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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 1837


Senator MCMANUS (Victoria) - The Democratic Labor Party will support the motion moved by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). Action was taken by the Senate, and rightly so, in the last year or two to ensure that time was set apart for general business and for the consideration of reports presented by standing and select committees. Having done so, and having promoted the interests of rank and file senators, we think it is a fair thing for the interests of the Government to be given consideration in this case. I believe that everything that needs to be said in relation to an urgency motion can be said in 2 hours. The object of an urgency motion is to give notice of a matter which is regarded as being of extreme public importance. I think that what is wanted is achieved when, in the space of 2 hours, the Senate indicates from all sides what it feels in regard to that matter and the matter receives publicity as an urgency motion. We think that 2 hours is quite enough.

I am fortified in that view by the fact that I have never been bored so much in all my life as I have been by the speeches in the closing stages of the 3 hours allotted for some urgency motions. Everybody knows that on most occasions the Whip is running around trying to get somebody to fill in. I think that consideration also has to be given to the fact that, whereas in the old days in the Senate there was one Opposition party which used the practice of moving urgency motions, now there are 2 parties in opposition which exercise that privilege. Whilst it has been said by Senator Cavanagh that that privilege has not been abused or over-used in the last few weeks, there is always the possibility that matters will arise and that this will happen. I have been in the Senate chamber on quite a number of occasions when both the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Democratic Labor Party have placed before the President letters in regard to urgency motions. Therefore, we think that what Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson is asking for is only fair. We propose to support it.







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