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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 88

Mr McMULLAN (NaN:00:00) —In the main, the opposition supports this motion. In the main, it has been a process in which there has been cooperation and about which we are happy to continue to offer cooperation. It is an outcome which will be good for the legislative program. I want to mention two positive elements and express one concern about the way it has been conducted. The positive thing, which I will be very brief about because the Leader of the House said it, is that it enables efficient dealing with a series of bills that in all but one case the House has debated before, so we should be able to deal with them quickly and expeditiously, as we are, and that is appropriate.

I appreciate the government's cooperation in agreeing to our suggestion that they should go to the Main Committee, because it has facilitated a number of first speeches being made at the scheduled time in the interests of families and friends who were here. I appreciate that cooperation.

Our concern is that we were advised so late about the list of these bills that were going to be dealt with—so late that on one or two occasions we were not able to deal with them through the normal party processes of the shadow ministry or the caucus. We got the list at 10 past five on Friday, having previously not had an indication that these bills were going to be dealt with in this manner.

There was time, I think, for it to have been dealt with otherwise. It was a cause of disappointment to us and frustration to some of the backbench colleagues who had not had a chance to be involved in discussion in party room procedures about matters on which they have strong views. I refer, of course, to the child support legislation, which is a bill about which almost everybody in this House has strong views. I accept that it is the same bill that we dealt with before and we are dealing with it on the basis of our previous decision, but nevertheless there are a whole lot of new members who have views about this who would like to have had a chance to speak in the party room; I do not object to the expedition with which it is being dealt here. That was unfortunate, and we hope that that does not recur. But in the other two principal ways this is a matter being well handled and cooperatively handled, and we are grateful for that. We hope that the negative aspects of it will not be repeated.

Question resolved in the affirmative.