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Wednesday, 11 May 1994
Page: 621

Senator HILL (Leader of the Opposition) —by leave—Mr President—

Senator Faulkner —Are you going to whinge about that too?

Senator HILL —Yes, I am going to whinge about it.

Senator Robert Ray —All you can do is whinge.

Senator HILL —We learnt the other day that the minister's definition of official business was Senator Cook attending a Rotary club breakfast in Perth, which clearly demonstrated the approach of the government, and in particular the approach of its Prime Minister (Mr Keating), to the Senate and the parliamentary process in general. Now we find that Senator McMullan is absent, with no explanation as to the format of the business or why he could not have delayed his travel until the parliamentary business had been concluded—no explanation at all.

Senator Robert Ray —Like Peacock used to do.

Senator HILL —When Senator Robert Ray was managing government business he showed us the courtesy of advising us in advance of a minister's absence from question time. These days, so often is a minister absent from this chamber that obviously that is too much trouble for Senator Gareth Evans.

  In view of the fact we received such an unsatisfactory explanation of why Senator Cook was absent the other day, in view of the fact that Senator McMullan was censured yesterday for failing to provide documents in accordance with an order of the Senate—another disregard of ministerial responsibilities to the chamber—in view of this total disrespect and disregard of the chamber, I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gareth Evans) to give a better explanation than he has given so far of why Senator McMullan is not present in the chamber to answer questions.