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Wednesday, 19 April 1972
Page: 1258

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - There is one comment I want to make on this matter. I take it that the Senate will not be sitting at the same time as the Estimates committees are sitting.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - No.

Senator Willesee - The Senate will not be sitting.

Senator CAVANAGH - This will not be another occasion when the committees will be sitting at the same time as the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - No.

Senator CAVANAGH - 1 did not record all the times for the sittings of the committees, but I question the justification for bringing to Canberra for a few hours honourable senators who will not be engaged on the Estimates committees that will be sitting here next week. As I understand it, the Senate will not be sitting on Tuesday; 2 committees will be sitting on Wednesday of next week from 4.30 to 6 p.m. and for possibly some time during the evening, and at that time the Senate will not be sitting. This will mean that honourable senators not engaged on those committees will be required only between 3 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. on Wednesday. On the Thursday 2 committees will be sitting between 2.15 and 5.45 p.m., which means that there will be a short morning session in the Senate, which may sit again for some time in the evening. So it would appear that for H hours on Wednesday and a short period on Thursday when the Senate will be sitting there will be quite a number of senators who will be asked to journey from all parts of Australia. There is some responsibility for honourable senators to be here when the Senate is sitting, but in view of the short time that it will be sitting I ask the Minister whether it would be appropriate for the Senate not to sit next week but for the Estimates committees to sit in order to finish their business. It would be at high cost that we would bring a number of honourable senators to Canberra in order to spend very little time in this chamber.

Senator Sir KENNETHANDERSON (New South Wales - 'Minister for Health) (10.29) - in reply - The situation is that when the Senate introduced these committees we said that we would not in any way cut across the assembling of the Senate, question time or the process of presenting documents. Whilst we were not categorical about it in terms of the Standing Orders, this has been our understanding of the way in which the committees would sit. The second point I want to make is that it has always been understood - in fact, it has happened in practice - that even though the names of certain honourable senators are shown as being members of Estimates Committees A, B, C, D and E, any honourable senator can attend the meetings of any of those Estimates Committees.

Senator Cavanagh - They have done so.

Senator Sir KENNETHANDERSONIn fact, they have done so, as Senator Cavanagh has pointed out. I know that in relation to a committee which I have attended honourable senators who were not members of that committee not only attended its meeting but also asked questions in the course of normal interrogation carried on by that committee.

The third point I want to make is that we in fact have other committees. We have a whole series of Senate Standing Committees. I understand that, in the nature of things, next week it is likely that some of the other committees of the Senate, perhaps the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange or the Senate Standing Committee on Primary and Secondary Industry and Trade which will be looking at this question of Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd, will be sitting also.

Senator Young - It will be sitting for 3 days next week.

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - 1 am informed that some of those committees will be sitting for 3 days. Even though the Estimates Committees will be sitting, the other committees of the Senate in fact will be able to fit in sittings on those days; so we all will have a very valuable role to perform next week. It is true that the Senate will not meet on Tuesday, but we will be here on Wednesday and Thursday. Circumstances may arise where it is necessary to introduce Bills. It may even occur that the Opposition will want to use the forms of the House for some purpose. There will not be any lack of opportunity to take part in the Estimates Committees - all honourable senators can attend those - or the 3 other committees which I have been informed will be sitting on Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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