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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7819

Senator MACKAY (9:48 AM) —by leave—I just wish to add very briefly to the comments of Senator Ludwig. When the sitting pattern was first produced for this year, we had discussions with the government in relation to what we regarded as the lack of days in the first half of the year, which resulted in the predictable logjam before the summer recess. That was unfortunate, but we did point out from the very beginning that that was going to happen. We are aware that there is spin coming out of the Prime Minister's office and from the office of the government manager in the House of Representatives—and this is absolutely no reflection on anybody up here—about Senate obstruction. We are aware of that. We have been reading it in the papers and we are aware that the government—for, I think, fairly nefarious political reasons—is going to start talking about Senate obstruction. So it is good that the government manager has made the point about the additional hours. It is not the fault of anybody in this chamber, but it is not helpful when you get spin coming out of the Prime Minister's office and from the office of the manager in the House of Representatives that the Senate is not being cooperative and has not sat sufficient hours. That is not helpful for the cooperative running of the chamber, which I think runs pretty well. If that is what the Democrats are on about, the Labor Party agrees with the sentiments. But the bottom line here is that the government sets the program. The government will live and die by the hours it sets, and the Manager of Opposition Business is dead right—

Senator Ferguson —Not too much emphasis on the dying!

Senator MACKAY —That is right; live and die. Some of us may die earlier than others. But we did make the point, and I wish to reiterate and put it on the record, that at the very beginning of this year we said that there was not enough time for business. The logjam that occurred prior to the summer recess was unacceptable—unacceptable for the people in the Senate and, more particularly, for the staff who work here. I just wished to make those comments.