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Wednesday, 6 October 1971
Page: 1969

Mr IRWIN (Mitchell) - We have just heard a tirade of criticism of the machinery of the House and the rushing through of legislation. If we reflect upon the events of the last session of which so much was being made by the Opposition we will find that the Opposition agreed that the House should adjourn a week earlier than had been scheduled, and honourable members opposite took a very mean attitude in regard to the various Bills that were before the House. If they had not submitted unnecessary matters for discussions as matters of definite public importance we would have had very much more time to debate Bills which came before the House.

Mr Cope - He is telling fibs.

Mr IRWIN - I am telling the truth in regard to this matter because honourable members opposite had an extra week in which to deal with the legislation before the Parliament. There is nothing wrong with the machinery of this place. It needs only the will and desire of members of Parliament to do their job and everything is ready. All we hear from a great number of members of this Parliament are complaints. They would give their left hand to become a member of this Parliament, but once they get here they do nothing but complain and want to get back home. If it is necessary to have an all night sitting, let us put our shoulders to the wheel and remain here and not complain. Honourable members, before they come here, knew that there procedures had been followed for years, for centuries in the House of Commons, and that we had all night sittings. If they cannot take it it would have been far better if they had not come here. We have been elected here to do a job and if it is necessary to get certain legislation through we should put up with the inconvenience and not go home and complain. We have heard a lot of tirades against the machinery of this place. I want to tell honourable members that once you take dignity out of this House you have not very much left. Honourable members may sneer at the positions certain people hold in this chamber and they can sneer at traditions, but take dignity away from this place and there is precious little left. I ask honourable members to consider these points before they ridicule the past.

The time is rapidly approaching when we will have to consider the advisability of having all Ministers in the House of

Representatives and not some in another place. It is time that all Ministers of this Parliament belonged to this House. This is the House of initiation and management and it is time we brought all ministries back to the House of Representatives and re-established the other House for the purpose for which it was brought into being, that is. as a House of review. That is what the Senate is designed to be and that is what it should be. The committees that the Senate is establishing are only a subterfuge to take from this House what rightly belongs to this House. The House of Representatives is the House of management and initiation. It is about time that these functions were returned to this chamber.

Mr Cope - Does the honourable member want the 27 Ministers here?

Mr IRWIN - This is where they belong, my dear sir. This is the House of management and initiation. No Bill has ever the right to be initiated in the other chamber. That is a House of review to prevent extreme legislation either to the right or to the left. It has failed in that function. It is in the last 2 years only that the Senate has borne a semblance of a House of review. As much as the majority parties in this Parliament may criticise it, the Australian Democratic Labor Party has brought about something that our founding fathers always thought would occur. The Senate is now more a House of review than ever it has been since Federation. Both major parties would not wish this situation to exist. Let us be honest and fair in this matter. The Senate is now partially a House of review.

Mr Cope - 1 will show the Ministers in the Senate your speech tomorrow.

Mr IRWIN - Of course I am free to express my opinion where honourable members on the opposite side have to toe the Party line.

Mr Foster - Was St John able to do that? You had to sack him.

Mr IRWIN - Now that the honourable member has mentioned that matter, I point out that I have stood in my place in this House as an individual to register my opposition to certain matters. I challenge any honourable member opposite to do that even if they were here for 40 years. They are controlled by their caucus. They would vote against their conscience to keep in line with their caucus. But I stood here on 3 occasions, game enough and big enough to express my own opinion and to oppose what I thought was wrong. I would like to see honourable members opposite who are trying to interject be game enough to do that. I think that I have expressed some original views tonight; I will let it go at that.

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