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Wednesday, 13 October 1971
Page: 2247

Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs) (Minister for National Development) - The matter that has been raised today is one that does strike a responsive chord, I am sure, in everyone in this House. I would like to emphasise the point that this matter is one which has received very careful consideration by the Government, particularly over recent months. I can assure the House also that Government back benchers, particularly the honourable member for Holt (Mr Reid), have raised this matter consistently and as a result, particularly because of the activity of the honourable member for Holt, a statement was made in the House by the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr Sinclair) indicating that some additional assistance is being provided. This assistance is in addition to other action that has been taken to assist in this field where so much help is needed and where so much sympathy is felt throughout the world. In addition to the statement which was made recently by the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) and responded to by the Opposition there have also been quite a number of questions in relation to this matter. Petitions have also been presented and individual submissions have been made on behalf of these refugees by, as I said, the honourable member for Holt and others. The Government is fully aware of the problem. In fact, it has consistently over recent times given consideration to it. As I have already pointed out, the Government only recently made a further gesture in this field by providing additional assistance.

The proposed suspension of the Standing Orders is not directly related to the matter of assistance to these refugees, which has been raised in this House on a number of occasions already- The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) is aware that a private member has an opportunity to raise such a matter under general business. Indeed he has indicated his intention of doing so by giving notice of motion. That opportunity is available to any honourable member. The honourable member knows the procedure and proposes to take advantage of it.

Aid to Pakistan refugees was discussed recently in this House when a further gesture of assistance was made by the Government. I must point out that there are matters of great importance to be dealt with today. The Opposition has already indicated that it wishes to proceed with the debate on the National Health Bill 1971, which deals with matters which are of vital concern to so many people in this country. That Bill is of importance to honourable members on both sides of the House. As has already been indicated, it has to be dealt with today. Much as the Government appreciates the thoughts that have been expressed by the honourable member for Corio and bis desire to bring this matter before the House again, in view of the fact that it has already been discussed and that a number of opportunities have been made available to honourable members to raise it, the Government cannot accept this motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. I move:

That the question bc now put.

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