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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5285

Senator McMULLAN (Minister for the Arts and Administrative Services) (4.49 p.m.) —If ever we needed any proof that what we were having here is a deliberate attempt to waste time so that this legislation will not be dealt with, this attempt to suspend standing orders is that proof. Sitting outside watching the press conference, we said, `Senator Hill will come in and move a motion for the suspension of standing orders to debate this'—and, as we looked through the window, in he walked. We knew that that was the next excuse.

Senator Alston —Because that's the normal reaction to that sort of statement.

Senator McMULLAN —No, it has never happened before.

That was the next excuse—to come in and say, `Let's seek to divert the debate away from the terrible prospect that we might have to have a vote on a clause'. This morning we came in on clause 24, 25; now at 5 o'clock tonight we are still on the same body, the same group of clauses, we started on. That is absolute proof of a significant—

Senator Tambling —That is because they are so rotten.

Senator McMULLAN —Aha! That is because those opposite are so fundamentally opposed to it. I do not object to them being fundamentally opposed to it. There has not been a new piece of information, a new bit of detail, in any of the questions since 11 o'clock this morning. What did the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) actually say? He did not make a very scathing attack—

Senator Bishop —Madam Temporary Chairman, I raise a point of order. I have a problem in understanding why the minister who is in charge of this bill is not able to stand and speak to this motion. Why has he had to send out for reinforcements, for a minister who has not taken part in the debate at all?

  The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator West)—Order! Senator Bishop, there is no point of order.

Senator McMULLAN —It is just another attempt by Senator Bishop to be rude and offensive; she has failed, although she is usually very good at it.

  What did the Prime Minister on this occasion say was going on here? What was the scurrilous attack he made? He said there was a filibuster; quite clearly, there is. It is a legitimate, democratic right to have a filibuster, and we are having one. The Prime Minister has said that those opposite are running a tag team; and it is quite obvious that they are, even though they are not organised enough to run a wrestling match. We have been here for six hours, nearly seven, without any progress at all. The Prime Minister has said, `If we need to, we will stay here until Christmas Eve and come back on Boxing Day'. That is a clear declaration of the government's intent.

Senator Campbell —Was the minister lying this morning when he said it wasn't a filibuster? Which one of you is lying—Senator Evans or you?

Senator Collins —Madam Temporary Chairman, I raise a point of order. Once is too much, according to the standing orders; twice is a bit much, but it has been four times now. Senator Campbell knows perfectly well that it is totally disorderly to use that word in respect of a senator or a member of the other place, and I ask him to withdraw it.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Senator Campbell, would you like to withdraw your words please and refrain from interjecting.

Senator Bishop —Madam Temporary Chairman, on the point of order, if we are to deal with comments which are made on the aside, which people might find offensive, perhaps we might also deal with the one you made before the luncheon adjournment. Could I seek your guidance on whether we could deal with that immediately following this point?

Senator McMULLAN —On the point of order, Senator Bishop knows that is not a point of order. I would draw your attention to standing order 190 which says that to continually and wilfully disrupt the parliament is disorderly. Senator Bishop is quite clearly doing that.

Senator Ian Macdonald —It was a personal explanation, you dork!

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Order! Everybody, please!

Senator McMULLAN —Thank you, Madam Temporary Chair. I do not mind what these people say in interjections; it is of no consequence whatsoever. At the core of this, the shock and horror, is that the Prime Minister has put a bit of pressure on to say that what we should do in this Senate is vote on some of the clauses. Shock! What a terrible attack upon the Senate: it might have to vote on this bill that is before it.

Senator Campbell —But your minister doesn't know what the clauses do.

Senator McMULLAN —Then vote against it. Senator Campbell should just stop frothing at the mouth and calm down and vote against it, if he does not like it. All we are asking is: why is it unreasonable to require the Senate to vote on a bit of legislation? If Senator Campbell does not like it, he has a democratic right to vote against it. What is the shock and horror with saying, `Why can't the Senate vote?'? What is the shock and horror with saying that, if it does not seek to exercise that right, we will stay here until it does? That is our intention; it is a clear declaration of intent—just as this motion for the suspension of standing orders is a clear declaration of intent that those opposite will seek to keep wasting time. (Time expired)