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Thursday, 16 May 1968

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Minister for Immigration) - I find it surprising that the member of the executive of the Opposition who is in charge of the Bill-

Mr Bryant - I take a point of order, Mr Chairman.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There is no point of order.

Mr Bryant - Why isn't there?

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. I am listening to the Minister.

Mr SNEDDEN - I find it surprising that the Opposition is not prepared to take clauses 1 to 13 together. There is no point of issue arising from the Bill until clause 13. It was my expectation that we would have taken the clauses together and that we would have had very little difficulty in proceeding to the point where the first Opposition amendment would be moved and that is the proposal to insert a new clause 13a.

Mr Bryant - On a point of order, Mr Chairman. I take it that at this stage-

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Order! Actually there can be no point of order at this stage. The Minister is discussing a point of procedure. We should hear the Minister before a point of order is taken on what he has said.

Mr Bryant - Speaking to your ruling, if I may, he has the right to ask to be allowed to make a personal explanation or he can speak to the clause. They are his only rights under the Standing Orders.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! The Leader of the House is entitled to discuss procedure. I rule that he is in order.

Mr SNEDDEN - It is natural that Opposition members should have some concern about the hour to which we will sit.I have frequently said, and I repeat now, thatI do not wish to sit late on any night. On the other hand it would be perfectly clear to any. body that at 25 minutes or 20 minutes to 1 2 o'clock, whatever it was, having regard to the Government's programme of legislation and having regard to the time we have lost today,I could not agree to the House rising. I thought we should reach the Committee stage. I said earlier today and I repeat now that it is not my intention to complete the Bill tonight. On the other hand, I wish to make progress with the Bill through the Committee stages to a reasonable point. What I had in mind then was to see the point of time at which a particular clause was reached. It was therefore not possible to fix a point of time for finishing. As I have indicated to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, it is not my intention that we should sit beyond 1 a.m. Again, having regard to the progress made with discussion of the clauses, it may have been found more convenient to rise prior to that. I am sure the honourable gentlemen will recognise that it was not practicable, having regard to the programme in front of us and the time we have lost, to adjourn at 25 minutes to 12. I therefore say openly so that it can be heard by everybody - obviously that is the best way for it to be said, because everyone in the chamber will know the arrangement I wish to make and can judge whether it is reasonable - that the arrangement I have to offer is that we take clauses 1 to 13 as a whole. If any honourable member wants to make a point or to discuss those clauses, he will do so as one would expect. If there was no discussion on them - I should think there would be no discussion except for the purposes of delay or frustration - we should find that in the course of the programme the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would introduce his proposed new section 13a dealing with exemption on the grounds of conscientious beliefs. After there had been some exposition of this matter, in addition to that in the second reading debate, we could then make a decision to suit the convenience of the Committee and the demands of the programme, and rise at a suitable time. This is the statement I make, and I should like the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to give his opinion of it. The Government does not want to do either of two things. It does not want to sit excessively late or to put this legislation through more hastily than it need be. There is a third thing which must be done. We must act here with a sense of responsibility for the legislative programme before us.

Mr Bryant - Why did you gag the second reading debate?

Mr SNEDDEN - The final thing I want to say is in response to the interjection. The reason is that the lists of speakers on the Bill have been published for 2 days for everybody to see, and the names of the members who rose after the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr McIvor) were not on that list. It was clear that the reason for their rising and wishing to speak was to delay the Bill. Though we have a majority of forty members, the gag has never before been moved during this session. I should be glad if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would answer my remarks.

Mr Bryant - I rise to order. The Minister in his explanation on procedure has cast a reflection on honourable members who wished to speak in the debate. He imputed improper motives to them. I spoke in this debate, as I have in every other debate associated with defence in the last 12 years, with a feeling of purpose and confidence in what I had to say on the subject. We regard the Minister's reflections on honourable members on this side of the House as quite unbecoming.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I call the honourable member for Bass.

Friday, 17 May 1968

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