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Wednesday, 6 May 1987
Page: 2398


Senator VIGOR —by leave-Last night, after I sat down on completing my speech on the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Assessment Bill 1987 and associated Bills, Senator Coleman referred to standing order 406 and the reading of speeches. In fact, Senator Coleman has in the past frequently raised this point with respect to me. While I acknowledge that from time to time I do read from copious notes-quite deliberately, to ensure accuracy, particularly when quoting from other sources, when giving figures or statistics or in expressing the wording of a complex argument-I rarely read directly from the notes which I have in front of me. This is because of a problem which I have and which I think should be brought to the notice of honourable senators and of Senator Coleman.

I came to this country at the age of 12 and at that age I spoke French a lot better than I spoke English.


Senator Jones —I take a point of order, Mr President. My recollection of what happened last night is that Senator Coleman was in the chair and it seems that Senator Vigor is reflecting on a ruling of the Chair.


The PRESIDENT —Senator Vigor asked for leave to make a personal explanation. He was given leave and he is entitled to make that personal explanation.


Senator VIGOR —In no way do I wish to reflect upon the dignity of the Chair. The reason for rising at this stage is that I believe that this place runs on co-operation and understanding. I wish to explain that my circumstances mean that I do have difficulty in reading. This is due to the fact that I missed out on most of primary school because of circumstances during the war and as a result of illness during those years. I have overcome that difficulty, but one of the major problems that I have is that when I am accurately quoting from a document I do stutter and find it difficult to carry out that reading process. I wish to make that known to Senator Coleman and to the Senate and to point out that I also have the problem, as have a number of the Australian Democrats, of having a number of portfolio areas, including industry, technology and commerce; science; communications; immigration and ethnic affairs; and Territories, among others. In the same way as Ministers may read their speeches, I believe that some type of consideration should be given to shadow spokespersons and those in the Democrats with this type of responsibility if we are handling very detailed and complex arguments. I bring that to the notice of the Senate and hope that it can be considered reasonably soon by the Standing Orders Committee, which is the recommendation that Senator Coleman made.