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Tuesday, 22 May 1973
Page: 2361

Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) - My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister. I ask the honourable gentleman: Will he give an undertaking on behalf of the Government, forthwith and unqualifiedly, that this Parliament will not be treated with contempt and that the Parliament will continue to sit until there has been adequate time for consideration by the Parties in Opposition of all the matters before the House and adequate time for debate of these important matters by the Parliament; and this week should be regarded as a normal sitting week; and that we should return next week for a normal sitting week and thereafter until the business of the House is adequately covered?

Mr BARNARD (BASS, TASMANIA) (Minister for Defence) - This matter, of course, has been carefully considered by the Government. In these circumstances the appropriate reply should come from the Leader of the House.

Mr DALY (GRAYNDLER, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Services and Property) - In reply to the question of the Leader of the Opposition about the sittings of the House, let me say that this Government has given more consideration to honourable members, in relation to both private and government business, than any government in the last 23 years. The question is interesting in view of the fact that on 3 May I moved that there should be a slight extension of the sitting hours each day because the Government desired to get through the business of the House and also to give honourable members an opportunity to debate the issues. Hansard of 3 May records that every member of the Opposition voted against the proposal to extend the sittings of the Parliament even for about an hour a day. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, said that the Opposition was not even prepared to sit for a minimum of additional time each day to get through the business of the House. This Parliament has never sat into the early hours of the morning such as the previous Government made us do in order to pass legislation by exhaustion. The House has not sat after 11 p.m., and furthermore it will not sit in this session after 11 p.m. However, I mention to the right honourable member that we on this side of the House have a very big legislative program. We have about 30 Bills to pass. There is to be considerable debate on those Bills. We acknowledge the rights of honourable members to debate them. The Government has already considered this matter. In order to put the Leader of the Opposition at ease and give his colleagues the opportunity of acclimatising to the Canberra winter, I am happy to say that we will be sitting on Friday of this week and into the following week to complete the business of this Parliament.

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