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Friday, 27 November 1959

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HigginsTreasurer) . - Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave of the House to withdraw the motion. At this point, I should like to indicate what it is intended shall be done with regard to the remainder of to-day's sitting, and to outline our forward prospects. It is necessary for the motion now before the House to be withdrawn in order that I may proceed to put the formal motions necessary to enable honorable members to be called together, if need be, on a future occasion, and also to enable leave of absence to be granted to us all over the interval should that future occasion be remote, though, at the moment, that does not appear likely.

The Senate is continuing its review of legislation which has been passed to it from this House. It appears unlikely that that review will be concluded to-day - or, at least, by a time which would meet the convenience of honorable members of this House. Indeed, this is more than a matter of inconvenience. I am quite certain that we all should be willing to remain here more or less indefinitely if there were any prospect of finality being reached. But my examination of the position during the suspension of the sitting for luncheon has given no hope of an early termination of the Senate's consideration of the legislation now before it. Consequently, with the approval of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I propose a course of action which I hope the House will endorse.

After the formal motions which I have already mentioned have been put, the motion for the adjournment of the House will be put in a manner which will enable our proceedings to be carried through to finality. My own assessment of the probabilities is that any necessary review by this House of changes which the Senate may make in legislation which has gone to it from this place will be arranged to take place on the afternoon of Thursday of next week. It is probable that that will be necessary, although it is not certain as yet. It is for this reason that I shall shortly put a motion in general terms requiring honorable members to return here at the date and time to be notified for the next sitting. If we do not need to meet next Thursday, we shall meet in the New Year, though not early in the New Year. On my present planning, I should not expect the House to meet in February, having regard to the late date at which Easter falls next year. It is more likely that the date fixed for the next meeting will be some time early in March. Members may find it helpful to have that in their minds at this time.

If, on the other hand, we do find that there are matters which, as a result of Senate action, call for prompt treatment by us, I think that, rather than ask members to return next Tuesday with, perhaps, the possibility that the Senate will not have completed its consideration of the legislation now before it and other measures awaiting its attention, the more convenient and safer course is to have members come back on the afternoon of the Thursday. That is what we propose to do.

Motion - by leave - withdrawn.

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