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Wednesday, 16 May 1973
Page: 2177

Mr COOKE (Petrie) - I second the motion. I want to say a few words about it because an important principle is involved and the House should debate the question. The Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), in answer to a question yesterday, adopted a somewhat ostrich-like approach to the matter. The principle of pairing is very important to the running of Parliament. It depends on goodwill and confidence between the Government and the Opposition. If pairs are called off, we could have a system of government by ambush rather than government by discussion which is the process normally adopted in a House of this sort. This is an important question and the time of the House should be taken to discuss it. It is all very well to say that Ministers in the Senate run their own affairs; but after all, they are Ministers of the Government and the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Government, is in this House. Simply to wash his hands of the affair like a Pontius Pilate does not overcome the serious problem with which the running of the Government can be faced. If we reach a situation where pairs are dispensed with altogether in this House it could become intolerable not only for the Prime Minister but also for other honourable members in the House. This is an important question that should be discussed.

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