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Thursday, 10 May 1973
Page: 1959

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Leader of the Australian Country Party) - I second the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) that honourable members be given reasonable time to present their points of view on the Medical Practice Clarification Bill which has become such an emotional issue and an issue of such great conscience throughout the Australian community at present. lt is not an issue on which all opinions are on one side. It is not an issue in respect of which anybody would agree that all the rights or wrongs are on one side or the other. However I believe that a lot of honourable members in this House feel that they need to explain how they will be voting. Within their electorates and their own organisations there are diverse points of view, and to vote one way without some clarification of why they voted in that way will put them in a rather embarrassing and invidious position. So I humbly ask the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) to reconsider what he has said previously and enable this House today to debate fully this very important national issue. Because the Opposition is asking for more time, because this will interrupt the program to which he has tried to adhere rigidly, and speaking on behalf of all members of my Party I say that we are prepared to sit tomorrow to deal with normal Government business.

Yesterday in his rantings and ravings - I do not want to refer unduly to this because I will get emotionally upset myself - the Leader of the House said that if the Opposition wanted to debate this matter it would do so by sitting on Friday or Saturday. I conferred with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) immediately after the Leader of the House made that speech, and said that my Party would be prepared to sit on Friday. I also asked the Deputy Leader of the Opposition whether he would consult with his Party to see whether it was prepared to do likewise and then to notify the Leader of the

House. This he has done. This is a reasonable request and I ask the Leader of the House to reconsider it. I see no reason why caucus should have the right to determine the time allotted to debate an issue of conscience of the magnitude of this issue. Let us have a free vote on the question of how long this House really wants to debate this matter. Let Government supporters be free to decide whether the whole of today can be put aside for this debate. I am not saying this with the intention that we should just talk it out and have no vote. I am in favour of having a vote. I would say that there should be some time limit. Make it 10 o'clock tonight or 6 o'clock tonight. But at present there is no possible chance of a debate adequate to enable the views of private members of this House to be presented.

In my own Party we have a list on which honourable members are asked to put their names if they are interested in speaking. When we had our Party meeting yesterday there were 13 names on the list of those wishing to speak to the Bill. Apart from myself the names were: The honourable member for Northern Territory (Mr Calder), the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett), the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King), the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter), the honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann), the honourable member for Paterson (Mr O'Keefe), the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Ian Robinson), the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon), the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr McVeigh), the honourable member for Calare (Mr England) and the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). All those people have their own points of view as to why they want to speak. It may not be possible to give them all a chance, but as the procedures stand at the moment our Party will be lucky to have more than two or possibly three speakers. I consider that to be quite inadequate. I would imagine that private members on the Government side must feel equally deficient in regard to having an opportunity to express their points of view and explaining their reasons for voting as they do. So I request back bench supporters of the Government to consider the whole aspects of this debate and not just be led along by the hysterical remarks of the Leader of the House.

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