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Tuesday, 20 August 1996
Page: 2689

Senator KEMP (Manager of Government Business in the Senate)(5.30 p.m.) —Whenever you think there is some hope for the Australian Labor Party, Kim Carr gets up and speaks. Senator Faulkner has been hopelessly exposed. He got up here and said, `We have to have a pair.' No-one could point to any precedent that a pair would be granted. Even Robert Ray, the de facto leader of the opposition, did not get up and say that, with a secret ballot, a pair would be granted.

But, in the spirit of a compromise and cooperation and after this extreme speech by Senator Faulkner, it is worthwhile recalling the Senate's attention to the fact that Senator Hill got up and said, `We will nominate two senators so this procedure can proceed.' It is blind absolute panic on behalf of the Labor Party.

Then Senator Faulkner got up and argued, `We don't actually want that now. We want to wait until we can get 76 senators in the chamber', thus totally reversing his position. The argument was mounted and we pointed out the complications with such an argument—that, clearly, precedents would be established if pairs were granted in secret ballots, and a number of important contributions from senators showed the problems which would emerge. But the point that Senator Faulkner made about a pair was effectively accepted by Senator Hill—but the debate continues. Why? For the simple reason that the Labor Party has not got the numbers. The Labor Party have totally reversed their position in the course of this debate.

It is now time that this whole sorry exercise was brought to an end so that the ballot can proceed and we can follow proper procedures.

Senator Schacht interjecting

Senator KEMP —Senator Schacht, at the start, you supported Senator Faulkner's first position and you got up and supported his second position—as you will his third position.

The PRESIDENT —Senator Kemp! Address your remarks through the chair.

Senator KEMP —Thank you, Madam President. The Hansard will show that this debate has flowed in an utterly absurd way. Senator Faulkner's initial position seeking a pair was responded to positively by the government. We then saw the Labor Party in blind panic because they worked out—

Senator Conroy —You were shamed into changing your position.

Senator KEMP —What an extraordinary position! You mount an argument in an extreme, extravagant and silly manner. But, in the spirit of compromise, in trying to get things moving, the essence of that argument is accepted which would have the same effect as if a pair was granted—which was Senator Hill's point. However, the reality is that, having accepted that, you still cannot wear it, and you still cannot wear it because the reality is that the numbers are not here.

The PRESIDENT —I remind senators to address each other in the correct manner in debate.