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Thursday, 19 September 1996
Page: 3597

Senator CARR(10.50 a.m.) —This proposition does demonstrate the durability of those sessional orders and, of course, how appropriate they were. I note that it has now been some six months since the election and that some nine weeks of sittings have taken place and we are still operating under the old sessional orders. We agree with the proposition that these sessional orders were of very high quality and they clearly served this parliament very well, but it is an extraordinary proposition that this government, after some six months in office and some nine weeks of sitting, is still working on those sessional orders. All I can say is that I can commiserate with Senator Kemp about how difficult it must be to get any degree of coordination within this government. After six months and nine weeks of sitting, we have not moved any further forward.

The opposition has made it perfectly clear that it is prepared to cooperate, to assist the government in making sure this parliament functions effectively and to make sure that it performs its functions as it ought to in terms of scrutinising the actions of the government and passing legislation for the benefit of the Australian people in such terms as to allow all senators to participate effectively in the proceedings of this chamber.

We have also made it very clear that, as we see it, there is an overall package of measures that needs to be considered. We are still waiting for that package to be developed fully.

Senator Panizza —It is a big ambit.

Senator CARR —It is no ambit. Be clear about this: there is no ambit. The opposition has put a very reasonable proposition to you. We have made very clear from day one what our position is, and six months later we have not moved forward. I commiserate with you, Senator Kemp. It must be an extremely difficult job being the manager of government business in this chamber when it is so clear that no-one on your side wants to assist you to actually fulfil your function.