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Wednesday, 18 August 1993
Page: 218


Senator HARRADINE (3.55 p.m.) —I think most of what needs to be said has been said and need not be repeated by me. There will be other speakers in this debate and no doubt they will have other matters to raise. Before the suspension of the sitting I was dealing with paragraph (3) of Senator Chamarette's motion and the problems that the government saw in regard to that provision. Senator Gareth Evans raised the issue that that paragraph would create problems for the government in respect of bills that are difficult to draft. For example, he cited the Mabo legislation as one.

  Nevertheless, I am informed that it was the government itself which wished to have that particular paragraph in Senator Chamarette's motion if it were to be passed. I remind the Senate of the wording of paragraph (3):

This order may be suspended by motion on notice, subject to the time limits on debate on motions to suspend standing and other orders, in relation to bills arising from the budget statements or urgent bills.

Earlier I was making the point that the use of the words `urgent bills' might have certain ramifications having regard to standing order 142. Indeed, it might enable the government to attempt to impose limitations on debate of those bills by virtue of the fact that they are urgent. If these bills were deemed to have the same meaning as they have in standing order 142, it could well trigger the provisions of that standing order. I do not think that that was the intention of Senator Chamarette at all.

  The other bills that are indicated in paragraph (3) are bills arising from budget statements. Bills arising from budget statements, as we all know, are a matter of controversy. What is the definition of bills arising from budget statements? I think the best idea is to amend Senator Chamarette's paragraph (3) by deleting the words `in relation to bills arising from the budget statements or urgent bills'. That would mean that paragraph (3) would read:

This order may be suspended by motion on notice, subject to the time limits on debate on motions to suspend standing and other orders.

That would enable the government to move a motion to suspend standing orders and give its reasons why this motion, if it were adopted by the Senate and if the subsequent standing order were adopted by the Senate, should be suspended in respect of certain bills. They do not have to be budget related bills or urgent bills within the meaning of standing order 142. They would obviously be urgent in another sense, but it is for the government then to make out a case as to why the standing order should be suspended.

  I understand why Senator Chamarette included the time limitations in this particular paragraph. She indicated that it is necessary to have a time limit of half an hour in respect of a debate on such a suspension, and I think that is reasonable. Obviously any senator can move an amendment. If the government comes in and says, `We want whole packages of bills to be included in the suspension motion', any senator is entitled to get up to move an amendment. It is for the government to justify its situation. If after half an hour the debate is not concluded, the amendment would be put and if lost the motion put.

  I foreshadow that I will move an amendment to Senator Chamarette's motion relating to cut-off times for legislation. The amendment is to omit from paragraph (3) the words `in relation to bills arising from the budget statements or urgent bills'.