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Thursday, 3 November 1983
Page: 2304

Mr PORTER(3.25) —I support the comments of the Opposition Leader of the House, the right honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), especially in relation to the proposal to sit on Fridays. Whilst I acknowledge that the Leader of the House (Mr Lionel Bowen) has indicated that really this is only an emergency provision, I ask him to take into account that it is not as easy for the large number of members who represent country electorates, especially those on the Opposition benches, to get back to their States and out into their electorates as it is for members of the Australian Labor Party who in the main represent city seats to which they can return quite easily at the weekend. I ask the Leader of the House to take into account that concern of those of us who represent larger country electorates. With the uncertain sitting times, it is not easy to organise our programs.

I also support the comments of the Opposition Leader of the House in relation to sitting hours. Whilst we are now not sitting on Wednesday nights, that seems to be a rather uncertain matter. We have sat on some Wednesday nights and the Leader of the House has now indicated that we may have to sit on Fridays. The early rising on Wednesday nights has meant that Government Business has not been achieved and, therefore, that we may have to sit on Fridays. I see that as a waste of time. If I have to be away from my family and my electorate to be in Parliament, I would rather work on a Wednesday night than have the night off. The Government may consider Wednesday nights to be a good opportunity to hold committee and other meetings, but they can be held during dinner breaks, as they were in the previous seven years. The current sitting hours are totally unsatisfactory. I hope that the Government will give that matter consideration when it reviews these matters at the end of the year, as I understand it will be doing. I hope that next year we will have better sitting times which will take into account those of us who have to come from further away than Melbourne and Sydney and those of us who represent large country electorates where the problems of servicing are much more difficult and onerous than for those representing city electorates.