House of Representatives
16 November 1905

2nd Parliament · 2nd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 5274

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE

Resignation of Members

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I beg to place in your hands, Mr. Speaker, my resignation from the Standing Orders Committee. I do so because the Government, by placing a new standing order on the business-paper, have ignored the Committee, its report, and the Standing Orders–

Mr Crouch:

– Is the honorable member in order in making a speech, and giving his reasons for his resignation?

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member would not be in order in making a speech; but, up to the point at which he was interrupted, I do not think he had gone beyond what was fair.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable and learned member for Corio forgets that the new standing order is not yet in force. The Government are ignoring the report of the Standing Orders Committee, and the new Standing Orders framed by the Committee for the better conduct of business in this Chamber. I am informed that the right honorable member for East Sydney, who is also a member of the Committee, intends to take, or has already taken, the same course.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– I feel impelled to take the same course as that taken by the honorable member for North Sydney.

Mr Poynton:

– This has been fixed up within the last five minutes. It did not occur to the honorable and learned member until he came into the Chamber to take this course.

Mr McCAY:

– It is incorrect to say that this course has been resolved upon within the last five minutes. It was determined upon by myself and the honorable member for North Sydney much earlier. We both feel that, in view of the action of the Government in ignoring the Standing Orders Committee, both by not submitting to the House the Standing Orders suggested by the Committee, and by proposing a new standing order without submitting it for the consideration of the Committee, we could not, in justice to ourselves, and to the Committee, continue to act as members of it. I ask to be relieved of my duties as a member of the Committee.

Mr McDONALD:
Kennedy

– I desire to announce to the House, and to the country, that, notwithstanding the action of the Government in giving notice of their intention to propose a new standing order, I shall not resign my position as a member of the Standing Orders Committee.

page 5275

PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).When I was speaking on Tuesday last, the Attorney-General accused me of having wasted three hours and a half, to which I replied that, when arguing a case, he had probably been told that he was wasting time. The honorable and learned gentleman denied that, and I said that if the statement had not been made, it was because the gentleman listening was too courteous to tell him. As I do not wish to rest under the imputation of having made a wrong statement about the honorable and learned gentleman, I desire to read the following passage from the judgment of Judge Williams in the case of Kannuluik v. Mayor of Hawthorn, delivered in November, 1903: -

I may add, that if I had given my decision in favour of the defendants in this case, I would have done so without awarding them costs. They have conducted this case with an evident intention to obstruct the plaintiff’s proof of his case in every possible way ; by such policy of obstruction, refusal to admit, and raising objection after objection which could serve no useful purpose, they have materially enhanced the cost of this litigation, and consumed much valuable time, and this without reference to the way in which they evidently instructed their counsel to test and contest every twopenny-halfpenny point in the case.

I was not paid anything extra for taking up the time of the House on Tuesday, but the honorable and learned gentleman was paid for the extra time he occupied in the case to which I am referring.

Mr ISAACS:
Attorney-General · Indi · Protectionist

– The honorable member is paid for not wasting the time of the House. All that Judge Williams said in that judgment is that, in pursuance of the instructions I had received from my clients, I put certain questions to relieve them from damages claimed against them. The learned Judge thought that my clients should not have pressed the matter so closely; but I hope that I shall always be able to do my duty to my clients, irrespective of criticism. I submit, however, that there is no analogy between the position which I occupied in that case and the position of the honorable member the other day.

page 5275

QUESTION

NAVAL MILITIA CLOTHING

Mr EWING:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– I wish to inform the honorable member for Newcastle, who asked a question the other day about the clothing of the Naval Militia, that the men are now being measured for new uniforms.

page 5276

COMMERCE BILL

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs when and how he intends to carry out the promise made to me in connexion with the Commerce Bill?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– I have read the report of the question put to the Prime Minister onthis subject yesterday. I thought that I had satisfied the honorable gentleman, when I spoke to him on the matter, the other night ; but on making further inquiry, I have obtained the following additional information : -

It is not proposed to go as far as even Mr. D. Thomson suggests. In no case is it intended to require that anything more shall be put on the Customs entry than is required for bond fide (i.e., Tariff) purposes. Indeed, there would be no legal power to do so. Mr. Thomson, however, suggests, when the entry may be the only trade description, in existence, that then we could require further particulars. But this is not the case. All that is required, and can be required, is that the Customs entry, made out without any reference to or idea of the Commerce Act, shall, when passed, be deemed a trade description, and may mean but very little. No further obligation is thrown upon the importer than now. Nothing could be put in the Bill which would make this clearer, because it is not proposed to amend the Customs Act by taking away any of the power given in that Act as to Customs entries, and to state that the Customs entry was to be prepared solely with a view to Customs requirements would be merely to restate the present position.

I thought that I had made the position clear to the honorable member. Having ascertained that it was unnecessary, and would, in fact, be almost impossible to insert in the Bill any words which would have the effect he desired, I refrained from taking the action which he wished me to take in another place.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– In view of the further question which I intend to address to the Minister of Trade and Customs, I should like to point out that the statement just made was uttered partially at any rate, if, not fully, before he gave the promise to which I have alluded. The record of that promise is contained in the following passage in Hansard, page 3052, of the current session : -

Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney).I wish to remind the Minister publicly of an omission of which I reminded him privately. As the Bill stands, a trade description includes a Customs entry. As honorable members know, the regulations may require that a particular trade description shall give particulars in regard to a great variety of subjects. Every ingredient in a complex article may have to be named, together with its place of manufacture, and many other things. While it may be perfectly right to demand the statement of such information on a label or invoice, it would be manifestly unjust and cumbrous to require it to be repeated on a Customs entry. I understand from the Minister, however, that in another place he will have carried out his promise that the statement of this information on the Customs entry shall not be required unless that entry is the only trade description.

Sir William Lyne:

– Yes.

Then upon the next page, without any fur ther reference to that subject, we find the record of the fact that the Bill was read a third time. I would now ask the Minister whether he is prepared to fulfil the promise then given, which induced me to refrain from requesting that the clause in question should be recommitted.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– The honorable member fails to see that the representations made by him were based upon absolutely wrong premises. Although I quite admit that the honorable member asked me the question referred to, and that I replied in the affirmative, I found, on making further inquiry, that what he desired could not be effectively done. That is the explanation I have given. In addition to that, there is no necessity to take the action he desires, because the fears of the honorable member are groundless.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– No, they are not.

Mr JOHNSON:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I desire to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs what trust he can expect members of the Opposition to place in Ministerial promises., when they are so frequently broken?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I did not at first realize that the questions which have been addressed to the Minister of Trade and Customs had reference to a measure now before another branch of the Legislature. As that has now become clear, I cannot allow any further questions on that subject.

page 5276

QUESTION

STANDING ORDERS COMMITTEE:

Resignation of Mr. Reid

Mr POYNTON:

– I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether, in view of the fact that the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney has attended only one meeting of the Standing Orders Committee in five years, it is worth the while of any honorable member to endeavour to create a sensation by announcing the right honorable gentleman’s resignation from that body ?

page 5277

QUESTION

DAILY LETTER DELIVERIES

Mr HUTCHISON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– I desire to ask the Postmater-General whether he has obtained the information which I sought a few days ago with reference to the number of daily deliveries of letters made within two miles of the General Post Offices in the capitals of all the States.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Postmaster-General · EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– The following information has been furnished by the Deputy Postmasters-General in the several States : -

Sydney. - Three deliveries daily, Monday to Friday, inclusive, throughout the city of Sydney and boroughs of Darlington, Glebe, and Paddington, by letter carriers attached to the General Post Office; two deliveries on Saturday. The delivery from the General Post Office does not extend to a two-miles radius; three deliveries daily in the boroughs (within two miles of the General Post Office) of Balmain, North Sydney, Woollahara, Redfern, Camperdown, Waterloo, Newtown, and Annandale.

Melbourne. - Four deliveries daily, Monday to Friday, inclusive, in the city of Melbourne proper ; three deliveries on Saturday. In East and West Melbourne, and in suburbs within a radius of two miles from the General Post Office, three deliveries daily (Monday to Friday) are effected, and two deliveries on Saturday.

Brisbane. - Three deliveries daily in business portions of the city, . distant from three-quarters to one and a quarter miles from the General Post Office ; two deliveries daily to other portions within a radius of two miles from the General Post Office; two deliveries daily from Woolloongabba, Toowong, Albion, and Fortitude Valley, offices distant from the General Post Office respectively two miles, three miles and one mile and a half, portions of which come within a two-mile radius from the General Post Office.

Adelaide. - Three deliveries daily in Adelaide and North Adelaide, and two in all other places within two-mile radius, except Saturday, when there are two deliveries in Adelaide and North Adelaide, and one in other places within radius named, the afternoon delivery being omitted.

Perth. - Three deliveries daily to outer portion of the city of Perth, within the two-mile radius from the General Post Office; four deliveries to the inner portion of the city.

Hobart. - Three deliveries, Monday to Friday, inclusive; two deliveries on Saturday.

page 5277

QUESTION

RAILWAY STATION-MASTERS AS POSTAL OFFICIALS

Mr FULLER:
ILLAWARRA, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I should like to know whether the Postmaster-General has taken any action with regard to the payment of railway officials for work done in connexion with the Postal Department?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Protectionist

– The whole matter is now under consideration.

page 5277

QUESTION

PENNY POSTAGE

Mr LONSDALE:
NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I desire to know whether the Postmaster-General will consider whether the penny-postage system cannot be gradually adopted throughout the Commonwealth without imposing any undue strain upon the finances of his Department ?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Protectionist

– As I have previously stated, the Government are in favour of the adoption of penny postage throughout the Commonwealth, and it is merely a question as to when it can be brought into operation.

Mr. W. HALLAM.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether the Government have under consideration the case of Mr. W. Hallam, the Tasmanian telegraph operator, who instituted certain long-service telephone services in Western Australia and Queensland, and whether, in recognition of the special capacity he has shown, it is intended to promote him to some high position in the service?

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:

– It is the intention of the Government to promote Mr. Hallam, and arrangements to that end are now being made.

page 5277

QUESTION

SHEFFIELD POST-OFFICE

Mr CAMERON:
WILMOT, TASMANIA

– I wish to know when I am likely to receive a reply from the Postmaster-General to the representations made by me on behalf of the .inhabitants of Sheffield, with regard to the provision of a light at that post-office? It has been promised for some time.

Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Protectionist

– I am having inquiries made with regard to the supply of a lamp at the post-office mentioned, and I hope to be able to advise the honorable member very soon.

page 5277

QUESTION

CABLING OF CRICKET NEWS

Mr THOMAS:
BARRIER, NEW SOUTH WALES

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. Did the English newspapers have the cricket news cabled from Australia to England during the_ visit of the last English cricket team to Australia?
  2. Was the news cabled by the Pacific cable?
  3. If so, why did the English newspapers have that news sent by the Pacific cable rather than by the Eastern Extension Company?
Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Protectionist

– The replies to the “honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes, and also by the cable of the Eastern Extension Company.
  3. The Central News Agency by which the arrangement was made for obtaining the information respecting the cricket matches with the last English cricket team by telegraph, did not discriminate between the two routes referred to, but arranged that it should be sent by either. It was reported by the Manager of the Pacific Cable Board that a telegram handed in at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and sent by the Pacific cable, reached London in three and a half minutes, and others in five, six, and seven minutes.

page 5278

QUESTION

TELEPHONE CALLS AT HOTELS

Mr THOMAS:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. What is the average number of calls per day on the telephone of the Grand Hotel, Melbourne, and of the Hotel Australia, Sydney ?
  2. How much is paid respectively by the Grand Hotel, and the Hotel Australia, for the use of the telephone per annum?
  3. How much is paid by the Government to operators alone for attending to the calls on the telephone for the Grand Hotel and for the Hotel Australia ?
Mr AUSTIN CHAPMAN:
Protectionist

– The information to enable these questions to be answered is not yet complete.

page 5278

H.M.S. POWERFUL

Mr CROUCH:

asked the Prime Minister -

In reference to the following paragraph, which appeared in the London Naval and Military Record of the 28th September last - “ The cruiser Powerful is about to be commissioned as flagship for the Australian Station, and Vice-Admiral Sir H. Fawkes has already hoisted his flag at Portsmouth. This vessel has recently undergone an extensive refit, and it was generally understood that the Admiralty intended to keep her in one of the reserve divisions, where she would be available in case of emergency, but would not be such a heavy burden upon the Naval votes as she has always been when attached to a sea-going squadron. The Powerful cost the country upwards of £700,000 by the time she was completed, in the financial year 1897-8, and, exclusive of the recent refit, just under a quarter of a million has been spent upon her. She is a most expensive ship to run, owing to her immense coal bill, and she will prove the most costly flagship that has ever been assigned to the Australian Station, owing to the large amount of cruising which the Admiral of the squadron has necessarily to perform. The Admiralty will have to reconcile themselves to a phenomenal coal bill whilst the Powerful remains in Australasian waters “ -

Is this ship the Powerful which has been appointed to the Australian Station?

Will he make inquiries as to the truth of the statements; and if they are accurate will he make protests to the Admiralty?

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Presumably, yes, as there is only one ship named Powerful in the British Navy.
  2. The question is one for the Admiralty, which bears the cost of maintenance.

page 5278

QUESTION

DEFENCE FORCES: EXAMINATIONS FOR COMMISSIONS

Mr CROUCH:

asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

  1. Are the new rules relating to appointments to first commissions and examinations thereunder to be published as Statutory Rules or Standing Orders?
  2. When do they come into force?
  3. Has any copy been placed before Parliament officially ?
  4. If published as Standing Orders, what reason is there for changing the previous practice of publishing them as regulations. Is it to avoid their being laid on the Table of the House for the statutory period?
  5. Will honorable members be provided with copies of these new rules before they come into force ; or how otherwise can honorable Members see them ?
Mr EWING:
Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. As standing orders.
  2. For the administrative and instructional staff, on the 24th October, and for the Royal Australian Artillery, and the Corps of Australian Engineers on the 27th October last; but no examination will take place until the19th December next
  3. No.
  4. Although the syllabuses were previously published as appendices to a statutory rule, they were subject to amendment from time to time, by the General Officer Commanding. They were not published as standing orders to avoid being laid on the table of the House for the statutory period.
  5. Copies attached. There is no objection to copies of all standing orders being laid on the table, if so desired.

page 5278

QUESTION

QUEENSCLIFF FORTS

Mr CROUCH:

asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

In reference to the statement by Major A. T. Garrard, A.G.A., reported in the Geelong Times of the 14th November - “ Four of the test guns at Queenscliff were without equipment. He thought the reason was due to the “fact that the Department could not afford to provide ammunition. The members of the Garrison Artillery were denied practice on those guns which in the hour of need they would be called upon to use.”

  1. Will the Minister see that ammunition and equipment are provided?
  2. Who is responsible for this apparent neglect?
Mr EWING:
Protectionist

– In answer to the honorable and learned member, I desire to inform him that the Minister of Defence has seen the report, and has referred the matter to the Commandant, to call upon Major Garrard, A.G.A., to state the guns he refers to. Inquiries will be made into the matter.

page 5279

QUESTION

IMPORTATIONS OF HARVESTERS

Mr JOHNSON:

asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. How many harvesters were imported into the Commonwealth respectively for the years 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, and to date of 1905.
  2. How many harvesters of Australian manufacture were exported during the same periods, and to what ports were they consigned?
  3. What is the retail price of the Sunshine harvester in the various States of the Commonwealth?
  4. What are the retail prices of the exported Sunshine harvesters in their various places of destination?
Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Prior to 1st January, 1905, no separate record of imports of harvesters was kept. For the ten months ending 31st October, 1905, the value of harvesters imported was £72,875. The number cannot be given.
  2. The information as to 1905 will be obtained. 3 and 4. The Department has no information on the subject. The prices could only be obtained as a matter of courtesy on the part of the proprietor of the Sunshine Harvester Works, who might object to disclose his business arrangements.

page 5279

NEW STANDING ORDER: LIMITATION OF DEBATE

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– I move -

That, notwithstanding any provisions in the Standing Orders to the contrary, there be forthwith adopted the following standing order, namely : -

After any question has been proposed, either in the House or in any Committee of the whole, a motion may be made by any member, rising in his place, and without notice, and whether any other member is addressingthe Chair or not, “ That the question be now put,” and the motion shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.

When the motion, “ That the question be now put,” has been carried, and the question consequent thereon has been decided, any further motion may be at once made which may be requisite to bring to a decision any question already proposed from the Chair; and also if a clause be then under consideration, a motion may be made, “That the question, ‘That certain words of the clause defined in the motion stand part of the clause,’ or That the clause stand part of or be added to the Bill’ be now put.” Such motions shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.

An affirmative vote of not less than twenty-four members shall be necessary to carry any motion under this standing order.

This motion is now submitted because of the urgency of the position in which we find ourselves with regard to the transaction of public business. The proposal might have been submitted equally well at the earliest period of the session if the pressure of legislation then in hand had per mitted. Although it marks a new development so far asthe short life of this Parlia ment is concerned, the closure is neither new in Australia nor is it novel in other parts of the world. It is now recognised as one of the necessary concomitants of the rules for the transaction of parliamentary business.

Mr Lonsdale:

– A necessary evil.

Mr DEAKIN:

– No, one of the necessary conditions. In the House of Commons a very similar standing order is in force.

Mr Lonsdale:

– What has brought this about ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have again to call attention to the fact that honorable members have the right to make their speeches without interruption. I shall have to take further steps if after having been, warned, honorable members persist in interjecting.

Mr DEAKIN:

– There was a time even within my own memory when a proposal of this kind wouldhave been regarded as remedial, and as justified only in special emergencies. That condition of affairs has, however, long since passed away. We can recollect that in the mother country the House of Commons has from time to time been obliged to strengthen its control over its own proceedings, andhas done so by means very similar to those now proposed.

An Honorable Member. - By far more drastic methods.

Mr DEAKIN:

-The Standing Orders of the House of Commons, taken together, are far more drastic. They include a provision, varied only to an unimportant extent from that now submitted, supplemented by a number of others not proposed to be introduced here, which make the authority exercised by the majority over the transaction of the business infinitely more powerful than that now suggested. Again, there are in several of the States Standing Orders more or less resembling the one now proposed.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– “More or less” is a good phrase

Mr DEAKIN:

– The differences existing between the Standing Orders adopted in Queensland and New South Wales, in my opinion-, are not .substantial.

Mr Watson:

– This proposal is not so drastic as thev are.

Mr DEAKIN:

– No.

Mr Lonsdale:

– I suppose the honorable member for Bland proposed it.

Mr Watson:

– No, I did not ; but I shall support it.

Mr Lonsdale:

– We know where it comes from.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have previously called the attention of the honorable member to the fact that interruptions are disorderly. His persistence in. interrupting involves not only a continuance of disorderly conduct, ‘but a disregard of the instructions of the Chair. The honorable member must know that that cannot be permitted.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The standing order now proposed differs from that an operation in the House of Commons, inasmuch as the Imperial standing order cannot be used unless the Speaker, or Chairman, approve, and it cannot be brought into . operation with a Temporary Chairman in the chair. I do not regard that as a substantial difference.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Not in view of the fact that the Speaker’s assent is required to make the British standing order operative?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I do not call that a substantial difference. If honorable members think otherwise, we are quite open to consider the point. In Queensland and New South Wales the Standing Orders are similar, except that in certain cases the right of reply is given to the mover of the motion pending. In both States, the standing order can be applied with a. Temporary Chairman in the chair. Those conditions do not prevent the effective exercise of this power.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The proportion of honorable members required to affirm the application of the standing order is less than that required in New South Wales.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The proportion is double that required in the House of Commons, and much larger than it was in New South Wales, but is less than that now required in that State. In South’ Australia and Western Australia a motion may be moved that the question be now put, but not while an honorable member is speaking, though the approval of the Speaker or Chairman is not required.

Mr McCay:

– Does the standing order apply in Committee in those States?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I believe it does.

Mr Hutchison:

– It does in South Australia.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I have said that I do not regard these variations as substantial, because while a similar standing order applies in the Legislatures of most of the States, it varies in form, No State Parliament has exactly copied the procedure of the House of Commons. All have departed from that procedure in one respect or another; but have preserved the power as it exists in the House of Commons. From that stand-point I take it that my statement that the differences are not substantial is perfectly correct.

