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Thursday, 24 August 1972
Page: 661

Mr CHIPP (Hotham) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - I move:

That tor the remainder of the session, unless otherwise ordered, the House shall meet for the despatch of business on each Tuesday at eleven o'clock a.m., or such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the Chair, on each Wednesday at half-past ten o'clock a.m. and on each Thursday at ten o'clock a.m.

The purpose of this motion which I foreshadowed yesterday is to provide for additional sitting hours which will be necessary if the House is to deal effectively with the very heavy legislative programme ahead. This year it is considerably heavier than it was in other recent election years. We have a heavy volume of legislation flowing from decisions announced in the Budget. As stated yesterday about 37 Bills stem from the Budget and in addition there is a considerable number of important nonBudget Bills some of which, it is anticipated, will require considerable debate. In addition to the earlier sitting hour each day as set out in the motion we propose that the time set aside for meals should be slightly shortened as follows: Lunch from 1 p.m. to 2.15 p.m.; dinner from 6.15 to 8 p.m. This will mean truncating both meal breaks each sitting day by a quarter of an hour.

The honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) has mentioned that on 13th September it is planned to hold a dinner for the distinguished right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell). He has asked whether the House could rise at 6 o'clock that night and I suggested to him that with your consent, Mr Speaker, we might accommodate the Labor Party on that score. The net effect of the proposals will be to add 6i hours of debating time to each of the future weeks in the session. We realise that honourable members will suffer some inconvenience because of the new arrangements but I think it will be preferred by all members to the alternative of sitting additional days, either Mondays or Fridays, or in the weeks off that are planned. Perhaps I should add that we cannot rule out the possibility that at a later stage in the session it may be necessary to consider sitting additional days. We also hope - I have a very firm feeling on this and I am sure that most honourable members would agree - that we will avoid late sittings as far as is practicable.

My final point is that the motion indicates that the House will meet on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. 'or such time thereafter as Mr Speaker may take the Chair'. This is to provide some flexibility to meet unusual circumstances such as a fog at Canberra Airport. In this way changes to members' normal travelling times can be kept to a minimum.

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