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Private Member's Bill to establish an end of war list

ERROL SILVER: In September 1989 then National party Senator Julian McGauran introduced a Private Member's Bill to establish an end of war list for Australians who'd served in Vietnam. That Bill passed the Senate but was still before the House of Representatives when the Parliament was dissolved. In this Parliament, Senate National Party Leader, Ron Boswell, sought completion of the consideration of the End of War List Bill. So, on Tuesday of last week, the following discussion took place in the House of Representatives.

LEO MCLEAY: The message which the Senate has now sent asks the House to resume consideration of the lapsed Bill which was transmitted to the House in the words of the Senate message during the last session of the Parliament. I highlight the words `during the last session of the Parliament' because the Bill was not transmitted during the last session of this Parliament but during the session of the last Parliament. The action by the Senate has been taken despite the provisions of the Senate Standing Order 136 of which the House of Representatives Standing Order 264 is similar, which effectively forbids consideration of a Bill being resumed following a general election or a periodical election for the Senate. I should point out that the Senate suspended their Standing Orders to validate the action it has taken; that is, to enable a message to be sent to the House requesting that we resume consideration of the Bill. Although it is unusual for a speaker to questions the actions of the Senate, I feel that on this occasion I should do so on the grounds that the Senate has involved the House of Representatives by its actions. First, it may be argued that suspension of Standing Orders to enable this particular action of the Senate, while of undoubted validity, ignores proper parliamentary practice. Second, those who drew up our Standing Orders included a provision for a Bill which has lapsed at the prorogation of a session to be restored to the Notice Paper under certain conditions. But they specifically excluded such action if an election intervened, as I mentioned earlier.

The use of the word prorogation, as used in the Standing Orders, should be read as dissolution in this particular circumstances as the practice of having a prorogation prior to a dissolution is no longer a follow and so these days the business of the House lapses at the end of the Parliament because of dissolution rather than prorogation. The reason behind the prohibition in the Standing Order is that a new House should not be bound by the actions of its predecessor, insofar as unfinished business is concerned, because there is a new membership in the House and indeed a new ministry. In fact, the last election saw the return of 33 members, 33 new members to this House, almost a quarter of the whole membership of the House. It should also be noted that the Senate has also a new membership which has not considered the Bill. In raising this matter, I emphasise that I'm not expressing a view on the substance of the Bill itself. My comments are confined entirely for the question of the procedures that House of Representatives and I have an obligation to advise the House of these matters. The fact is that the Bill is not before the House and the message which I have just reported does not transmit the Bill to the House. If the Senate desires the House to consider the Bill, it needs to find a mechanism to bring it before the House, which is not contrary to the provisions of the House of Representatives Standing Order 264 and proper parliamentary procedure. Accordingly, it is suggested that if the Senate desires to revive the Bill, it should introduce the Bill again and transmit it to the House for concurrence in accordance with normal procedures. To this end, I'd ask the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister to move a motion rejecting the Senate request.

ERROL SILVER: Speaker, Leo McLeay, on behalf of the House of Representatives. National Party Leader, Tim Fischer, then spoke.

TIM FISCHER: Well this quite important Bill has been derailed by quite proper point of parliamentary procedure rising from the most recent Federal elections which involved both half the Senate and the entirety of the House of Representatives. By way of background, the Bill was introduced into the Senate by the then National Party Senator Julian McGauran with a specific objective of providing and end of war list for those who served in the Vietnam war. Other conflicts such as World War I and World War II were the subject of an end of war list and indeed an end of war list was recommended in relation to the Vietnam War but not proceeded with by the Government of that particular day early in the 70s. That legislation subsequently passed the Senate, and indeed enjoyed support on both sides of the Senate, and proceeded down to the House of Representatives where I introduced the measure here but then it was not debated; time did not permit for it to be fully debated because the government did not find the time for it to be fully debated ahead of the last federal elections in March of this year. That motion, presented to the House by the Parliamentary Under Secretary, which is now before the Chair, clearly invites the Senate to further consider the Bill and to introduce it again and transmit it to the House for concurrence in accordance with normal procedures. So, in a sense, on a technicality, but an important technicality, the Bill has been derailed. None of us are very happy about that in another sense because we would like to have seen this Bill finally dealt with and proceed and be adopted and this wrong, this sin of omission, be rectified so far as Vietnam veterans are concerned. They've had a hard road to hoe, and I suppose I can allow that in that sense I might be a little biased, has also been one of a couple of Vietnam veterans who are members of this House of Representatives.

