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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 1966

Senator WOOD (Queensland) -The only thing I have in mind in regard to the proposed sitting hours concerns the proposal to start at 10.15 a.m. on Thursdays. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) said, the Regulations and Ordinances Committee meets on that day and I wonder whether there will be sufficient time for the Committee regularly to complete its deliberations. It seems to me that the timing is a little tight. In those circumstances I would like to see the Senate meet a little later on Thursdays.

In view of the debate which has taken place I think that so far as the Senate is concerned honourable senators should make a stand to rebut the stupid stuff which is being put in the Press and which no doubt is slanted with a determination to show that the Senate is not doing its job. I think that the Senate has done a very good job since the Budget was delivered. The fact that certain legislation has been delayed indicates the amount of work which is coming forward. I have looked at the statistics for the period from and including 1966. There has been only one year, 1968, in which more Bills have been put through than have been put through this year up to this moment. In that year 157 Bills were passed. This year we already have reached 140 Bills. It is quite apparent that this year the Senate will pass more legislation than in any other year since 1966. This indicates to me that the Senate is doing the job.

I can quite understand that the Government would like to get certain legislation through more quickly, but the Senate has a duty to perform. Whilst, by the use of a majority, legislation might be guillotined through more quickly in another chamber than here, from the pure point of democratic process it is the right of the people to have this chamber engage in deliberate debate and give consideration to each piece of legislation that comes before it. A Government senator said that we members of the Opposition will have to give an accounting of ourselves when we go before the people. As far as I am concerned, as a senator and one who stands up for the Senate, I do not think we will have anything to worry about on that score. I think that many people are grateful that they have a Senate which is prepared to do the job properly as far as legislation is concerned. I make no apology for our performance to date.

As was pointed out by the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Senator DrakeBrockman), the Estimates Committees have been functioning for several years now. Establishing those committees was a very important development in the work of the Senate. I think that the Senate today is functioning in a manner that puts it far above what it was some years ago. The Senate today is fulfilling, to a far greater degree than ever before, the objective for which it was created. Therefore, apart from the point I raised about the suggested times, despite the vaporings of certain pressmen- special feature writers whom we rarely see in this chamber- the Senate is carrying out its work properly and is doing its work at a pretty fast rate.

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