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Thursday, 18 May 1972
Page: 1847


Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Health) (9.33) - I wish to deal now with notice of motion No. 2 standing in my name. Reference was made during the earlier debate to a motion being put forward by me in my capacity as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I am not putting this motion, nor did I put the earlier motion, as Leader of the Government in the Senate. I will move it in my name as a member of the Senate. I will be much more brief in my comments on this motion because I think that all honourable senators are very much alive to the proposition.

The Senate has always had what we chose to call an understanding or an arrangement that, on days when the proceedings of the Senate are being broadcast, the length of speeches will be restricted to 30 minutes with the exception of debates for which other speaking times are specified. Whilst honourable senators are not bound in any way by any standing order to this time limit and whilst, in the spirit of things, in a peroration honourable senators from all sides may run over the 30 minutes agreed time limit to make a point, this agreement has always worked effectively in the 19 years that I have been a member of the Senate. We have never had any difficulty with respect to this arrangement on broadcast days. I do not think that our debates on broadcast days have lost any of their lustre. In fact, on most occasions, speeches delivered on broadcast days are perhaps more pertinent, more prepared and more directed to the sheer substance of the matters being debated than are speeches on other days when a longer time is available to speak. In any event, when considering a Bill in Committee the time allowed is 15 minutes although true it is an honourable senator can speak again in the debate at that stage.

The motion that I will move seeks the agreement of the Senate in principle to changes as are necessary in the relevant standing orders to restrict speaking times in any debate to 30 minutes, with the time allowed for right of reply to be limited to 15 minutes. I think that the adoption of this motion would be to our advantage. The same reasons that I canvassed when speaking to my previous motion may be advanced support this proposal. I do not believe that I need to canvass the same arguments again. I think that this move would be effective and would be in the interests of the role and responsibility that we have as senators. With 'those brief remarks, I move:

That the Senate agrees in principle to such changes as are necessary to the relevant Standing Orders to provide that no Senator shall speak for more than thirty minutes in any debate in the Senate, provided that, where a right of reply is allowed in any debate in the Senate, a Senator speaking in reply shall speak for not more than fifteen minutes.







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