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Thursday, 8 November 1973

Senator MARRIOTT (Tasmania) - One must not reflect on a vote of this House, but one can comment on it. If ever there was proof that this place should not have voted on the principal motion before it, it would be found in the result of the last division which was 20 to 25 against the Government One of the reasons why I want the debate to continue is that 1 realise that under the absurd sitting hours we are now forced to follow, as a result of which the question that the Senate adjourn is put at 7 p.m. a thin Senate would be present to make a decision of lasting importance to this country, a decision the effect of which will not be seen, I suggest, by very many, if any, honourable senators now in this chamber. We were going to rush a decision on this matter through on the death knock when 45 out of the 60 senators in this place were present. I do not believe that such a practice is in accordance with the traditions of Parliament and the traditions of this House.

The situation is that all of a sudden, after months of inaction, we have brought before us a motion for a joint meeting of the 2 Houses to vote on this very subject matter. I believe we should forget about meeting with the other place and the question of the siting a new parliament house should be very thoroughly examined. I come down on the side of those who oppose a meeting of the 2 Houses to discuss this matter. I believe that such a course of action would be wrong and that we would be held up to ridicule if we adopted it. I believe that if a joint meeting were to be held there would be an endless debate and where it would be held I do not know. The fact is that the Senate has been placed in a position to discuss the matter. An amendment to Senator Murphy's motion has been moved by Senator Prowse. Without reflecting on anyone I wonder how, on close examination, that amendment can be acceptable because it is my belief that it is an absolute negation of the original motion. I have always thought that an amendment should not be a negation of a motion.

The motion is that there should be a joint meeting of the 2 Houses, and the amendment moved by Senator Prowse proposes that the new parliament house be built on Capital Hill. Whether or not the amendment has been properly brought in- it was moved by Senator Prowse only 10 minutes or so ago- we now find that Senator Byrne, a man of great erudition who has taken a terrific interest in this question, has foreshadowed another amendment. One speaker was allowed to rise and briefly refer to the amendment before the gag was applied. I believe that we all should study what has been said in this place today. When we have had time to consider this matter we should resume the debate and make a decision.

Debate interrupted.

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