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Tuesday, 30 March 1999
Page: 3523

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (6:25 PM) —by leave—I appreciate the assistance of the opposition deputy whip on this matter because the alternative quite often for the Senate when they get to these impasses in programs, when things actually start moving more quickly than people expect, is that people call a quorum to see if a speaker comes down, and that disrupts a lot of senators who are otherwise working in their offices.

I think the next item on the red as I saw it today was to be the regional forest agreements legislation. It is obviously an issue of genuinely great importance to a lot of senators, but there is a speakers list of something like 18 people. So the government made a decision earlier today that it would be better in the very limited time available to us prior to Easter—we only have a Wednesday sitting day before us and only a few minutes of Senate time left to us tonight; we also have a couple of contentious disallowance of regulation debates to be conducted tomorrow, one to be moved by Senator Bolkus and one by Senator Bartlett, and both of those could take some time—to move to the consideration of some bills that could be dealt with and completed prior to the luncheon matters of public interest debate tomorrow.

It was quite clear from the speakers list that, in the time available between now and the Easter adjournment, the regional forest agreements legislation would get only a part of the way through the second reading, whereas dealing with something like the appropriation bills could actually see that matter brought to a conclusion. We did inform parties of the decision some time ago, and I think we already have a speakers list for the appropriation bills. I am not sure whether there is an opposition speaker or a Democrat speaker. I think there has been an amendment distributed in the name of the opposition.

Senator Cook —I will be seeking the call.

Senator IAN CAMPBELL —You are ready to speak in this debate?

Senator Cook —Yes.

Senator IAN CAMPBELL —So I hope that explanation is of assistance to the deputy whip and members opposite. That was the reason—we moved a little quicker. The Senate sometimes does that. I do appreciate dealing with it in this way instead of calling a quorum; it is a big help.