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Tuesday, 23 November 1993
Page: 3441

Senator McKIERNAN (4.50 p.m.) —As we heard from Senator Schacht earlier, the government is not supporting this motion to suspend standing orders. We vigorously oppose the time-wasting exercise that is continually going on in this place. The motion to suspend standing orders suggests that there is something urgent and imperative about the matter.

  Some questions have been asked and those questions have been answered. The fact that members of the opposition will not accept the answers really does not make the matter urgent. If we tell those opposite that something is black and they disagree, that does not mean to say that it is a different colour. What those opposite accept or reject in this matter is entirely up to them. Obviously, those opposite have not been listening to the debate so far, yesterday and today, as to how this matter is being addressed.

Senator Panizza —We have been listening all right.

Senator McKIERNAN —Those opposite have not been listening at all or, if they have been listening, they have not been comprehending what has been going on. It was said here just a short time ago that the Auditor-General is in possession of all of the documents relating to this matter. The Auditor-General already has those documents. Those opposite are aware that the matter has been referred to a committee of the parliament of Australia which happens on this occasion to be a committee of the House of Representatives, which is equally competent to do the task as a committee of the Senate.

  I would suggest, from my experience on estimates committees and on some other committees of the Senate, that the House of Representatives committee is probably going to be much more competent in looking at and scrutinising that matter. When the reference is picked up by the committee and the documents are made available to the committee, I am quite confident that the colleagues of Senator Ferguson and Senator Panizza who will serve on the committee will enable their colleagues in the Senate to scrutinise the contents of the documents. Whether those opposite accept the contents of the documents or whether they put a different perspective or a different colour on the documents will remain to be seen. Undoubtedly, when we return to this place at some time in the future, those opposite will again be embarking on this time-wasting exercise we are currently engaged in, in debating the motion to suspend standing orders.

  I would be very surprised if opposition senators further embarrassed themselves by seeking to divide on this issue. They are being comprehensively defeated, not only on the numbers when the matter was raised yesterday but also in the debate yesterday and today.

  Question put:

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