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Wednesday, 10 June 1970


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I thank the honourable member for Grayndler for his great personal concern but I want to assure him that the question of my position as Speaker of this House should not be the subject of debate on this occasion.


Mr DALY - 1 appreciate your point of view, Mr Speaker, but T would not like you to think for a moment that I did not feel for you. I now refer to other members of the Parliament. Sitting in front of me are the officers of the Parliament who take down the reports of the speeches of honourable members. Some of the speeches, of course, are not quite as good as the one that honourable members are listening to now. Those officers are expected to sit here all day and take down the proceedings of Parliament and yet they also are expected to go right through into the early hours of the morning and be here at 10 o'clock to commence another full day's work. To say the very least, they are working nonunion hours. No worker should work overtime without a certain break and a certain period of time between the end of one shift and the start of another. Under the proposal the officers who are sitting in front of me here will have to sit in this Parliament until 5, 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning and to come back 3 hours later, having had no rest, and work for another day right around the clock. The attendants and other staff will be expected to do the same thing. I would not be surprised if they walked off the job under these circumstances. I feel that they would be justified in doing that.

The Government says that this proposal is necessary in order to put its legislation through. The Government is going to this extreme for one reason only. It knows that it is guilty for having had such a long recess and it does not want measures like the health legislation, matters relating to tariff reform and numerous other Bills on the business paper to be debated when the public can hear the debate. The Government seeks - if I might use that well worn phrase - by exhaustion to force honourable members to pass legislation in this Parliament. How many honourable members can debate intelligently in the early hours of the morning? Certainly no-one on the Government side can do that. I defy the most intelligent member of Parliament at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, after sitting from 10 o'clock the previous morning, to say that he adds a reasonably intelligent contribution to any form of debate. What is wrong with the Parliament sitting in the week that we have off, as it did in days gone by? Why do we have a week's break from time to time? What is wrong with sitting from the time we get here until the session is finished? When I first came to this Parliament we sat from the middle of February right through until November, arid there was no break whatever. If the business of the nation is important enough, we should sit during that period. Why does the Minister not suggest sitting next Saturday and over the weekend if necessary? If there is important national business to be debated by the weekend why should we have a holiday at this time? What is wrong with Parliament sitting for another 2 or 3 weeks if necessary? Why is there this necessity to rush into recess?

The Minister talked about the transport officer wanting to know when he has to make plane bookings, and the cook wanting to know whether he has to cook meals next week or the week after. Nobody in his right senses could believe that they are the real reasons for the proposal. The Minister will have to give a better reason for extending the sitting hours than he has, because the reasons he gave today were spurious. I am grateful to the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) for bringing to my attention item 23 on the notice paper, which concerns the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill. I congratulate the Minister on wanting to get away from another debate on that issue. Recently the Government ran out of special planes to bring back members to save it from disaster. I think that there is a sinister purpose behind item 23 and. if the truth is known, that is the reason why we are expected to sit right through the night to debate these measures. I place on record my opposition to the proposal. The Government deserves to be condemned for forcing honourable members to sit into the early hours of the morning, and for the Minister's going back on his statement and assurance that the Parliament would no: sit after 1 1 o'clock. I agree with the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) that evidently the effects of the sit-in have worn off and we might have to have another sit-in to bring the Government back to its senses on this issue.

In any case, Mr Speaker, when you are worn out and dejected in the early hours of the morning, when the health of the Clerks and other staff is affected, when the attendants are worn out and wearyand have not seen their wives and children for a few days, and whenthe other staff members are walking in a tranceI hope that honourable members will realise that it has been caused by the. Leader of the House and the Government by sitting into the early hours of the morning when another week's sitting could have solved it all. I see the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) nodding and I thank him for agreeing with what I am saying. I excuse him; perhaps he was sleeping. 1 thought he was agreeing with what I said. I place on record my condemnation of the Government. I hope that the numerous honourable members opposite who see the importance of sitting at a reasonable hour of the day will rise in their places and register their protest. They need not even vote with the Opposition. If they stay out of the chamber during the next division the Parliament will have reasonable sitting hours.

Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:

Thatthe question be now put.







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