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Thursday, 13 April 1972
Page: 1119

Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - I do not want to enter into the controversy on whether an inquiry should be held. I am not much concerned about who owns or controls the airline in competition with the airline of the Australian people. I can find no great love for the operations of this particular company over the years that would cause me in any way to assist in trying to prevent its profits being taken over. However, I could not let either motion go through without speaking in condemnation of the decision to allow the Committee to sit while the Senate is sitting. The question arises of whether standing committees are taking over the functions of the Senate. Our Standing Orders provide that committees cannot meet while the Senate is in session. During the last sessional period the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) asked that permission be given for one of the Estimates Committees to meet while the Senate was in session. It was for only a few days so that the Committee could finish its business.

I protested on that occasion. The Leader of the Government in the Senate assured me that it would not establish a precedent. Now a source other than the Government wants a committee to meet while the Senate is in session. It brings up 2 matters, the first of which is that committee members will have a responsibility to attend sittings of the committee rather than to attend the Senate where there is an open forum to express opinions and to represent the electors. The second matter is that provision is made whereby every honourable senator can attend and participate in the work of standing committees, but senators cannot attend committees in large numbers when they have a dual responsibility to both a committee and the Senate. 1 voice my protest and express the hope that the occasions on which this practice is approved will be rare. If it is not curtailed there is the danger that standing committees will become the Upper House of the Parliament and the Senate will meet to suit the convenience of the committees.

Senator COTTON(New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - by leave - I wish to refer to several matters that have been raised during this long debate. The interests of both civil aviation and television are involved and I am now responsible for them both. I have indicated quite clearly the desire of the aviation and television interests to help and to give whatever service they can. Senator Douglas McClelland referred particularly to sub-paragraph (c) in Senator Gair's motion. I again stress what has been stressed on many occasions and should be stressed again. On Tuesday the Prime Minister said specifically on this point:

.   . I can state accurately and clearly the position of the Government. First of all, we will not permit any foreign takeover or action which would result in foreign control of thi corporation. That is the fixed Government policy.

As we have indicated earlier, we have welcomed the debate. We have found ourselves personally in accord with many of the sentiments expressd but we have not found ourselves able to support the proposal of Senator Murphy. With Senator Gair's motion, which has been added to and changed a great deal with our approval, we are certainly in accord.

The PRESIDENT - I shall now put Senator Murphy's amendment to Senator Gair's motion. The question is that the words proposed to be left out be left out.

Question resolved in the negative.

The PRESIDENT - The question now is that Senator Gair's motion, as revised, he agreed to.

Qustion resolved in the affirmative.

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