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Thursday, 30 June 1994
Page: 2416

Senator HARRADINE (12.01 p.m.) —I do not think I reflected at all on the work of the committee. I found the work of the committee very useful. The report is here. The Hansard is here; I have it in front of me now. There is nothing in the Hansard or in the report that I can see that refers to matters that we are considering now.

  As Senator Chamarette said, we welcome and are grateful for the work of the committee, the committee secretariat and committee members. I also feel, as Senator Chamarette said, that the work of the committee of the whole has been expedited by reason of the fact that many of the issues were sorted out in the committee process. However, I uphold the importance of the committee of the whole, particularly for individual senators or small groups of senators.

  I would not have raised this matter if Senator Patterson had not indicated that the matters could have been raised during the committee proceedings. She said it again this morning. Let me remind honourable senators that at page 2329 of yesterday's Hansard, after there had been questions on ages, pensionable ages and so on, Senator Patterson said;

The community affairs committee has already conducted a hearing on this particular part of the bill. People had every opportunity to raise the sorts of questions they are raising now—

Senator Kernot interjected, `We are entitled to do it in here, too.' Senator Patterson went on to say:

I am not saying that people are not entitled to do so. I simply want to put it on the record that there have been opportunities outside the chamber for people to raise these sorts of matters. The Democrats referred this matter to a committee in order to have these very issues examined. We have a lot of legislation to get through. These issues could have been examined earlier. I want to put on the record my concern that the Democrats and Senator Harradine are choosing to look at these matters in this forum when they had an opportunity to do it in another.

That is the point that I am raising here. Certainly, the Democrats were represented on that committee and they participated in it. In fact, they wrote a dissenting report which was a very informative and useful document. So they were there, but they chose, as I did, to raise questions here. They chose to move an amendment here. They have that entitlement, but they also have the entitlement to have other senators focus on the merits of their proposition. People should not use the excuse that they had an opportunity to raise it during the committee process. I want to stand very firmly on this point. I do not want that to be used as an excuse in the future.

  Amendments negatived.