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Wednesday, 24 August 1983
Page: 189

Mr LIONEL BOWEN (Leader of the House) —in reply-I thank the Manager of Opposition Business for his qualified support. I am advised that, although we propose ringing the bells for three minutes instead of two, it is proposed that when successive divisions are taken the bells will still be rung for one minute only.

Mr Sinclair —That is standing order 200A.

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —Yes. I think there will always be as many variations of sitting hours as there are governments. As we propose to remain here for some time, we will not have many variations in the next 10 years. I am anxious to say in all humility that I did not attend those meetings at which there was some divergence of view as to what the sitting hours should be. I want to make the point that Caucus members readily and unanimously accepted the advice given that we should adopt these hours. Nevertheless, in fairness to what the Opposition spokesman has said, there is always the point of view that we should sit for four days a week instead of three and have a week off. There is another view that we should sit through meal breaks when we should agree not to debate contentious matters. I have said that we will take those matters into consideration for next year, not this year. But I would appreciate any advice from honourable members generally with regard to changes which might be helpful to them should they feel a matter is causing them concern. I note with interest what the honourable gentleman opposite had to say about starting at 10.30 a.m. on a Wednesday. I had in mind to start at 10 a.m., but I had put to me the point of view which the honourable gentleman was expressing-there might be an opportunity for joint committees to meet on Wednesday mornings. That was the reason a half hour extension was proposed.

I do not want to see adjournment debates done away with. I think they became a sort of vaudeville half-hour for a select few which nobody else could break into . It often looked like a barber shop quartet on a special night. I think it is important to have an adjournment debate. I assure the House that adjournment debates will still be held. For example, on a Thursday there is no reason why General Business should not conclude at 10 p.m. and the adjournment debate last for half an hour. Again, on grievance day, there is no reason why the grievance debate, if it is agreed, should not finish at 10 o'clock, still leaving half an hour. Of course, I have no doubt that people with a grievance would value an allocation of 10 minutes rather than the other shorter period in which to express a point of view.

Rather than delay the House any further, I thank the Opposition for its co- operation. I am convinced that we have a very busy session ahead of us, and it is important that we deal with legislation as expeditiously as possible. I think holding Question Time at 2 o'clock each day will enable members of the public to make arrangements so that they can listen to what, to them, is possibly the best part of a day's proceedings. I thank the House for its support.

Question resolved in the affirmative.