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Wednesday, 13 May 1970


Mr BARNARD (Bass) - The Opposition cannot accept this motion which in effect applies the guillotine and restricts the Committee debate, as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) has pointed out, to approximately 6 hours 20 minutes. The Minister gives as his reasons for applying the guillotine that this is an urgent measure. He has declared it to be an urgent measure. The Minister must clearly understand that if there has been any delay in connection with this Bill it has not been the responsibility of the Opposition. We have co-operated in every way. I suggest to the Minister that he examine the report of the second reading debate. If he does so' he will find that there were just as many speakers from the Government side as there were from the Opposition side. So whatever reason the Minister has for applying the guillotine, if there is a reason, it cannot be said to be the responsibility of the Opposition. We agree with the Minister on the importance of the Bill. But this is an additional reason why honourable members on this side of the House ought to have a full opportunity to discuss the amendments that the Government will be moving to the Bill. Thirty amendments have been proposed by the Opposition. All of them must be regarded as being of very great importance, particularly to honourable members on this side of the House and to people outside the House who are interested in this measure.

The honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden), who is the shadow Minister for Health, has indicated to the Minister that Opposition members would not want to take more than the minimum time required to explain the amendments that will be put to the Parliament by the Opposition. I repeat that if there has been any delay the Government is to blame. The honourable member for Oxley was quite correct when he pointed out that at one stage this morning it was thought that the Bill would not be brought back, that we would not be dealing with the Committee stage this afternoon. The reason for this, of course, is well known, not only to honourable members on this side of the House but also honourable members on the Government side. For weeks now Government members have been dissatisfied with the form in which this legislation was presented to the Parliament by the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes). There is extreme dissatisfaction on the part of honourable members on the Government side. They cannot agree with the legislation. It is quite clear that the Bill would not have reached the Committee stage this afternoon if the Government at its Party meeting this morning had not been able to reach agreement on the Bill. Apparently the Minister for Health - one would think with the assistance of others who perhaps have more responsibility in his Party - was able to prevail on the honourable members on the Government side to allow the Bill to reach the Committee stage this afternoon.

Having said that, I point out that the National Health Bill is regarded by honourable members on both sides of the House, one assumes, to be of extreme importance not only to members of Parliament but also to people outside who have some interest in these matters. We believe that it is quite reasonable for Opposition members to argue - this applies particularly to those who will be proposing the amendments which have been distributed to honourable members - that they should have the maximum time to discuss the amendments and that all of them ought to be presented for a full and frank discussion by honourable members. But the Minister for Labour and National Service, despite the fact that he has had ample opportunity to bring the Bill forward, has delayed in doing so. The procrastination has been on the part of the Government, not the Opposition. The Government has denied honourable members on this side of the House an opportunity to consider the Bill fully. Now they will deny honourable members an opportunity to consider fully the important amendments that have been proposed by the Health Committee from this side of the House. Therefore for these reasons we oppose the motion moved by the Leader of the House, the Minister for Labour and National Service. We believe that honourable members ought to be given every opportunity to debate this Bill at the Committee stage.







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