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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1165


Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(7.23) —I do not feel competent at the moment to reply to matters raised by Senator Missen but I will refer them to the Attorney-General, Senator Evans.


Senator Missen —Who was advised that I would make the speech.


Senator GRIMES —I am sorry about that. He is not here but Senator Missen knows that Ministers cannot always be here. Unfortunately I was unable to hear Senator Crowley's contribution.


Senator Martin —You did not miss a thing.


Senator GRIMES —I am afraid we can say much the same thing about Senator Martin' s contribution. I gather the gist of her problem is that I said yesterday that the Citizenship Amendment Bill would be debated this session.


Senator Martin —This week.


Senator GRIMES —I hope it will be this week. In fact, it is listed for Friday on the list given to the Opposition Whip. The only problem is that with the shenanigans that have gone on in this place in the last couple of days we have not even got through the legislation we expected to get through by today. However, the simple facts of the matter are that yesterday I said in Question Time that at the request of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs (Mr West) the Citizenship Amendment Bill had been put down for debate and passage this week, if possible, but certainly in this session. It would be our desire, and I hope it would be the desire of Senator Martin and her colleagues, that the Bill not only go through this place but also, if it is amended, be dealt with by the other place as well.

I will be interested to see whether members of the Opposition assist in the expedition of this Bill when it comes up for debate. I still hope that it will come up for debate on Friday. I cannot guarantee that, not because I do not want it to be debated on Friday but because of the difficulty in getting legislation through this place because of, for example, the bringing on of matters of public importance. I think even Senator Martin would realise that any government would like to see its Budget legislation through first. It is the intention of the Government and the urgent desire of the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs that the Citizenship Amendment Bill go through in enough time so that, if necessary, it can go back to the House of Representatives and so be dealt with not only by the Senate but also by the Parliament.

I do not lightly answer questions in the way I answered them yesterday. We do not lightly give lists of business to the Opposition Whip. The list put out which suggested that the Bill was not so essential had not been amended following a meeting of the Cabinet, and the Government, yesterday morning. I say again that it is our intention to debate that legislation, to get it through this place and to get it through the Parliament even if it has to go back to the other place. That is our intention and I repeat that if it is really the intention of members of the Opposition that that be so, I hope that they will assist in such a passage. Let us not have 10 rhetorical speeches full of hyperbole and the other stuff we are likely to get, because nobody can expect us not to want to get essential Budget legislation through. We want to get the Bill through, and I hope we can get it through with the co-operation of the Opposition.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 7.27 p.m.