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Wednesday, 16 May 1973
Page: 2179

Mr SINCLAIR (New England) - [ rise on behalf of the Australian Country Party to support completely the point of view expressed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch). The Government, when it came into office in December, put forward a number of new policy programs, which only in part were reflected by the policy speech of the Australian Labor Party. Those policies have subsequently been modified on a successive number of occasions by statements off the top of the head by Ministers. We are now at the stage where we have a number of significant Bills before this House relating to these policy proposals. It is nonsensical for the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) to come before this House today and say that we have had 31/2 years to consider the Seas and Submerged Lands Bill and the Seas and Submerged Lands (Royalty on Minerals) Bill. In fact, these are Bills which generate a great deal of debate on the whole key issue of the degree to which a centralist control from Canberra or cooperative federalism are workable in our society today.

The motion for the suspension of standing orders today relates specifically to curtailing the opportunities of members of the Parliament and the public to see and understand the full implications of each of these wide-ranging Bills. This motion is more damaging because there is not one Bill but 4 Bills included in the proposal. The Bills deal with widely diverse areas, and debate on all of them is to be arbitrarily constrained within the time limits to be imposed. The motion is even more oppressive when we consider the farce that has developed at question time with the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) giving us minimal opportunity to ask questions and giving terse, inadequate replies and then leaving the chamber to go to a Press conference at which he gives members of the Press a full opportunity to cross-examine him on any of a range of issues about which they are concerned.

For this Parliament to be asked to suspend standing orders so that we might be given less time to debate matters of tremendous consequence on which we have had no opportunity to examine the issues in question time - matters which have been inadequately debated in the House - I believe is completely unacceptable. For that reason I join the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in completely opposing this proposal. I see no justification for it and believe that the Parliament should be given a total and adequate opportunity to debate each of these Bills in full.

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