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Thursday, 13 September 1984
Page: 957


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition) —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

That-

(a) Senate procedures be modified so that a substantially increased proportion of Government Bills is referred to Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees;

(b) a selection committee be established to recommend to the Senate which government Bills should be referred to Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees, which committee each Bill should be referred to, and by when the committee should report;

(c) the Sessional Orders be amended so that there is a regular opportunity each day for motions to be moved on reference of Bills to committees and an opportunity provided for senators to move the reference of Bills which have not been recommended for referral by the selection committee;

(d) the present Sessional Order on reference of Bills be rescinded, and a revised version permitting the calling of any witnesses that the committee chooses, and removing the present procedural restraints, be adopted;

(e) the government party should set up an informal liaison committee of the chairman of the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees, in order to :

(i) divide, with the concurrence of their committees, government departments among the committees, and report the result and any subsequent changes to the Senate, and

(ii) make representations on committee staffing to the Standing Committee on Appropriations and Staffing;

(f) in order to test the will of the Senate, the Standing Orders Committee should:

(i) at the start of the 1985 Budget session, move a motion to abolish the Estimates committees and to transfer the responsibilities to the Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committees, and

(ii) before the 1985 winter recess, circulate to all senators a paper setting out the arguments for and against such a change; and

(g) a sessional order be passed, limiting the number of select committees at any one time to three.

I seek leave to make a very brief statement.

Leave granted.


Senator CHANEY —I have given notice of this motion now so that the discussion of the motion can be facilitated both within and outside the Senate. The Leader of the Government, the Leader of the Australian Democrats and Senator Harradine have been kept fully informed of the development of these proposals. Although I would have liked to see this motion determined this session, it may well be that an early election will render that not practical. Whether that is so will be determined by events. I would just like to advise the Senate that senators have shown an interest in this-in particular, Senator Hamer, who, on behalf of the Opposition, has consulted the Democrats and the Government on the matter. Any interested senators are welcome to make suggestions now that public notice has been given of the motion. Subject to no unexpected problems being revealed, I will seek an opportunity to bring this matter on for debate in this session hopefully, but otherwise in the next session of the Parliament. To assist debate on the motion, I would like to make available a paper which describes the background to and the argument for the motion. The paper was prepared with input from senators from different parties. Again, I acknowledge the work of Senator Hamer who had the substantial carriage but who received assistance from around the chamber. I seek leave to table the paper, Mr President.

Leave granted.