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Friday, 27 November 1959

Mr HAROLD HOLT - I was proposing to seek leave of the House to make a statement along those lines at the end of question time, but as we are very close to that now I think I could usefully make my statement at this juncture. As honorable members are aware, so far as it has lain in the power of the Government in the House of Representatives we have disposed of the legislative programme that we brought forward for this sessional period. But a good deal of that legislation is currently either under consideration or awaiting consideration in another place. So far as one can make an analysis of the likely result of the examination of that legislation by the Senate, only one substantial item of legislation is likely to be affected by way of amendment so far as I can ascertain, and that is the Matrimonial Causes Bill. The extent to which there may be some amendment there has, of course, yet to be determined as the Senate is currently considering that bill. However, it is the intention of the Government to bring that and other legislation to finality, and, if necessary, to have the House of Representatives meet for that purpose.

The procedure that I recommend be adopted - I have discussed this with the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and, of course, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) - is that in a few moments we put the formal motion for the adjournment of the House. That would enable the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and others who may wish to speak in that strain to address themselves to the kind of felicitous references that are customary at this period of the year. After the House has got itself into a suitable frame of mind following those references, we can proceed with discussion of the motion for the adjournment of the House much as though-

Mr Whitlam - In the same spirit?

Mr HAROLD HOLT - That would depend on honorable gentlemen. I hope that they will continue in the same spirit. We can then proceed as though we were on a Grievance Day discussion with the motion for the adjournment as the vehicle. It is certainly not intended to bring that motion to finality. We clearly cannot bring that motion to finality; and what is proposed, therefore, and I understand that this is in accordance with Standing Orders, is to seek withdrawal by leave of the motion for the adjournment if that course appears desirable and invite the House to resume again at 2.15 p.m., at which time we shall have a clearer idea of the progress being made in another place. I think we can adjust our course as we go along, according to what official information reaches us from the other chamber, and I shall keep in touch with my opposite number in the Opposition ranks so as to inconvenience honorable gentlemen as little as possible.

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