Mr Conroy:

– Would the Prime Minister accept an amendment to include Mr. Speaker’s approval?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I should be prepared to favorably consider such an amendment. Although this proposal is submitted under somewhat exceptional circumstances-

Mr Wilks:

– In a petulant mood.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Not at all. It is not a proposal under which an advantage is sought or can be obtained by this Government. If honorable members “examine the form we have chosen in preference to those before us when the motion was framed, they will see that we have drafted it in the simplest terms. In the first instance, we have drafted it so as to give the greatest authority to individual members. We are perfectly prepared, if honorable members prefer that action should be taken in a form more closely in accordance with the practice of the House of Commons, or of one of the State Parliaments–

Mr Wilks:

– Would the Government approve of an amendment providing that the motion should be moved by a Minister ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– The Government do not feel that they are called upon to resist any amendment that would not interfere with the substantial effectiveness of the proposal. We drafted the proposed standing order on the broadest lines, in order that it might be submitted to the House in a manner most open to full consideration. This proposal, although it mav be submitted to-day by one Government will apply to-morrow to another. None of us have our eyes closed to the fact that any authority given to the majority here will apply to all majorities. We cannot lose sight of the fact that if will apply not to one particular measure in regard to which we may have readied a deadlock, but without exception to all measures. Consequently this proposed standing order cannot be associated either with a Ministry or an Opposition, with any Government or any party, with any measure of legislation or any series of measures. It is a proposition to establish a standing order to apply in this House until the House itself sees fit to amend it, in order to permit of the better transaction of business. Provided that is secured, the particular means of application of the rule is quite a secondary consideration.

Mr Johnson:

– The Prime Minister recognises that it may be a double-edged weapon ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I realize that it ought to be, and that it is. The experience of the South Australian Legislature, with which, as the result of communications with honorable members from that State, I am most familiar, is that the closure has a dormant influence. It is rarely, if ever, invoked, except with the consent of the great part of the House.

Mr McWilliams:

– It is invoked every session in the House of Commons.

Mr DEAKIN:

– What has that to do with the point I am making? I am showing that where similar rules apply in Australia - and particularly in South Australia - they are rarely put in force, and that when they are invoked it is only with the consent of the great bulk of the House.

Mr Wilks:

– Does not that apply to all our present privileges, against which the Government are fighting?

Mr DEAKIN:

– At present no provisions of this kind are in force in relation to this House. The influence of such a standing order is shown elsewhere by its restraint of all such interruptions of public business, as those with which we are at present confronted. Such interruptions do not occur, or, if they do, the existence of the standing order, and the certainty of its application when the forms of the House are being abused, are sufficient in themselves to bring members back to the work they have to do. What have we seen? Attention has been drawn to this need ever since the establishment of the Parliament, and more or less persistent efforts have been made to cope with it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The need, not of this standing order, but of a general revision of the Standing Orders.

Mr DEAKIN:

– A general revision of the Standing Orders, with this particular object especially in view. I do not propose to make any quotations, but have refreshed my memory by reading the speeches in reference to this point delivered a few months a.go by the late Prime Minister. In those speeches the right honorable member pointed distinctly to the desirableness of amending the Standing Orders, and introducing the closure for the purposes of limiting debate, and removing obstacles to the transaction of business.

Mr Wilks:

– And honorable members opposite all sneered at that proposal.

Mr Watson:

– I did not do so; I said publicly that I would back him up.

Mr Conroy:

– The proposals of the Government will prevent debate.

Mr DEAKIN:

– No. In South Australia, as 1 have said, the standing order is rarely used. When it is. it is, usually, with the consent of practically the whole House. We have suffered ever since the establishment’ of the Parliament from the want of this control. Owing to its absence, we have seen legislation impaired, and the transaction of business often crippled, and sometimes paralyzed. We have seen the absence of such a provision lead to what I venture to say is a class of debate unworthy of this House. The entire lack of any proper control has encouraged irrelevance, diffuseness, repetition, and the exhibition of irresponsible egoism on the part of certain honorable members. There being absolutely no restraint imposed, a group of honorable members have it in their power at any time to throw the legislative train off the rails, and instead of enabling us to reach our proper destination, to absolutely prevent progress and wreck business. Every Legislature has been confronted by this difficulty, and has been obliged to deal with it. Those that have abrogated unlimited individual debate due to the want of a proper estimate of responsibility on the part of honorable members, find that it merely represses a licence and a power of organized obstruction often used for indefensible ends. That experience has been so convincing that not one of them has retraced in any material respect any steps once taken to secure control over its own business. On the contrary with scarcely an exception, there have, been, on the part of all Legislatures, further proposals in the direction of increasing that control. We are therefore in the full stream of precedent. So far from leaving it, we have remained until now outside the influence of that stream, with the result that the duties of Parliament have been belittled in the public eye. Time has been frittered away continuously, and there has been a lack of efficiency, which has led to the Parliament being reproached. Much of that for which we have been, held to blame has been due to the fact that we have never yet been able to put aside pressing legislative work, in order to deal with obstruction. Even now, we are capable only of dealing with the particular obstacle necessary to be removed to permit the work of the House to be done. I do not wish to imply that my honorable friends opposite have their political horizon obscured by the one Bill to which allusion is being made. As I have already reminded them, this proposed Standing Order will deal with every measure submitted to the Parliament. It may be said - and I shall not deal with the objection at any length, because I think that practical experience is opposed to it - that the closure implies a curtailment of debate. In my opinion, it means no curtailment of that real debate which adds to the comprehension, of a measure, and does not consist of vain repetition.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– It will depend on the will of twenty-four honorable members.

Mr DEAKIN:

– It was thought desirable to fix a minimum, and one has been fixed. The majority may be anything. Like other Parliaments, in introducing this Standing Order, we shall have to depend on the good sense, judgment, and fairness of the House. An assembly may, in momentary heat, take some step which its cooler judgment does not approve; but that does not happen often. When it does, the House has always power to retrace its steps. The experience of the States Parliaments - and I am sure the experience of this House will be the same - is that a power of this kind is applied with good sense, judgment, and consideration. The majority which .determines to exercise it in any other way will suffer, and deserves to suffer. Nothing is more remarkable than that, ‘ except perhaps in as semblies confronted by special circumstances such as have been alluded to by the honorable member for Franklin, these powers are comparatively rarely used. When they are used, in course of time they come to work with smoothness.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable and learned gentleman should seek the opinion of “the honorable member for Kennedy in regard to that point.

Mr McDonald:

– The honorable member for Kennedy is able to look after himself.

Mr DEAKIN:

– It is possible, of course, that when first introduced it may be applied more freely and extensively than when we have settled down to its use as a practical protection. But I am certain that honorable members will see that, after all,- this is only an attempt to translate into the. sphere of our proceedings -in the House the principle of self-government as we know it.

Mr Wilks:

– Why not refer the -matter to the Standing Orders Committee?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Why wait for the physician when the patient is dying, and may be saved by immediate treatment?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am sorry to have to refer to the honorable member for Dalley, but he has already interjected several times since I requested that interruptions should cease.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Had time permitted at the beginning of the session, this matter would have been dealt with.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Then the honorable gentleman did contemplate dealing with the matter at the beginning of the session?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I have always contemplated the need for action. Ever since the establishment of the Parliament, I have supported the passing of proper Standing Orders. I have always realized, from experience gained in the State Parliament, that without some such control, the transaction of public business in a satisfactory manner is not to be expected. I was about to say that this Standing Order will not detract from real and instructive debate.

Mr Conroy:

– Did not the honorable and learned gentleman oppose such a proposition when it was considered by the Standing Orders Committee?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I have supported each proposal-

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Has the honorable and learned gentleman ever supported a similar proposition considered by the Standing Orders Committee?

Mr DEAKIN:

– No such proposal has been considered by the Committee since I have been a member of it.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– But has the honorable and learned member opposed a proposal before the Standing Orders Committee

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Macquarie is out of order.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I attended a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee when certain minor proposals in this direction were submitted, and supported them. There can be no loss of real debate by the adoption of the proposed Standing Order. The experience of other Parliaments is that it is applied with fairness and discretion. Its basis is sound. The question underlying the whole of our system of government when a dispute arises as to the transaction of public business is, “Who is to rule?” Is it the majority, or the minority? If the minority are to rule, we at once tear up the roots of constitutional freedom and all parliamentary practice. In registering the decisions of this House, as in the passing of legislation, it is impossible for us. to consent to the rule of the minority. The proposal which I am submitting merely carries into the sphere in which our business is transacted the universal principle of the rule of the majority - the rule of the majority as applied to the control of our methods of legislation. More and more it is being recognised to-day that the time when it was necessary in Parliament to proceed as if the whole political education of the country depended upon our addresses has passed.More and more is that education in detail being taken out of our hands. More and more is it becoming a truism that votes are rarely, if ever, changed by debates upon important political subjects.

Mr Robinson:

– They are changed by secret pressure now.

Mr DEAKIN:

– That is an excellent example of the hopeless irrelevance to which I have been alluding.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I do not think that the honorable and learned member for Yannon was present a few moments ago when I called attention to the fact that interjections cannot be allowed upon the present occasion. When there is some heat in the House, the honorable and learned member must see that one interjection natur ally leads to another, and thus tends to create disorder.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I was pointing out that in Parliament votes upon large and important issues are rarely altered by debates.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Does the Prime Minister believe in . abolishing debate?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I do not. I believe in making debate sufficiently full to instruct the country as to the views of parties, and to afford a statement of the principles upon which legislation is proceeding. But when it is prolonged beyond those limits by irrepressible speakers, under the pretence that the verdict of this House will be altered, and when the same arguments and statements of facts, or alleged facts, are repeated ad nauseam by speaker after speaker, we must realize that the time at our disposal - or at that of any legislative assembly in the world - does not permit of such prolongation without the deterioration of debate, and1 defeat of most of the purposes for which Parliament exists. Parliament is not a debating society, or a platform from which election campaigns are to be conducted with an eye to the country. Neither is Parliament a Junta, closed to the public eye. Parliament exists to legislate and to supervise the administration of the affairs of the country. It conducts that legislation and supervises that administration in the full light of day, by the acceptance of responsibility on the part of honorable members composing a majority, in regard to every question which is put to the vote. The statements which they make as justifying, explaining, or enforcing those votes are records which it is necessary to possess, but they are not the important means which they used to be a century or so ago of really preparing the public in a general way to consider every issue. What is required now is the transaction of the business in hand, which is far more various, detailed, and urgent than it used to be. Our debates are to-day necessary, valuable, and useful records, but they are little more. If this House, or any other deliberative body is to legislate to meet the needs of its time, and is to supervise administration with the vigilance which it is necessary to exercise in the public interest, it must curtail the excursions of its individual members - it must consent to impose restraint upon itself in order that it mav accomplish the work which it has to perform. a.nd in order that it may accomplish it better.

