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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2238

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - It is a technical matter but nevertheless important that ordinances or regulations may be disallowed by this chamber according to a certain procedure. Ordinances and regulations must be tabled within a certain period and notice may be given within a certain time for their disallowance. Unless the notice of motion of disallowance is disposed of in some way within 15 sitting days from the giving of notice, the ordinances or regulations are automatically disallowed when that time has elapsed. Today being the last day for disallowance it is too late for anyone to give notice. It is possible that some members of this chamber have been relying on the notice of motion already given by Senator Wood. I think we should evolve some procedure for dealing with similar situations that could occur. I have said on previous occasions, and I think Senator Wood has appreciated my argument, that the present procedure is not satisfactory. There is nothing wrong with what Senator Wood has done. It is the only way in which he could do it. But it is not a satisfactory procedure for the Senate to deal in this way with such notices of motion.

I suggest, Mr President, that you confer with the Clerks about evolving some procedure whereby an honourable senator could, notwithstanding the withdrawal of the notice of motion by whoever has given it, move on the last day to prevent the disallowance procedure passing by in a way which is objectionable to him and in a way about which he can do nothing. Suppose, for example, some other honourable senator disagreed with the viewpoint that was taken. Suppose I wanted to move dissallo.wance now. There is nothing I could do about it.

Senator Cavanagh - The Leader of the Opposition could take it over.

Senator MURPHY - Not when the notice of motion has been withdrawn in this way. In this instance the Regulations and Ordinances Committee has agreed and there is no difficulty. I have raised this question on this perfectly neutral issue because I want it looked at in case the occasion arises when there is a severe difference of opinion in regard to a similar notice of motion.

Senator Cavanagh - I thought the Standing Orders were amended to cover this matter by allowing any honourable senator to take it over.

Senator MURPHY - I am not aware of that. If what Senator Cavanagh has said is correct, I will be more enlightened than I am. I am open to correction. But I am not aware that this matter has been subject to some correction under the Standing

Orders. Perhaps you, Mr President, will advise me whether that is so. If it is not correct, 1 would appreciate it if the question were looked at.

The PRESIDENT - Senator Murphy has raised an interesting point. The fact is, as Senator Murphy has pointed out, that Senator Wood was entirely within his rights in withdrawing his notice of motion in relation to this matter. 1 think it is proper that I should inform honourable senators at this stage that I have, in consultation with the Clerk of the Senate, convened a meeting of the senior Clerks of the Senate - a symposium, if you like to use that word - to be presided over by myself to deal with matters which have obviously been concerning honourable senators during the past session. I shall take action to ensure that the matter raised by Senator Murphy is brought to the notice of this meeting. Of course, any decision that is arrived at then will be passed on to the Standing Orders Committee, where honourable senators will have an opportunity of expressing their own will, and finally the matter would come back to the Senate.

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