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Thursday, 1 June 1989
Page: 3246


Senator WALTERS(4.37) —Senator Tate, the Minister for Justice, who has responsibility for the area dealt with in this Bill, some time ago gave the Government's response to the second reading speech. On every occasion since that speech he has sought, and has been given, a pair so that he would not be voting against this Bill.


Senator Robert Ray —That is not true. He did not have a pair last week.


Senator WALTERS —There was not a vote last week. But there was a vote today, and on every previous occasion that my Bill was voted against, Senator Tate was given a pair. Indeed, when one of Senator Tate's constituents-also one of my constituents-wrote to him claiming he had voted against my Bill, he told that constituent that, while he would not sue him, he could assure that constituent that he had not voted against my Bill. He did not say that he had sought and got a pair. He did not say that he was not game to stand in this place and tell the Government that he wanted to support my Bill. Instead of that, he took the coward's way out, and he sought a pair on every occasion that--


Senator Aulich —Mr President, I raise a point of order. I seek your guidance as to the status of Senator Walters's speech. Has she in fact raised a point of order in relation to a vote? Is she reflecting on the vote? What is the situation? I just ask for your guidance on this matter.


The PRESIDENT —Senator Walters is speaking to the motion that was moved by Senator Bolkus for the resumption of the debate. I am listening to what Senator Walters is saying. I suggest to Senator Walters that she withdraw the word `cowardly', which she used in connection with Senator Tate.


Senator WALTERS —I withdraw that word, Mr President. I find it incredible that Senator Tate is not courageous enough to come into this place and say that he agrees with my Bill rather than seek the alternative of being allocated a pair. To me it is quite inconceivable that this Government would throw Senator Georges out of the Party because he had the courage to cross the floor and vote against the Government on a matter of conscience. This Government threw Senator Georges out of the Party on that occasion because he was a courageous senator. On this occasion Senator Tate has sought a pair because he will not vote against my Bill. Therefore, he can go out into the electorate in Tasmania and claim that while he was the Minister who had responsibility for the area covered by my Bill he did not vote against it. Yet in the Caucus room the Government insisted that all Labor members should vote against my Bill. Many other senators would have liked to have voted for my Bill. Many senators have come to me privately and said that they have difficulties, yet they are forced to vote against their consciences. What reason can the Minister responsible for this area give for absenting himself from the chamber? How can that Minister get out of his responsibilities so easily?


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Walters, I have given you a fairly free run. The motion before the Chair is that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting. You should direct your remarks in some way to that motion.


Senator Puplick —We want an assurance that on the next day of sitting Senator Tate will be here to vote.


Senator WALTERS —Yes, I want an assurance from Senator Tate that when the Bill is debated next time-including when Senator Harradine's amendments are considered-at least he will have the courage to be in this place to vote. I am extremely disappointed that this Government is allowing such irresponsibility, particularly by the Minister who has responsibility for this area.


Senator Watson —Why are you holding a flower?