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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 1843

Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia) - I ask: In a discussion of this kind what is so sacred about 3 hours when we are discussing an urgency motion? If honourable senators have no ideas about the sacrosanct nature of 3 hours I ask: What is so sacred about Wednesday, which is about the only day on which urgency motions come forward? Everybody knows perfectly well why urgency motions come forward on a Wednesday.

Senator Cavanagh - What is wrong with that? What is wrong with capturing the air?

Senator DAVIDSON - There is nothing wrong with that at all but what I am saying is that honourable senators are arguing about 2, 3, 4 and 5 hours. I ask honourable senators whether the urgency motions which have been put forward in the last session have really been urgency motions. Everybody knows what the motions are which are put forward. The debate has not taken into account the changed nature and changed role of the Senate and the new measures to which it is devoting its time and attention. I support the motion which the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has put down tonight. It provides that an urgency motion debate should not exceed 2 hours. Let us adjust the speaking time of each honourable senator accordingly. I submit that 2 hours is ample time in which to discuss an urgency motion. If a matter has sufficient urgency and it has not been fully discussed on the Wednesday then let us continue the discussion on Thursday when we are not on the air. We will see how urgent it is. Honourable senators then can devote time and attention to it. Sometimes these matters are described as matters of public importance. Today for 2 hours we have been debating a Senate committee report. Everybody knows that there are a whole string of Senate committee reports which we are not going to get through. Would it not be better if we discussed these matters to which the Senate has given a great deal of time and attention? I think that 2 hours is plenty of time for a debate on a matter of urgency. I think that a shorter speaking time for every individual senator in which to put a point succinctly, quickly and completely is a much better way in which to use not only the time of the Senate but also the time of people who listen and who are involved. Therefore I very strongly support the motion.

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