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Monday, 6 September 1993
Page: 924

Senator McMULLAN (Minister for the Arts and Administrative Services) (4.13 p.m.) —On the assumption that Senator Alston's concern with not wasting the time of the Senate is shared by his colleagues, I will be very brief in response in the hope that we will not get the rest of the half hour filled up by other people moving motions to take note.

Senator Panizza —Try us out.

Senator McMULLAN —I am about to.

Senator Vanstone —You are so condescending.

Senator McMULLAN —Those opposite are so easy to condescend to. I thank Senator Alston for putting this issue back under public attention, because it is important to reiterate the points I made in my previous answer. I acknowledge that Senator Alston probably could not hear me say, because there was a bit of noise at the time, that there were some five other hours during which we dealt with government business. Although some of that was essential, it was nevertheless a matter at our discretion. That is five hours. Also two hours were spent on business of the Senate which might have been essential: some was but some of it is arguable.

  However, we were not being ungenerous in our measurement because of the 66 minutes of consideration of legislation, 11 minutes were spent with ministers getting up and introducing bills. About one-sixth or 16 per cent of the time, which we included in the assessment, is not the Senate considering legislation at all. I think we have been more than fair in pointing out that the Senate has fundamentally failed to discharge its legislative obligations in these sittings. I hope that it will very quickly move to correct that. We have a lot of legislation on the Notice Paper today. I think there is a very reasonable chance we will never get to it, but we certainly intend to give it a try. I hope that we can get rid of these motions to take note today and get on to some business.