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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2766

Mr YOUNG (Leader of the House)(10.17) —in reply-I woke up feeling very well this morning. I was in a good mood and I had a lovely cup of tea just before the House began sitting. I have had to come in and withstand this vicious attack from the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Spender). Now I am upset. The honourable member for North Sydney said that this motion comes about as a result of confusion in the government ranks. I would have thought that at the moment the experts on confusion sit on the Opposition benches. One of the Bills set down for debate today is the Wool Marketing Bill. The Liberal Party of Australia, I understand, will support the Bill- or it was supporting it on Tuesday when it met in its Party room. The Nationals, the hill tribes, will now move an amendment to take out the equal opportunity provisions, and now we do not know how the Liberal party will vote.

Mr Slipper —We are going to have a division on it, too.

Mr YOUNG —We will have a division, and it will be interesting to see how the Opposition spokesman on women's affairs, the honourable member for North Sydney, votes this afternoon and to see whether there is any confusion in the Liberal Party. I should also remind the honourable member that he said we had a year's notice on the likelihood of the resolution of the Senate that it would not deal with matters introduced after 1 June. Notice of that motion was given by Senator Macklin on 28 April 1987.

Mr Spender —It happened last year, didn't it?

Mr YOUNG —It did happen last year. But I tell the honourable member that it was moved and carried on 29 April, which is just a bit over a week ago. The honourable member should have been aware of what I said last year about his Party room tolerating Liberal Party senators telling the House of Representatives how it should be conducting its business. The Senate is there to deal with legislation that is passed by the House of Representatives; that is its role. It should not dictate to the House of Representatives when, where and how to deal with legislation. The Senate is imposing upon the House of Represenatatives a restriction on debating time.

The reason I wrote the honourable member that letter was to make it perfectly clear to all members of the Opposition that they do not have unlimited time to debate major issues because their colleagues have restricted their time. All of the legislation the Government wants passed this session will have to be dealt with by 1 June. If necessary, the Government will move to restrict the debating time irrespective of the importance it places on those pieces of legislation. This will come about as a result of Liberal and National Party senators telling the House of Representatives that they will not deal with any legislation introduced after 1 June. So the Opposition has no one else to blame but itself.

The reason I did not expect the motion to be carried in the Senate this year is that I thought the Liberal and National parties would have had sufficient sense to tell their senators that they want time to debate these matters in the House of Representatives and they do not want their debating time restricted. Instead, there is such confusion and such incompetence on the other side of the House that honourable members opposite allow a motion of this nature to be carried thus restricting their debating time.

In a fortnight's time when I move the guillotine honourable members opposite will complain: `The Leader of the House has done it again. We do not have enough time to debate all of these issues. We want to stay here longer'. They are like a bunch of kids at a kindergarten. They do this to themselves; it is like slashing one's wrists and blaming somebody else for it. Unless honourable members opposite can straighten out what happens in the other chamber in relation to the way it deals with pieces of legislation--

Mr Cadman —Where is your legislation?

Mr YOUNG —The legislation will all be here. There will be time for it to go through the Party room of honourable members opposite and they will have time to look at it. We will not introduce legislation as it is done in the Queensland Parliament-introduce 11 Bills in the morning and pass all of them that day. Legislation is not referred to the Party rooms or committees there; members are not given an opportunity to prepare their replies to it. How would honourable members opposite like 11 Bills to be introduced in the morning and all of them passed in the same afternoon? That is what happens in the Queensland Parliament when it makes laws. Honourable members opposite will be given every opportunity to debate the legislation. The proper processes will be followed. The only restriction has been placed on the Parliament by the Liberal and National parties in the Senate-the B grade-saying that they will not deal with new legislation after 1 June.

The honourable member for North Sydney raised some other matters, one of which was about Question Time. I am aware of the Procedure Committee report. Next Tuesday there will be discussion in our Party room about it but most of the matters will be left to open debate in the Parliament. The Government will be quite happy to adopt many of the recommendations of the Committee if the Parliament is happy to adopt them. Some other recommendations will not be adopted.

The honourable member talked about permanent sittings Monday to Thursday. He has to take into account that Cabinet must meet. Legislation has to go through Cabinet and legislative committees and at the moment it is a much better procedure for Cabinet to meet on Mondays because it sets in train all of the other things that have to be done for the Parliament. I agree with the Opposition that Friday sittings are not of much benefit to us; there is not very much time to deal with government business. We are virtually meeting for Question Time and the matter of public importance. If one is not careful at the side door at about 4.30 p.m. one gets run over as honourable members show their eagerness to stay in Canberra for the weekend!

I draw to the attention of honourable members opposite and the Manager of Opposition Business, who knows this to be fact, that I have told the Committee that the Government will attempt to see that at least seven questions are asked by the Opposition each day. However, that cannot be done if honourable members opposite keep taking points of order. Honourable members should look at Hansard of 22 March, which is just one Hansard which has been handed to me by the Whip, the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Humphreys); that is about all he has done all year. I congratulate his wife on turning 50. She has done a good job looking after him. On pages 772 and 773 of Hansard of 22 March, the honourable member for North Sydney, who complains about Question Time, took seven points of order. He cannot expect to have 20 Ministers-the most competent bunch of Ministers this Parliament has ever seen-who give up three-quarters of an hour of their time to answer questions, here to listen to the honourable member for North Sydney take points of order. We do have more important things to do. The Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) can go to the art gallery or something, rather than sit here and listen to that sort of thing. So if the honourable member stops taking points of order, more questions will be answered. Even though on some occasions some Ministers may give answers that are a bit lengthy, we will adhere to the minimum number. But that system--

Mr Spender —That is a guarantee for today, is it?

Mr YOUNG —If the honourable member guarantees that he will sit down from 2 o'clock to a quarter to three-I know he cannot speak for the hill tribes because the National Party is running its own race now--

Mr Spender —You tell me: No points of order from me and you will guarantee seven questions?

Mr YOUNG —I would like to answer the seven myself, but we will answer the seven questions, if he stays in his seat and members of cockies corner remain quiet.

Mr Tim Fischer —No.

Mr YOUNG —They should concentrate on the Wool Marketing Bill, today because we are all interested--

Mr Tim Fischer —We are looking forward to it.

Mr YOUNG —Yes. When those bells ring we will all come in. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Howard) will think that Jeff Fenech had hit him when he comes through the door. Anyhow, we are doing our best. There is a list of Bills. Because of the resolution passed by the Senate to not deal with matters after 1 June, all the matters that I have indicated to the honourable member for North Sydney shall be passed prior to 1 June.

Question resolved in the affirmative.