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Thursday, 27 April 1961


Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) (Leader of the Opposition) . - I want to say just a few words on this proposition. This has been a barren session. The Government has had no real business. It has no business now. Only two important bills await discussion, the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1961 and the Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1961.


Mr Harold Holt - You may have reason to revise that judgment.


Mr CALWELL - We have no indication from the Government yet that there will be any other important legislation except the Supply Bill, and that will provide an opportunity for debate. If members addressed themselves to those three pieces of legislation only, the House could get up next week. Therefore, there is no need to suspend the 11 o'clock rule.


Mr Harold Holt - We have the Foot and Mouth Disease Bill.


Mr CALWELL - I know, but that was brought in for the honorable gentleman's benefit and for the benefit of his back benchers who, when they cannot get into the debates in the day-time, keep the House sitting late at night, on all sorts of peculiar issues in which their own people are not in the least interested. The right honorable gentleman has spoken quite a deal to the motion, but he has not convinced anybody that there is any justification for the suspension of the 11 o'clock rule. If he has some important business to bring in between now and 11th May he ought at least to tell honorable members so that they might prepare themselves by some study of the subject that is to be debated. To bring in important legislation at 11 o'clock at night and expect it to be passed the very next day is only to make a farce of parliamentary government. I do not think that the Government has any real business at all. I think it has simply introduced this motion because it is customary to bring down a motion of this sort at this stage of a session. On other occasions other governments have had some reason for wanting that extra opportunity to bring legislation forward at a late hour, but this Government just cannot hurry into recess quickly enough. It cannot get the Parliament shut up quickly enough. This Government knows that it is under fire and under criticism from its supporters outside the Parliament and that the longer the Parliament is in session the worse are the Government's electoral chances. Its friends and supporters in the Parliament only want to help it to rush us into recess, but we see no reason for supporting this motion at this time.







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