ERROL SILVER: So this week the action moved back to the Upper House, where on Tuesday Senator Boswell, achieved compliance with the Representatives advice in record time.

RON BOSWELL: I ask the general business Notice of Motion number 70 standing in my name be taken as formal business.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is there any objection to this Notice of Motion being taken as formal? Senator Boswell.

RON BOSWELL: Mr Deputy President I move that the following Bill be introduced; a Bill for an Act to establish an end of war list for Australian Service Personnel.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The question is the motion be agreed to. Those of the opinion say aye, the contrary no. I think the aye's have it. Senator Boswell.

RON BOSWELL: I present the Bill and move that this Bill may proceed without formalities and now be read a first time.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The question is the motion be agreed to; those of that opinion say aye, the contrary no. I think, the aye's have it. Clerk.

HARRY EVANS: A Bill for an Act to establish an end of war list for Australian Service Personnel.

RON BOSWELL: I move that this Bill now be read a second time and I seek leave to have the second readings speech incorporated in Hansard.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. Senator Boswell.

RON BOSWELL: Mr Deputy President, agreement has been reached between all parties that the Bill now proceed through all stages.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The question is that the Bill be now read a second time. Those of that opinion say Aye, the contrary no; I think the aye's have it.

HARRY EVANS: A Bill for an Act to establish an end of war list for Australian Service Personnel.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: We should go into committee at this stage. Senator Boswell.

RON BOSWELL: Thank you Mr Deputy President. I seek leave to move the third reading forthwith.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. Senator Boswell.

RON BOSWELL: Mr Deputy President, I move that the Bill be read a third time.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The question is the motion be agreed to. Those of that opinion say I, the contrary no; I think the I's have it.

HARRY EVANS: A Bill for an Act to establish an end of war list for Australian Service Personnel.

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I think that's the fastest Bill I've ever seen go through this Senate.

RON BOSWELL: Mr Acting Deputy President ...

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Boswell.

RON BOSWELL: May I, by leave, make a short statement?

DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Is leave granted? Leave is granted.

RON BOSWELL: Mr Acting Deputy President, the reason this Bill has gone through in such a fast track is that my former colleague, Senator McGauran promoted this End of War List Bill to service the Vietnamese soldiers and sailors and airmen that returned to Australia without sufficient recognition. In respect to Senator McGauran, I have used his first reading speech as the Bill .. as the speech that will accompany the Bill to the Lower House.

ERROL SILVER: The total time taken for passage of the end of war list Bill was two minutes and two seconds. To mark important events of the weekend, we close with an enthusiastic 90 second statement from the Labor Member for Adelaide, Dr Bob Catley.

BOB CATLEY: I'd like to congratulate the Australian Football League on its great wisdom in admitting a South Australian team, finally, to the Australian Football League and I'm sorry that Richmond couldn't see it fit to make the vote unanimous. Unfortunately, this team will play at Football Park which is in the seat of Hindmarsh but nonetheless it is going to be suitably named; that is, it's going to named Adelaide, which is the proper name for what is going to be the leading football team in the Australian Football League. Now I trust that we'll have a decent coach and although the frontrunners at the present time are coming from those coastal areas of Port Adelaide and Glenelg, I know that Mickey Noonan, from the finest football club in the country, that is, North Adelaide will eventually get the guernsey. The players will be very good because, of course, they'll be South Australians; delighted to come back from the vagaries of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria to a decent climate and decent cuisine. I'll be joining this club as soon as it's formed Mr Speaker and I know we'll give the Australian Football Leagues existing teams a good run for their money. We intend to do the same with the Australian Football League as the Canberra team has done to the Rugby League competition in New South Wales, that is, dominate and rub out the opposition. This is a good first step in the direction of Adelaide being placed where it should be; the premier sporting city in this country with the Commonwealth Games to come. Thank you very much.

ERROL SILVER: Well, from the home of the Raiders, whose flag was raised outside the House of Representatives on Thursday afternoon by the Raiders patron, Environment Minister, Mrs Kelly and Mr Speaker, it's goodbye from the Ring the Bells team of Jenny Hutchison, Russell Thomson, and Errol Silver.