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Thursday, 14 May 1970

Mr GORTON - Yes. Mr Speaker. This has engaged my attention and the attention of others who are concerned with the running of the Houses of Parliament. It is not an easy matter to decide, lt is not an easy matter on which one can come to a fina4 conclusion. On the one hand it is essential that in a House of Parliament all honourable members should be able to ask questions to examine a government, to seek to find out what is happening and, indeed, to get information. On the other hand, if this is carried too far - that is to say, if it is abused - then undoubtedly it could tie up large numbers of members of the top echelon of the Public Service who have other work to do. It is obvious it could be carried to that length. When you have a situation which we have had when 130 questions are placed on the notice paper by 1 member in a day, many of those questions requiring much research, either it will take a very long time for those questions to be answered or it will tie up people who have other significant work to do.

T go back to what I had to say at the beginning. It is a matter of common sense and self discipline among al) honourable members. There can be no attempt to stop people asking questions to elicit information. That should be understood. But it should also be understood that if thousands of questions are placed on a notice paper then it will take a very long time to answer them, and that is what would happen, or it will tie up large numbers of public servants who have other things to. do. The problem which the honourable member for Evans has raised is quite definitely there and this is not a statement made by me as Prime Minister or by me as spokesman for the Government because I think some members of the Opposition also understand this. The problem is there: the solution is one of common sense and self discipline.

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