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Thursday, 28 September 1972
Page: 2131

Mr CHIPP (Hotham) (Minister for Customs and Excise) - in reply - It would be fascinating if just now and again the honourable member for Stuart (Mr Foster) injected one or two facts into one of his speeches in this House. I was personally delighted to hear the speech he has just made, firstly because it was broadcast, and secondly because Ian Wilson is a personal friend of mine whom I want reelected to this House. The speech of the honourable member for Stuart was completely unfair and irrelevant and not in accordance with the facts.

In speaking to the motion I pay a tribute to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) for the tremendous cooperation he has given me in running this House since I have been Leader of the House. 1 also thank virtually every member of this Parliament, including most members of the Opposition. Time and time again 1, members of the Opposition and the Deputy Whip of the Liberal Party have had discussions and arrangements have been made to suit the convenience of members, particularly members of the Opposition. If there is one member who cannot complain about not getting a fair go it is the honourable member for Stuart. Almost every week he speaks on debates on the motion to adjourn the House. He is continually on his feet. He never ceases interjecting and the House shows him more than ordinary tolerance, yet he makes speeches like the one we have just heard from him.

The honourable member accused the Government and particularly me of not allowing free debate in the House. More hours of debate have been devoted to this Budget than any since 1967. More interestingly, there have been more speakers in the debate on this Budget than in any debate on the Budget in the last 20 years. There have probably been more speakers on this Budget than ever before in the history of this Parliament. I think the record may stand there. The honourable gentleman asked: 'Why do we not debate statements?' Two fundamental statements are on the notice paper today for debate. I undertook to bring them back to this House because of the interest of honourable members. I refer to the statements on urbanisation and foreign exchange control. We have lists and it is our intention to allow as many members as possible to speak. But what has happened? It is now 24 minutes past 2 and we have not yet got on to Government business and do not look like doing so because we have on the notice paper a facetious item as a matter of public importance which was fully debated in the Senate yesterday.

Mr Stewart - I rise to a point of order. I ask for the withdrawal of the word 'facetious' in relation to the matter of public importance on the notice paper. It is certainly not facetious.

Mr CHIPP - 1 have no intention of withdrawing the word. The matter was fully debated in the Senate yesterday.

Motion (by Mr Cope) proposed:

Thai the Minister be not further heard.

Mr SPEAKER -The question is: That the Minister be not further heard. Those in favour say 'Aye', to the contrary 'No'. I think the Noes have it. Is a division required?

Mr CHIPP - No division is required. If honourable members opposite do not want the information, that is on the record too. That is how the Labor Party behaves.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Sydney and the Minister will not conduct a private wrangle across the chamber.

Mr Cope - He started it.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! 1 do not care who started it; it will cease. Is a division required?

Mr Cope - No.

Mr SPEAKER - No division is required. I call the Minister for Customs and Excise.

Mr CHIPP - The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) asked for information. I will gladly give it to him. However, during the first week of the sittings I informed the House of the number of Bills to be debated. I have discussed with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) how much time should be available for discussion of the Estimates. An informal agreement has been reached on that. I thank honourable members from both sides of the House for staying to that agreement. I am not informed of the date of the forthcoming election. As Leader of the House I am obliged to try to get the business of this House through with the least inconvenience to members and giving members their full rights. That is my intention. I think that; on only one occasion since the start of. this session has the House sat beyond midnight, and that was for only a few minutes. There have been very few occasions^ one, two or three, if that many - where the adjournment debate has been gagged. Almost every night three or four members of the Opposition speak on the adjournment debate, and usually they are the same three or four speakers. I wonder how just are the criticisms of the honourable member for Sturt.

As Leader of the House I have to work to a hypothetical date which was released in the last sessional period by my predecessor, the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), for the convenience of the members. He said that this House in general terms should sit from 15th August to 26th October with 3 weeks on and one week off. That is the programme to which I am working. That is the time scale. So, after tonight we have 3 weeks of sitting, according to the present plan. We have 25i hours left for debate on the Estimates, according to the informal agreement made with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. How many Bills are left? In general terms there are about 25 Budget and non-Budget Bills remaining. If the honourable member wishes I can give him a detailed list of them. Twenty-five sounds a lot but some of them, as the House knows, are formal

Bills. Some can be dealt with in cogaate debate. It is my hope that if the House sits until 26th October we shall be able to give honourable members reasonable opportunity to speak, without having late sittings. To achieve this objective we will need the co-operation of members of this House, Today the proposed programme of business goes to 3 pages, containing some very important items to be discussed, such as the two 1 mentioned before. Yet it is now 2.30 p.m. and we have not commenced Government Business and there is a matter of urgent public importance which will delay the House another hour. This means that these vitally important items will not be debated by honourable members and will not be permitted to be debated by honourable members. I ask the House to judge who is to blame for that - the Leader of the House, the Government, members of the Government parties, or members of the Opposition in the light of their performance this morning? I leave it to the House to judge.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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