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Wednesday, 3 June 1970


Mr BARNARD (Bass) - The Opposition opposes the motion moved by the Leader of the House, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden), to suspend the 11 o'clock rule. Our reason for doing so is that we believe that the Government has not considered the way in which the Opposition looks at the problem of the amount of business still on the notice paper. It is quite clear that the Minister is seeking la bring about the adjournment of this House by the end of next week. The attitude of members of the Opposition is that if there is legislation requiring debate in this Parliament then the sittings should be extended. There is no legitimate reason why the Government should set a target for adjourning the House at the end of next week.


Mr Jarman - You are not on the air.


Mr BARNARD - That might be all right for the honourable member for Deakin, who is interjecting. He never makes any contribution to the debates. It does not make any difference whether he is here or at home but there are other honourable members who want to make a contribution. It amazed me to hear the easy way in which the Minister dismissed the business that we have before us. The fact is that the blue sheet, the daily programme for today, shows that there are 13 Bills to be debated. It is true, as the Minister said, that we may not be expressing opposition to some of those Bills, but that does not mean necessarily that there are not honourable members on this side of the House who do not want to express a point of view irrespective of whether or not we support them.

As an example I refer to the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill. There are IS speakers listed for the debate on that measure alone. If every honourable member takes the time available under the Standing Orders to debate this Bill then those IS members, speaking for 30 minutes each, would require 7£ hours. That is for that measure alone. Yet we are told by the Minister that that Bill and 12 others have to be dealt with today and in the early hours of the morning. The point made by honourable members on this side of the House whenever this motion has been before the Parliament is that it represents legislation by exhaustion. Quite obviously the Government wants some very important measures dealt with in the early hours of the morning. Frankly, I would not expect that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), for example, would appreciate having to deal with the 7 dairy industry Bills in the early hours of the morning. That is what will happen if this motion is carried. One could expect the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) to want to speak about the dairy industry. Surely one would expect even the honourable member for Mallee, who expresses interest in matters relating to the Australian Country Party, such as dairy industry Bills, to oppose this motion in order to give members of the Country Party and members on this side of the House who are interested in these measures the opportunity to speak about them not in the early hours of the morning but when the proceedings of this Parliament are being broadcast to the nation.

I already have indicated that there are 15 honourable members who want to speak in the debate on the Handicapped Children (Assistance) Bill. There are still 36 Bills on the notice paper. If my understanding of the information conveyed to me is correct, the Minister will have introduced into this House a further 12 Bills. This will make a total of 48 Bills on the notice paper. The Government wants the Opposition to consider those 48 Bills some time before the end of next week. This Parliament ought not to sit in the early hours of the morning. We already have had a long discussion of this problem. As a result of the attitude expressed on that occasion by the Opposition the Government acceeded to our request and decided to provide for the automatic adjournment of the House at 1 1 p.m. That ought to continue to apply. Honourable members on this side of the House do not want to be discussing important legislation in the early hours of the morning. The answer from the Government's point of view is quite simple: It has 48 Bills to deal with between now and the end of next week. We on this side say that if they are to be dealt with in the way they should be dealt with by honourable members in this Parliament, the only solution is to extend the sittings of the House. There is no reason why the sittings should not be extended.

I have given a number of reasons why the Opposition opposes the motion by the Minister. He has suggested that the 1 1 o'clock rule should be suspended for this week. No doubt we will be faced with a similar motion some time next week if the Government adheres to its schedule to adjourn the House at the end of next week. In these circumstances, having regard to the amount of business before us, the right of honourable members to debate legislation properly - not in the early hours of the morning but when the proceedings of this House are being broadcast to the nation - without the strain and stress of considering Bills in the early hours of the morning, the motion ought to be opposed. I put that point of view on behalf of the Opposition.

Motion (by Mr Snedden) put:

That the question be now put.







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