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Wednesday, 4 December 1974
Page: 3162

Senator MURPHY (New South Wales) (Attorney-General and Minister for Customs and Excise) - There are on the notice paper a number of questions not answered. But I seem to recall looking at the House of Representatives notice paper and seeing that it was very thick with unanswered questions on notice, but here in the Senate we seem to be able to have a fairly thin notice paper. That may be a reflection either of the prompt answering by Ministers or of the fact that more questions on notice are asked in the other House. To be fair to the Government, I think we should say that a great number of questions are answered orally in this chamber every day. 1 have noticed that my colleagues in the House of Representatives have come across and have seen the pink proof copies of the questions which I have been asked and the answers which I have given, and sometimes they have come into the chamber, and they have been astonished at the number of questions that are answered.

I think that if one looks at the totality of the questions it is quite clear that the Ministers in this chamber answer far more questions than do the Ministers in the House of Representatives. I do not know that we ever really completely checked it out, but there was a period last year when after three or four months- I know it was a period like that- somebody worked out that I had been asked and had answered more questions than the whole of the other 26 Ministers put together. Yet soon after that I was receiving complaints about not answering questions on notice. I suppose that the only thing we can do is to look at the questions. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition ought to realise that there is a great deal to do in the ministries. Certainly, with the way things are moving now in Parliament, there is advice to be given by myself and my Department to other departments.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - There was the Family Law Bill.

Senator MURPHY -We have had various Bills such as the Family Law Bill and the Trade Practices Bill. The Estimates Committees have been sitting. There have been Cabinet meetings, Caucus meetings, committee meetings, constant conferences and other matters in a Government which is trying to get some things done, despite a certain amount of obstruction, when only so much time and attention can be given. I suppose it is a matter of priorities. It may conceivably be that those in Government, and particularly myself, think that there are matters of more importance than the residue of the questions which the honourable senator asked.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - You can answer them next week.

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