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Thursday, 1 March 1973
Page: 142

Dr JENKINS (Scullin) - It is pretty surprising to hear on this day the new Opposition putting up such a barrage of hollow verbiage about a matter which the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) has put forward to assist in convenient running of the Parliament. I suppose one should say that the customary time of 2 minutes allowed for the ringing of the bells for a quorum or a division during the last Parliament was probably brought about by the fact that the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) moved the gag so many times that if the ringing of the bells had lasted for 3 minutes there would have been no time for debate at all. The hollow vertiage in the arguments against this proposed increase from 2 minutes to 3 minutes was equalled only by the pitiful arguments that were put in the censure debate this morning. If common sense were to rule, then the time that the Opposition and the Australian Country Party have taken in this debate would more than total the time that an extra minute would take in the ringing of the bells for a whole session. It is just utter nonsense. The arguments of Opposition supporters indicate the sterility of their viewpoints. They indicate that after 23 years in office, now that they are themselves in Opposition they have no appreciation of the running of the Parliament or of what can be done to assist the members. If it is so simple and the extra time is not needed perhaps the Speaker should consider converting the Liberal Party room to the Cabinet room and that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) be shifted from their rooms over to the other side of this building and then they would have to cover the extra distance. I wonder how much that would appeal to them.

As to the spurious argument that an additional minute for the ringing of the bells for a quorum or for a division will interfere with the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings, have not those honourable members learnt, many of them after many years in this Parliament, that we are not here simply for the purpose of broadcasting proceedings? We are here for the proper conduct of debate, the proper discussion of matters which should be brought before the national Parliament and the proper making of decisions. The Leader of the House is making in this motion some small procedural change that will allow us to carry out our duties more effectively. It is just as well that this Parliament has no severely handicapped members in its membership because there are few facilities to enable a handicapped member to comply with the rule relating to the ringing of the bells. It seems to me that perhaps we should set an example to ensure that if there is a disabled or handicapped member he will receive some assistance. The honourable member for Prospect (Or Klugman) raised an interesting point. 1 think if he had said it straight out - had the Speaker allowed him to do so - he would have said that we should have electronic counting during divisions which is a method used in other parliaments. Perhaps we should consider that proposal. As to the spurious and hoi ow argument which has been put opposing an increase from 2 minutes to 3 minutes, a measure which the Leader of the House in his wisdom has put forward for the assistance of members, it is just so much nonsense. The motion should be dealt with and we should get on with the more important business that is before us.

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