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Thursday, 27 June 1996
Page: 2443

Senator KEMP (Manager of Government Business in the Senate)(7.26 p.m.) —I listened with interest to Senator Faulkner's contribution and perhaps I can shed a little more light on this matter. In relation to the motion that Senator Faulkner mentioned that I moved—that, at least, is correct. The wording of that motion evolved after a number of days of quite detailed consultation—which I am sure everyone will agree—with the leader of opposition business and the whips of the minor parties. What we were seeking to do was to recognise that this was an important day, both in the sense of attempting to wind up the business of the sittings and also to farewell 10 senators who will be leaving this place—and I think that a majority of those senators who are leaving are Labor Party senators.

We recognised that the day was important. Senator Faulkner, you may be interested because you mentioned the spirit. The spirit was to see how we could accommodate a reasonable farewell to those colleagues and, at the same time, make sure that we could deal with the wash up of government business. So, when we reached general agreement on that, that motion was moved.

Last night there was another meeting which the Labor Party, the whip, and the whips of the minor parties attended. In that meeting we went through the program. We recognised that in some circumstances it was a bit hard to predict the time required because we do not know how much time will be taken on bills. Sometimes, bills can take far longer than one expects, and sometimes they can be dealt with in an expeditious manner.

We felt that it was important that the Senate should make sure that it dealt with the business that was before it in an efficient manner so that the other place, which may be waiting for our responses to various messages, could deal with those responses effectively. A very clear understanding emerged from last night's meeting that we would conduct the valedictories, but at the same time, as messages came from the other place, these would be dealt with in a speedy and efficient manner. That was spelt out clearly, I think, to the understanding of all people.

We recognised, first of all, that this was an important day, being the end of the sittings, and that we were saying goodbye to so many colleagues. We recognised that we had to deal with government business in an effective and efficient manner. We recognised that the other place would be waiting for our responses to messages that came up here. So we all agreed that we had to be flexible in dealing with the issues that came before this chamber today.

That is what we are still seeking. We are not seeking to change the spirit. We think that it was a pity that so much time was lost today in relation to the censure motion. But I think all colleagues would say, and senators would agree, that an awful lot has been done to try to ensure that the communication flows freely, and that people are well informed of what is happening.

We will oppose the motion, and then I propose to move another motion which, in essence, would allow us to move rapidly on to the valedictory speeches but deal quickly and effectively with messages that have come up from the other place. There is the Development Allowance Authority bill message. There will be a Customs bill message, which I believe is on its way. There may be others. We will have to wait and see. So what I would suggest is that we keep to the spirit of the agreement, which was hammered out over four or five days discussion, so that we can say farewell in a sensible way to the senators who are leaving and at the same time make sure that we deal with the government business, which I think the community expects us to deal with, and make sure that the messages we receive are dealt with in an expeditious fashion.

I know that the Labor Party will not be supporting this. I think that is a pity. People are coming from different directions on this. We understand the complications. But I think Senator Carr would confirm that an awful lot of work was done to try to nut out a reasonable agreement. So my appeal, Senator Carr, is also to you; but I hope that the Democrats, whom we consulted very carefully, will choose not to support this motion. If the motion fails, I will move another motion which will, hopefully, allow us to deal with the valedictories but also make sure that we can deal with messages that come up from the other place.