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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 4352

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) - in reply - I have spoken 3 times already today on this matter. I had made what I thought would be a justifiable assumption that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) in the House of Representatives would at least know what his counterparts were doing in the Senate. I had assumed that he would have known that his Senate counterparts were insisting on the amendments which they had made earlier and which in turn the House earlier today had rejected. In those circumstances I had assumed that the honourable gentleman would have studied the Standing Orders himself. The honourable gentleman should know quite well the consequences of the conduct of his confederates in the Senate. Section 128 of the Constitution makes* it quite plain what the consequences of that conduct are. The people will decide this. After an interval of 3 months, this Bill will again be introduced into the House of Representatives. It will again pass with an absolute majority. If the Senate then passes it, not less than 2 months or more than 6 months thereafter the people will vote upon it. If however the Senate persists again in a course of conduct on this Bill similar to that it has followed on its first presentation, the Bill can be put to the people as soon as the Government wishes. The people will decide this issue. This is one issue on which the Senate cannot defy the will of the people. This is one issue on which the Constitution makes it plain that the House of Representatives can ask the people for their opinion, whether or not the Senate wishes the people to express that opinion.

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