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Thursday, 18 November 1993
Page: 3163

Senator BELL (4.01 p.m.) —In supporting the suspension of standing orders, we would encourage the opportunity for an airing of this debate—a debate that is very important to Tasmanians and those involved in the Tasmanian political system. I would have welcomed the opportunity to have an extended debate on this matter of urgency had we also had the opportunity to consider the content of the actual motion.

  After all, we only have to look at the front pages of two Tasmanian newspapers today to see the concern. The Hobart Mercury has a headline `Groom rushes to cut MP numbers' and the Examiner from Launceston is concerned that there might be more accords invoked by the government's revolutionary tie breaker mechanism. This is a matter of great importance in Tasmania. I wonder whether the way the motion has been compiled by Senator Chamarette is the best way to look at it. This motion confronted me earlier this morning and I would have appreciated an opportunity to negotiate on its content. If that had occurred, the Democrats would have supported the opportunity to debate the motion and debated it fully.

  The reason proffered by Senator Ian Macdonald's confused and tortured mind is not the reason we were not ready to support this motion. It was the reason I have just given. Senator Macdonald has probably spent just a bit too much time with the sun on his navel and it has obviously affected his brain.

  If the suspension of standing orders is supported, we will have a short debate. It is not the debate which we would prefer. We would prefer a debate on Tasmania's forests, GATT, the employment levy proposition or tariffs. For my part, I would like to have a debate on the Federal Airports Corporation. Perhaps if the opposition is talking about Tasmania, it might like to talk about the closure of HMAS Huon. We would welcome that opportunity tomorrow. What we have here is the promise of a short debate. Only on the strength of that promise can we accede to the suspension of standing orders.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senator Chamarette —I would like some clarification because I am getting confused. I would like to move the motion. Do I have five minutes to speak?

Senator Robert Ray —I will put the record straight. The understanding is that we will now move to general business. We will discuss documents as we normally do for up to an hour. When that is completed, Senator Chamarette will be given the opportunity to move her motion. I understand the time limit will be approximately 40 to 45 minutes. There will be one speaker from the government, one from the opposition, one and half from the Greens and perhaps one from the Democrats. That is how we will proceed. Senator Chamarette should not leave the chamber, because if the discussion of government documents collapses she will be on.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! At the risk of interfering with arrangements made between the various groups and the chamber, may I say, with respect, that the procedure is to be as follows: Senator Chamarette will formally move, without speaking, a motion to bring on the debate in general business.