Parliament cannot fulfil its duties if members are left at large. A few of them can monopolize its whole time. The minority can rule - even a very small minority- By limiting the time set apart for discussion, by the creation of a greater sense of personal and of corporate responsibility on the part of those who occupy the time of the House, our debates will certainly be raised in tone and quality. They will be kept more apposite, and, if briefer, can yet contain every reasonable argument and every legitimate inference from statements of fact that ls necessary to explain our proceedings. I do not believe that the adoption of this standing, order will weaken this House in the discharge of any of its duties. On the contrary, I believe that it will strengthen it. I believe that it will improve the character of its debates, increase the quality and quantity of its work, and therefore recommend it more to the public whom we represent. The approaching close of the session gives special point to my appeal to honorable members to favorably consider this proposal, as a bond fide effort to cope with the admittedly unsatisfactory state of public “business, and the admittedly unsatisfactory Standing Orders under which we have been working for the past four or five years. It is true that it is onlyone proposal, and that the remainder of the Standing Orders ought to follow - and I hope that they will follow at the first opportunity’. But the task of to-day has to be performed.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– “Has” to be performed !

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– At whose dictation ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– If the honorable member for Macquarie needs any assurance from me, I may tell him that, outside the members of the Ministry, nobody, so far as I am aware, has any part or lot in the preparation of this standing order.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Will the Prime Minister deny that the leader of the Labour Party did not suggest it to members of the Government ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I do not deny that suggestions have been made in this House from time to time by way of interjection, but no pressure whatever has been brought to bear upon me. nor, I believe, upon any of my colleagues, perhaps for the very simple reason that no pressure was needed. Every one of us has realized for a long time past the necessity -for amending theStanding Orders. When I was a member of a previous Administration, we considered the possibility of dealing with that matter-

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– And never did it.

Mr DEAKIN:

– How much could we have accomplished, seeing that our Ministerial existence in this House only extended over about two months, which was devoted to a measure we had promised to place in the forefront of our programme? If the honorable member refers to the Administration before that, of which I _was a member, I would point out that that was the Ministry under which these Standing Orders were prepared and laid on the table. They would have been proceeded with then if time had permitted. That Ministry assumed office at the inauguration of the Commonwealth, when the whole of the transferred Departments had to be dealt with, and all the necessary and preliminary measures organizing Federation had to be passed. It was then impossible to adopt Standing Orders. But to speak of the proposal which I am submitting to-day as being the result of pressure applied within the last week or two, or within the last month or two, .is preposterous and ridiculous.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:
DARWIN, TASMANIA · ALP

– The pressure came from the Opposition.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The proposal is the outcome of the pressure of their conduct, decidedly.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The suggestion came from another quarter.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Before there was any Labour corner, every member of the Government was pledged to this course at the first opportunity, just as, was every member of the previous Administration, and of the Administration before that.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– They were not pledged to this particular standing order.

Mr DEAKIN:

– They were not pledged to any definite standing order, but they were pledged to pass Standing Orders to deal with difficulties, of which this is the greatest. When the former Government, of which I was a member, took office, we considered the necessity and the possibility qf introducing Standing Orders, and only gave other business precedence because we felt bound to do so. To speak of this proposal as the result of pressure at the present moment is utterly ridiculous. It has, been in the programme of every Government.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I deny that.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The honorable member is speaking of the particular proposal, which I am now submitting. I am speaking of the proposal to pass Standing Orders in general, and next, in those Standing Orders, to give this House and its majority power to control its. own business.

Mr Cameron:

– Why is not a complete set of Standing Orders submitted now ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Because to attempt their consideration would occupy us for the rest of the session. We have something else to do. This proposal is introduced now, not for its; own sake, but for the sake of the business which is behind it.

OppositionMembers. - Hear, hear !

Mr DEAKIN:

– When I outlined that business the other evening, some honorable members professed to think that the list was too long. I maintained then, and I do so now, that it is, not too long. With reasonable debate and consideration on the part of the Opposition, there is nothing to prevent our disposing of every measure then mentioned.

Mr Johnson:

-Will the Prime Minister say why this proposal has been introduced in the middle of the discussion upon a measure before the House?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I should like to know what the discussion which we have interrupted was upon. I know that we had more than thirty hours of discursive references - save during a portion of yesterday - to every subject, except that submitted for the consideration of honorable members,. That illustration was in itself sufficient to satisfy the House - and, I believe, the country - that the present position is untenable and intolerable. Unless this session is to close reflecting discredit upon all concerned init, it was our duty to put before the House a proposal that would enable us, without stifling debate, to transact the business that reasonably ought to be transacted, and without taking advantage of any party or any persons. By adopting some such proposal, we can justify ourselves and our election to the people of the country. We can clear the business-paper that we have before us to-day, and leave a fair field open for dealing with those great issues which must be submitted next session, some of which must go to the country for its determination. Every one of the proposals before us is useful, practical, and necessary, and their passing is all the more necessary, because, when once they are removed, we shall have cleared the way for the consideration of other questions which require to be submitted to this House. Some of these will go to the very root of the conditions that affect the future prosperity of this country. Their settlement will enable either this Government, or some other Government, at the next election, to be returned, pledged to deal with the great vital issues for promoting the development of Australia. We ought to be free to face them boldly without being overloaded and obstructed by the overdue work which we can, and ought to do, to-day.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I listened with great interest to the speech of the Prime Minister, and to the reasons which he urged in favour of the extraordinary proposal which he has submitted to the House. He referred to the nonnecessity for long speeches because of the state of general education outside ; but he succeeded in occupying our time for forty minutes, and in saying only as much as an ordinary man would have said in eighty minutes.

Mr Deakin:

– Had I not been interrupted, I should not have occupied more than twenty minutes.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable and learned gentleman always speaks so pleasantly and brilliantly that I would not object ‘to the length of his speeches, no matter how long they might be. Those honorable members who have cheered this proposal most wildly and hilariously have hitherto constantly jeered at every suggestion for the amendment of the Standing Orders. Apparently they do not object to the revision of the Standing Orders when that is the price of a bargain with themselves for some ulterior gain.

Mr Hutchison:

– Why does not the honorable member mention the bargain, instead of making insinuations?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I hope to speak a great deal more plainly before I have finished. The Prime Minister told us that he has always contemplated the submission of some such proposal as this. I believe that his contemplation has extended over some years, and has had to do, not merely with the conduct of business in the Federal Legislature, but with the performance of his duties as a responsible Minister in the Government of a State. I understand that he once appealed to the country with a set of new Standing Orders, providing, for severe 1 imitations of debate, and was returned minus the Standing Orders. It may be that that is why he now proposes the safer course of trying to get this standing order passed behind the backs of the people. I congratulate him upon having learned something, from experience. I believe that a similar proposal was made away back in the ancient history of Victoria, and met with similarly disastrous results. In- view of these experiences, the honorable and learned gentleman had better be careful. He has told us that his motion might as well have been made at the beginning of the session, and that he was contemplating it even then. Why did he not move it then? If it. had been moved at the beginning of the session, honorable members would have had a reasonable chance to discuss the proposal, and I believe that I speak the mind of every man on this side of the Chamber when I say that we have not the slightest objection to reasonable limitation of debate. But this is a proposal to stifle, not to limit, debate. It is a proposal for the suppression of discussion in this Chamber in order to effect legislation without the country knowing what its nature is. The Prime Minister spoke of the need to appeal to the constituencies in the last resort. It is the people whom we must consider all through. The wish to know what takes place here; but how can -.the))’ know if the caucus deliberately suppresses all attempts to inform them ? We must remember that there is a clear distinction between the reasonable limitation of debate, and this proposal of the Government to stifle debate. The Prime Minister says that the motion has been introduced at this . period of the session owing to exceptional circumstances, and because of the business to be done. I find bv reference to the notice-paper that the first item of business is the Trade Marks Bill. Does not every one know that the debate on the union label provisions of that Bill has been intercepted for the purpose of introducing this sandbagging process, in order to bludgeon them through the House, so that they shall not be reasonably discussed in the light of the experience of the world? That is the business behind this proposal. It is of so pernicious a character, and will ramify so disastrously through the industrial channels of Australian life, that we must take measures to secure at least a reasonable opportunity to debate it. The Prime Minister told us that the proposed new standing order is more or less the same in effect as similar Standing Orders in- force in the States Legislatures ; but it is not the same. Very considerable limitations attach to the exercise of what is known as the “ gag “ in every Legislature of Australia. Nowhere is it applied in the simple and effective way now proposed.

Mr Watson:

– What are those limitations ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It would take too long to enumerate them, and therefore I will concede the honorable member that point. I ask him, however, what has been the experience of the application of the “ gag “ in Australia and abroad ? As the result of the application of the closure in the House of Commons there has been put through, first, a pernicious Licensing Act, and, in the next place, an Education Act which is destined to bring about the defeat of the man responsible for it. Does not the honorable member know, too, that the first time that he and his confreres in New South Wales voted to apply the “gag” was in connexion with a Land Bill, which has laid the basis of the present land scandals there?

Mr Watson:

– That is not correct. The first time the “ gag “ was applied in New South Wales was under the Reid Government, in which the honorable member was a Minister, and it was not then applied in connexion with a Land Bill.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I know that the “ gag “ was applied for the first time under the Reid Government, but the labour members then voted en bloc against it.

Mr Watson:

– I voted for it. Mr. JOSEPH COOK.- The honorable member has always been in favour of this sandbagging process.

Mr Watson:

– When I find licence, I like to knock it on the head.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Nearly all the honorable member’s colleagues have almost always voted solidly against the application of the “gag.”

Mr McCay:

– Have they this rule in the caucus ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I do not know ; but the “gag” is effectively applied to members of the caucus in this Chamber, who have not been able to speak a word, even on the far-reaching proposals of the Government in regard to the Trade Marks Bill, in which they are specially interested - proposals totally different from the pro- visions inserted in the Bill by Senator Pearce. Of course, there is no connexion between the Labour Party and the Government. They never have any relations, except in the most open way in this Chamber. They never speak to each other concerning any proposal. But there seems to be some mysterious process of thought-reading which is infinitely more effective. At any rate,, when a proposal like this, for the entire suppression of free speech, is made by the Government, it is supported by the members of the Labour Party as cordially and as determinedly as if they had had the drafting of it. as I believe they have, despite statements to the contrary.

Mr Watson:

– I was spoken to about the need for some such standing order as this, and I agreed that it was necessary, but I did not suggest it, and when asked by the honorable member for New England if I had suggested it, I said no. It was suggested to me, and I cordially approved of it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Every one will believe that. It was known that the honorable member would approve of it. The inference is inescapable, that the influence of the honorable member’s publicly-expressed approval has resulted in the proposals reaching us in their present concrete form. I do not want to say anything more upon that point. The reference to the experience gained in Australia, and1 in other parts of the world where the closure has been applied, was unfortunate, because we know that the .results of its application have been anything but favorable. The closure and its consequences in the House of Commons in recent years, among which have been the carrying of the Licensing Bill and the Education Bill, has proved, and will prove, the most effectual means of removing the authors of it from positions of public responsibility.

