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Thursday, 1 June 1972
Page: 2423

Senator CARRICK (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I direct my question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that there are currently operating 7 legislative and general standing committees of the Senate, 2 Senate select committees, 3 joint statutory committees, 3 joint committees and 7 other standing committees? Is the Minister further aware that honourable senators who are members of one or more of these committees - that is most honourable senators - are committed to meet for committee work in Canberra or elsewhere on most weeks throughout the' entire parliamentary recess? Is this not a negation of the main purpose of the recess period in denying to honourable senators the time essential to give attention to their substantial duties in their individual States? Will the Minister discuss with the appropriate authorities ways and means of ensuring that in future the committees revert to being the effective instruments and servants, not the dominating masters, of the Senate?

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Air) - I do not know how many committees are operating at present. However, I take it that the honourable senator, in preparing his question, checked on this matter. I take it that the position is as he said. I realise that these days the work of a back bencher is getting very heavy indeed. I can well understand what the honourable senator said about the work load of each senator in the recess period. I think that is a problem that we have to look at. I am not sure who is the authority with whom we can discuss it.

Senator Murphy - Ourselves. We are the authority.

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN - That is right. Senator Murphy and I might be having an argument later today about the reference of a matter to a committee. I think we have to look at the position and look at it very closely. We just cannot accept a motion to refer something to a committee and then support it willy-nilly.

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