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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 2069

Senator GEORGES (Queensland) - I wish to make a point in answer to what Senator McManus has said. The matter we are debating is not one of all night sittings; it is whether the Senate shall sit an extra day in the normal week to deal with the business that is before it. The Opposition has no objection to the re-arrangement of business so that Government Business can proceed. The Opposition has offered no objection to that course. It has given precedence to Government Business. It has made one small objection, which has been over-ruled. The Opposition has given Government Business precedence. That is fair enough. The Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Drake-Brockman) has indicated that there is so much work on the notice paper that the Senate will have to sit next week anyhow. Since the Senate has to meet, next week, let us sit on Tuesday and, if necessary, on Wednesday and Thursday and, if necessary, the following week. I do not see any need for the Senate to sit tomorrow. The motion should be opposed strongly because what will happen tomorrow -

Senator Maunsell The election will go on without you

Senator GEORGES (Queensland) Sinc e Senator Maunsell has raised the point that the Queensland election will go on without me, let me say that it is fairiy obvious to me that certain members of the Senate cannot be here next week. Because some members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party will not be available next week they want to impose an unsatisfactory sitting programme upon the rest of the Senate.

Senator McManus - The honourable senator has no right to say that members of the DLP will not be available next week. That is news to me. The honourable senator must be better informed than I am.

Senator GEORGES (Queensland) W e will see. Let us put it to the test and see where they are next week. Let me recount what happened at the end of the last session, which concluded just before Christmas. The Opposition was in effect intimidated by the Government which forced through legislation. Let me read from the Hansard report of the proceedings on the last day of that session. A very important Bill was before the Senate on that day. It was the Customs Bill (No. 2), which provided extra powers to the Department of Customs and Excise for the control of drug trafficking and drug abuse. Although it was a very important Bill, the debate on it was limited by the following statement by Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson towards the end of the day:

Wc are debating the last Bill and we are all booked to go back to our various homes on aircraft at S.20 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. If we miss those flights we cannot get on any other aircraft because they are booked out. lt will be even difficult to do so tomorrow. If we want to complete this Bill and finish the session we will have to stop at 4.35 p.m. 1 would need 5 minutes to carry out certain procedures—

And so on. What he was stating at that time was if the Senate did not complete its debate on the Bill in a hurry honourable senators would have to stay in Canberra over the weekend and the Senate would have to sit the following week. The Opposition was forced by the Government into a position where it had to limit its contribution to the debate and its criticism of the legislation which was before the Senate. That is likely to happen tomorrow. I am prepared to say that when we debate the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill tomorrow we will be forced into the same situation and that tha Government, with the support of the Democratic Labor Party, will use certain measures to force that Bill through the Senate tomorrow without it receiving proper consideration by the Senate, particularly by honourable senators on this side of the chamber.

There are many of us here who wish to debate the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill at length. It is a very important Bill. The Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate has admitted that it is an extremely important Bill. My colleagues and I want to contribute to the debate on it. There are certain aspects which have not been brought out in the debate so far. Some of those honourable senators who have not contributed to the debate so far will want to state their position in relation to the Bill. It has still to be debated in committee, when certain amendments will be moved. I do not think it would be possible to conclude the debate on this Bill even if the Senate were to sit tomorrow, unless the Government began to apply such repressive and restrictive measures as the gag. I submit that we ought not find ourselves in the same position at the end of every session. If it is not possible to finish today the legislation before the Senate we should sit next week. Let us devote 3 days of next week to debating the remaining legislation and not allow a restriction or constriction of the debate to occur. I am strongly opposed to sitting tomorrow.

Senator Marriott (TASMANIA) (Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Health) - The honourable senator objects to the Senate sitting tomorrow but he does not want to restrict the debate, which means that he is barking both ways.

Senator GEORGES (Queensland) I am strongly opposed to sitting tomorrow because not only will the Government limit the debate on this Bill tomorrow—i t is the Government's clear intention to restrict the debate on this very important matter—bu t also the operations of committees which are scheduled to meet tomorrow will be interfered with and honourable senators will be unable to meet commitments undertaken 2 or 3 weeks ago.

Senator Marriott - Parliament is their first responsibility.

Senator Little Yo u did not think of our well being when you kept us here until 2 o'clock this morning.


Senator GEORGES (Queensland) I complete my case by saying that it is not essential to sit tomorrow because in any case it will be necessary fbr us to sit next week; it is as clear as that. We cannot complete tomorrow our consideration the programme of legislation that is before us. So let us continue with the normal arrangement and come back next week to consider all legislation carefully and with due observance of the eommon courtesy that should be extended to all honourable senators who want to participate in debates.

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