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Tuesday, 8 May 1973
Page: 1792

Mr ARMITAGE (Chifley) - I will not suggest that the Opposition is being hypocritical, Mr Speaker, because if I did I know that you would rule me out of order for making unparliamentary remarks. Instead 1 would say that the argument which has been put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition,(Mr Lynch) is a phoney argument.

Mr Martin - A complete lack of consistency.

Mr ARMITAGE - I fully agree. The honourable member has said that it was completely lacking in consistency. I remember that during the last Parliament 17 Bills were guillotined through in 27 hours and the gag was applied on 3 other Bills, making 20 Bills in all.

Mr Martin - They allowed 2 minutes.

Mr ARMITAGE - As the honourable member for Banks has said, in one instance the previous Government allowed 2 minutes for discussion of the Bill. The Minister in charge of the Bill at that time - I am sure his conscience has struck him many times since - was able to speak himself for only 2 minutes finally. Imagine that. Yet honourable members opposite having been given a magnanimous timetable by the Leader of the House (Mr Daly), something which was never given to us when we were in Opposition, now come forward with this - I will not say 'hypocritical' because that would be unparliamentary - phoney argument.

Mr Lynch - Tell the truth.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Chifley will address the Chair.

Mr ARMITAGE - I was addressing the Chair. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

Mr Lynch - Would you stop pointing at the Chair?

Mr ARMITAGE - It is very difficult to go on when there are so many interjections from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I am sure you will understand how I feel. However, I also recall when we were dealing with a Health Bill, surely one of the most important items of legislation ever to come before this Parliament, the present Opposition, which was then in government, gave us 6 hours to discuss that measure.

Mr Jacobi - And guillotined it all the way.

Mr ARMITAGE - Yes, and guillotined it right along the line. Yet it had spent 6 months discussing the Bill with the doctors previously. The doctors got 6 months-

Mr Lynch - Got 6 months!

Mr ARMITAGE - That is the inference drawn by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, not by me. The doctors got 6 months discussion. This Parliament got only 6 hours discussion. I also remember the occasion when we were brought back to this Parliament in 1969. If ever there was a farce it was that so-called opening of the Parliament. The firing of the 21-gun salute took longer than the Governor-General's Speech. They are some of the problems we have had to deal with over the years. We sat in Opposition for 23 years. We met the complete and utter arrogance of the Government of the day. The performance of the then Government reached its apex when it guillotined 17 Bills through this House in 27 hours and at the same time gagged debate on another 3 Bills. They were 20 important items of legislation including, if I recollect correctly, conciliation and arbitration matters. Such actions are a disgrace to the Parliament. I compliment the Leader of the House on being so magnanimous in the time he is allowing for this debate.

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