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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3120

Mr HURFORD (Adelaide) - I hesitated for a moment in the hope that a member on the Government side would rise in his place to explain to the Committee what these amendments to the Pipeline Authority Amendment Bill are about. I know of at least two occasions today when a Government Minister has moved a whole series of amendments that have come from the Senate without any explanation whatsoever. I do not point to the Minister for Veterans ' Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Adermann) who is now at the table. He was not at the table when these amendments were moved; that was done by the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Ellicott). No explanation and no reasons were given why the Senate amended the Bill when it was passed by that chamber. In the last half an hour the honourable member for Holt (Mr Yates) made a short contribution in which he suggested that it was the Liberal back benchers of this Parliament who look at the legislation. If that is so, where are those Liberal back benchers now when this Pipeline Authority Amendment Bill is being debated? Why do they not fill in the gaps which exist because their Ministers cannot explain to us why these amendments have been moved?

I take up the challenge issued by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and seek explanations about these amendments. A short while ago honourable members in this chamber considered this matter, yet the senators found reason to make further changes to the legislation which was passed by this chamber. We have not learnt the reason for these changes. I welcome the fact that the Government accepts amendments: I guess that in this case they are Government amendments. I have not heard that some Government senators crossed the floor to force these amendments as they did on another matter tonight. These are Government amendments. I ask: Why have these amendments been made? I welcome the fact that the Government has an open mind and is prepared to bring in amendments at this stage. Surely, the Senate owes this chamber the courtesy of explaining its amendments to the legislation? In matters of this sort the Senate should not take this chamber for granted.

I point out to the Committee that the time is now five past nine. We have just under another hour and a half before the normal Adjournment debate. We have very little extra business to deal with. In the last fortnight, the Opposition has had two opportunities to raise business in this chamber. The Standing Orders provide for General Business on every second Thursday. We seek to raise matters of public importance every day. If we are lucky, we are successful on two days out of three. Today discussion of a matter of public importance was gagged and the General Business period was almost talked out. We have an hour and a half left to us, yet amendments such as these are rushed through this Committee without any explanation.

I point out to the Committee, and to everybody interested, the cavalier fashion in which we are being treated by the Government. The best contribution that we have heard for a long time from the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Roger Johnston)- we do not hear from him often- was by way of an interjection in which he sought to explain these amendments. I waited for him to get to his feet and to explain them in greater detail, but I waited in vain. I will sit down now in the hope that he or the Minister for Veterans Affairs will explain the amendments to us in order that we can learn why we are being asked to vote in the affirmative on them.

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