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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1389

Mr FOX (Henry) - I move:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the immediate reopening of the debate upon Notice No. 1, General Business, on today's Notice Paper.

I find it very hard to understand why the Government should seek to curtail debate on a subject on which it claims to have the interest of the less fortunate members of the community at heart. It is very hard to understand, unless, of course, the Government has acted in a sense of pique. The Government has accused the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) of being inconsistent or of trying to do something that he did not want to do when he was the Minister responsible for social services. The honourable member for Mackellar has shown much more dedication and concern for the less fortunate members of the community and has done much more to alleviate their distress than any other member of the House. In moving his motion today the honourable member is consistent with the attitude that he has adopted since he has been a member of this House, both as a private member and as the Minister responsible for social services.

Again I find it hard to understand why the Government has sought to curtail debate when its supporters were very loud in their complaints about the number of times the previous Government used the gag and the guillotine. The present Government has shown itself to be much more ruthless in the few weeks that it has been in office than our Government ever was. I hope that the Government will be able to offer a very satisfactory explanation to the people that the honourable member for Mackellar seeks to help. After all, the honourable member thought, and I thought, that he was expressing the view of all parties .in this House, the view that the means test should be abolished as quickly as possible.. The stated intention of the 3 parties in this place at the last election was that they would abolish the means test within the life of this Parliament.

Mr Hayden - On a point of order: This seems scarcely relevant to the discussion of the suspension of Standing Orders which I understand the honourable member is proposing. In fact he is canvassing the earlier debate.

Mr MACKELLAR (WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - He is telling you why he wants to suspend them.

Mr Hayden - He is not debating the motion.

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