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Wednesday, 1 April 1987
Page: 1648


Senator LEWIS(6.35) —Senator Georges made a very sensible contribution to the debate and we were delighted to hear him put forward his view. The Australian Democrats say that they want to throw out the Australia Card Bill as quickly as they possibly can. The Government says `Let us get on with the debate by having the Bill passed as quickly as we possibly can'. The truth of the matter is that the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) says that he does not now want a double dissolution.


Senator McIntosh —He didn't say that.


Senator LEWIS —In effect, he did, because after 30 June he will be able to have a half-Senate election and he is talking about having an election later this year. I will put my money on it now that it will not be before 16 January 1988, when he becomes the longest serving Australian Labor Party Prime Minister in Australia. Honourable senators can put their money on an election being held after 16 January 1988. In those circumstances the Government should give serious consideration to withdrawing the Australia Card Bill and bringing down the amended Bill about which Dr Blewett has been talking for some time. That would be the correct procedure. We could then get on to the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests (Commission of Inquiry) Bill and get on to the Estimates Committee hearings. But this Government still wants this Bill rejected so that it can retain the double dissolution option. If the Government does not want the double dissolution option, why does it not pick up my suggestion that it should withdraw this Bill and let us get on with the rest of the program? That would leave us in a very simple position.