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Thursday, 22 October 1970

Mr BARNARD (Bass) - I had anticipated that the House would oppose the suspension of the 11 o'clock rule which is covered by standing order No. 103. As a result of what has been said by the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) one or two things ought to be said in relation to this matter. Iri a sense, they should be taken together. The honourable member raised a very important point about what the House intends to do after the Senate election. I would have been opposing, and will oppose, on behalf of the Opposition, the suspension of the 11 o'clock rule, for very obvious reasons. The Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) indicated the programme for next week. The House will sit on Monday and will adjourn, one would think, early on Tuesday. It will rise on Friday or in the very early hours of Saturday morning, if the Government and the Leader of the House anticipate that the business that is before the Parliament can be completed. ° The plain fact is that the business before the House cannot be completed in that time. One has only to look at the notice paper to see clearly that it would not be possible for members of this Parliament to deal with all the matters on the notice paper unless we sit late at night every night next week. 1 do not anticipate that the Leader of the House will keep the House in session into the early hours of the morning every day next week, but if we are to be able to complete the business this would be necessary. Therefore, I think it is relevant to deal with one or two of the issues that are involved when we consider the notice paper and the Government's decision to raise the House at the end of next week. In fairness to the Leader of the House 1 should say that he did indicate that if the business was not concluded by the end of next week Parliament would sit the following week until the business had been completed. 1 submit to the House that if we were to deal with all of the matters that are on the notice paper this Parliament would have to sit well into December, even excluding the period that will be occupied by honourable members campaigning in the Senate election. To illustrate what I mean in this respect -et me indicate that the Government has now resolved that we will complete the business on the notice paper - I refer to the notice paper for Thursday, 22nd October - and that we will complete the Bills listed on the notice paper down to No. 19, the Education Research Bill.

This means that there are 19 Bills to be dealt with next week. I put it to the Minister - indeed, I put it to the nation and to this Parliament - that it would not be possible for honourable members in this House to be able to deal sensibly and responsibly with 19 Bills in the short time that is available to them next week, even if one takes account of the fact that there will be late sitting nights. We will be dealing with 19 Bills, a number of them containing controversial issues, upon which there is some difference of opinion between the Government and the Opposition about how these Bills ought to be determined, whether they should be amended or whether they should be approved by the

Parliament. Some of them concern controversial issues which will almost certainly bring about a debate in this Parliament. The only way that the Government can deal with 19 Bills, even having late sitting nights, will be for it to apply the guillotine. The most serious aspect of this is that while we may complete 19 Bills - obviously, these are the Bills that the Government has determined are important, that ought to be completed and passed through this House before it rises at the end of next week- the plain fact is that there are 12 Bills which will not be dealt with. The 12 Bills that will not be dealt with during this session are the same Bills as. were on the notice paper during the first session of Parliament this year. f refer honourable members to the Immigration (Education) Bill to which my colleague the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) referred during the first session of the Parliament in 1970. He made a number of requests to the Leader of the House in an endeavour to ascertain when the Bill would be brought on. 1 repeat, that was in the first session of the Parliament early in 1970. This House will go into recess at the end of next week or probably the middle of the following week, if one can accept the proposition of the Minister. This Bill will remain on the notice paper until 1971. It is clear that here is a Bill which will have been on the notice paper for almost 12 months when this Parliament resumes. I refer honourable members to the Australian War Memorial Bill, the Sugar Agreement Bill, the Mapping Surveys Bill and the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill. Is there anyone in this House who is going to suggest that the latter Bill is not a matter that ought to be discussed in the Federal Parliament? This Bill was on the notice paper in the first session of the Parliament this year. It has remained on the notice paper for the whole of this session and it is one of the 12 Bills that the Government will place back on the notice paper in 1971. Of course, we have no assurance that even in 1971 we will be able to deal with the Bill.

