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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 2397

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - The Government suggests that this Standing Order be suspended. The Constitution makes clear that there must be an absolute majority of the Senate to pass any of the referendum proposals unless it is by way of the subsequent provisions which the Senate rejects or fails to pass. So for all these Bills there must be an absolute majority. It is quite democratic that this be done. If any persons are not present, this cannot affect the position that an absolute majority of senators must approve the proposal in the way it has been dealt with at the moment. Nothing is to be achieved by a call of the Senate. In fact, I would suggest that we could very well do without it. If we think that any measure requires some deliberation, we can take the deliberation. But why we should have to have this call of the Senate for such a proposal is beyond me.

The logical position which the honourable senator suggests is that notwithstanding that there is an absolute majority ready to pass the matter we should stand this over until Christmas Day- 2 1 days from today- and all assemble here and deal with it then. I do not think that that is a very rational way of dealing with the issue. Nor do I think, as Senator Wright suggests, that we should postpone all this legislation. Why not deal with these matters? Why not suspend the standing order, as it ought to be suspended, and then we can go on to debate the issue, and find out whether an absolute majority of senators supports any of the proposals? It seems to me to be perfectly sensible and democratic. Each of those matters has been allowed to stand for some time. They have been here from 20 November, except one which came here on 2 1 November- and before that, they were debated in the House of Representatives. I would suggest, with respect, that the commonsense thing to do is to suspend the standing order.

Question put:

That the motion (Senator Murphy's). be agreed to.

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