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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 5048


Senator FERGUSON (9.14 p.m.) —I came into this place on 1 June last year, and my first three weeks in this place were the last three weeks of the sittings. Except for Wednesdays, I think we sat until well after midnight every night of those three weeks. After my first three weeks in the Senate, I wondered whether any sanity ever prevailed in this place.  Lo and behold, at the end of my first sittings, coming up to Christmas, we finished at 6 o'clock in the morning to catch a 7.10 a.m. flight to go home just one week before Christmas.

  I remember talking to Senator Faulkner in the corridor just after he became Manager of Government Business in the Senate, and I distinctly remember him standing outside my office door and saying, `The one thing that we will not be doing while I am manager is sitting until all hours of the morning'. I think Senator Crane was there when Senator Faulkner said that we will not be sitting until all hours of the morning. Not only that; he is now trying to bring in another arrangement which says that we finish at 8 o'clock at night, which I guess means that we will intend to finish at eight but still go until all hours of the morning.

  In Senator Evans's motion he has proposed that we sit until midnight tonight and then start again at 9 o'clock in the morning and sit until midnight on Saturday night. Like my colleague Senator Teague, I will not sit in this place on Sunday. I will not be here. I know that my colleague Senator Boswell feels the same way. There are still a number of people in Australia who believe that this parliament should not be sitting on a Sunday.

  Unless we can get some sort of an undertaking from the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Evans, that there is no intention whatsoever for this Senate to sit on a Sunday, this government deserves every condemnation that it would receive from all of the Christian churches throughout Australia. Considering Australia's history of this Senate never sitting on a Sunday, they would have every right to condemn this government for even suggesting that we should contemplate doing business in this chamber on a Sunday.