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Friday, 8 November 1985
Page: 1857

Senator GRIMES (Manager of Government Business)(3.25) —I move:

That the words `the next day of sitting' be omitted and be replaced by the words `a later hour this day'.

I have moved this motion because this is an important matter. Senator Chaney sought leave to move a motion that the Senate take note of an answer by Senator Walsh, the Minister for Finance. When Senator Chaney was given leave, he said that he did not wish to abuse the privilege which had been given to him by the Senate, but he then proceeded to make a speech attacking Senator Walsh and pointing out the reasons for his moving that motion.

Senator Walsh, as was his right and, I believe, as was his duty as a Minister in this place, replied very cogently and effectively to Senator Chaney's motion. Senator Messner then moved the gag. The Opposition did not want to go on with the debate. It did not want to debate the issue that had been brought up. Senator Messner took the coward's way out and moved the gag. To my surprise, the Australian Democrats, who say that they will never or will rarely vote for a gag in this place, voted for the gag.

I have moved an amendment to Senator Chaney's motion to give the Australian Democrats the opportunity to reconsider their position, because the only Australian Democrat senator who was in this place at the time was Senator Sanders, and he is a very inexperienced senator, as we know. It was on his advice that Senator Macklin and the other more experienced Australian Democrat senators supported the gag. As Senator Chaney thought it was sufficiently important to abuse the privilege that was given to him by this House to raise and debate this matter, I think it is important that we should debate it properly. We should not allow Senator Messner to take the most extraordinary action in this place and to gag a motion that Senator Chaney moved for the Opposition.

The most important reason for the Senate supporting my amendment is that when Senator Walsh was speaking all of us heard Senator Walters say: `I want to speak'. Senator Chaney said, `No, you cannot speak', and we had a big altercation on the opposite side. We want to hear Senator Walters. We want to hear what she has to say, because she is such an effective and terrific debater on economics. Therefore, I have moved the amendment that this debate be made an order of the day for a later hour this day, and that will give us the chance to hear Senator Walters speak twice. We will hear her speak once on woodchips, and maybe we will get a chance to hear her speak later on economics, and that would really be something.