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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1784

Senator WILLESEE (Western AustraliaSpecial Minister of State and Minister for Foreign Affairs) - If Senator Wood assures me of that, I certainly accept it. I do not like to see people being attacked without a chance to defend themselves. It goes on far too often in this place. As I have said, some people are critical of 'Blue Poles'. I repeat that I have not seen it, and I would not be a good judge. I suggest that many people who are criticising it have not seen it and that they might not be better judges than 1. 1 want to get down to the point of what this is all about. Senator Wright has invited me to change my mind. I have no intention of changing my mind. I do this for one reason only. I take no umbrage at the criticism which he has levelled. On a former occasion when this sort of thing happened we did not make any analysis of what the then Government was doing. We took the Government at its word that it was necessary for the normal functioning of the Government, and we passed the legislation through the 2 places in 8 or 9 minutes. The Opposition has not chosen to do that on this occasion. I have not accepted it because all the information I have is that if we send this measure back to another place and it accepts it all these things have to happen, whether it is the reprinting of the Bill or whatever it is. I am informed that, it could be tremendously embarrassing not to the Government but to the carrying out of the normal payments to public servants and the rest of it

I believe that this Bill should be passed. I repeat that Senator McManus has made it possible for this Senate to do anything it likes about Blue Poles' or the whole gamut of the arts. All those who have made criticisms such as those made by Senator Turnbull can take advantage of the lead that Senator McManus has given. We have already made that decision. All these criticisms can come forward then. We are asking for the passage of this Bill as an emergency. I believe that Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson, experienced parliamentarian that he is, and because of the respect that he has for this institution, has taken the right line even though he condemns what we have done about 'Blue Poles'. He does not back away from that; he is quite unequivocal about it. But, as a parliamentarian, he says that the Commonwealth Government should be able to carry out its normal works and services. I agree with Senator Wright on one thing; that is, that this debate has gone long enough, far longer than we anticipated this morning, and far longer than was necessary. I suggest that the question ought to be put forthwith.

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