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Wednesday, 18 May 1960


Mr STEWART (Lang) .- I oppose this motion, because I feel that the Government once again is using a device in order to get bills through this House without due and proper consideration having been given to them by the members of the House. To me there seems to be no reason at all why this Parliament could not sit for another week. At the moment we have no fewer than twelve bills on the notice-paper, some of them very important bills, yet this motion will allow the Government to introduce new business after 11 p.m. The long hours that the Parliament will be expected to sit - perhaps going well into the early hours of the morning - will cause lack of concentration on the part of members, and we will have legislation passed through this House without due and proper consideration, because of the fatigue of members.

One bill in particular - the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1960 - is a measure on which many hours of debate could be spent; but. because this House will be sitting into the early hours of the morning, we will find that many of the clauses in that bill will be allowed to pass without proper consideration being given to them by either members on the Government side or honorable members on this side of the House.

It should be the duty of this Parliament to devote its attention to legislative affairs and to do everything possible to see that proper consideration is given to any bills placed before it. As a result of the adoption of this system of suspending the 11 o'clock rule, we will find that many members, particularly the older members, will be unable to bear the burden of the long hours and will take themselves off in order to have a rest.

During question time, Mr. Speaker, I happened to look at the benches where sit the members of the Australian Country Party, some of whom are now making such a roar in the corner. No fewer than five of that party's elder members were sound asleep. So what will be the position at 2 o'clock in the morning? We will not be able to find any of them awake - not that that will matter much, because their efforts in debates in this House are not worthy of consideration.

The same procedure as is now being adopted has been adopted on a number of occasions previously. The last occasion on which it was used was at the end of the last session when the Matrimonial Causes Bill was debated until half-past two or three o'clock in the morning. That was a particularly important bill, and many members voted on it without realizing what was involved in some of its clauses.

The proposed suspension of the 11 o'clock rule indicates that the Government has no planning in relation to the business it brings before the House. For the past two or three weeks the Labour Party has been keeping the House going with proposals for urgent discussion. Time after time we have had to fill in in order to help the Government out of a dilemma and now, in the last week of the session, in order that Parliament may be able to adjourn tomorrow, we are faced with the suspension of the 1 1 o'clock rule to let the Government pass through all the business that it has on hand. The Government should have had all this business, which is still to be dealt with, on the notice-paper early in the session so that proper consideration could have been given to it.

There is another point that I should like to mention. Next week many schools will be still on holiday. It was only necessary to look at the public gallery during the last two or three days to see how many children from schools on holiday, and how many parents, have taken the opportunity to come to Canberra in order to see the Parliament in session. But, because of the fact that Parliament intends to sit until 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning, or even later, a lot of children, together with their parents, will be unable to see this House in operation.

I believe that, for the reasons I have advanced, the suspension of Standing Order No. 104 should be opposed.







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