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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 3986


Mr FOX (HENTY, VICTORIA) - I direct a question to the Leader of the House. In view of conflicting reports as to the number of remaining days of sitting of this House in the current session will the Minister give an indication as to how many sitting days remain and the date of the final day of sitting?


Mr DALY (GRAYNDLER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Mr Speaker, like the honourable member for Hindmarsh I have keen anticipation. Of course that makes me, like him, so outstanding. Consequently I anticipated that a question of this nature might be asked today. I should like to advise the honourable member that I hope it will be possible to finish the business of the House by the end of next week. It has been a lengthy session and I know that some members are feeling the strain. I know also that many members have commitments in their electorates and elsewhere in the subsequent week and it would be most inconvenient for them to have to forgo those arrangements.

Yesterday the Prime Minister said he thought it likely we would be sitting for an additional week. I am a more optimistic fellow than the Prime Minister and I am hoping to avoid that. However, it will depend upon a number of things. First and foremost, it will depend upon co-operation. We must get through the legislative program before the House rises, irrespective of what happens. If honourable members opposite choose to employ delaying tactics or to debate at length measures which are not in dispute they will have to bear the consequences of longer sittings. Perhaps I should say in fairness that that applies equally to members on this side of the House.

As honourable members know, the Bill to implement the Government's new health scheme is to be introduced tomorrow. Naturally, we will want to provide adequate debating time for it next week and obviously this will be a factor in determining whether we can complete our business by the end of the week. If the prophets are right, those who miss out the first time will get a second go. I suppose we must also expect that those in another place will not always be as co-operative as we hope they will be. It is largely in the hands of honourable members as to how long we sit. Lengthy speaking and time wasting tactics will serve only to ensure Christmas in Canberra. Honourable members can be assured that, in the event of the need arising for the consideration of important legislation, the Government will arrange for the House to sit into the following week, and longer if necessary. That is, the week commencing 10 December. For my part, I am confident that we will finish next Thursday night. That is the objective of the Government and it is to be done without attempting to curtail debate, by giving adequate time for proper consideration of the measures before us. I think that, with sensible co-operation on a number of minor measures, this House ought to be able to rise on Thursday next week.







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