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Wednesday, 13 June 1984
Page: 2889

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(10.14) —The Opposition does not oppose the motion moved by Senator Sibraa. I merely wish to point out that the Opposition is concerned when committees are required to sit while the Senate is sitting as a matter of general principle, not necessarily related to the immediate matter before us. We have a further request which we will be dealing with shortly, again with which the Opposition will be agreeing. It is almost impossible for parliamentary committees to schedule their meetings to avoid the sort of difficulty that Senator Sibraa and his fellow members on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence face today unless the Government gives a very early indication of the weeks in which it wishes to extend the sitting. It is almost universally accepted that at the end of a session the Senate sits on. It was the view of some of us that the Government was likely to maintain the two weeks on two weeks off pattern. However I ask the Government with respect to any future period of sittings to indicate at an early time when the Senate sittings will be extended, if extensions are required, so that the sorts of difficulties which several committees face at the moment can be avoided. I think that all honourable senators agree that it is better if we are all available for Senate sittings. In the present circumstances obviously it would be a pity to deprive the Committee of the opportunity to meet with the academics who are only temporarily available. For that reason the Opposition, whilst not wishing in any way to encourage this practice, is prepared to go along with this request.