen now is that later we will spend another two hours on the debate itself. It is absolutely ridiculous. I suggest to the new Manager of Government Business that he accept my advice and leave the arrangement of the business to the Whips, who are a bit smarter than people who have had new responsibilities thrust upon them. They know the reality. The reality is: Try to frustrate the Opposition and it will use up all the time it has lost with a series of devious speeches and employ devious methods--

Senator Hill —Not devious.

Senator GEORGES —What has the Opposition been engaged in, then, for the last two hours? It has been nothing but an attempt to take up the time--

Senator Walters —No; to teach Gareth a lesson. There is a big difference.

Senator GEORGES —I think I have made my point. It is a waste of time trying to frustrate the Opposition when the Opposition has control of the Standing Orders which it will use to delay, to filibuster and to frustrate.