L turn now to another very important aspect, which reinforces what I am putting to the House, which is the need for this Parliament to sit much longer than the period indicated by the Leader of the House. Surely he does not suggest that it is necessary for honourable members to sit into the late hours of the night in order to conclude the business. The Senate election will be held on 21st November. If we take the 9 days in November and then go into December - surely it is reasonable to argue that the eai earlierst date on which the Parliament should rise is 4th December - this means that there is a clear month in which the Parliament would be able to deal not only with the 19 Bills that we will be expected to discuss next week but also with the 12 Bills which I have pointed out to the House remain on the notice paper and will otherwise be there when we came back in 1971.

I turn to one other aspect to indicate just how important it is for this House to sit longer than the Government has determined. I refer honourable members again to today's notice paper. For the information of the Minister, 465 questions that have not been answered still remain on the notice paper. Will these 465 questions be answered next week or will honourable members be receiving answers to their questions in December, after the Senate election, or early in the New Year?

I pose this question to the House: Who is the greatest offender in relation to the 465 questions on notice which remain to be answered? The greatest offender in this respect is the Minister for Labour and National Service - the Leader of the House - the Minister who wants to close down the Parliament. Of the 465 questions on notice remaining to be answered, 121 are directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. These questions are the responsibility of the Minister.

One could continue to point out how the Government intends to treat this Parliament and how irresponsible its attitude is when it determines that it will conclude the business of the House by the end of next week. I have referred to the number of questions on notice which are the responsibility of the Minister for Labour and National Service to answer and which remain to be answered. But he is not the only one. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) has 35 questions on notice to answer. Thirty-seven questions on notice directed to the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) remain unanswered. The Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) has 34 questions on notice to which he has not replied. Altogether, I repeat that more than 400 questions on notice remain unanswered.

Finally, 1 turn to the Notice Paper becauseI submit that the question is not merely the business that this Government ought to bring forward or the question of the determination by the Government of the business that ought to be concluded before the House rises. 1 submit that the Opposition has some responsibility in these matters. It is entitled to have on the Notice Paper the matters that it has in the form of matters for discussion under the heading of 'General Business'. Surely we could expect that the Government would treat these notices of motion more seriously than it has. I gave notice of I motion in 1969; it is on the Notice Paper in 1970. I will have to put it back on the Notice Paper in 1971. I think the same situation applies as far as my colleague, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), is concerned. He has a notice of motion listed which is not likely to be dealt with by the Parliament. Yet, these are important issues not only to honourable members who sit on this side of the House. They are important issues that ought to be dealt with before the Senate election is embarked upon. Most of these motions relate to issues which obviously will be matters for discussion during the course of the Senate election.

Let me conclude on this note: I say that it is completely irresponsible first for this Government to determine that there should be late sitting hours next week merely to conclude consideration of 19 Bills which, in normal circumstances, would take probably 2 weeks at least with which to deal. Twelve Bills will be left on the Notice Paper. All those Bills were there at the beginning of 1970. More than 400 questions on notice remain to be answered. Important matters have been placed on the notice paper by honourable members on this side of the House. No opportunity will be given to the honourable members to debate these issues. I think that the Minister ought to reconsider both of the motions that he has proposed - that is, the motion that he has moved in relation to sitting days and the motion that he will move in respect of the suspension of the11 o'clock rule.

If the Government has determined that the Parliament should adjourn for the holding of the Senate election - nobody would deny that this must be done - it is within the power of thegovernment to call Parliament together after 21st November. The membership of the House of Representatives and, indeed, the Senate will not be altered as a result of the Senate election. Those who are elected to the Senate as a result of the forthcoming election will not take their places in the Senate until 1st July 1971. The membership of the House of Representatives will not be altered. No alteration will occur immediately in the composition of the Senate. Surely, in these circumstances, there is no logical reason why this Government should not be prepared to call the Parliament together again after 21st November. This would mean that we could deal, I believe rationally and sensibly, as I have already indicated, with the Bills that will remain on the notice paper. I therefore urge not only those members on this side ofthe House but also those members on the Government side who believe that today insufficient opportunities are available to debate the legislation that is on the notice paper - legislation that concerns the people of this country - to support my stand. For these reasons we will be opposing both motions.

Motion (by Mr Giles) put:

That the question be now put.

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