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Wednesday, 11 October 1972
Page: 1407

Senator MURPHY - I direct a question to you, Mr President. In view of the considerable changes that have taken place in the Senate over recent years, looked at in the light of the fact that we have been operating for some 70 years according to procedures which were inherited from other places, would you consider presenting to the Senate considered views on what might be done, in your opinion, to improve the efficiency of the operations of this chamber so that the rights of honourable senators could be preserved and at the same time so that we might be able to achieve the optimum of efficient operation?

The PRESIDENT -I am grateful to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate for asking me this question. Ever since the Senate did me the honour of electing me its President I have been seeking ways in which the work load of honourable senators can be more effectively used in order to achieve greater efficiency. My natural cast of mind is to look at the question of streamlining procedures. In May this yearI indicated to the Senate that I would use the winter recess to examine the whole structure of the Senate work load both in its plenary session in which we are presently engaged, and in its committee structure. In pursuance of that undertaking to the Senate, the

Senate secretariat set to work during the winter recess and a week in August was devoted wholly to an examination of the matter by myself and the Senate secretariat. There is a vast volume of matter to be digested by the Standing Orders Committee because it is not possible to achieve this effective streamlining, if I may use that word, unless it - properly so - goes through the filter of the Standing Orders Committee. When it emerges from the Standing Orders Committee honourable senators no doubt will wish to retain what they consider to be the privileges they already hold and refuse to accept some diminution of them while at the same time having the pleasure, interest and responsibility of participation through the committee system.

All I can say is that there is no possibility of the Standing Orders Committee being able to handle the vast mass of information that has been compiled by the Senate secretariat and consideration ofit will have to be postponed until after the mysterious circumstances that will occur when the dissolution of the House of Representatives takes place. When the election is over I look forward to being able to invite honourable members of the Standing Orders Committee to attend on the Senate area for at least a week to see whether they can make some recommendations to the Senate. I will bring down a definite statement on this in clear and coherent terms before the Senate rises for the election.

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