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Wednesday, 11 May 1994
Page: 652

Senator KERNOT (Leader of the Australian Democrats) (4.17 p.m.) —I am going to vote against the suspension of standing orders. Sometimes it is really hard to listen to what the substance of the issue is when it is Senator Ian Macdonald who is delivering it. We have to put the vitriol to one side, and try to concentrate and look for some substance. The fact of the matter is that to put forward the reason for the need for this five minutes as being that Senator Coulter, as a Democrat, used five minutes of the allotted time is absolutely invalid. We hardly ever move to take note of answers. We have as many opportunities as Liberal Party senators to feel frustrated because we cannot get heard and get the call to take note of answers. But the fact of the matter is that it is very logical for the chair—

  An opposition senator interjecting

Senator Faulkner —You didn't get a chance at all, you great galoot.

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McGauran)—I ask Senator Faulkner to withdraw that interjection.

Senator Faulkner —Mr Acting Deputy President, are you seriously suggesting that `great galoot' is unparliamentary? If it is unparliamentary, I withdraw it.

Senator KERNOT —The point I am making is that the chair of the day usually groups the motions to take note in a logical order. I accept that. It often means that several people in the opposition get to use the whole of the time for taking note. I think it is an important step forward that the time for taking note has been formalised, and we all have to accept when that time has run out.

  The government has offered Senator Crane five minutes after the tabling of documents. I think that that is a reasonable compromise. Next time we feel frustrated but accept the limitation on the ordering of the day I will remind Senator Crane of how we are not trying to abuse the process to get more time. Taking note is important and taking note logically is important, and that has happened today. To say that the Australian Democrats do not have an equal right and to blame us for taking up a precious five minutes—that is our right, that is a right we share equally with Liberal Party senators and it is a right we do not abuse. (Quorum formed)