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Thursday, 29 April 1971

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Supply) - Perhaps I could do that quickly before the next matter is called on. The Senate business paper shows that General Business is to take precedence after 8 p.m. We also have to take the reports of the Estimates Committees. They will be presented by the various chairmen who will move that the papers be printed. That is not Government business; that is parliamentary business. As soon as the various 5 reports are ready they will be brought up. It will not take very long. At 8 o'clock tonight we will move on to General Business, orders of the day. The first item shown in the notice paper is the Death Penalty Abolition Bill. Senator Murphy will make his second reading speech on that Bill and then a Government Minister will move for the adjournment of the debate. The second item is the Constitution Alteration (Tertiary Education) Bill. Senator Turnbull will make his second reading speech on that Bill and again a Government Minister will move for the adjournment of the debate. The third item is the Commonwealth and State revenue - proposed Joint Select Committee, which was initiated on the motion by Senator Little. 1 understand that Senator Little is not desirous of speaking tonight. In any event, Senator Cotton is in continuation and 1 think we could defer that one.

Then what I propose to do, with the concurrence of the Senate, is to go progressively through General Business items - there are quite a lot of them - to see whether we can clean some of them up. Where the motion is that the Senate take note of the paper, if the senator in whose name it appears wishes to continue with his comments he may do so. Where the motion is that the Senate take note of the paper but it is a matter that has been on the notice paper for a long time, if the mover is agreeable, it will be removed from the Business Paper.

Senator Byrne - Is it possible for honourable senators in whose name these motions stand to indicate before the suspension for dinner whether they propose to deal with the matter. In that way, any honourable senator who is concerned with a particular matter will know before dinner whether it is going to proceed.

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - That would be right enough, but I point out that I looked at this question, loo. In fact, my own Whip pointed it out to me in fairness to my own Government senators, and I looked at it again. There are a tremendous number of items. It is obvious that some of them will be taken off the notice paper or deferred. In most cases the motion is that the Senate take note, anyway, and I do not think that they will excite very great debate. But if in the dinner break it can be localised, as Senator Byrne has suggested, we will certainly localise it and let honourable senators know. Speeches are to be made in relation to at least the first 2 matters, and I believe there are some others. If we dispose of orders of the day we can then move on under General Business to notices of motion. There are several in my name which I would like to project. For instance, notice of motion No. 5 is in my name. That motion proposes that debate on urgency motions should not exceed 2 hours. There is one other notice of motion there in relation to the appointment of a Standing Orders Committee, which I also have in mind we should dispose of at an appropriate time. So I want to have a clean up process under General Business tonight.

Senator Byrne - Could I suggest that the Whips, through their leaders, be asked to canvass senators in whose names resolutions stand and indicate to the Government Whip just what they propose to do. Would that be possible?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - I am perfectly happy to do that. It is a long hard haul because this is a big Senate and getting the individual senators to give an indication of their desires at short notice is not easy. I think the Whips between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. could put their hands to it and see what comes up. I accept Senator Byrne's suggestion that we deal with the first 2 orders. of the day and if we then find something which may precipitate a real debate we should have some idea about it. Perhaps we should let the Whips, of whom Senator Byrne is one, go to work to see what they can do.

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