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Tuesday, 20 May 1969

The PRESIDENT - Order! I shall not ask the honourable senator to withdraw his remarks because of the way in which they were said.

Senator Murphy - He said that I have introduced a concept that the law of the Senate can be overthrown by violence. 1 ask that he make clear that that is a facetious remark. If he is serious I ask that he withdraw it.

The PRESIDENT - I think we must ask Senator Cormack to state whether or not his remark was facetious.

Senator CORMACK - I am well known for not being facetious. I add that the violence was a violence of numbers. By a simple situation that occurred in the Senate an opportunity was taken, by numbers, to change the law of the Senate in contradiction to the law that had existed for 67 years. To illustrate this - and it is within my province to do so - I point out that for the convenience of Senator Murphy in the pursuit of that which he may honestly believe, the procedures of the Senate were changed. Though senators sitting on this side would not agree with the beliefs of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) they freely agreed that he should have the opportunity to deal with general business on Tuesday night instead of on Thursday night. The situation arose as a matter of personal convenience for Senator Murphy in the first place and the personal convenience of honourable senators sitting behind him. 1 suggest that he now wishes to distort the orders and procedures of the Senate to suit the convenience of the personal political point of view that he and the senators sitting behind him represent.

Senator Little - How does the Democratic Labor Party get into this?

Senator CORMACK - I am addressing myself not to the Democratic Labor Party but to Senator Murphy.

Senator Little - We are the numbers.

Senator CORMACK - This is the numbers game. It is not possible to conduct the affairs of this nation when the laws of the Senate which have met such a situation from time to time for over 60 years, as was foreseen by those who determined the laws of the Senate, are being distorted, overthrown or destroyed in the personal interests of politicians - whether senators, or those outside behind the senators is not a matter at issue. The Senate itself is not the House of Government. This is a House of review. Senators are expected to stand above the hurly-burly of events and examine what is produced in another place - the House of Government. It has been freely stated tonight by the Government Leader of the Senate (Senator Anderson) that he, representing the Government here in the Senate, will provide an opportunity for full debate on the matters which apparently now concern the Opposition. Adequate and ample time will be allowed for this matter to be thoroughly debated. This is not convenient to the Leader of the Opposition or to those who sit behind him. Having established an authority to deal with these matters on Tuesday night senators opposite now wish to tear up the law of the Senate once again, in order to provide themselves with political advantage, j suggest that this is not to be tolerated. This destroys the functions of Parliament. It may be permissible in another place, the House of the people, but it is not appropriate in the House of review, this Senate. I suggest that Senator Murphy, having had his say earlier this evening, should abide by the offer of the Leader of the Government in the Senate that he will provide in due form and under the law of the Senate an opportunity for the Opposition adequately to express the views that it wishes to put before the Senate.

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