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Wednesday, 28 October 1970


Mr BRYANT (Wills) - I can only raise again the still small voice of those who think that the Parliament belongs not only to the Ministry but also to the members of the Parliament as a body. We have just seen, a few moments ago, the collapse of a debate on pollution because we want to get other things through, so we are told. During question time today we saw the continuing misuse of question time by Government supporters. I have just had a look through some of the copies of Hansard in front of me, and there are a number of consistent offenders on the other side of the House. The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) and other Ministers take 3 to 4 minutes to answer questions. I have no doubt that we now will be asked to continue every night - perhaps through the night - day after day in order to deal with major issues of national importance so that we can get everything finished by the end of this week.

One of the few privileges available to the honourable members on both sides of the chamber, but particularly to those on the Opposition side, is to enter into the debate on General Business, but that privilege is now being surrendered on this occasion. One can only hope that eventually honourable members opposite will remember that the rights of minorities, the right to free discussion and the opportunity to debate matters of national importance are what the Parliament is all about. I resent the way this is happening. I resent that it is happening at all. I resent the pressures - moral, psychological and otherwise - which are being applied to try to get the business through so that we can vanish into the limbo to fight Senate elections or whatever else is going to happen. I only hope that eventually we will get to the stage where the conscience of honourable members opposite will seep to the surface.

I want to say one other thing that I resent about the management of the affairs which brings this motion forward. Last Thursday there was a vote in this House to suspend the II o'clock rule. Fifteen honourable members opposite voted that we should continue to sit after 11 o'clock at night, and then they went home and were not here for the vote which was taken at 11 o'clock or thereabouts. 1 propose to prepare a list of their names and circulate it to the people and indicate that these honourable members opposite cannot even stand for a simple principle like that. What they impose upon others they are not prepared to do themselves. The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), who is the principal gagger in this institution, gagged the previous debate and then went home himself before 11 o'clock. I cannot understand why we should give pairs to people like that.

Question resolved in the affirmative.







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