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Monday, 2 December 1985
Page: 2701

Senator SIDDONS(5.51) —I will speak only briefly on this matter. I think Senator Jessop has covered the ground very well. I happened to be in the Senate some years ago when the question of a measure of financial independence for the Senate was debated at great length. As Senator Jessop pointed out, all parties in the Senate unanimously agreed that there should be a measure of financial independence in the Australian Senate. I am amazed and I hope that the Government addresses the question as to why this Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill has not sought to implement that principle. This is a very important matter. The Senate cannot fulfil its constitutional responsibility properly if it does not have the necessary measure of independence. As things stand now, the Government can-in fact, it has from time to time recently-attempt to put the financial squeeze on the Senate so that it cannot establish the committees and get the staffing that are necessary to assess carefully, accurately and independently some of the legislation that comes into this chamber.

I simply endorse the comments Senator Jessop has made. I hope that the Government has a reasonable explanation as to why the legislation before us is in its present form. I hope that the Government will give the Senate an assurance that it will address this very important problem of financial independence and that we can look forward next year-certainly in the life of this Parliament-to achieving that very important goal. If this Bill is still being debated after the suspension of the sitting for dinner, my colleague Senator Mason will be adding to my comments.