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Thursday, 1 March 1973
Page: 137

Mr SPEAKER -Order! We are now dealing with a motion to extend from 2 minutes to 3 minutes the time for the ringing of the bells. The other matter is the subject of a subsequent, motion.

Mr LYNCH - I make the point that the first motion before this House proposes to increase the period of time for the ringing of the bells and having regard to the total context of these motions - that is to say, there will be a cut-off at II o'clock each evening - I believe it will be self-evident to you. Mr Speaker, that this motion will certainly cut into the time for debate which is available to the Opposition parties. I remind the Government that the rule for 2 minutes for the ringing of the bells for divisions and quorums was not determined yesterday, last night or last year. It has applied in this Parliament since Federation, regardless of circumstances and regardless of which Party has been in government. Although, the Leader of the House (Mr Daly), because of the pressures which his own Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) has placed upon him. may seek to cry loud about the problems which he alleges his Prime Minister may experience in relation to the existing rule, I remind the House that Senate Ministers, who have in the recent years of government been involved in Cabinet meetings on this side of the House, and honourable members who have offices in the far wings of the House of Representatives suffer no greater disability in coming to this House for the purpose of quorums and divisions than does the Prime Minister.

We on this side, representing the Opposition parties, see no reason for change at this stage. I believe that if one has regard to the point which the Leader of the House has mentioned - the dignity of the House of Parliament - the Government should consider the problem of the proceedings of this House being broadcast and the mumble of voices which go over the loudspeakers during the period in which the Chair is waiting for a sufficient number of members to form a quorum. The extension of the ringing of the bells from 2 to 3 minutes, is insignificant in relation to one call but spread over a series of calls over many days - we expect that we will be keen as an Opposition to put forward a number of matters which will require these sorts of calls - will, in fact, be a problem for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in its broadcasting of the deliberations of this House. 1 can well understand that should this proposal be granted, in the due process of time - sooner rather than later - the Leader of the House will come before this chamber to accuse the Opposition parties of seeking to waste time unnecessarily by the calling of quorums and the ringing of the division bells. We believe that this is not a matter of inconsequence - not a matter to be laughed away. 1 give credit to the honourable gentleman for the urbane and witty manner in which he brought his point before the House. In pass ing, I wish the honourable member well. I hope he is able to satisfy his long-standing penchant for overseas travel.

As my colleague, the member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn), has reminded me, the Leader of the House has a long-standing reputation as 'Dilly Dally Daly' which 1 understand comes from the simple fact that once he gets overseas he rarely wants to come home. I hope that in the interests of decorum and the procedures of this House he is well able to indulge that particular objective which I know he has held for a long time. I will discuss this point further in relation to the proposed next motion. Although this may appear to be a talking point, the simple fact is that if one relates the extension of time from 2 to 3 minutes and also the cut-off time to the reduction of the time of an adjournment debate I believe one can see the Government for what it is - a party of double standards which preached during the pre-election period about open government and yet comes into this chamber prepared to deny the Opposition [ parties, as it did this morning, a full and reasonable opportunity to seek to focus critical attention on those matters which the Government puts forward. We are opposed to the motion.

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