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Tuesday, 13 November 1973
Page: 1705

Senator WITHERS (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -My question which is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate concerns the announcement by the Treasurer that he intends to introduce special legislation to provide additional funds until the Appropriation Bills are passed. As the Opposition has not impeded the passage of the Appropriation Bills for the simple reason that they have not yet been introduced into this chamber, is not the need for this special legislation yet another example of this Government's administrative inefficiency?

Senator MURPHY -No, it is not an example of administrative inefficiency at all. The course that has been taken, as I understand it, is the course which was taken in 1971 by the then Government when Mr Snedden, who was then the Treasurer, introduced a Bill in similar circumstances. I think this action was taken earlier in November than is proposed by the present Government and was for a larger amount than is proposed by the present Government. This action is necessary in order to meet the situation which has arisen because the main Appropriation Bills have not been dealt with. I think the Senate Estimates Committees are not expected to report to the Senate on their examinations until 1 5 November. There could be further discussion in the Senate on the reports of the Senate Estimates Committees. We could run on until the end of November before the Bills are dealt with. I hope we can deal with them earlier than that. The Government will simply bring in a machinery measure to deal with a problem that has arisen before and apparently this is the way in which it is dealt with. Surely the Opposition will not attempt to make a lot of fuss about this simple machinery measure; surely it will not talk about the Government being broke and all of this sort of nonsense. The Opposition knows that this is simply a machinery measure to deal with a problem which its own Government faced when it was in office except, as I have said, the amount then was considerably greater.

I seem to recall that when the measure was introduced by Mr Snedden it went through the House of Representatives in about 12 minutes. The legislation came in here and, as Leader of the Opposition, I took the sensible view that this was a machinery measure to deal with exactly the kind of situation that we have now. I think it went through the Senate in about 4 minutes. It is typical of the Opposition that when it is faced with a machinery matter it is likely to put on some kind of turn and try to misrepresent what has happened as if something dreadful has occurred instead of the ordinary working of government.

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