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Wednesday, 1 April 1987
Page: 1646

Senator GEORGES(6.27) —I oppose any change to the present hours of sitting. I think we have now reached the position where we can quickly determine the legislation on the identity card. The political manoeuvring is now over. The Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) has announced that there will not be an early election. The purpose of the debate was in some way to frustrate the political manoeuvrings of the Prime Minister, who sought to have an election at a time which he considered to be to his advantage. But that is all in the past. There has been a clear statement that there will not be an election until the end of the year or perhaps early next year, at the normal time. Since there has been no amendment to the legislation which the Senate rejected some time ago, we should immediately move to a decision on that legislation. We should then proceed with the other Bill that is before the Senate and on which the Government places some importance. I do not know why the timing is so important. Nevertheless, if it wants it, let it have it. We can get our business finished this evening. We can return to the Estimates committees program tomorrow, and the committees of the Senate can meet on Friday. Several committees have arranged hearings for Friday. Under this arrangement-even under the proposed amended arrangement-those committees will not be able to meet.

Senator Gareth Evans —We will support you, mate, but you have the numbers.

Senator GEORGES —I am sorry. Common sense ought to have the numbers on this occasion, surely.

Senator McIntosh —You move it and we will support you.

Senator GEORGES —A motion is not needed. There really needs to be an understanding. If I can say so, understanding seems to have disappeared from either side of the Senate. The reason for that is that the control of the program of the Senate has been taken out of the hands of the Whips. I have said that time and again. It is left in the hands of the so-called Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Gareth Evans) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Chaney).

Senator Robert Ray —So-called.

Senator GEORGES —The so-called Leader of the Opposition. If the Whips are allowed to run this place, they have closer contact with senators on either side and can come to an arrangement to put their best speakers forward, to limit the times of speakers, to limit the number of speakers and get the program. Every time somebody else interferes we seem to get into a personality clash; somebody has to justify his own personal position and the rest of us have to follow along. Here we are at this stage suggesting that we might even meet on Saturday. That is a ploy usually used at the end of the year when Christmas is coming along and we look like we are going to go forever and get to the stage of semi-blackmail. To get back to the point, I suggest to senators that, by some arrangement between the Whips, the legislation that we have before us should be dealt with swiftly, that we go on to the next Bill and endeavour to finish it, even if we have to negative the adjournment motion. Let us go back to our normal program.