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Thursday, 18 November 1993
Page: 3159

Senator CHAMARETTE —by leave—Firstly, I must thank Senator Harradine and Senator Margetts for being prepared to support my proposal. The Democrats advised me that they were not able to support me as they have an informal arrangement that restricts their ability to move more than one urgency motion per fortnight and if they had supported my motion, they would not have been able to move a motion next week, if they so wanted. I regret that that actually brings about a situation where my motion about democracy illustrates a problem with democracy in this chamber.

  The standing orders relating to matter of urgency debates require one plus four senators to raise a matter of urgency. This discriminates against the ability of independents and small parties to bring matters of urgency before the chamber. I would like it noted that this state of affairs is discriminatory and violates the principle of democracy in itself. I proposed this matter of urgency today to highlight the actions of the Tasmanian Liberal government to change the number of members of both houses of the Tasmanian parliament with only a week's notice of its intention and with no consultation with the electors of Tasmania.

Senator Robert Ray —I raise a point of order relating to procedure. As I understood it, leave was given to the Greens to explain the matter of urgency; it was not given to make a substantive speech on the matter at this stage. If Senator Chamarette has used that as a device—I am sure she would not have intended to—she would be abusing the leave of the Senate. If she wants to deliver a substantive speech, other aspects of the standing orders are available to her. I also understand that she may have taken this course to save time rather than to cost time. The matter has been before the Senate, and there were no senators standing in their places to support the matter. Therefore, it is not possible for Senator Chamarette to deliver now the substantive part of her speech, if that was her intention.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Chamarette, do you want to speak to that point of order?

Senator Chamarette —I will accept your decision, Mr Deputy President, and then perhaps I will seek leave for something else.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —In a precise sense, what Senator Ray raises is correct. Leave was granted by the Senate for an explanation in respect of the matter.