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Wednesday, 18 September 1985
Page: 688

The PRESIDENT —I inform the Senate that I have received the following letter, dated 18 September, from Senator Giles:

Dear Mr President,

Pursuant to Standing Order 64, I give notice that today I propose to move-

`That in the opinion of the Senate the following is a matter of urgency: The need for all Party leaders and other parliamentarians in the Australian Parliament to condemn apartheid, and to endorse and support the action taken by the Australian Government against the oppressive South African regime.'

Yours sincerely,


Senator for the State

of Western Australia

Is the proposal supported?

Senator Durack-Mr President, I take a point of order. I refer to standing order 130, which states:

The President may order a complicated Question to be divided.

The matter of urgency that has been proposed by Senator Giles today deals with two quite different questions; namely, the condemning of apartheid and-a quite different question-the endorsement of the action that has been taken by the Australian Government against the South African regime. These two issues have been rolled up in a fatuous attempt to confuse and mislead the Senate. As will emerge in the debate, the Opposition will strongly support the first limb of the urgency motion but it is opposed to endorsing everything that the Government has done in this matter. I should hope that the Australian Democrats would not be likely to be endorsing everything that the Government has done in this matter. It is quite clear that two questions are involved. Mr President, I seek the exercising by you of your power to order that the two questions be divided.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The proposal before the Senate states:

. . . the following is a matter of urgency. . .

I would suggest under that standing order 64 it is not open to amend a motion in respect of a matter of urgency. Therefore, bearing in mind the import of standing order 64, it would not be consistent for me to agree with the proposal that, in discussing the matter or urgency, the two matters embodied within the one motion be split. I therefore cannot accept the point of order.

Senator Chaney-Mr President, I raise a point of order. May I simply address that ruling and ask you to give the matter some further consideration. If we face a situation, which you have suggested under standing order 64 we face, namely, that we are not entitled to move an amendment, it seems to me that that gives ground for concern that we should examine very carefully what is the proposition we are being asked to vote on and whether, in fact, in the interests of getting a proper opinion from the Senate we are being asked to vote on one proposition or more than one proposition.

Mr President, I think if you examine the matter of urgency which is before us and which we will shortly be debating, it is quite clear that there are two quite separate propositions contained in it. The first proposition, as Senator Durack has indicated, is a proposition on which I think there will be utter unanimity. The second is a quite separate proposition which relates not to the attitude to apartheid but to the attitude which would be taken to specific actions undertaken by this Government with respect to the South African regime. If I may take a parallel, it is a bit like having a motion which says the Senate thoroughly disapproves of tax evasion and then says that we should have a situation where it should be totally dealt with by retrospective legislation. Those two propositions could be rolled up in one ball simply as an attempt to embarrass or to make a situation difficult for honourable senators.

Senator Ryan-Trying to get off the hook.

Senator Gareth Evans-Wriggle on the hook.

Senator Ryan-Wriggle, wriggle, wriggle.

Senator Chaney-As for the sort of contemptible interjections that I get from the likes of Senator Ryan and Senator Gareth Evans such as `Wriggle, wriggle, wriggle', let me say that that is a very good demonstration of precisely what these people are about. They are not about getting a genuine expression of opinion from this Senate. They are about trying to play some very petty--

Senator Gareth Evans-We have had a bipartisan policy. You are running away from it.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Evans, I am trying to hear the point of order. I call Senator Chaney.

Senator Chaney-The point is that the interjections illustrate the attempt which is being made here to roll the separate propositions up. Mr President, I suggest to you that in the interests of the Senate getting an accurate indication of the views of those who will be called upon to vote for or against this matter of urgency that that interest would best be served if the two quite independent propositions which are contained in this motion were in fact put independently. Mr President, unless there is something in the Standing Orders which would prevent you from taking that course, and I do not believe that there is, I believe that in the interests of fairness those two propositions should be put before us separately.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I have heard Senator Chaney, but I suggest that it is possible for Senator Chaney or, indeed, any other honourable senator to seek leave to move an amendment to leave out certain words embodied in the motion of urgency. It is open for any honourable senator to express a point of view and then seek leave to amend the motion. The points that have been taken up by Senator Chaney are good points. However, standing order 130 states:

The President may order a complicated Question to be divided.

Standing order 130 specifically refers to a complicated question, not, in my opinion, merely a question that has two parts to it, as this urgency motion does. The fact that any question has more than one part in my opinion does not necessarily make the matter a complicated question so far as standing order 130 goes. I do not uphold the point of order, but I do throw out a suggestion to Senator Chaney or to any other honourable senator that it is possible for them to seek leave to move an amendment to leave out any words within the matter that is the subject of urgency.

Senator Durack-Mr President, in accordance with your ruling I seek leave to enable an amendment to be moved to the matter of urgency to leave out all words after the word `apartheid'.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I suggest that that should be done at the time that the honourable senator gets the call during the debate.

Senator Durack-That is not satisfactory. I seek leave at this point.

The PRESIDENT —Is leave granted?

Senator Ryan-Yes.

The PRESIDENT —Leave is granted. I call Senator Durack.

Senator Ryan-To move the motion--

The PRESIDENT —Order! Is leave granted for Senator Durack to move to leave out certain words in the motion of urgency?

Leave not granted.