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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 758

Mr SINCLAIR(2.53) —The Opposition does not resist the motion. Indeed, I am delighted to know that honourable members from both sides of the House will be given adequate time to discuss one of the more fundamental socialistic changes that this Government has, to date, introduced. In the process of nationalisation of medicine and hospitals that we see in Medicare, I am sure that most members of the Opposition would want the opportunity to address themselves to the package of Medicare Bills. However, it is worth commenting that this is the second week under the new sitting times of the House . They are obviously already proving totally unsatisfactory. I am delighted, too , to know that one of the reasons for the introduction of the measure is the recognition that those who serve us in this House-not only the people who sit at the head of the table, but also the parliamentary reporters-are to be given an adequate time in which to eat.

The only thing that seems a little incredible is that it should be yet another different break for a meal time from that of the other sitting nights. I understand that from 6.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m. is perhaps enough to meet industrial terms and conditions, but I should have thought that the Leader of the House (Mr Lionel Bowen) would have realised that most members about this House-even, I suspect, some of those of the Government-have commitments which they meet within this Australian Capital Territory community. I suggest to him that it might have been more suitable had we adjourned from 6.30 to 8 p.m., which is still half an hour less than the standard dinner break which we provided so that committees could meet and so that proper deliberations among the members of the chambers, of both this and the other place, could occur.

The Opposition accepts this change. We regret that these sitting hours, so demonstrably and so soon, have proved so inadequate. Perhaps this might yet be another catalyst for change and the Leader of the House might, in his wisdom, be able to persuade those in Caucus who imposed on him the present hours, to try to introduce a sittings pattern which can be consistently maintained and which is something which would meet the needs and requirements of most members of this place. It is rather sad that, in accepting the motion, we have so soon found it necessary to modify the ridiculous sitting hours to which we are now subject.