Mr Page:

– It may be a good reason for getting rid of us.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I do not want to get .rid of the honorable member, and I am sure that no one in this House does. Before the closure proposals were put into operation in the House of Commons, the Government took Ohern to the country, and consulted the electors with regard to them. The closure provisions in the House of Commons have always been submitted to the constituencies of Great Britain. All I ask the Prime Minister to do is to consult the country with regard1 to this proposal, and when he goes forth for that purpose to tell the people that ihe interposed it in the midst of the consideration of the union label provisions, in order to permit of their being passed without debate. That is a simple statement of fact, and I challenge the Prime Minister to go to the country and make the position clear. If the country is content to allow him to remain in charge of the union label proposals, after he has related the simple facts, I shall have nothing more to say. I confess that I was surprised this morning when I found1 that the House had adjourned so shortlyafter I left it. I was delighted, for the sake of my honorable friends whom I had left in charge of the debate in my absence, and whom I am glad to see so fresh and smiling to-day. I find that the AttorneyGeneral could not withdraw from his position without, as usual, making some comments in his superior, schoolmaster style - a style which was responsible for a thirty-two hours’- debate. I venture to say that, if any other member of the Government had been in charge of the Trade Marks Bill, that measure would by this time have made substantial progress, and1 that without the application of the closure. The Attorney-General’s conduct was quite in accordance with his attitude throughout the whole of the debate, when he said last evening -

This is a proof to demonstration that under the existing Standing Orders it is absolutely impossible for the Government, in the face of an organized opposition, to carry on the business of the country. It is demonstrated beyond all question that the will of the majority under present conditions cannot prevail.

I should like to ask : “ What is the will of the majority concerning the union label proposals?” I challenge the Attorney-General to prove that he has a majority in this Chamber in favour of those provisions.

Mr Watson:

– Let us divide, and we shall then see.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Surely the honorable member will have plenty of opportunities to divide the House when the discussion has been stifled under the standing order now proposed. He will then have nothing else to do but divide. In the meantime, he might have patience whilst I make a few remarks preparatory to being “sand-bagged.” The Attorney-General’s statement was wid’e of the mark, and begged the whole situation. It is not known definitely that the Government have a majority in favour of the union kibel proposals, and I speak in all modesty when I say that, in my judgment, they have not a majority of the electors behind them.

Mr McCay:

– The proposals were never submitted to the electors.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The will of the majority spoken of by the Attorney-General is a pure figment of his imagination - it does not exist, in fact, either in this House, or in the country. Therefore, the will of the majority has not been obviously obstructed. Then the Attorney-General went on to speak about the business of the country. What is the business of the country ? What is this House sent here for - to carry through the union label provisions ?

Mr Watkins:

– Anything that the majority approve of.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The answer to the honorable member is that the union label proposals had no place, either in the labour platform, or in that of any other section of honorable members of this House. Honorable members who have suddenly become so clamorous in their demands for union labels, thought so little of them that they- did not give them a place in .their own programme. What is the business of the country? Clearly we are not called upon to pass1 provisions for the use of union labels, but to deal with other matters of wider and farreaching importance, whose ramifications extend into every department of life in the Commonwealth, and affect very vitally the interests of all the States. Does the AttorneyGeneral say that the union label does that? When he talks about ‘the public business being interrupted, he really means that the game he has been playing is being spoilt. The price that he has to pay for office requires that the object he is seeking to achieve shall be called the business of the country, and that certain measures should be pushed through, so that the bargain with the Labour Party may be carried out. Let me briefly revert to the developments that have led up to the proposal now before us. We came here on Tuesday to take up the business of the country. The majority of honorable members did not even know that the business for that day was to be the consideration of the Trade Marks Bill. It was only when thev arrived here that thev found that the Trade Marks Bill had been pushed up from the bottom of the business-paper, and placed at the top. I made a slight protest - occupying about ten minutes of time in doing so - and’ the AttorneyGeneral, almost before I had begun to speak, told honorable members in the Labour corner that whatever they did they should sit tight, in view of the threatenings from the Opposition side of the chamber.

Mr Isaacs:

– Does the honorable mem. ber mean to say that I made that remark before he had finished ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member remarked that before I had uttered two sentences.

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable member is mistaken.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I do not mean to say that the Attorney-General used those words, but by interjection he called upon his friends to observe what was going on, and to act accordingly. He was interjecting throughout my speech, and I venture to say that his conduct led to all the succeeding debate. I hope that honorable members will believe me when I say that there was no intention on the part of members of the Opposition to say anything more than was stated by me by way of protest against the action of the Government. It was the Attorney-General’s conduct which provoked the subsequent debate. After a considerable portion of the evening had been spent in protesting against the course adopted, I offered the AttorneyGeneral what would have amounted to a good evening’s work. The criticisms of the clauses of the Bill by the honorable member for North Sydney, and the honorable and learned member for Corinella at a later stage of the! evening, showed clearly that had we begun to consider them at halfpast 2 in the afternoon, we should have done exceedingly well to get through twenty clauses by n o’clock. The AttorneyGeneral was offered fifty-seven clauses, but he scorned the offer, and asked that eighty-seven clauses should be passed. It was only after the ordinary sitting hours had been exhausted in proper debate, and in the conduct of public business, and .after the Attorney-General had begun to apply the tactics indicated at an earlier stage, when1 he asked honorable members to sit tight and in silence in order to wear down opposition, that we resorted to moving the Chairman out of the chair. We did net carry our proceedings to the point of interfering with the business of the country. The proposal that the Chairman leave the chair, with all the subsequent debate that took place, was only carried to a point just prior to the usual meeting, hour next day. A scrutiny of the proceedings will show that not one hour of the time usually devoted to business in this Chamber was wasted. We did in this case what was done on a previous occasion. We only resorted to these tactics after the ordinary hours of sitting, and until the ordinary time of meeting on the succeeding day. That moment we ceased, and we then applied ourselves to the ordinary business. Having regard to the nature of the union label proposals,I would ask if there has been any unnecessary time expended, when we consider that their discussion has extended only over one ordinary sitting and a-half ? The debate was virtually a second-reading debate upon matters which were dealt with in thirty-three original clauses and over sixty sub-clauses. Besides the novelty of the proposals, their volume alone was sufficient to justify the debate which took place regarding them. So much then for the extraordinary circumstances under which the present proposal has been brought about. Then, again, I venture to say that, in view of our recent attitude towards them, the Government were not justified in bringing down such a proposal. Only last week we deliberately agreed! to set aside private members’ business in order that we might bring the session to a close within a reasonable time. We also agreed to surrender our control over the finances of the country and send the Appropriation Bill to the other Chamber. Did that indicate a desire on our part to frustrate the purpose of the Government, and to take the business of the country out of their hands ? I venture to say that no Opposition has ever treated a Government more considerately. In these extraordinary circumstances, we find most drastic proposals submitted.

Mr McCay:

– The Attorney-General would not accept an offer to do business last night.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That reminds me of an omission. I should like to mention at this stage that not only did we offer to agree on Tuesday night to the passing of fifty-seven clauses of the Trade Marks Bill, but that last night, after I had left the House, the honorable and learned member for Corinella offered to agree to the closing of the general debate, and to proceed to a division.

Mr Groom:

– But he spoke only for himself.

Mr McCay:

– I invite the honorable and learned gentleman to look up the Hansard report.

Mr Isaacs:

– He agreed that what I then proposed to him was reasonable, but did not say that the rest of the Opposition shared the same view.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am speaking of what took place last night.

Mr McCay:

– I did not make the statement attributed to me by the AttorneyGeneral .

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable and learned member for Corinella said that he did not recognise the honorable member for Parramatta as his leader.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– What has that to do with the matter? May I remind the Attorney-General that he is not in a Police Court? I wish that he would refrain from quibbling. I repeat that the honorable and learned member for Corinella last night made a proposal to agree to the closing of the general debate, but that it was contemptuously rejected.

Mr Bamford:

– I asked the honorable and learned member if hespoke for the Opposition, and he said he did not.

Mr McCay:

– That is not so.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The proposal was rejected by the little Napoleon of the Government. It has been made abundantly clear that the! prolonged debate on the Trade Marks Bill has been due to the tyrannical and unreasonable conduct of the Attorney-General, which has also led to the proposal now before us being made. Even those who desire to bludgeon the union label proposals through the House, so that fair and reasonable consideration may not be allowed, know that this is so. That which, acording to the Prime Minister, is being proved to demonstration by the proceedings of the House, is due only to the incompetence of the Attorney-General to conduct in a reasonable way the business before us. I suppose it is due to the fact that the honorable and learned gentleman is accustomed to another place, where some one else has to provide the judicial faculty, that he is so unsuccessful when called upon to apply the functions of an AttorneyGeneral to the duty of taking charge of business in a Legislative Chamber. The Prime Minister told us that the motion was beingsubmitted, not ‘for a particular purpose, but because of its general application to the ordinary requirements and developments of the country. He told us, first of all, that the state of education nowadays was such as to render lengthy parliamentary debate unnecessary. In other words, he declared that this House is a mere registering machine; that we are here apparently to turn out Bills by the measure, and, I presume, with union labels upon them. In view of the Prime Minister’s assertion, is it not strange that the Government should have determined to apply these closure proposals to a measure which has not only the opinion of the country against it, but as to which the opinion of the House is also in doubt? If the motion has no special significance, why has this measure - as to which the final decision of the House is by no m«_‘ans clear - been selected for the application of the Government proposals? The Age, this morning, points out the danger and the menace inhering in them. I invite honorable members, who seeme so jubilant concerning this motion - who seem to think that they have reached the acme of their ambition - to consider the opinion expressed by this newspaper. It would appear that the Labour members of Australia experience the greatest delight in aiming at the stifling of free speech in the free, legislative halls of the country. The Government proposal is one that would have been scouted in the early days, of these Colonies.

Mr Mahon:

– Before we had any experience of the honorable member.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Will the honorable member hear me out? I say that a proposal like this would have been scouted in the early history of these Colonies, before we had responsible government, or even before we had manhood suffrage. It seems, however, that now that we have manhood suffrage, and the most absolute freedom prevailing in our Legislative Houses the desire of the Labour Party is to deliberately stifle that freedom. It is not often that I agree with the sentiments of the Age, but here are some statements, which it published this morning, and which I commend to the consideration of honorable members : -

Such a standing order in the hands of a tyrant majority might work mischief. It might carry corrupt legislation with a rush.

