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Wednesday, 27 November 1985
Page: 2327


Senator MISSEN(10.49) —I want to make a few comments on this matter, which has cropped up before. I think one has to take a little bit of time to debate this motion at this stage when things are in such a desperate mess. I will not go into the question of the Appropriation Bills. They have obviously been very slow in coming forward. We have to look at the question of whether there is some duplication in the questions asked in the Estimates committees and the questions asked when the Appropriation Bills are before the Committee of the Whole Senate, but this would not really be a problem if it were not for this great swag of Bills which have been carted into this House at this stage of the year.

It is not as though this is a new factor. Immediately the Parliament returned in August I raised a question with Senator Button. Unfortunately honourable senators will not find it in Hansard because Hansard, with its glorious computer, cut out the question and answer, but I will make sure that every honourable member gets a copy. There they will see that in the first week we resumed in August Senator Button assured me that it was a terrible mess in June when there was a great mass of Bills. As Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills, I complained that that Committee was treated with contempt by the mass of Bills to be considered. This morning I staggered down with four volumes of Bills and we had a short meeting to discuss them. Again, the Government is showing contempt for the Parliament. This is not entirely a result of the Government's messing around; the Opposition also has to be responsible and cut down on some of the motions which are put forward. I thought we were doing that, but apparently we may not be.

But it is basically a Government problem. Senator Button assured the House that the Government had learned a lesson from what happened last June and that the same mess would not occur, with the same gathering of legislation at the end of a session, which is an insult to the Parliament. It is designed to push through legislation without people having the proper knowledge of or a chance to look at the legislation. It is not an accident. It happened with previous governments as well as with this Government. We had the unctuous words of Senator Button in the first week of this session, saying that this would not happen. But it is happening as badly as ever. It is time for back bench members of this Parliament from both sides to take a hand in this and ensure that the Parliament is not turned into a laughing stock in the community as a result of its rushing through legislation which has not been properly looked at. I believe that, if necessary, we must sit longer in order to do the work properly.

Obviously the Government has known for some considerable time that this problem would arise. Why has it allowed the Sir Humphreys and others in this community to hold back Bills that ought to have come forward weeks ago and should have been given close consideration by committees of the Parliament? I heard only the latter part of what Senator Chipp said but what I heard was basically correct-that this is an insult to the Parliament and the Parliament should not be treated in this way. The Parliament should not think that it has to agree to guillotines, to rushing legislation through, just because the Government is unable to handle the work in both Houses. I therefore raise my voice in protest too, and I believe many other senators have the same view, that as members of this Parliament we are insulted by the actions of a badly organised Government. We are insulted by being treated with contempt by the Government with its actions and its disregard for the proper processes of the Parliament in considering legislation. I hope that some notice will be taken of this. I do not expect an assurance from Senator Button, who is not here, but I will ensure that all members receive a copy of the question and answer to which I referred so that they can see the hypocrisy of the Government on this matter.