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Thursday, 1 March 1973
Page: 154

Mr LYNCH (Flinders) - There is one thing I want to say to the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) before dealing with the matters which are before the Chair.

Mr Stewart - The honourable, member is now going to be insulting.

Mr LYNCH - The honourable gentleman knows that I am never insulting in this House. I never have been and I never intend to be. 1 do not need to be insulting at all or offensive to describe accurately some of the honourable gentlemen sitting opposite. But I say to the Leader of the House that these are early days for the Government and for the Opposition. If the Government believes that it can pursue a course of ruthlessly seeking to restrict and control debate in this House, the Leader of the House will in due course wish that he had not heard of that policy. Government members now opposite know very well indeed that it takes 2 sides of a House to make it work effectively. We on this side representing the Opposition Parties say to the Government and in particular to the Leader of the House that it is all very well to have fine words in a debate of this type but if we are to be subject to the restrictions to which we have been subjected in the course of recent days, the Leader of the House and the Government generally will know that there are Opposition Parties prepared to force the Government to allow a reasonable opportunity to canvass the national issues and to scrutinise and to criticise the legislation which the Government is seeking to introduce. 1 hope that the heady days which obviously the Leader of the House is experiencing and the early euphoria to which he is apparently subject will soon be dissipated because threatening words by the Leader of the House will not force the Opposition parties to go along with forms of procedure which we know will inhibit the correct projection of what ought to be properly the major debates of this House. I want to say also, seriously, that if the debates in the last few days have proved anything in this House it is that we have seen the ghost of open government finally laid to rest, lt has been suitably interred in the limbo of forgotten causes. What a tremendous irony it is that a Leader of the House should come before this chamber seeking to restrict the rights of members to participate in a full examination of issues during the course of an adjournment debate. It is very plausible to seek to concentrate attention on the sitting hours whilst at the same time conveniently overlooking the need for the Opposition parties to have a full opportunity to use the adjournment debate in the manner in which that period of the time of the House has been used over past years, that is, to enable Opposition parties to concentrate on matters suitable for legislative action, on great national issues and, of course, on matters affecting the constituents of members.

The Leader of the House knows full well that according to the allegations of his own Government, the Government in its terms, is bringing forward in this Parliament the most comprehensive programme of legislation in the history of the Australian Parliament. Whatever may be the doubts on this side of the House as to the accuracy of that statement it is a statement of Government policy and it behoves the Government to provide the Opposition with a full opportunity to criticise and scrutinise what the Government is bringing forward. The time suggested by the Government for the adjournment debates during a particular week covers only 105 minutes - that is, 45 minutes on both the Wednesday and Thursday evening and 15 minutes on the Tuesday evening. The Government when in Opposition was not happy with a total period of 2 hours a week. I do not want to spend too much time on the issue. I have outlined what the Opposition believes to be the essential questions. There are other honourable members on this side of the House who will be seeking to make a contribution to this debate.

I would ask the Leader of the House to be patient and indulgent because he of all people will know that unless he is prepared to be indulgent and patient with the Opposition parties who wish to mirror the aspirations of the Australian people correctly, as we see them, we on this side will make life very difficult indeed for the Government. That is not our intention in terms of procedure. We on this side recognise a responsibility to assist the Leader of the House to make the House function effectively, but if we are to have actions such as those taken by the Leader of the House in seeking to curtail the censure motion this morning to only 3 speakers on this side, with his Prime Minister criticising 2 senior members of the Opposition for not seeking to contribute knowing that they were unable to do so because of the restrictions he had laid down, with the guillotining of the earlier debate and the foreshadowing of the early guillotining of this debate, I say again to the Leader of the House that these are early days. I hope from his point of view and that of the Government but, most important of all, from the viewpoint of the functioning of the national Parliament of this country that he will not see that experience sour too early simply because the power he already holds has gone to his head. The Opposition will not be opposing the first part of the motion before the Chair, that is to say, for the House to meet for the dispatch of business on each Tuesday and Wednesday at 2 o'clock and each Thursday at 10 o'clock. We see merit in the proposal. We see substance in it. We think that this particular part of the motion is constructive and positive and we certainly will not be opposing it. However. I move the following amendment:

That paragraph (2) and the provisos thereto be omitted.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Sinclair - I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.

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