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Thursday, 29 November 1973
Page: 2295

Senator McLAREN (South Australia) - I rise to say a few words in this debate mainly because of the claims made by Senator Wright this morning that the Government had not allowed enough time in which to debate the Appropriation Bills. I have taken the trouble to go to the Legislative Reference Service of the Parliamentary Library which has been good enough to give to me some tables setting out the sitting hours of the Estimates Committees since their inception. If we look at these tables we find that this year more time than ever before was devoted to the examination of the Estimates by the Estimates Commissions. Senator Wright is quite wrong when he says that not enough time has been allowed for the Opposition to examine these Bills.

I want to detail to the Senate the hours of sitting of the Estimates Committees since their inception in 1970. In 1970, 74 hours were devoted to the examination of the Estimates. In 1971, approximately 41 hours were devoted to examining the Estimates, including those of the autumn session and those of the Budget session. During the Budget session 30 hours and 1 minute were allocated and during the autumn session 1 1 hours and 2 minutes were allocated, making a total of 41 hours and 3 minutes. In 1972 approximately 63 hours were allocated, being made up of 9 hours and 4 minutes during the autumn session and 53 hours and 54 minutes during the Budget session. When we look at the figures for this year we find that during the autumn session 26 hours and 32 minutes were allocated and 68 hours and 6 minutes were provided during the Budget session, making a total of 94 hours and 38 minutes. So we find that more time has been allocated to the examination of the Estimates this year than in any other year since the inception of the Estimates Committee system. The next largest number of hours allocated was in 1970.

Prior to the luncheon suspension of the sitting I had discussed with the Acting Deputy President, Senator Cant, the incorporation of certain tables. I showed him the tables that I proposed to incorporate and I discussed the matter with the Hansard officer sitting at the table at that time. The Hansard officer assured me that there would not be any trouble in incorporating these tables in Hansard. I did say to him that if he found any trouble in incorporating them all I would be quite happy to incorporate the first two or three pages. Therefore, I seek leave to have these tables incorporated in Hansard.

The PRESIDENT -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The tables read as follows)-






Estimates Committees- Hours of meeting- Estimates Committee A, 3.2 1 ; Estimates Committee B, 4.47; Estimates Committee C, 5.28; Estimates Committee D, 5.06; and Estimates Committee E, 4.10: Total, 22.52.

ESTIMATES COMMITTEES- -Estimates Committee A, 11.33; Estimates Committee B, 15.25; Estimates Committee C, 21.50; Estimates Committee D, 15.25; Estimates Committee E, 7.50: Total, 74.


Senator McLAREN - I thank the Senate. I will not take up too much of the time of the Senate but I want to say something further on the statements made by Senator Wright. I would implore all honourable senators to examine the Hansard record of the Estimates Committees' hearings, particularly that of Estimates Committee A. It will be seen from the Hansard record that Senator Wright took up most of the time that was available to the members of that Committee and Senator Greenwood would have been next in relation to the time taken by members. Neither of those honourable senators can say that we did not have ample time to examine the Estimates. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has said that it is most important that these Appropriation Bills be passed today I will conclude my remarks on that note and speak again during the Committee stage.

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