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Thursday, 14 November 2002
Page: 6325


Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Manager of Government Business in the Senate) (9:40 AM) —by leave— All senators here would have heard my extensive contribution to the debate on the management of these bills just prior to the question for the adjournment being proposed last night, when I outlined the comprehensive nature of the discussions around the chamber that have taken place regarding the management of this debate. The comprehensive nature of the discussions led to the agreement to conclude the debate at lunchtime today to facilitate the travel plans of a number of senators leaving Australia to travel overseas for various reasons and the arrangement to allow voting on these bills to occur on 2 December to further facilitate those people who will not be around next week.

So 2 December had always been proposed as the date for the final consideration of these bills, and we were led to believe that that would only be required for final third reading debates. We were given very clear and precise undertakings by participants in this debate that the over 30 hours of debate that were scheduled for this week would see debate on these bills concluded. We undertook to facilitate people returning from overseas by arranging the vote for 2 December. It has now become clear that the debate has taken a lot longer than any of those undertakings anticipated.

In relation to the notice I have just given, I have held discussions with a number of people around the chamber from about 2.30 yesterday afternoon through to this morning on how we will handle the remaining stages of the debate. I had an option when I came in here this morning of lodging that notice, which is the proper procedure for alerting all senators to one senator's intentions in relation to an issue. It is actually the procedural way of alerting the world to what you intend doing.

I had a choice under the standing orders of lodging that and having it on the Notice Paper so it can be dealt with on the next day of sitting or the next day or even 2 December— it is obviously better to resolve these issues well before you get to that day—or I had the alternative of reading out the motion. I made a conscious decision this morning to read out the details of the motion so that everyone could be alerted to what was in the government's mind—and not only in the government's mind; it is a matter that the Manager of Opposition Business, I and others were consulting on last night and this morning. I made a very conscious decision very much in tune with the way I have been seeking to manage this debate with the cooperation of many around the chamber to ensure that we maintain the goodwill, openness and fairness that we have brought to the management of this program throughout the process. At least on my own behalf, I certainly make a commitment to maintain that process.