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Tuesday, 17 August 1993
Page: 23

Senator COONEY (4.24 p.m.) —Mr President—

Senator Hill —You will agree with us, Barney.

Senator COONEY —Well, to a large extent, one could agree with everything that has been said—but the Democrats are absolutely right. In this chamber, we really do have to have regard to convention, propriety and the sorts of orders that our forerunners—people who were here before us—have laid down. This book of standing orders and other orders—which I hope all honourable senators, not only the new ones, will look at from start to finish—shows that the procedure that we have adopted today is the correct procedure. Mr President, we have here the office of President which you have been so properly elected to; and the office of Deputy President which Senator Crichton-Browne has been so properly elected to. They are matters of great importance.

  I was going to address some remarks to Senator Harradine, but he is not in the chamber at the moment. Of course question time is important but so are other matters. I think the Democrats are absolutely correct when they say that we have to run this chamber properly. Question time is not part of the convention; it is not part of the way we have gone about our business in the past; and there is no reason why we should break that precedent. Senator Vanstone, for whom I have nothing but the highest regard, said that the government told lies during the campaign and therefore this ought to change this sort of—

Senator Ian Macdonald —And you agreed with that, didn't you, Barney?

Senator COONEY —Certainly not. The people of Australia have spoken. I have humbly accepted what they have done. They have elected me to sit on this side of the chamber—I was going to refer to our ministers in this chamber but they do not seem to be in their seats at the moment. As was the case in the debate we had on motions, I think everyone has made some very good points in this debate on question time.

Senator Alston —Is this a plea of guilty?

Senator COONEY —No, it is not a plea of guilty. It is a tribute to the way in which honourable senators have used the procedures of this Senate to get their points across. I will be listening from tomorrow until Christmas to the very many penetrating questions that will come from the other side. I suggest that today we sit back and go through the condolences.

Senator Vanstone —And have a cup of tea?

Senator COONEY —Hold on. Is it not important to have condolences? Is it not important to elect a President? Is it not important to elect a Deputy President?

Senator Faulkner —What about the budget?

Senator COONEY —Somebody said, `What about the budget?' That is very important. I think what we ought to be doing now is preparing for the budget, getting our speeches ready. Senator Kernot is absolutely correct in her approach to this. She has nothing to be ashamed of.

Senator Tambling —She is on your side.

Senator COONEY —Of course she is on our side, because our side is correct. We are not always correct, but we are correct on this. The contributions that have been made so far indicate that we will have a very interesting time between now and Christmas. No doubt when Christmas comes we will all wish each other the very best. During that time we will not say anything nasty to each other—if we do, we will no doubt regret that having happened.

  I think we should get about our business and put the motion. I am glad to see that the Democrats, moved by high principle, will support us. I promise to be here at 2 o'clock tomorrow. I hope that Senator Hill will ask the first question and I am sure it will be a penetrating one.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The time for the debate has expired. Before I put the question, I wish to refer to some—not all—of the interjections that were made during the debate. It has always been regarded in the Senate as disorderly to make any remarks suggesting that a senator has been deliberately untruthful.

  Question put:

  That the motion (Senator Hill's) be agreed to.