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Tuesday, 8 May 1984
Page: 1767

Senator HARRADINE(9.59) —As I have done on every occasion on which this type of motion has come before the chamber, I oppose any committee sitting while the Senate is meeting.

Senator Coates —What do you propose we do when we have an impossible deadline?

Senator HARRADINE —That is for the proposers of the motion. I did not propose that motion. I understood that the Government supported the motion.

Senator Coates —No, the Government opposed the motion. There was no division, but we opposed it.

Senator Robert Ray —We voted 'No'. The time of the day was the only reason we did not divide.

Senator HARRADINE —Be that as it may; I do not know. I did not propose the motion. I had another view, which I expressed previously, as to what ought to be done with it. But I will not debate the merits of that. I just make the point that, in the time it is suggested that the Committee meet, there will be before the Senate contentious matters which must surely be of vital importance to the nation. Let me give some examples: The Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, the Australian Capital Territory Classification of Publications Ordinance and the Customs (Cinematograph Films) Regulations. It is most likely that the debate on those regulations and that ordinance will proceed at a time when the Committee wants to consider its business. Very grave matters of conscience are raised in those regulations. They deal with the move by the Government to remove from Commonwealth law the power to prevent the importation of hard core pornography and of publications which incite the use of hard drugs, and a whole lot of other issues. Information will be brought before the Sentate on this question. As I say, it is not really a party question but a question which crosses party lines and about which honourable senators will make up their minds according to their own information on the subject. Although I do not have it, a document has been prepared with the legislation that is to come forward--

Senator Coates —Let us get on with it then.

Senator HARRADINE —I hope the honourable senator understands the point I am trying to make. I thought that there was general concern about committees meeting when the Senate meets. I understand Senator Coates's problem, but I did not make the problem for him; somebody else made the problem for him. I just register the point. I think the last occasion on which we discussed this point was when the Joint Committee of Public Accounts sought to meet during sitting hours. My memory is bad and I cannot recall what we did on that occasion. We did not give the Committee permission to meet, but I think it met in any event. I make the point that it is a bad precedent. I oppose the motion.