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Tuesday, 17 September 1974
Page: 1153

Senator LAUCKE (South Australia) - Mr President,I thank the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Douglas McClelland). Although I realise that on Budget night it is traditional not to deal with any further business after the Budget Speech has been read, the matter presently before the Senate is of such great moment that I believe I should say a few words about it. It concerns the committee system within the Senate which has developed in recent years and which has added greatly to the stature of this place. I can see an insidious attack being made on, and the sowing of seeds of destruction of, the committee system, through the proposal enunciated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy). I hope that the Senate will carry the amendment which has been moved by Senator Withers. In my opinion it is vital not to reduce the powers that have been conferred on our committees up to the present time.

I notice in the proposal advanced by the Leader of the Government in the Senate that no further matters are to be referred to any of the committees which are to be re-established. The committees will deal only with those matters which are now in the pipeline. That in itself indicates that we are heading towards the destruction of what has proved to be the most progressive move that has been made by this place in generations. Although I realise that there is a desire not to have a long debate on this matter tonight, I wish to express my point of view and to indicate my deep concern about the seeds of destruction that are inherent in the proposal advanced by the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I believe that it is incumbent on all of us, irrespective of our Party affiliations, to express our point of view on this matter. Although it has been said that this motion which has been moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate is Government sponsored, I hope that there will be a realisation of the high importance of Senate committees being conducted by members of this Senate and not being submerged in another system. That is why I wish to add my comments to the excellent exposition of the need for such a system, as seen by those who sit on this side of the Senate, as given by Senator Withers. I trust that the amendment that he has proposed will be accepted in toto.

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