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Thursday, 27 April 1961

Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins) (Treasurer) . - I hope the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) and his colleagues will not try to whip themselves into a passion and make some childish demonstration on this business. My colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is Minister in charge of the House for this week, has already explained that this is a precautionary step which it is customary to take towards the end of a sessional period so that the House will be in a position to deal quite flexibly with the business coming before it. I welcome the comment by the honorable gentleman on behalf of his party that, on what he sees of the programme ahead, there should be no reason for us to be sitting late hours and protracting the sittings of the House because, for our part, 1 can assure him that the Government will give him every co-operation in ensuring that the programme of business is completed expeditiously while at the same time providing reasonable opportunities for representative viewpoints to be stated.

This session has been rather notable for the amount of time which, so far, we have made available for private members' business. I have gone to pains to ensure that there should be no restriction of opportunities for private members on any of the days devoted to either general business or grievance. We have had a rather longer time for private members' discussions on the motion for the adjournment of the House at night. Honorable members opposite who, apparently, are troubled by any prospect of sitting beyond 11 o'clock as a result of this motion, do not experience the same inhibition when it comes to keeping the House until after midnight on those occasions.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that we should not be bringing in new business after 11 o'clock at night. I hope that will not be necessary. For our part, we shall be trying to avoid that contingency. But the working rules which apply inside the honorable gentleman's own party sometimes make it desirable in its interests, no less than those of the Government - if honorable members opposite want the opportunity, for example, for a caucus examination next day of some bill which the Government finds it necessary to bring in at a later stage of the session - for a second-reading speech to be made on behalf of the Government after 11 p.m. I certainly hope that the House can complete its business within the next fortnight, which was the general understanding between the Government and Opposition parties earlier in the session. For my part, if honorable members opposite feel that the period should be extended, they will not find me resistant to that proposal; I shall be about the business of the Government in Canberra, in any event. I shall do what I can to bring the business expeditiously before the House. I can assure honorable members opposite that we and the Draftsman have worked quite arduously to ensure that result. Having said1 that, I hope that we may get on with the business of the House and that honorable gentlemen opposite will not turn this debate into a political song and dance which really impresses nobody and does not increase the stature of the institution of which we are all members.

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