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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 1849

Senator McMANUS (Victoria) - Senator Cavanaghhas referred in condemnatory terms to the solidity of the

Democratic Labor Party. I agree with him that on this matter we are solid. We are solid against the motion.

Senator Poyser - That is very good.

Senator McMANUS - We assure you that Senator Cavanagh nearly spoiled everything.

Senator Poyser - Would you have taken your bat home just because he said the wrong thing?

Senator McMANUS - No, we would not. In the 13 years that I have been in this Senate I believe that the one-hour limit on speeches on non-broadcasting days has never been abused. I realise, as I have seen it happen on numerous occasions, that on days when the proceedings of the Senate are not being broadcast Whips frequently have a great deal of trouble getting somebody to fill in. Although feeling was a bit strong between the ALP and the DLP when I first entered this chamber, the late Sid O'Flaherty, the Opposition Whip, came to us on more than one occasion to beg us to fill in to keep things going.

I do not want to suggest that the onehour limit merely resulted in a lot being said which ought not to have been said or which was not worth hearing. I have heard some very boring speeches of one hour's duration. I will not mention any names at the present time. I have heard also honourable senators who are experts in particular subjects place before the Senate speeches which, in my view, not merely enhanced the reputation of the Senate but also gave those senators an opportunity to say many things which needed to be said and to place many things in their right perspective. I believe that there always will be occasions when individual senators will want to speak for more than 30 minutes, and when they will have things to say which will justify their speaking for more than 30 minutes.

Therefore my Party has been solid. It has been unanimous in its feeling that the present state of affairs should be maintained. I have not heard many complaints about the present system. I have heard compaints about one or two honourable senators who on occasions took us around the wilds of Yuendumu and other places for nearly an hour on end, and perhaps we were not terribly happy about that, but the honourable senators concerned felt strongly about the subject matter. They had! a case to put and, in my view, on the daysthat the Senate proceedings were not being broadcast, they had a right to put their case even though they took longer than 30 minutes to do so. The feeling of my Party - it has been my personal feeling for 13- years - is that there is nothing wrong with, the present time limits, and I believe they should be retained.

Senator WILLESEE(Western Australia). (9.49) - Even though my good friend Senator McManus and his colleagues are voting: with us tonight - I do not confine these remarks to them - I must say that many years before I came into this Parliament I read a book called 'Inside Parliament' written by Warren Denning who was a journalist in this place and who later wrote Caucus Crisis'. It was an unhappier experience for me to read that. 'Inside Parliament' was much more pleasant. He impressed me very much when I was a very young person. Honourable senators will realise that he wrote the book a long time ago. I agree with Voltaire who said, or is reputed to have said: T will disagree with what you say but I will defend with my life your right to say it'. Senator McManus quite rightly indicated in a very charitable manner that although some of us may speak for only 5 minutes it may seem as though we have spoken for an hour. But there are times when an hour is very well spent ir> discussion. Back in 1970 when this subject was being discussed a survey was made of the average speaking times in the Parliament. I will take a little longer tonight than I usually do so that I can give some details of non-broadcast times because we are agreed on what the broadcast time allotments ought to be.

I turn first to Supply Bill (No. 1), and I am sure that my friends will not mind my mentioning the names of some of the senators who spoke in the debate on that Bill. They were Senator Keeffe, Senator Greenwood, Senator Cavanagh, Senator Georges, Senator Little and several others. Their average time of speaking on that Bill was 17 minutes. In a debate on fauna conservation, as would be expected, the name of Senator Mulvihill topped the list. We have had a lot of jokes with Senator Mulvihill about this subject, but let me say that the first I ever heard of conservation or ecology was from him. My great education on those matters came from Senator Mulvihill long before those topics were popular in the community. He spoke for 28 minutes. Senator Poyser, Senator Byrne, Senator Georges and Senator Lawrie also spoke in the debate, and their average time was 16.4 minutes. I turn next to an Appropriation Bill. Putting an Appropriation Bill before the Senate is rather like the approach of a sergeant-major to his troops in asking whether there are any complaints. He is asking for the lot. The speeches on that Bill lasted for 17 minutes, 20 minutes, 3 minutes, 3 minutes and 2 minutes. Senator McManus spoke for only 3 minutes that night. Perhaps he was not feeling well.

Senator McManus - But it was a good speech.

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