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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2286


Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - Mr President, I draw your attention and the attention of the Senate to standing order 448. I suggest that that standing order contemplates that a standing order may be suspended in the case of urgent necessity. Standing order 448 states:

In cases of urgent necessity, any Standing or Sessional Order or Orders of the Senate may be suspended on Motion, duly made and seconded, without notice: Provided that such Motion is carried by an absolute majority of the whole number of senators.

The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) has moved that the Bill be declared an urgent Bill. He has done so regrettably without any warning whatever to the Senate. Some warning could have been given. If the Minister wanted to do this there is nothing to stop him giving notice so that the matter could come on tomorrow or some arrangement as to times might be agreed upon in order that the matter could be dealt with in a sensible fashion.


Senator Gair - He has had a lot of encouragement to do that, has he not?


Senator MURPHY - He has made no proposal to me, if I may answer that interjection. No proposal has been made to me other than in terms to which I have acceded, and these terms have not been broken in any way. We have not exceeded the time contemplated for dealing with the Committee stage of the Bill, and the Minister in charge of the Bill has made no proposal in relation to the allotment of time or the setting out of some programme in which the matter could be dealt with in a sensible way consonant with the dignity of the Senate. Instead the Minister has put forward a proposition out of the blue under standing order 407b that the Bill be declared an urgent Bill. He seeks to invoke that part of the standing orders which states that the motion shall be put forthwith without any debate or amendment. Reading the standing orders together, I suggest in the circumstances that it is reasonable to say that an honourable senator could move for the suspension of such standing orders. The Minister's proposal has been thrust upon the Senate without any notification, as far as I am aware, that this tactic would be used. The proposal has been put forward without any request that an arrangement be entered into between the parties dealing with this matter. I seek your indulgence to suggest, Mr President, that instead of this tactic being pursued it might be much better if the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) and I were to agree upon times, or if the Attorney-General were to suggest some programme in relation to times.


Senator Byrne - What about the Democratic Labor Party?


The PRESIDENT - Order! The Leader of the Opposition is entitled to be heard and to explain the point to which he wishes to address himself.


Senator MURPHY - I note the interjection which was made. May I suggest that the Attorney-General ought to put forward some programme which he thinks might commend itself not only to the Opposition but also to other honourable senators.


Senator Greenwood - I rise to a point of order. Under the Standing Orders Senator Murphy cannot digress from the matter under discussion. He is speaking to a motion of dissent from your ruling, Mr President, and what he has been saying is not relevant to that motion at all. If he desires to deliver homilies to the Government as to how the Government should conduct itself, there is an appropriate time and place - the adjournment debate - to do this but he should not do so at this time. I submit that he should direct himself on a serious matter such as this to the issue before the Chair.


Senator Drake-Brockman - Mr President, this situation is bordering on the ridiculous. A motion, as moved by the Minister in charge of this Bill, has been accepted by the Chair. Now Senator Murphy is endeavouring to move another motion to that motion. We might as well throw away the Standing Orders if we are to continue in this way. What I am saying is that the Chair accepted the motion moved by Senator Greenwood and I think we should deal with that motion.


The PRESIDENT - Order! The question is: 'That the ruling of the President be dissented from'.







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