In view of what has taken place in the House, that statement is a significant one. We have only to substitute the words “ union label “ for the word “corrupt,” in order to make it apply exactly to the facts as they exist in relation to this House to-day. I venture to submit to honorable members a consideration which has not yet come to the surface. I refer to what will be the effect of the passing of a standing order of this, kind upon the States as such. We have been told that a similar standing order operates in the States Parliaments, but it is a very different thing to apply it to the repression of speech in a Federal Parliament, which is supposed to represent the States. The motion means the application of the “ gag,” without limitation of any kind, on the mere proposal of any honorable member. It may be applied at any moment, even- while an honorable member is speaking, and with consequences that we cannot foresee. If, for instance, the sugar bounty proposals were submitted in such a way as to be unacceptable to the representatives of Queensland, it would only be necessary for an honorable member to move that the question be put, in order to absolutely prevent an attempt on the part of those honorable members to secure an amendment.

Mr Mahon:

– Provided that the honorable member making the motion was supported by twenty-three others.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Is it impossible to conceive of such a contingency ? There are but five representatives of Western Australia in this House, and if a Bill to provide for the survey of the transcontinental line were brought forward, and did not meet with the approval of the representatives of Western Australia, the closure might be so applied as to render it impossible for the rights of the State concerned to be asserted. In these circumstances it will be seen that the Government proposal is one that will affect the rights and privileges of the States, and that it acquires a sinister complexion far above any standing order prevailing in the States Legislatures. The same reasons for insistent and, it may be, protracted debate do not exist in the case of a State Parliament as prevail in relation to the Federal Parliament, where States’ rights and States’ opinions may be so much in conflict as to need special consideration. Since the Prime Minister has been contemplating a proposal of this kind for years - and I believe that he has been a member of the Standing Orders Committee ever since this House came into existence-

Mr McDonald:

– Only since he first took office as Prime Minister.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That does not materially affect my point. The fact remains that the honorable and learned gentle1 man was a responsible member of the Government, which moved for the appointment of the Standing Orders Committee. That being so, why has he never attempted to refer a proposal of this kind to the Committee - the body specially appointed to deal with such matters? If he has been contemplating such a step for years, it is strange that he should not have condescended to pay the Standing Orders Committee the compliment of consulting it. I shall be very much surprised to learn that the honorable member for Kennedy intends to vote for this proposal. If he does it will be interesting to compare his vote with some of those which he gave, in the long ago, as a member of the Queensland State Parliament. In view of his experience in that Parliament, and his readiness at all times to stand up for the rights of free speech, I shall look with great interest to his position in the House when the division bell rings. Meantime I say that the Government have flouted and insulted the Standing Orders Committee by completely ignoring it. There is no urgency about this matter. There have been no petitions presented to the House asking that the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill may be speedily passed, into law. In view of the fact that we have a remodelled set of proposals, totally different from those introduced into the Bill on the motion of Senator Pearce, the least we can do is to fairly and fully consider them in the light of our experience. That is the demand which is being made. The only element which has led to trouble, irritation, and annoyance has been tyrannical conduct on the part of the Minister in charge of the Bill, the like of which has never been witnessed in this Chamber. I do not intend to occupy much more “time, but I propose to move an amendment. The Government proposal is of such a drastic character that we must do our best to modify it, and to limit its application. Consequently I move -

That after the word “thats” line 1, the following words be inserted “ except as regards business for this session and.”

That is my simple statement. I wish this drastic proposal of the Government to exempt business for the current session. The session is now supposed to lx: approaching its end. We have got through four or five months of it without any proposal of this character. All that I ask is that, for the few weeks of it which remain, we shall exempt the business upon the paper from the operation of the Government proposal. As was clearly pointed out by the Prime Minister, that proposal will not apply merely to the present session. Its adoption is not intended to suit the whim and fancy of those honorable members who happen to be upon the right of Mr. Speaker to-day. It will be in operation under all circum-stances, and I venture to say that a time will come when those who will suffer most from it will be those honorable members who are clamouring for it to-day. Honorable members who are now clamouring to stifle free speech, are not those, who. according to the Prime Minister, believe in reasonable debate, but those who, for sectional ends, endeavour under all circumstances to bend the will’ of the national Legislature to their own particular projects.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– Why does the honorable member object to the proposal of the Government?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member may do what he likes, if he will only exempt me from its operation. Let him make an exception in favour of the Opposition, and we will give him the proposal at once. Meantime, what is the true inwardness of the proposal? Surely we mav interpret it from the remarks of the Attorney-General. He has described it as “ turning the flank, of the Opposition.” That is a military phrase-

Mr Isaacs:

– As a matter of fact, those are not my word’s. I said that it turned the position.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– What is the difference, in a military sense, between “ turning the flank “ and ““turning the position “ ? I appeal to the honorable member for Maranoa.

Mr Page:

– There is no difference. Ask Captain Wilks ; he committed the deed.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Last night the Attorney-General, in the most perky and impudent manner, told us that we were defeated men.

Mr Ewing:

– “ Rejected,” he said.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– He used the word “defeated,” as will be seen by reference to the Hansard proof of his speech. However, in view of his conduct during the past few days, I am prepared to hear him say that he has not uttered a word during the whole debate. It seems impossible to pin him down to any statement that he makes, two hours afterwards. It is clear that the Government have something in view, over and above a general recognition of an alteration in the relations of Parliament to the great body politic. That is not the inspiring motive of this proposal. It is moved for the purpose of “ turning the Opposition flank,” and of defeating us in our determination to consider the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill in a way that we think befits their importance and their peculiar position on the business-paper at the present moment. But I may tell the Attorney-General that our determination in that connexion will not be lessened one iota by anything which “the Government may do. One would have thought - as I remarked last night - that since the honorable and learned gentleman is so powerful in all his Napoleonic glory he wouuld at least be merciful. These are the statements of the AttorneyGeneral, and I only mention them because they clearly indicate the real object of the Government in submitting this proposal. The Government have engaged with a section of the House to bring the union- label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill into operation. They are under an obligation to do so, and .they are under an obligation to set Other business aside and to consider them as of urgent public importance. I entirely dissent from that idea. The provisions in respect of the union label can afford to wait until the public have had an opportunity to discuss them. My own view is that they ought to be submitted to the constituencies before we are asked to legislate upon them. In order to get away from the fair constitutional position, the Government resort to tricks and subterfuges - always the resort of weak Governments which have not the power requisite to command the House. I say that this “gag” is being forced upon us so that the price may be paid under a politically immoral bargain between two parties in this Chamber - a bargain without which the existence of the Ministry would be an absolute impossibility. That is the real reason why this proposal has been brought forward. In fulfilling that compact Ministers are, in my judgment, degrading this House, and im the effort to degrade it and to stifle debate they are also degrading themselves.

Mr McLEAN:
Gippsland

– I rise to second the amendment. In doing so, I may remark that I had not the remotest intention of joining in this discussion. But I regard the proposal of the Government as one of a grave and serious character, and I feel I should not be discharging my duty to those who sent me here if I recorded an. absolutely silent vote upon it. I may say at once that I am strongly in favour of the adoption of such Standing Orders as will tend to suppress unreasonable licence of speech. But I consider that liberty of speech on the part of the representatives of the people is the greatest safeguard that the community possesses, and 1 have not the slightest hesitation in saying that when, by] means of the “ gag,” reasonable debate is stifled - as it will be if the proposal of the Government be adopted - the usefulness of Parliament as the great palladium of the people’s rights and privileges is destroyed. Moreover, there is the danger that Parliament may degenerate into an instrument of tyranny and oppression. Under the Government proposal it will be quite possible for any Ministry which may introduce a measure - perhaps under pressure, as the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill have been introduced - that they know is distasteful not only to a majority of the electors, but also to a majority of the House, to take advantage of the temporary absence from the Chamber of two or three members who may be opposed to it, to apply the “gag,” and rush the obnoxious proposal through. I can see very grave danger in this standing order. I would ask honorable -members to consider for. a moment what are the circumstances under which it has ‘been: introduced. What provocation has been given by the Opposition to induce the Government to bring it forward ? The Government removed from . the bottom of the businesspaper the most contentious piece of legislation that it contained - legislation which is designed to benefit a comparatively small section of the working classes-

Mr Watson:

– It will confer justice upon a small section.

Mr McLEAN:

– Justice ! It is diametrically opposed to the best interests of ninetenths of the working classes.

Mr Watson:

– It is diametrically opposed to the interests of the forger and of the individual who would practise fraud.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! I cannot allow the honorable member to discuss the merits of the Trade Marks Bill. At the present time that will be out of order.

Mr McLEAN:

– I have no desire to dissent from your ruling, sir ; but in discussing a drastic change of our whole parliamentary procedure it is surely competent for me to show the reasons that induced the Opposition to take up the attitude that they did, and also the reasons which impelled the Government to bring forward their proposal ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member was perfectly in order so long as he used the Trade Marks Bill as an illustration of what might be done. I did not call him to order so long as he confined his remarks to the causes which led to that Bill being removed from the bottom to the top of the business.-paper. But as soon as he began to discuss the question of whether that Bill was in the interests of any class of the community I intervened. It was his remarks in that connexion which led to an interjection from the other side of the House.

Mr McLEAN:

– I consider a proposal which the Government have on the noticepaper diametrically opposed to the best interests of the great majority of the people of this country. The Government know it to be so opposed to the interests of the people, but they have brought it forward in compliance with the compact under which they hold office. The deputy leader of the Opposition on Tuesday last spoke for not more than ten minutes in entering a’ much milder protest ‘ than I should have expected under the circumstances against the sudden transference of this measure from the bottom to the top of the noticepaper. The Attorney-General, knowing that the Bill is utterly opposed to the best interests of the country, and evidently expecting very strong objection to the course taken, had prepared a speech in anticipation; and although nothing transpired to justify his remarks, made a most intemperate appeal to the Ministerial supporters to deal with the Opposition as they deserved.

Mr Isaacs:

– That is not correct.

Mr McLEAN:

– Was it strange, under the circumstances, that the Opposition should take the course which they did? But the proceedings complained of extended over only one sitting-, before the termination of which the members of the Opposition offered their support in the carrying of fifty-seven clauses of the Bill under discussion. I do not wonder that the Government are anxious to stifle debate on that measure, since its provisions are calculated to create strife and discord such as has probably never been heard of in Australia before. Ministers who in their hearts do not approve of these .provisions must find the criticism of the measure distasteful to them, and it is not surprising that they should now resort to means for stifling it, so that one of the most discreditable Bills which has. ever been submitted to an Australian Legislature may be foisted upon the country without discussion.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member must not say that.

Mr McLEAN:

– as there seems to beso little that I may say, I shall resume my seat. It is useless for me to try to give reasons for the conduct of the Opposition the other evening, and for the action of the Government in introducing this proposal, if I cannot speak without interruption.

