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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3312

Mr STREET (Corangamite) - The Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly), on behalf of the Government, seems determined to try to set some kind of record in this place. It is not a record of which he or the Government should be very proud. It is a record of saying one thing and doing another. The way he is going about it I do not think that he will have any trouble setting the record if he has not set it already. He has given a classic example of his tactics this afternoon. The Minister came in and said that he had 3 Constitution Alteration Bills of great importance to Australia. I agree with him; they are of great importance; they are of great significance. But the next minute the Minister said that the House would be wasting its time if it debated these measures fully. In one breath he said that the Bills are important; in the next breath he said that we would 'be wasting the time of the House if we debated them fully. Perhaps the Government's attitude is shown clearly in its first effort to have the debates on the 3 Bills taken cognately. I ask you, Mr Speaker: What similarity is there between simultaneous elections and giving local government access to the Grants Commission. Indeed what similarity is there between having electorates based on population and the other 2 subjects that I have just mentioned? They are three entirely separate issues which will have a profound influence on the form of government in Australia and they deserve to be debated fully and they deserve to be debated separately.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I think the honourable member has made a mistake. There has been no motion before the Chair that these 3 Bills should be discussed in a cognate debate. They will be discussed separately.

Mr STREET - I realise that. The point I was making was that the Minister earlier said, firstly, that they were important and, secondly, that the House would be wasting its time in debating them fully. The Minister has recognised the individual importance of these Bills by not proposing a cognate debate. I can see that. But he has proposed a time guillotine on each one of them so that they will not have the full consideration of this House. They have been rushed into this House; they will be rushed out of this House before the people of Australia have had a full chance to recognise their implications. The one thing that we agree on is their importance. But we do not agree on the way in which we should deal with them. The people of Australia have a right to know how they will be governed and what the system of government will be. Here is the Government rushing the Bills in and rushing them out for purely political purposes. That is not a good way to govern a country and that will be recognised by the people of Australia when they next get an opportunity to say something about it.

I recognise that the time that has been laid down for the expiration of the second reading stage of the first Bill is 8.15 p.m. this evening. I suppose that the Minister will say that my remarks are denying the honourable members who want to speak on the Bill time to raise the issues that they would like to raise. So I will not take up any further time in this debate except to put on record my utter disgust with the fact that these 3 important constitutional Bills will be considered in a matter of about 10 hours debate all finished in this House by 10 p.m. tomorrow night. When the people of Australia have an opportunity to voice their opinions on this sort of conduct I am sure they will do it.

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