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Wednesday, 21 August 1985
Page: 57

Senator GIETZELT (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)(10.37) —The Senate can function only on the basis of consultation and co-operation, and I think that has been the guideline by which the Senate has attempted to perform its function in recent times. It is clear that if one section of the Senate attempts to challenge the business paper because of some monetary problem that may exist, the Government's attempts to organise its program and the Senate's program, in that order, will to some extent be nullified. Such moves could become quite disruptive.

Yesterday Senator Georges, Chairman of the Select Committee on Animal Welfare, indicated that he wanted time to debate the question in order to overcome some of the difficulties or misconceptions that may have arisen as a result of the publication of the Committee's report and some statements about it. It was the prerogative of any section of the Senate to discuss the matter with the Government. Responsibility rests with senators-particularly large groups in the Senate-if there has been a failure to come to some arrangement with the Government.

The Government has no intention of putting itself in a position where it acts as a censor or puts a barrier in the way of any member of the Senate having matters properly debated. However, the order of business having been established, the Government is entitled to expect the Senate to give its assent to it. One only has to look at the way in which Committee reports have been listed for consideration. They have been listed No. 5, No. 6, No. 7, No. 4, No. 3, and No. 2, which means that the Government has at least acknowledged the need for the matter of live sheep exports to be debated.

Senator Peter Baume —No, the three new ones first and the three old ones last.

Senator GIETZELT —The honourable senator has been in this Parliament long enough to know that we can pass the reports of the Standing Committee on Education and the Arts and the Standing Committee on Industry and Trade-the first two reports-without any debate at all. They can be put aside in the normal course of the business of the Senate. The honourable senator has failed to take advantage of the consultative processes that are available to any honourable senator in respect of the way in which the business paper should be put together. Those processes were available, particularly to Senator Baume, having regard to the statement yesterday by Senator Georges that he wanted the opportunity to put at rest some of the misconceptions that may have arisen.

If we are to be subjected to attempts to suspend Standing Orders every time an honourable senator feels that the business paper should be rearranged to meet his whim, the business of the Senate will be put aside while we debate procedural matters. Of course, that is what the Opposition is seeking to do. It is pretty clear that another avenue is available to Senator Peter Baume and his Party; that is, not to discuss Nos 5 and 6, to move fairly quickly on to No. 7 and to have those other matters listed for debate on another occasion, without going through the procedural proposals that he has suggested.

I reiterate that the Senate will function properly and effectively only on the basis of consultation with the various groups in this place. We have five or six of them now, and any honourable senator who thinks that proper time ought to be set aside for discussion of a matter has only to discuss it with the Manager of Government Business, Senator Grimes, to find that that will be accommodated. As far as I am aware, no attempt was made to do so on this occasion and therefore I suggest that the Senate should not support the suspension of Standing Orders moved by Senator Baume.