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Wednesday, 24 October 1984
Page: 2355

Senator BUTTON (Leader of the Government in the Senate)(5.43) —The Government will not be supporting Senator Harradine's move to suspend the Standing Orders. Senator Harradine's comments about what took place yesterday evening became a little more extravagant as he went on. He was claiming in the latter stage of his remarks that I gave him a guarantee that the Committee stage of Appropriation Bill (No. 1) would be given time today. I gave no such guarantee. What I said was-it was by way of comment across the chamber-that according to the speakers list and the program which the Government had time- tabled, there would be time for consideration of the Committee stage of this Bill.

Senator Crichton-Browne —I thought you said you would give him half an hour.

Senator BUTTON —No, I did not say that. I said that that time ought to be available. That was what I was saying. That has now been turned into a sort of guarantee. I did not give Senator Harradine a guarantee. If he wants a guarantee from me, he should ask me for one and I will give it to him, and I will always honour it. That did not take place.

It is a nice point that we reach this stage of having passed the Appropriation Bills and in all the appropriations one issue has been raised by Senator Harradine which the Opposition says is a matter of such urgency and importance- there is no other issue in the appropriations-that we should suspend the Standing Orders in order to deal with this matter. I understand Senator Harradine's desire to make a point about this particular matter. I was at the Estimates Committee A hearing and I heard both Senator Harradine and Senator Peter Rae make their points. As I understand the report, it is not suggested that this matter should be dealt with at this time by the Committee. I think it is true to say in respect of Senator Peter Rae's point that the question of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's accountability to the Committee has been an ongoing saga. Senator Harradine has made this point. The notice of motion is before us. He will be able to brandish it all over Tasmania in the course of the next election campaign, if that is what he wants to do.

Senator Harradine —That is not the point.

Senator BUTTON —Is it not? If Senator Harradine wants to do that, that is what he will be able to do. The Opposition has said: 'This is a matter we ought to dicuss. This is the issue of the day arising from the Appropriation Bills'. The Government cannot agree to that course. The Government will not agree to a suspension of Standing Orders on this matter. I congratulate Senator Harradine on advancing his point. It is certainly before us and he spoke to some of the merits of it in the course of seeking the suspension of Standing Orders. I, on behalf of the Government, just indicate that we cannot accept the motion that has been moved.