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Thursday, 1 March 1973
Page: 143

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I think I can speak with some personal experience on this occasion on this matter because for a long time I occupied a room on the far corner of the Senate wing on the upper storey and therefore somewhat more distant from this chamber than the Cabinet room. It does seem to me from personal experience that a reasonably active person would find no difficulty in covering the distance in 2 minutes. However, I suppose some allowance must be made for the decrepit condition of certain members of the new Ministry. There are 2 matters that I would like to bring forward and I would ask the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) to give me his attention for a moment because I think that these are practical points. Firstly, the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) made some remarks with which I felt myself in sympathy particularly in regard to what is known as the subsequent question, the question which arises after the application of the gag, and we must expect that the new Government will be applying the gag somewhat more frequently than the last one did. I suggest to the Leader of the House that when the subsequent question is called, namely after the gag, that the ringing of the bells might perhaps be reduced to one minute or even 30 seconds because there is no reason really why extra time should be allowed for that. If members are not here for the gag they do not want to vote on the division. If they are sitting in the House for the gag division there is no need to give extra time. Perhaps the Leader of the House will consider amending his motion in line with the very constructive suggestion made by the honourable member for Prospect and where the subsequent question is called, that is, the question which follows the application of the gag, the ringing of the bells should be reduced to not more than one minute.

The second point 1 want to make is one which followed on the suggestion made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch). I think he was right when he was speaking of the effects on listeners at times of parliamentary broadcasts who, when listening to divisions, had nothing to hear except perhaps the mumble. It is important if the proceedings of this House are to find their echoes in the electorate - as they should - that this time of waiting should not be lengthened from 2 minutes to 3 minutes. If this were done it would be a retrograde step which would cause many people to turn off the parliamentary broadcast. This matter is quite an important one for the conduct of this House. I would suggest that during this time appropriate music might be p ayed. If the motion is moved by the Opposition the appropriate music could be 'Waltzing Matilda' or some Australian tune. If the motion is moved by the Government, obviously the appropriate tune would be The Red Flag' or something of that character. I think that we should consider very carefully the use of some appropriate tunes while the division bells are being rung.

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