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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 191


Senator TEAGUE —(11.48 a.m.)—I support the remarks of Senator Hill with regard to the need in this debate to make quite clear the rationale for the determination of the composition of committees and the determination of the chairs of committees. It is quite unequivocal that the Procedure Committee sought a distribution of chairs that was reflective of the composition of this Senate and that that would be a principle we would expect to see happen, whoever was in government.

  With regard to the numbers in the two main kinds of committees in each of the eight areas—that is, eight members for the references committees and six members for the estimates and legislation committees—there is a composition whereby the government provides three members out of the eight members for a reference committee, the opposition provides four members out of the eight, and the minority parties and others provide one member. With regard to the six members of an estimates or legislation committee, the government provides three members, the opposition provides two members, and the others provide one member.

  When we have a number such as eight members on a committee or, alternatively, six members on a committee, we cannot break down the numbers to reflect exactly the composition of the Senate. However, we were mindful that we were seeking a structure that was reflective of the actual distribution of numbers in the Senate.

  If we wanted to be pedantic, one way to refine that to be more exact would be to allow in five of the eight committees four members and in three of the eight committees three members and such other complicated proportions that would have more directly reflected the exact mathematics of the distribution in the chamber. But, of course, we did not become pedantic; we did not go to that degree of detail in the matter that is just about to be resolved by the Senate. Rather, we took the broad principle that we were seeking a committee structure which would, overall, reflect the composition of the Senate through the distribution of chairs of committees. That principle must be acknowledged. In the future we will seek to uphold that principle, whatever the outcome of subsequent elections to the Senate and whatever the composition of the Senate. I say that in good faith, believing that to be the understanding of the Procedure Committee.