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Thursday, 17 October 1985
Page: 1425

Senator WALSH (Mini- ster for Finance)(4.38) —As has already been indicated, the Government has no formally determined position on the Human Embryo Experimentation Bill. After consulting as many people as I was able to, my view-and the view of just about everyone to whom I spoke-is that there will be a free vote on it. I make that announcement with the concurrence of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Button), who is not here.

I am opposed to this motion, not because I am opposed per se to the referral of this Bill in particular to a committee, but because the motion seeks to establish a select committee. I think there are already far too many Senate committees. Far too many people have had their fads, their obsessions and there indulgences gratified by setting up a number of committees which have both strained the available resources and added substantially to costs. I do not accept the proposition, which was accepted by the previous Government, that the amount of money appropriated for Parliament is a matter for the Parliament to determine. It is a matter for the Executive to determine. As Minister for Finance I have pursued that policy and I will continue to do so. Parliament does not have responsibility for public expenditure; the Executive Government does. As long as that position-

Senator Georges —I would like to open up a debate on that.

Senator WALSH —That is my position, and that is the policy of the Government. I want to make that perfectly clear. To the extent that this adds to the demands for funds for the Senate and for Senate committees, I certainly give no guarantee that that demand will be met. Indeed, I believe that attention should be paid to the cost that the existing committees are incurring and whether the existence of all of those committees can be justified. Finally, I explicitly do not accept the proposition that the Parliament determines how much money the Parliament will get. The Executive Government has the financial responsibility, and in the end the Executive Government will determine that question.