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Monday, 28 April 1980
Page: 1861

Senator CARRICK (New South WalesMinister for National Development and Energy) - I should like to say a few concluding words. Some considerable stress has been -

Senator Keeffe - I take a point of order, Mr President. I raised this debate originally to obtain a ruling from you at your convenience. Unless the Minister wishes to participate in the debate, I suggest that he has no right to reply to the question.

The PRESIDENT - Any honourable senator can speak in the adjournment debate.

Senator CARRICK -I am following the precedent that is followed every night in this chamber. The Minister who is on duty responds to what has been said in the adjournment debate. There has been evoked tonight a principle for certain action. Let me cite the highest principle and duty of every member of parliament. I refer to his responsibility to keep the Parliament functioning so that he can discharge his duties. Let me test a principle now.

Senator Keeffe - Mr President,I want to pursue my point of order. I asked for a ruling from you as President of the chamber and custodian of the Standing Orders. I did not ask the Minister for National Development and Energy, who is at the table, for a ruling. It is quite out of order for him to proceed to do so. I suggest, Mr President, that you and you alone, and not the Minister, can give a ruling on this matter. If the Minister wants to debate the matter he may do so, but then he must take sides. I asked originally for a ruling from you, Mr President, at your convenience.

The PRESIDENT - Order! There is no point of order, for the reason that any honourable senator my speak in the adjournment debate. The Minister is exercising that right as a member of the Senate.

Senator CARRICK - I put a simple test. If it is true that when attendants in this chamber withdraw their labour for industrial purposes this chamber should not sit, Parliament can be denied its right to sit by the withdrawal of labour by attendants. To state that is to show the ridiculous situation that is being argued today. If there is one body which must carry out its duties permanently in the face of industrial dissent, in the face of any kind of disruption, it is the Parliament. That is its fundamental duty.

Senator Rae - It may be that to solve the industrial dispute it is necessary for the Parliament to sit.

Senator CARRICK -That is precisely so. It may well be that that is so. Fundamentally what the Labor Party is saying today is laying down a device whereby this Parliament could be forced into disuse simply by an industrial condition. To say that is to state how ridiculous that principle is.

Mr President,I said today that the principle on which the attendants denied their labour was not for us to judge. It was for Mr Speaker and you to resolve that situation. It is for us to ensure that the work of this Parliament shall go on. The Standing Orders ensure that certain procedures take place. Senator Georges suggested that we should have ignored the locking of the doors. We tried so to do. It was the Labor Party which insisted that we should proceed with that device. Had the Opposition desired not to enforce that matter, we would have been quite willing so to do and we would have proceeded. Because the Opposition insisted, it was necessary to carry out the Standing Orders. The Standing Order does not indicate that attendants shall close the doors; it indicates that the doors shall be closed. That is precisely what happened today.

I only hope that never again would it be suggested in this place that a parliament should close because of an industrial dispute. That would be a principle that would be abhorrent to the whole of democracy.

The PRESIDENT - I have noted the comments of honourable senators this evening. I now put the question that the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The PRESIDENT - The Senate stands adjourned until tomorrow at 3 p.m., or such later time as I take the chair, in accordance with the resolution agreed to this day.

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