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Thursday, 9 December 1993
Page: 4340

Senator FAULKNER (Manager of Government Business in the Senate) —As I have indicated to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Hill), I am very keen to see this matter concluded. A motion has already been moved that would allow the introduction of new business tonight. It is not my intention, as I have informed the Senate on very many occasions in relation to negation, to see the chamber sit through the night. There is going to be, as a result of a decision taken by the Senate this afternoon to proceed with debate on the Native Title Bill, a need for us to deal with not only the Industrial Relations Reform Bill that is before us now but also the 12 other packages and then the Native Title Bill. I think all honourable senators would want to see us complete this program by a reasonable hour on Thursday night of next week.

  I am hopeful, if debate continues the way it has over the last couple of hours, that we might be able to see this matter concluded at a reasonable time tonight. I think that is achievable and I would ask for the cooperation of honourable senators in that regard. It seems to me that the logical way for us to deal with the business in this instance—this is the plan I have outlined to Senator Hill, Senator Reid, the Australian Democrats, the minor parties and the Independents—is to deal with the Industrial Relations Reform Bill at a minimum tonight; the remainder of our legislative program, with the exception of the Native Title Bill, on Monday; leaving three clear days for debate on the Native Title Bill.

  There is a certain logicality about this. I think most honourable senators have accepted that. I do not have a crystal ball which would enable me to say whether debate on this particular bill can be completed by midnight. I would like to see the chamber continue to debate this bill in the constructive way it has this evening, and I think it can be completed at a reasonable hour.

Senator Chapman —How do you define a reasonable hour?

Senator FAULKNER —I do think debate can be completed—as I think most honourable senators would agree—some time hopefully around midnight. Senator Chapman is asking me to make an ironclad commitment when it depends on the cooperation of all honourable senators. I accept that cooperation has been given so far in this debate, and I would ask for it to continue. I think that what I am saying has a certain logicality and sense to it. I do believe that if honourable senators continue to approach this matter in the way they have so far then we can see this business concluded, if not at the stroke of midnight then perhaps a little before or not too long after. I think that is a reasonable position. I would ask the opposition to look favourably upon it, and ask for cooperation from honourable senators.