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Thursday, 26 September 1974
Page: 1448

Senator STEELE HALL (South Australia) - I join with other senators in welcoming the report of the Senate Select Committee on Foreign Ownership and Control. I appreciate what Senator McAuliffe, as Chairman of the

Committee, has brought before the Senate. However, it is a most convenient crutch for those who took the action which threw the Bills out of this chamber and prevented other senators from trying to amend them as they had desired to do. The most pertinent part of the report by Senator McAuliffe which I have read is on page 2. 1 shall refer to it in passing. The report states:

The Committee adhered to the program it had established and was in a position to report by 12 March as requested by the Senate. It is unfortunate that the events following the prorogation of the Parliament prevented the Committee from presenting a report to the Senate.

However it is gratifying to note that the AIDC and NIF Bills 1974 which were introduced in the other place on 8 April drew heavily on the issues raised in evidence d during the Committee 's public hearings.

Not having been here during those times, I take from the report that it had been concluded at that stage and was ready for presentation to the House but the Committee was prevented from presenting it by the prorogation of Parliament. As both sides of politics in this chamber had members on that Committee it seems to me to be quite without understanding that members on this side of the House could not have proceeded to move the amendments which they may have wished to make to the Bills during the Committee stages in the Senate. The Chairman's report clearly says that the Committee was ready to present the report to the Senate. My understanding is that this side of the House said that it could not move along those lines because there was no formal presentation to the Senate. If that is the case all I can say is that Parliament has a hardening of the arteries and had better do something about it.

Senator Rae - They would need to change the Standing Orders if what you were suggesting were to take place because it would be quite contrary to Standing Orders for the report of a senate committee to be used in that way.

Senator STEELE HALL - I give credit to Senator Rae for where he got his particular amendment, but is he saying that his Party room could not decide to move certain amendments here because those matters were included in a report of the Senate Committee which had not been presented?

Senator Greenwood - That is right.

Senator STEELE HALL - All I can say is that there is certainly hardening of the arteries of the system. It certainly would not have prevented me from moving what I would have wanted to move so far as Standing Orders would have allowed me to do so. I would like some clarification of whether that is officially the case in the Senate.

Am I to understand that because a matter is referred to a select committee no other member can move in respect of lt in this House?

Senator Greenwood - Look at page 3, second paragraph, and you have got what the Committee itself said.

Senator STEELE HALL -There seems to be some confusion again on the Opposition side.

Senator Rae - The only person on the Opposition side who is confused is you.

Senator STEELE HALL - Well, let us clear it up. Which part of page 3 are we looking at?

Senator Greenwood - The second paragraph.

Senator STEELE HALL - The second paragraph reads:

In view of the events that have occurred the Committee is in a position where it can take no further action . . .

I did not say that the Committee should take action. I said that the Liberal Party should have taken action.

Senator Rae - How could we know what the Committee was going to report unless it breached Standing Orders?

Senator STEELE HALL -I go back to the earlier stages of my speech where I said that this was a crutch for the Opposition to get out of the criticism of having delayed the Bills in this Senate. There were senators in this House who wanted to move amendments to those Bills and wanted to see them improved and altered. I was one of them and yet we were denied an opportunity to move those amendments. I have no idea whether what I wanted to move was in the Committee 's report or not. As I understand it, I would not have been prevented from moving my amendments. The Opposition is therefore using the inability of the Committee to report as a crutch to get out of the criticism that it delayed the Bills.

It was mentioned that the Government had set up the road towards a double dissolution. That is an unsupported statement. Every statement of every leading member of the Opposition parties in the other House clearly sets out who was responsible for setting up the double dissolution. The Opposition parties were responsible for that move.

Senator Guilfoyle - This is the next one we are talking about, not the last one.

Senator STEELE HALL - As I understood the honourable senator, he said that the Opposition set up various measures. If I have misunderstood him I apologise to him.

Senator Scott - I said the Government is taking the opportunity to set the stage for another double dissolution.

Senator STEELE HALL -Then I withdraw my remarks about the honourable senator. I go back to my point that the delay was caused essentially by the action of the Opposition in causing a double dissolution. They therefore bear heavily on the reasons why the Bills were delayed. I do not agree with the general run for cover which is being taken by Opposition speakers who are using this report as a crutch for explaining why they should not have proceeded with the consideration of the Bills and as an excuse for not finding sufficient means to amend the Bills according to its desires. Opposition senators surely must have known what their representations were to the Committee. Having fully considered the matter, whether the Committee has so decided, according to them, or not, they surely must have known what their parties wanted to have done to those particular Bills.

Senator Scott - They could not refer to it under Standing Orders.

Senator STEELE HALL -Very well. They need not have referred to the evidence. They knew what their parties wanted to do to those Bills. If a party did not know what it wanted to do to them it was ineffective, but it surely must have known, and if it did then it used the Committee's report as a device not to proceed. I do not agree with the general tenor of debate on this side of the House which uses this as a crutch to get out of the censure of public opinion.

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