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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7012

Senator HARRADINE (3:50 PM) —I was around last night. In fact, I did not leave until 12.45 this morning and, indeed, I was back here at 7.30 a.m. I would have been grateful to have been consulted. I have been asking, `Why don't we sit on Friday if you need extra time?' I would be very happy to do it and I think I mentioned that at the whips'—

Senator Ian Campbell —We may have to sit on Friday.

Senator HARRADINE —What I have been attempting to do in this—

Senator Ian Campbell —It is just that some people have families and live on the other side of the country; some people live in Queensland and some people have to make arrangements. We are trying to basically facilitate everyone's lives.

Senator HARRADINE —I understand that, through you, Mr Deputy President.

Senator Ian Campbell —It is hard to get flights to the other side of the country; there is only one airline in some parts of the country.

Senator HARRADINE —I understand that.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Harradine, I think you should proceed with your comments and others should desist.

Senator Ian Campbell —I am only trying to be reasonable and some people are not.

Senator HARRADINE —Was the Manager of Government Business in the Senate saying something about being unreasonable?

Senator Ian Campbell —I said I am trying to be reasonable.

Senator HARRADINE —I would have been grateful if you had consulted. I would have put the view strongly that we sit on Friday, because this is a very major bill. It is one of the most important pieces of legislation that has come before this chamber in all of the 28 years that I have been in this chamber. I recall very well the concern that was expressed by Julius Stone, that great international jurist, when I first proposed the ban on experiments on human embryos in 1984. Professor Julius Stone said that this is the area that will `pose grave problems for the whole of humankind', and he compared it to the Manhattan project. That came from an international jurist and in fact the person who was responsible for the Moscow-Washington hotline during the Cold War.

I asked the minister to explain a few things in relation to a number of amendments and I withdrew some amendments after her explanations. I was proposing to hasten things, as far as that was possible, but we have to give the major issues full consideration. I acknowledge what Senator Ian Campbell has said in that regard. But I saw what happened last night. I have also been told by others that from about half past nine until about a quarter to 10 things got really touchy around the joint. People were getting very tired, and it was observable last night. What we want in this particular debate is calm presentation of arguments and the ability of people to listen to the arguments, because of the importance of the issue.

I appeal to the Senate that we should not go to midnight tonight, as we did last night, for the very reason that I mentioned. I would hope, and I make this appeal to the chamber, that we go until 11 p.m.—and I think that is pretty well stretching it. I am glad to see the minister, Senator Patterson, in the chamber; of anybody she had the most difficult job last night. I really am appealing to the chamber that we do not go until midnight but that we go until 11 o'clock and that we have the question for the adjournment proposed at 10.20 p.m.

I am quite amenable to sit further hours, if that is necessary. I cannot guess what the end result will be—whether we will finish tonight or whether we will not—but I know that it will be far easier and far more conducive to getting through the program if the chamber is not forced to sit until midnight. In that event, I move:

Omit “midnight”, substitute “11 pm”; and omit “11.20 pm”, substitute “10.20 pm”.

I make this appeal; we will all be better off doing it that way.

Senator Patterson —If we could get on with it, it would be good.

Senator HARRADINE —All right.