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Tuesday, 22 April 1980
Page: 1648

Senator CHANEY (Western AustraliaMinister for Aboriginal Affairs) - I understand that a member of the Opposition now would like to make a substantative speech on the report which has been put down by Senator Young on behalf of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. I suggest that the business of the Senate would be facilitated if these matters could be given some consideration before we sit, since it was known that this report would be put down. I have no wish to put the Opposition in a position of difficulty because it has not anticipated a matter which is on the business sheet for today. I am happy to resume my seat to give Senator Button an opportunity to speak. I would like simply to make the point that there is business before the Senate and we all have some interest in dealing with that. It is simply wasting the time of the Senate if we have to proceed as we have on this item.

It is not the fault of the Government, nor is it the fault of Senator Young, that there has been some doubt and confusion on the matter. Leave was sought to move a motion. That was granted as a matter of course and the Opposition Whip had the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Opposition. He had not prepared himself to do so and I sympathise with him, having been in a roughly similar position on one or two occasions. I want to make the point that for the Government to go on granting leave and agreeing to debates being prolonged is something which, if it continues, might raise doubts about the good faith of the Opposition in these matters, which is likely to cry foul and say it is not being given a fair go. The Government is anxious that the Opposition should have a fair opportunity to deal with matters that are brought before the Senate. On this occasion I do not propose to move the adjournment of the debate before Senator Button, as the appropriate Opposition spokesman, has had a chance to speak. I invite the Opposition to follow the forms available to ensure that there is a little more organisation.

Senator YOUNG(South Australia)-I wish to make a personal explanation under Standing Order 408, to clarify a point made by Senator Georges. I seek leave to do so.

Leave granted.

Senator YOUNG - I want to point out to the Senate, particularly to Senator Georges, that the presentation in this chamber of reports of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works is rotated between members from both sides. If one goes back through the records one will find that the presentation of reports of the Public Works Committee alternates from the Opposition side of the chamber to the Government side. It was at no request of mine that I presented this report today. I give an assurance that there was no cover-up at all.

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