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Thursday, 29 October 1964

Senator McKENNA (Tasmania) (Leader of the Opposition) . - As the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) has stated, this is a familiar procedure at this time of the Parliamentary sessions. The Opposition consistently opposes such motions.

Senator Sir William Spooner - Hear, hear!

Senator McKENNA - I hear the voice of a former Leader of the Government in the Senate. I do not propose today to restate the arguments that have been put forward on previous occasions. I merely indicate that we are coming to the end of a sessional period, with a week's adjournment facing us. and with one more week's activity to follow. I received from the Minister as late as this morning a complete list of the bills which it is contemplated the Senate should deal with. He has numbered them himself. There are 40 bills which have yet to go through the Parliament. That sounds worse than it is in fact because four bills are grouped in one instance and five in another instance; but regardless of how they are grouped, the bills cover a large number of subjects. They all are of importance, and we have very limited time.

The procedure to which we are asked to agree contains the possibility of all-night sittings, with business coming into the Senate for the first time after 10.30 at night and then being pursued throughout the night. That is very bad from every viewpoint. It is bad from the viewpoint of the legislature and also from that of the legislators. It imposes undue strain. If the procedure is persevered with for any length of time it renders honorable senators unable to attend to their duties competently. For those broad reasons we on this side of the chamber oppose the motion.

The Minister has been most co-operative with the Opposition in keeping it advised of proposed arrangements and in consulting it concerning the hours and days of sitting. He announced in this place recently that he would confer with the Opposition regarding the programme for the final week. It so happens that time has not permitted such consultation to take place. I am really hopeful that the Minister, after conferring with the Opposition, will be able to work out a scheme for the final week which will not involve the undue strain of allnight sittings, but until such consultation takes place and until such time as we get a picture of what is contemplated, I record our opposition to the motion.

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