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Thursday, 2 April 1987
Page: 1790

Senator GEORGES —by leave-I think that the proposal before us is extraordinary. Never in all my time here have I seen such a mess develop. It is fairly clear that we will proceed to complete the Lemonthyme legislation but it is extraordinary to expect the Estimates committees to meet because not only are members of the committees concerned but also the public servants who have to come before the committees.

Senator Gareth Evans —They have been kept on notice.

Senator GEORGES —They may well have been kept on notice but let me tell the Manager of Government Business this: Because of his rearrangements, we cancelled a meeting of the Select Committee on Animal Welfare tomorrow. We cancelled it because that was the cleanest and neatest thing to do in the circumstances. Rather than bring witnesses from across the country to this place, we made a decision not to hold our meeting. What I find objectionable is this: Those who manage business in this place-and I am not sure who does manage it now; it is certainly not the Whips-could have brought the Australia Card Bill to a vote earlier today by arrangement instead of allowing all the piffle that went on this evening. We heard restatement after restatement after restatement. Even the people who were speaking were embarrassed because there was no clear decision from anyone to bring the matter to a vote. Had the matter been brought to a vote earlier, we could then have proceeded with the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests (Commission of Inquiry) Bill and finished the committee stage tonight. It seems to me that this place has lost its rudder. I think that the proposition of the chairmen getting together tomorrow morning to discuss whether they should spend a couple of hours on Estimates committees is ridiculous. I think that the best proposition is that we should finish the Lemonthyme legislation and come back some other time for the Estimates committees and the other committees.