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Wednesday, 18 September 1985
Page: 690

Senator DURACK(3.15) —I move:

That so much of Standing Order 64 be suspended as would prevent Senator Durack moving an amendment to the proposed matter of urgency.

Senator Georges —Mr President, I raise a point of order. Your ruling that Senator Durack should move the amendment during the debate is the correct ruling. We should not go through all this procedure now.

The PRESIDENT —As I understood it, Senator Georges, I suggested that that course of action be taken. Senator Durack then sought leave to do it immediately. Leave was granted, and Senator Durack sought leave to move accordingly. Leave was refused and now he is moving that Standing Orders be suspended. Senator Durack is in order.

Senator Georges —Mr President, if I may comment further, my understanding is that the refusal of leave was for the purpose of allowing Senator Durack to do that during the debate. It was not to prevent him from moving his amendment. It was only intended that the amendment be moved in the correct place, not for him to seek leave outside the debate to move an amendment to a proposition. Let the proposition be placed before the Senate and then, during his speech, he can seek to amend it.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I suggest that Senator Durack can move for the suspension of Standing Orders now and seek leave to amend the motion so that at the time he does speak on the urgency motion he can then move the amendment if the suspension is agreed to. I call Senator Durack.

Senator DURACK —Thank you, Mr President. I believe that that is the most sensible way of handling this matter. During the debate I will certainly be wanting to move an amendment to this motion to leave out the second limb for the reasons that have already been expressed by me and Senator Chaney and which I will repeat. It is an entirely different question from the first question and the first limb of this motion. There are two motions in this matter of urgency. The first is for all party leaders to condemn apartheid. The Opposition wholeheartedly supports that. Later in my speech I will show that that has already been done over and over again by the leaders on the Opposition side. Then for what can only be regarded as too clever by half moves by the Government-this has no doubt been put in the interests of some members of the front bench; I doubt if Senator Giles would have wanted to engage in such tactics-the second limb is to engage the support of the Senate for action taken by the Australian Government against the South African regime. That is an entirely different question. As you, Mr President, have clearly pointed out, unfortunately the Standing Orders do not permit a matter of urgency to be amended. In a case like this I think the Standing Orders should provide-I can see reasons why it might be unwise to have power to amend-that these separate questions should be divided. But we accept the ruling which you have made, Mr President, that that is not available under the standing order to which I referred. Therefore, the second best solution to this problem is that we suspend Standing Orders in this case. Because of the mala fides on the part of the proposer and those who support this whole matter the object is simply to confuse and mislead and not to get a proper expression from the Senate. Because of the way this matter of urgency has been put forward the only way of overcoming it is to have a power to amend. The Senate's opinion on that can then be obtained. Certainly that is what I propose.

The Standing Orders prevent that from being done, and in the interests of the Senate making a proper decision on this matter I believe that in this case the Standing Orders should be suspended to enable me to move my amendment at a later stage of this debate. As I have said, we are faced with what really amounts to a fatuous attempt to roll up two quite different questions and thereby possibly reach a confused and misleading result. Clearly the Opposition strongly supports the first limb of the urgency motion, to condemn apartheid, but it is ridiculous to expect us to roll up with that an endorsement of everything the Australian Government has been doing in relation to this matter.