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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 4352


Mr LYNCH (Flinders) - I ask that the Chair explain precisely the nature of the proceeding which is now before the House so that all members of the Parliament will be aware of the procedure which has taken place. I invite the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to indicate why this action is being taken. In the context of that comment, I repeat what I said earlier in the debate that this Bill has been returned to this House without any warning or foreshadowing. The House would be better informed as to the proceeding before it if there were an explanation from the Chair and if the Prime Minister who led in the debate on behalf of the Government were to indicate to the House the particular reason why this motion has been moved at this time.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins)Inregard to the matter raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, it is not necessary for the Chair to give an explanation of this procedure. I would direct the honourable member's attention to standing order 250.


Mr LYNCH - If that is the case, I simply record again the total opposition of the Liberal and Country Parties to the procedure which this Government has adopted in bringing this matter before the House. I would have thought that if this matter has the importance and significance which the Prime Minister alleges he would have been prepared, at least as a basic courtesy to the Opposition parties, to advise us that the matter was coming before the House at this time so that we might have had the opportunity of considering the position which could have been taken in debate. This is typical of the procedures which have been adopted time and time again by the Government. The Bill is being rushed through in a precipitous manner which does no credit either to the nature of this debate or to the procedures adopted by the Government or, in fact, to the personal involvement in this episode by the 'Prime Minister who apparently prefers to make no comment whatever as to the reasons he has moved the motion now before the Chair.

As I understand the application of standing order 250 and the procedure which the Prime Minister is adopting, the Prime Minister is seeking to pre-empt any opportunity of parliamentary debate on an important constitutional matter on which the Government wishes the Australian people to vote at a Commonwealth referendum. If that is the case - 1 am subject to correction across the table - what the Government does of course is allow no opportunity for the Opposition parties to debate the Bill in depth again and in fact force this matter on the Australian people. The various parties of this House, whether Government or Opposition, should have the opportunity for effective and responsible parliamentary debate.

I believe that this procedure is totally irresponsible. I am certain there are few members in this House on the Government side who understand exactly the tactics of the Prime Minister in returning this Bill to the House of Representatives so soon after it was before the House. Again I place on record our concern at the Prime Minister's grave discourtesy in not at least foreshadowing this matter to the leader of the debate -on this side. This matter has come without warning. It has been subject to no debate. The Prime Minister himself apparently is prepared to make no comment. We reject the procedure which the Prime Minister is using and we reject the substance of the resolution which he has moved.







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