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Thursday, 25 November 1993
Page: 3630

Senator REID —Mr Acting Deputy President, if leave were to be granted, I should like briefly to make a comment on some of the things that have been said this morning.

Senator Crowley —Senator Reid, leave is granted to you.

Senator REID —Thank you, Senator Crowley. I think what has occurred this morning indicates that there has been some confusion about this matter and perhaps it is because of the unfortunate absence of Senator Newman that that has occurred. As I understood the situation, today was the day that it was to have come on but it was deferred by Senator Herron to 8 December. This occurred also at a time when the government was pressuring us considerably to get the industrial relations legislation on and we were conscious that industrial relations was the centrepiece of this week. It is beginning to look as though we will not get to it at all, but we were under the pressure of trying to assist the government to meet that objective of getting industrial relations done.

  It was two days ago when I first heard—I think at the whips' meeting, or shortly before it—that the government was bringing on this matter on Thursday. That took me somewhat by surprise. I knew that we would not want that to occur, but I interpreted it to mean that, if the government was bringing it on, it had the numbers to do so, which clearly it does because Senator Lees has indicated that she would wish the matter to come on today.

  Because of that, I then, of course, advised all of those in my party who wished to speak on the matter that, although it was not our wish that the matter come on today, the government wanted it on today and they had better be ready to speak today; and that is the position. But it is not our view that it should be brought forward to come on today. Unless the government has some mechanism whereby it can bring it on today, we should proceed with the program. There is still a big program ahead and we have wasted a considerable amount of time this morning. Industrial relations has obviously slipped down the list a bit and I do not know why. It is to be started today, when we get around to the government's program, and there are a number of bills still to be dealt with in addition to that.