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Wednesday, 10 May 1972
Page: 1501

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - If I may endeavour to assist you, Mr President, there is obviously a problem arising with the proliferation of petitions. We do not want to do anything that would cause a diminution in the number of petitions. If citizens want to petition the Parliament they should be able to do so. The problem has been acute in the other House and I think steps have been taken there which perhaps would not commend themselves to honourable senators. We can deal with petitions in our own way. For my part I would concur in the proposals that have been made by you, Mr President. Senator Cavanagh has the slight objection that if a senator is asked to present a petition it is conceived to be his duty to present the petition. Perhaps it would be better if he were to do that - to present, in short terms, the similar petition. It might not meet the requirement of the case for one senator to assume to perform the duty which has been cast on the others. Having a petition presented is a very old right of a citizen. It has been regarded as a duty, with a very long tradition behind it, for any member of Parliament who is in possession of a petition to present it to the Parliament. I think it would be better if the person who has received the petition actually were to present it, even though a lot of the verbiage of the procedures associted with it were cut out. For my part, I would prefer to accept the suggestion which has been put forward rather than that one honourable senator should take upon himself the duty which has been cast upon others to carry out the request which has been made.

Senator Cavanagh - But all petitions should be received.

Senator MURPHY - Yes.

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