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Thursday, 10 May 1973
Page: 1960

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Leader of the House) - Like the honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony), I hope to bring a bit of sanity back to what is an emotional issue and one which, as the honourable member has said, is a matter of great interest. Honourable members must excuse me when I say that I am unmoved by the crocodile tears of the mover and the seconder of this motion. Let us look logically at the motion. This is it:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent a motion being moved to vary the decision of the House to limit debate on the second reading of the Medical Practice Clarification Bill so as to give an opportunity to all honourable members, if they so wish, to express a view on the second reading stage of the Bill.

I remind the Opposition that honourable members on that side do not have a mortgage on special conscience opinions on this issue. Honourable members on this side of the House - and they all have points of view on this - were prepared in the caucus to forgo expressing their views in order that the Parliament might have an opportunity to have a debate. Does the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) who moved this motion think it logical to give every honourable member the opportunity to talk? That is what the motion requires. Let me tell the House what it means. If we give effect to this motion it will mean that there will be 42 hours for the second reading alone, plus the Committee stages of the Bill. The total sitting time spread over a week now totals roughly 29 hours. In other words, the Opposition is asking us to have 14 weeks on the second reading of this Bill, and in that time nothing else would be done. There would be no questions, no adjournment debate and no other business. This is on the basis of our extended sitting hours, which the Opposition opposed. The Leader of the Country Party, who has just begged for extra time, is listed amongst all honourable members opposite as voting yesterday, when we moved that the time for the debate be 3i hours, to reduce the time for debate to 2 hours. Had that motion which I moved yesterday not been carried the time for this debate would have expired in 2 hours. I extended it to 34 hours and the Leader of the Country Party and every honourable member on that side of the House who is crying out is recorded in Hansard as wishing to talk for only 2 hours.

I repeat for the nation to hear that I conferred with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) about this Bill coming on.

Every honourable member who sits behind me in this place will confirm what I told the caucus. I said: 'This is a Bill on which we have to get some kind of arrangement to save the time and to give members additional debating time.' I went to my Party. I asked the members to pass a motion to give me the right to ensure that the business of the House could proceed if I could not reach agreement with honourable members opposite. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition reported back to me that members of his Party, quite rightly, had lots of views on it. Ultimately they all decided it was a private members Bill and there should be no interference whatever in sitting times or the time for debate. Consequently the motion which I brought in had to be introduced. I did everything possible--

Mr Giles - Well, why did you challenge it?

Mr DALY - I did not challenge it. I will read the Hansard for the honourable member. This is what I said yesterday:

Why did not some democrat opposite move that we sit on Saturday, Sunday and Monday? Why not sit for 2 or 3 weeks?

But nobody moved a motion to that effect yesterday. But today, when honourable members opposite know that there is no hope of a motion like that being carried, they are playing politics on a great emotional issue. That is the situation. A motion for an extension of the sittings could quite easily have been moved earlier but no member of the Opposition has taken that step until this very moment.

Mr Giles - I rise to order. I feel that I have been deliberately maligned by the Minister in suggesting that we acted only today when the Minister knows very well that we acted last night on this.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! No point of order is involved.

Mr DALY - I remind the House that honourable members opposite have resisted even an extension of time on General Business today and embarrassed me the other day when they refused to let me move a motion to suspend Standing Orders to allow my good friend the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) to continue long into the afternoon on a private member's Bill. This is the situation in respect of which I have been asked tedious questions. The Leader of the Opposition asked me a question on it at question time this morning. I am merely repeating what I told him earlier in order that the situation may be clarified. I a:!< members of the

Opposition: Do they not think that the price of things that people have to pay for, legislation dealing with social welfare and the numerous Bills that we have before the Parliament are equally as important as this issue. I am as involved in this as they are. Am I now to understand from honourable members opposite that they would be prepared to sit for an unlimited time on this matter but would not be prepared to sit for an unlimited time on any other measure? Do the members of the Country Party think that questions relating to primary producers are not so important as this, in many respects?

The fact of the matter is that it is not practical for everybody to speak on every issue. It is true that everybody wishes to speak on this. Do honourable members know that when people want to know what members views are on a Bill or a resolution they do not look up the record and read what has been said; they have a look to see where the member's name is recorded in the vote. If honourable members want to explain their situation on this Bill they should do as I have done - make a statement on it and let the public know. That is the way in which honourable members can protect themselves with respect to the vote which they make in this place, if they feel so inclined I agree that it is a difficult matter. I will not go over what I have already said. But when I hear honourable members opposite telling me today that we are limiting the time I will refer again to what they did on General Business days when they were in power.

Mr Chipp - It is prostituting Parliament.

Mr DALY - The honourable member who interjected would know this because he was either the assistant Leader of the House or the Leader of the House when in 1971 we got 1 hour 11 minutes 30 seconds for General Business. On 1st April that year we were allowed 1 hour 22 minutes. On 29th April we were given 1 hour 38 minutes. On 19th August 1971 we had 1 hour IS minutes. On 25th November of that year we got 1 hour 41 minutes 30 seconds. On 9th December we had 1 hour 16 minutes 30 seconds. In 1972 we were allowed 1 hour 23 minutes on 2nd March and 1 hour 33 minutes on 23rd March. On 20th April that year we were given 1 hour 16 minutes. On 11 th May we had 1 hour 50 minutes. In 1970 it was 47 minutes 30 seconds on 23rd April, 1 hour 45 minutes 30 seconds on 14th May and 1 hour 28 minutes on 4th June. On 20th August in that year we were allowed 2 hours 6 minutes. We have extended and doubled the time for General Business. I am one who believes that ultimately this Parliament might set aside a full day for this kind of thing when we can revise the Standing Orders. But with the business of the House as it is, we on this side have done everything possible to get agreement with the Opposition on these matters and the business of the Government must go on. As important as this Bill is, there was no alternative other than to limit the time for debate.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The time for debate has expired.

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