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Tuesday, 20 August 1996
Page: 2684

Senator HARRADINE(5.02 p.m.) —I would be quite happy to support the suspension of standing orders. I do not know why the opposition is proposing it, because I thought that it had a very important MPI for debate today—that is, the question of the reduction in funds for the ABC. I would be very pleased to support the suspension of standing orders, provided that I am given an assurance by somebody who is supporting the suspension that they will address the question that has been raised by Senator Hill.

Senator Hill has asked: how can you give pairs for a secret ballot? The problem is not with giving pairs; the problem is with the standing orders and what they say about how the ballot will take place. That is the point. I hope I am relevant. I hope that they will be able to tell me how we are going to get over that situation before I vote for the suspension of standing orders.

The problem is with the way the standing orders are written in respect of the ballot. There is no provision in there for a postal ballot. Every elector in this country can have a postal ballot if they are not there. Senator Foreman—and my best wishes to you, Dominic—could have a postal ballot if it were an election to elect us to this place. It is odd that we cannot have a postal ballot.

The other thing is that the nominations take place immediately before the ballot takes place. How can you give pairs when there might have been two, three or five candidates?

Senator Bourne interjecting

Senator HARRADINE —Particularly, might I say, for the Democrats and those of us who may not be aware if there are one, two or five candidates. With all due respect, the nomination of Senator Colston came upon us suddenly. The whip may not have known that there was going to be a second candidate. I hope that anyone from the opposition who will speak and eat up more time from the ABC debate will answer the question because I believe the problem is in the standing orders in relation to this matter.

I understand what Senator Hill has said. He has been in a difficult position. If we allow pairs on this occasion for a secret ballot, then that is establishing a precedent. As far as I can recall, in my time here it has never happened before. I think the offer Senator Hill made—that a couple of their side get lost while we get on with the ballot—has been generous.

Question resolved in the negative.