Mr WATSON:
Bland

– I have always been in favour of the legitimate control of the business of any deliberative assembly by a majority of the members of that assembly. It is true that it would be most unfortunate if a majority could be found so deaf to the dictates of fair play that it would take advantage of a proposal like this to wipe out the rights of a minority.

Mr Lonsdale:

– That is what is intended.

Mr WATSON:

– I dare say that if the weapon were in the hands of such an irrational person as the honorable member, it would be intended.

Mr Lonsdale:

– I am fairer than is the honorable member. I have not supported the ga,g yet, and never will.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I submit that the honorable member for Bland had no right to say that the honorable member for New England would put this power to unworthy use if he had an opportunity to do so.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for New England, although his attention has been called to the fact that interjections are disorderly, made a very provoking remark, but the honorable member for Bland should not have made the statement which he did, and I hope that he will withdraw it.

Mr WATSON:

– I withdraw it. The honorable member for Macquarie seems to me to be supersensitive ; I did not hear the honorable member for New England object to my remark. I, like most of those who sit on the front Opposition bench, have had experience in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly of a closure rule much more radical than that now proposed, but

I cannot recollect an instance in which unfair advantage was taken of it by the Government of the day.

Mr Wilks:

– The cry of “the gag!” was like the shriek of the dying.

Mr WATSON:

– It was a mere ghostly shriek; fit had no substance. There are those who on every opportunity shriek - I use the word advisedly - in the name of Liberty, but we know how many crimes are committed in that name. In almost every assembly a time inevitably comes when the choice must be made between two evils, and its members must determine whether they will submit to the possibility of tyranny on the part of a majority, or to the actual tyranny of the minority. That time has now arrived in the history of this Parliament. Half-a-dozen honorable members may be acting from the best possible motives, being thoroughly convinced that they are justified in using every weapon which presents itself for preventing certain legislation from going through. I make no charge against their bena fides. But representative government becomes impossible when it lies in the whim of a few individuals to say what legislation shall, pass. That is a condition of things which no honorable member who wishes well for the institutions of this country can look upon without foreboding, and without trying to take steps to alter.

Mr Kelly:

– Has the honorable member a mandate from the people for the union label provisions?

Mr WATSON:

– I spoke on that subject last night, and I do not wish now to travel away from the question, at issue.

Mr Deakin:

– The interjection was made to draw the honorable member away from the subject.

Mr WATSON:

– No doubt. I listened with considerable interest to the honorable member for Gippsland, and am sorry that he did not see fit to conclude his remarks. He was the co-equal of the right honorable member for East Sydney in the last Administration, and, holding the views which he has just expressed, it is strange that he did not bring his partner to book for the statements made publicly during the recess. What was the whole burden of the complaint which the right honorable member for East Sydney then laid before the country ? The enormity of the offence of some members of the then Opposition din speaking at undue length–

Mr Kelly:

– Speeches of five and a-half hours’ duration.

Mr WATSON:

– I think that such speeches are too long. When the honorable member for Macquarie spoke for four hours on the Tariff his speech was too long.

Mr Kelly:

– That speech was mot made this session.

Mr WATSON:

– That has nothing to do with the question. ‘ The statement of the late Prime Minister was that it was necessary to pass new standing orders to provide for the application of the closure.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– No.

Mr WATSON:

– The statement was made to the electors that honorable members must be curbed.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Where was that statement made?

Mr Batchelor:

– In the Adelaide Town Hall.

Mr Tudor:

– And at Hawthorn.

Mr Page:

– And at Perth and Brisbane.

Mr WATSON:

– The right honorable gentleman said that the talkers must be curbed. How could they be curbed without the closure?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– That is very different.

Mr WATSON:

– He used the word “closure.”

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I think the honorable member will find that he did not.

Mr WATSON:

– I am not speaking subject to correction ; I know the truth of what I am stating.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Where was the statement made?

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I must correct the honorable member.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Honorable members are entitled to speak without being corrected by interjectors. If the honorable member for Macquarie desires to correct the statements of the honorable member for Bland he will have an opportunity to do so later on!’

Mr WATSON:

– The right honorable member for East Sydney talked persistently throughout the country of Che need for curbing speeches of undue length, and specially advocated the introduction of the closure to bring honorable members to a£ proper understanding of the position. Not Only did he make those statements, but he led the people of Australia to believe, by the frequency with which ‘he put the matter forward, that the ensuing session was to be devoted to the revision of the Standing Orders. Everything else sank into insignificance alongside the need for closure rules to curb the liberty of debate.

Mr Conroy:

– To silence a member is different from silencing the whole House.

Mr WATSON:

– The silencing of the whole House was included. Speaking at Newtown during the last recess, and, again, a month later at the Protestant Hall, Sydney, I intimated that I was quite prepared to assist the right honorable member for East Sydney in passing reasonable standing orders to prevent liberty of speech from degenerating into licence. That fact shows that I have not suddenly become enamoured of the closure, and that, in supporting the motion of the Prime Minister, 1 am not moved merely by the desire to “ gag “ the present Opposition. On no occasion in the New South ‘ Wales Legislative Assembly did I vote for the application of the “gag,” unless the honorable member whom it was proposed to suppress had been obviously “ stone-walling,” with a view to obstruct the will of the majority.

Mr Wilks:

– The honorable member was on top then.

Mr WATSON:

– I occupied the same position then that I do now. I was supporting the Government. I was helping to keep in office a Government that could not exist without us, namely, the Government led by the right honorable member for East Sydney - who gratefully acknowledged our assistance.

Mr Kelly:

– He was grateful for assistance, but not for dictation.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member was probably in the schoolroom then, and knows nothing about the matter. So far as the honorable member for Gippsland is concerned, he should have taken his partner in leading the late Ministry to task when he advocated the closure during the last recess.

Mr McLean:

– He never advocated anything of this kind.

Mr WATSON:

– He did not give the details, but said that the closure would have to be applied with the express object of bringing honorable members to a proper understanding of their position;, and the rights of the majority. If it istyrannous for the Government to now step in and deprive members of the right to speak as long as they like, it was equally tyrannous on the part of the ex-Prime Minister to put that proposal forward a few months ago.

Mr McLean:

– He did not put forward such a proposal.

Mr WATSON:

– He did not come down to details, but his proposal was in essence exactly the same as that now before us. I do not expect honorable members on the Opposition benches to admit anything of that kind. They are merely attempting to crawl out of a difficult position.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– We are not going to admit an untruth.

Mr WATSON:

– It is not an untruth.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! I must ask the honorable member for Macquarie to withdraw that remark.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I say that if any statement such as is indicated by the honorable member for Bland has been made with regard to the right honorable member for East Sydney, it is not true. I do not know where the honorable member got his information from.

Mr WATSON:

– I obtained it from the newspapers.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I say that the statement is incorrect.

Mr WATSON:

– I never have objected to the assertion that acertain statement is not true, because that does not seem to me to necessarily imply that an honorable member is consciously stating that it is not true.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The position is this: If the remark of the honorable member for Macquarie had been applied to a statement made by an honorable member, it would have been distinctly disorderly; but as I understand that it was applied to the statement made by some one outside of this House, my intervention is not called for.

Mr WATSON:

– I have never seen the necessity of objecting to the assertion that an honorable member is stating what is not true;, so long as it is not implied that he is knowingly stating that which is untrue.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I should like the honorable member to give his authority, because he has made a very serious statement.

Mr WATSON:

– Serious statement, indeed ! Why, the right honorable member for East Sydney was talking about nothing else during three or four months of the recess.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– That is an exaggeration.

Mr WATSON:

– I think it is permissible according to the poetic licence which is allowed in cases of this kind. I do not think the honorable member is serious in his interjection. The deputy leader of the Opposition to-day indulged in a series of wild statements - or perhaps I should say misstatements - with regard to the present position. It is curious that the honorable member seems to get hold of quite as many inaccurate statements as do any half-dozen men in the House. In the first place, he said that no British Legislature possessed the closure without ‘.limitations which were absent from this proposal. Anything that is absent from this proposal, so far as it is comparable with the closure rules of other British Legislatures, is all in favour of the minority, so far as this House is concerned. That is to say, these proposals are much less drastic than the rules which already exist in nearly all Colonial: Legislatures and in the House of Commons.

Mr McLean:

– The proposed new standing order can be availed of without the concurrence of the Speaker.

Mr WATSON:

– Does not the honorable member know that the application of the closure is subject to the consent of the Speaker only in the British House of Commons ? In the Colonial Legislatures no such concurrence is necessary, except, I believe, in Queensland. However, that is a small matter. In New South Wales honorable members can not only insist upon a question being put, but they can also stop the speech of any individual member by moving that he be no longer heard.

Mr Conroy:

– That is, if forty out of ninety honorable members are agreeable.

Mr WATSON:

– Forty out of 125 was the proportion in the first instance. The honorable and learned member knows that the present proportion is accidental, because for many years forty members out of 125 were in a position to apply the closure. When the number of members was reduced in New South Wales, the Standing Orders were not revised.

Mr Thomas:

– When the closure rule was adopted there were 141 members in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.

Mr WATSON:

– Yes. The number was afterwards reduced to 125, and subsequently to ninety.

Mr Conroy:

– The proper proportion in our case would be thirty-four out of seventy-five if we followed the example of New South Wales.

Mr WATSON:

– I object to adopting the proportion .that applies in the New South Wales Assembly. One misstatement on the part of the honorable member for Parramatta of which I complain is his assertion that this proposal is more dras tic than any that has been adopted in any other Legislature in the British dominions. That is absolutely contrary to the facts. Then, again, he stated that the New South Wales Labour Party had voted for the closure for the first time in pushing through the Land Bill which had led to the recent land scandals in the State. Bearing in mind the argument in which the honorable member is engaged, it looks as if that was a deliberate misstatement, and that the honorable member was endeavouring to connect the Labour Party with those scandals. If the honorable member did not mean to convey that impression, I shall be very glad to hear his disclaimer. He ought to know that the Land Bill referred to was passed during the time that the See Government was in office, and he is fully aware that the members of the Labour Party frequently voted with him for the application of the closure when he was a member of the New South Wales, Government, under the Premiership of the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney, long before the See Government came into power. The third misstatement made by the honorable member was that uttered when he said that the present English Government were responsible for the closure, and would suffer at the forthcoming elections through having by its assistance passed the Education Bill, Licensing Bill, and so on. I do not know whether or not the Imperial Ministry will suffer at the forthcoming elections, but they certainly did not introduce the closure. That was instituted twenty -four years ago - in 1881 - at the instance of Mr. Gladstone, the leader of the Liberal Party, and the present Government had nothing whatever to do with it in its original form. The proposal of the Prime Minister is practically the same in form as that introduced by Mr. Gladstone in 1881.

