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Wednesday, 30 August 1972
Page: 579

Senator COTTON (New South WalesMinister for Civil Aviation) - As an ex-member of the Whips' union, J think I should take my part of the blame in this. 1 thought it proper to move for an extension of lime for Senator Gair. He is the leader of a political party. This concession was given to me and Senator Willesee. Senator Gair was speaking under difficulties due to the condition of his voice and I thought it was more than fair that the Senate should grant him an extension of time. So J, too, contributed to the problem.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! In view of the fact that the order of speakers and the time allotted to each speaker has been brought into this discussion, I think I should say something from the Chair. First of all, I want to thank Senator O'Byrne for clarifying the matter in relation to the list of speakers and the way in which the arrangements were made. Senator O'Byrne mentioned that certain senators were not expected to speak beyond a certain length of time. Of course, complying with this sort of arrangement rests entirely with the individual speakers. Human nature being what it is, people often say they will speak for only 10 minutes and it turns out that they speak for 20 minutes or half an hour. The arrangements in relation to the list of speakers are made between the Whips. The Whips have in mind that senators should speak for only a certain time, f remind the Senate that the President, the Acting President or whoever might be occupying the Chair, has no authority to tell honourable senators that they must speak for less than half an hour while the Senate proceedings are being broadcast. That is a decision of the Senate. So, from the point of view of the Chair, the senator who is speaking cannot be told: 'You have made arrangements to speak for only 10 minutes. You have gone over that time limit. I ask you to stop speaking.' The Chair is powerless to control that aspect of the situation. If arrangements are made between the Whips and the individual members of the Senate, it is up to the individual members to keep to the agreement. I want to make that clear. I think the Senate owes thanks to Senator O'Byrne for clarifying the issue so that we know exactly how the situation arose.

Question resolved in the affirmative. Senate adjourned at 1 1.23 p.m.

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