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Wednesday, 19 April 1972
Page: 1821

Sir WINTON TURNBULL (Mallee) - Ever since I came into this House I have been opposed to late night sittings. I agree largely with what has been said by the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham). If we have excessively late sittings we are not in a position to deal with legislation in a fitting manner. Each Friday morning when the House is sitting 1 travel to Melbourne by aeroplane with a number of city members. They can go home, if they have had a very late night or perhaps an early morning on the Friday, and go to bed. But I have to drive my car 165 miles before I get home. That is the difference between the city man and the country man. The man who lives in Sydney is even better off. He has a shorter distance to travel. He gets in the plane, he is home, and he could be in bed before II o'clock having a good sleep if he had sat in this House until 2 o'clock or 3 o'clock in the morning.

I believe that I have been consistent in this matter. I opposed late night sittings when the Chifley Government was in office. I remember one occasion - I have told about it so often here that its repetition is perhaps tedious - when we got back to the Kurrajong Hotel when the breakfast bell was ringing at half past 7 in the morning. Then we had to be back here by halfpast 10. We sat fairly late that night. Then I had to go to Melbourne and drive home a long distance. One cannot reasonably keep doing these things. I do not agree with the Parliament having to sit for longer periods, for 2 or 3 reasons. One reason is that when a government has been in office as long as this Government has, it has all its basic legislation on the statute book. If the Opposition came into office it would sit tremendously long hours for many days, changing all the legislation that this Government has enacted. The Opposition would not agree with it. lt would want to change most of it. This would take a very long time and the House would be sitting many more days. But once the basic legislation has been settled there are only the normal annual adjustments after the Budget - the Supply Bills and different things that come in that have to be given attention.

I cannot agree with what the honourable member for Perth said. He put forward one or two cases. I just forget what they were, but as I listened to them I did not agree with them. 1 cannot agree with the amendment in the way it has been moved by the honourable member for Wills, because I think that he has gone a bit too far one way. I think that there is a happy medium. If the honourable member for Wills were agreeable to changing his amendment to make it 1 1 p.m. on a Tuesday night with no adjournment debate and not 10 o'clock but 10.30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday with adjournment debate, I would support it.

Mr Bryant - Well, draft an amendment while somebody else speaks.

Sir WINTON TURNBULL - I will not do that at all. I am talking about the honourable member's amendment. 1 would support it if those changes were made. I do not think, as the honourable member for Perth said, that this would mean the same thing and that we would go on with the adjournment debate. On some Wednesday and Thursday nights honourable members do not want to speak on the adjournment. That has happened very often. Perhaps 4 honourable members want to speak.

That would take 40 minutes, which is not very long. The fact is that the Government is in charge of the House. If the motion for the adjournment were put at 10.30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, when the Government thought that the adjournment debate had gone far enough, it would very quickly move the closure. The honourable member for Perth must not think that the Government would allow the adjournment debate to go on until midnight if the adjournment were moved at 10.30 o'clock. It would not go on for 2 hours. I have very rarely seen it go on for 2 hours - only when there has been some special argument between the Parties which created great interest and when they decided that they wanted to come to some conclusion, a conclusion which was never reached.

So I am between the 2 propositions, but I favour the amendment moved by the honourable member for Wills a little - not as he has moved it, but if he were agreeable to making it 1 1 p.m. on Tuesday with no adjournment debate and 10.30 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. If he did that, I would support him. But I wilt not move an amendment if he will not change his amendment. If his amendment is defeated I am finished there, because I think that as a matter of common sense he should accede to my request. I think that more honourable members would then support his amendment than will support it as it is presently written. The 10 p.m. adjournment the honourable member for Wills has advocated would mean that the Parliament would rise only 2 hours after it had reassembled after the dinner break. We have to sit a bit longer than that. If the Parliament were to adjourn at 1 1 p.m. on a Tuesday night it would mean that it would sit for 3 hours after the dinner break. One could be at one's hotel and in bed before half past 11 if an adjournment debate were not permitted. That would not be too bad. On die other hand if the House were to adjourn at 10.30 p.m. the chances are one would be in bed at one's hotel by 11 o'clock, which would be quite good. I have found that some of the younger members of this House get more tired than the older members, although if they were at a dance they would probably dance till daylight. I put that proposition to the honourable member for Wills for his consideration and leave it at that.

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