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Wednesday, 27 October 1971
Page: 2583

Mr SWARTZ (Darling Downs) (Minister for National Development) - Whilst I appreciate the offer of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the problem that has been expressed by the Country Party Whip (Mr Turnbull) the position is that this motion refers to Government business being introduced after 11 o'clock. I mentioned at the outset some of the matters relating to business today and on other occasions during the rest of the sittings. Knowing the number of Bills which will attract little debate, I said I believed that the same situation will arise again. That was one argument that I used. But in mentioning this question of the introduction of Government business after 11 p.m. I instanced the Appropriation Bill, where we ran into a problem.

So the assurance from the Leader of the Opposition, of course, would not cover this situation. It is a question of whether he can give me an assurance that, after I discuss the matter with him or with his Deputy, the Opposition will permit Government business to be introduced after 11 o'clock. I can assure him that I have not the slightest desire to prolong the sittings of the House but to ensure the orderly proceeding of the business of the House. As I indicated, because of the method we have introduced now of bringing in many more Bills earlier in the sittings, this situation has arisen earlier. If the Leader of the Opposition can give me an assurance, which I know he always observes, along the lines of the motion that Government business may be introduced after 1 1 o'clock, I will be very happy to withdraw my motion and accept his assurance.

Mr WHITLAM(Werriwa - Leader of the Opposition) - by leave - The difficulty in these matters, as I see it, is where honourable members are required to enter upon a debate after 11 o'clock. If the Leader of the House is referring to the situation, for instance, where a Minister makes a second reading speech on a Bill after 11 o'clock and then the debate is being adjourned, I would give him that assurance; but I could not give him an assurance that we would proceed with a debate on a matter for the first time after 11 p.m.

Mr SWARTZ(Darling Downs - Minister for National Development) - by leave - That would not be satisfactory because the motion refers to debates commencing after 11 p.m., and in fact, as I explained, that situation could arise tonight. That is one reason why we wanted to take this step at this stage. It is earlier in the sittings than normally that we have this number of Bills to handle.

Mr Whitlam - What have you in mind for tonight?

Mr SWARTZ - The Leader of the Opposition has seen the Bills that are on the notice paper, and it is possible that after 11 o'clock we may wish to introduce one or two of those small Bills.

Mr Whitlam - A Minister wants to make a second reading speech?

Mr SWARTZ - No, I am referring to the continuation of the debate, concluding the debate and the Bills passing through all stages. So the motion envisages the introduction of new Government business, the continuation of a debate and the completion of all stages. I would be prepared to accept an assurance from the Leader of the Opposition and withdraw the motion if he would give the assurance that I seek.

Mr WHITLAM(Werriwa - Leader of the Opposition) - by leave - The debate has enabled us to be much clearer on both sides as to what the Government has in mind about its business, but I cannot give the assurance that my Party would allow a debate to be commenced and to be concluded on the matters which are on today's blue sheet showing the provisional programme. I cannot give that assurance because, quite frankly, we do not believe it would be suitable to discuss things such as the Bell Bay railway, the finances of Qantas Airways Ltd, the stevedoring industry, payroll tax and State authorities for the first time after 11 o'clock. Not only are honourable members not in the best condition at that time but nobody will be in the public gallery to listen to us and nobody in the Press will report us, so we would be a closed society. The Parliament should be able to be followed by the public and conducted by men in better condition than they will be after 11 p.m.

Question put:

That the motion (Mr Swartz's) be agreed to.

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