Mr Conroy:

– The closure was then introduced to deal with a party which declared its hostility to all forms of British Government.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable and learned member is too logical to fail to observe that his statement has nothing whatever to do with the fact that the deputy leader of the Opposition made a serious misstatement of the position when he attributed the closure rules in the House of Commons to the present Government in Great Britain.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I think that he conveyed that they were responsible for the application of the closure to certain measures.

Mr WATSON:

– I took a note of the word used by the honorable member, and I have indicated the impression conveyed to my mind. Not only did the honorable member say what I have stated, but he went on to show that by the aid of the closure rules the Government had been enabled to pass certain pernicious legislation.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I said that those measures had been passed by the application of the closure.

Mr WATSON:

– And I understand the honorable member to imply that the present Conservative Government were responsible for the closure.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– -No. I am aware that they have modified the closure proposals very considerably.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member is wrong again - they have made them more drastic.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That is what I meant.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member shifts his ground very easily. Another statement made by. the honorable member with regard to the position in which we have found ourselves for the past few days was to the effect that no obstruction was attempted until 11. o’clock last Tuesday evening. I think that that will be news to most honorable members upon the Government side of the House. According to my recollection, the honorable member moved that the Chairman leave the chair, at about twenty minutes to 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and the debate on that motion was continued by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, and others, until some time after the dinner hour. Abour a couple of hours later, the motion that the Chairman leave the chair was again moved, and the debate on that motion was continued until it was withdrawn about 1 o’clock next day. Still, the honorable member says that there was no obstruction.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We offered to give the’ Attorney-General fifty-seven clauses.

Mr WATSON:

– I am speaking of a period long before the fifty-seven clauses were offered, and, therefore, I say that the honorable member has been guilty of the most remarkable looseness of statement.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member is wrong.

Mr WATSON:

– I am absolutely right in saying that the honorable member moved the motion indicated early in the afternoon, and that the debate upon the motion was continued until 9 o’clock in the evening. Further, . that within an hour or two afterwards a similar motion was moved, and the debate was continued until the next day.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– What I said was that in consideration of the time occupied in discussing my motion, we offered the Attorney-General the equivalent of a good night’s work.

Mr WATSON:

– That is quite another question. The honorable member for Parramatta has suddenly developed an objection to ‘ proposals such as that now before us, and has talked about the liberty of the minority. He has said, for instance, that he is opposed to any infraction of the liberty of the subject.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I never said any such thing. I made it clear at thd beginning of my speech that no member on this side of the House was averse to reasonable limitation of debate.

Mr WATSON:

– I want to know what kind of limitation would appear reasonable in the eyes of honorable members opposite?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Not such as is now proposed.

Mr WATSON:

– It seems to me that the honorable member is keeping open a way of retreat in case the unexpected should happen, and he should find himself on the Treasury benches. He would then be able to say, “ I was always in favour of reasonable limitations, but I am to be the judge of what is reasonable.” Do I understand that the honorable member for Parramatta is opposed to the present proposal?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am opposed to it in its present form.

Mr WATSON:

– Only twelve months ago, when -the honorable member for Franklin had a motion before the House in favour of the limitation of debate. I told him that I quite sympathized with him. Hansard shows that the honorable member for Parramatta also took part in that debate. He said -

A minority cannot block business if there be a strong, firm, Government in power, supported by an adequate majority.

Mr McWilliams:

– But they can unduly protract a debate.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– In such circumstances they can carry it on only until such time as the Government says that it shall stop.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I say so now ; but the means I suggested of overcoming the difficulty were certainly different from those proposed by the Government.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member continued -

By a small alteration of the Standing Orders we should be able to give the Government the power to shorten a debate when there is a majority in the House prepared to support a motion “that the question be now put.”

Mr Conroy:

– Amajority, not a third of the House.

Mr WATSON:

– I presume that the honorable member meant a majority of those present.

Mr Conroy:

– The honorable member meant that it should be necessary for such a motion to have the support, not of twentyfour, but of thirty-eight honorable members.

Mr WATSON:

– If necessary, we can alter that part of the Government proposal. Apparently the honorable member for Parramatta is opposed to the propositionbecause it has been submitted by the Government.

Mr Wilks:

– It was introduced by the Government in, a fit of petulance.

Mr WATSON:

– We do not usually pause to inquire into the moods of Governments.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– As usual, the honorable member has twisted what I said ; he has disregarded the context.

Mr WATSON:

– If the honorable member will show me any sentence which he thinks I ought to read, I shall be prepared to do so.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Will the honorable member read the sentence that I have marked.

Mr WATSON:

– The sentence, whichis as follows, appears on the preceding page -

There are occasions in Parliament when obstruction becomes a sacred duty - occasions when the Opposition believe that measures are being passed which are diametrically opposed to the will of the people.

I would remind the honorable member that at the outset ofmy speech I said that I saw no objection to honorable members who earnestly oppose a Government proposal availing themselves of all the forms of the House to contest it; but that would not warrant a majority allowing the Opposition to govern the country and run the business of Parliament at their own sweet wills Although it is, true that the honorable member made the statement which I have just read at his request, it cannot be denied that towards the close of his speech - after he had had time to think the matter over–

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Nothing of the kind. The honorable member will find that my remark as to the desirableness of exercising this power was merely a jocular one.

Mr WATSON:

-This attempt on the part of the honorable member to escape from the inevitable will hardly be regarded as satisfactory.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I shall read some extracts from the speech in question.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member will not deny that he said -

By a small alteration of the Standing Orders we should be able to give the Government the power to shorten a debate when there is a majority in the House prepared to support a motion “ that the question be now put.”

Mr Thomas:

– That is the political guillotine.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It is something very different.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Does the honorable member know whether I voted for the motion on which I made that speech ?

Mr WATSON:

– The question did not go to a vote. I am speaking, not of the honorable member’s vote on this question, but of the opinion which he expressed in regard to it. He said -

I see no necessity for any Parliament in Australia to resort to the political guillotine. The real remedy is for the people to so arrange the state of parties in the House that effective Government will be possible.

Mr McWilliams:

– But a small minority can block business.

The honorable member then went on to state, as I have shown, that it was possible by a simple alteration ofthe Standing Orders to overcome the difficulty.

Mr Wilks:

– The motion to be moved by a Minister.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member did not say that that should be done, but I think it would be a proper provision to make.

Mr Wilks:

– The honorable member does not believe in giving a private member the option to move - “ That the ques- tion be now put “ ?

Mr WATSON:

– I prefer that a Minister should move motions of that character;

The honorable member went on to say that-

The method of shortening debate which I have just indicated -

That is the method which the Government now propose - is one for which provision is made by the Standing Orders of every Parliament in Australia except our own, and ithas worked well.

I quite agree with the honorable member.

Mr Conroy:

– The Government proposal is one not for the limitation, but for the suppression of debate.

Mr WATSON:

– The means which the honorable member for Parramatta advocated to overcome the difficulty are those which the Government propose.

Mr Kelly:

– The honorable member has denied it.

Mr WATSON:

– I beg the honorable member’s pardon ;he has not denied it. We come now to the present position.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I shall be able presently to bowl the honorable member out.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not think that the honorable member will. What is the present position of the honorable member?

Mr Wilks:

– A very unhappy one.

Mr WATSON:

– Evidently it is. He finds himself on the horns of a dilemma; he is evidently in favour of a reasonable licence in debate–

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I said so.

Mr Deakin:

– The honorable member approves of this proposal being brought into force next session.

Mr WATSON:

– That is the very point. After instancing in pathetic terms what might happen to the Western Australian Railway Survey Bill - with a view, no doubt, to rope in the honorable member for Coolgardie - or the Sugar Bounty Bill -in that case his desire was no doubt to rope in the representatives of Queensland - as the result of the coming into operation of this “tyrannous proposal,” he said that he would be prepared to accept it next session. Tyranny is not to be abolished by the honorable member; it is merely to be postponed for a few weeks.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Nothing of the kind. That is a misinterpretation of my speech.

Mr WATSON:

– That seemsto be an extraordinary attitude.

Mr McLean:

– Even so, it will not prevent the amendment of the latter part of the motion.

Mr WATSON:

– I dare say that honorable members opposite will be prolific in amendments.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We shall try to make the Government proposal a reasonable one.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member has moved an amendment which gives away his whole case. He has admitted the justice of imposing some limitation of debate ; he has admitted the necessity of curbing the wilder spirits of every party ; but he says that this must not be done during the present session. It is to come, not in our time, but a little later on. In view of this statement, I think that it is scarcely necessary to put forward any further argument in support of the motion; but I trust that the Opposition will conform to the wish so persistently expressed by the right honorable member for East Sydney, that the closure should be introduced, so that there may be some limitation of debate. I trust that, as loyal followers of the right honorable member, they will see the wisdom of giving him every support in this direction; that they will join with us in passing a resolution that will bring peace to his soul, and show that, although he is not in our midst, we are with him in spirit, and are at one with him in the desire to bring about some alteration in the present unsatisfactory condition of affairs.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I regret that the honorable member for Bland, in making certain statements as to the position taken up by the late Prime Minister, and other honorable members, was not as careful as he usually is to verify his facts.

Mr Watson:

– I think that my statement was correct.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I give the honorable member credit for usually being able to produce data in support of his assertions. Whilst the late Prime Minister advocated the necessity of passing, not one, but a number of standing orders to regulate the business of Parliament, and said that there ought to be a limitation of excessively long speeches, I never heard of his advocating any such proposal as that now before us. I am in favour of so regulating debate that it will notbe possible for the will of the majority to be thwarted for an unreasonable length of time; but I am not in favour of any proposal that will reduce the power to legitimately oppose the passing of measures until they have been thoroughly sifted and discussed. Although I should welcome a proposal to effect that of which I say I approve, I am not in favour of adopting such a drastic proposal as this, unless it is shown to be absolutely necessary. This is a new Parliament in Australia, and the business of the House has been carried on under temporary Standing Orders. Upon the whole, I think that Parliament has got on wonderfully well without any drastic Standing Orders, indeed, without any Standing Orders in relation to some matters. We have been a law unto ourselves in some things. A jump from the loose system under which we have not done so badly to the drastic proposal of the Government is not justified by events. I believe that the action of the Government has been taken for one special purpose, and for that purpose only. The honorable member for Kennedy has satirized the action taken by certain honorable members, including myself, in resigning our positions as members of the Standing Orders Committee, in consequence of the proposal of the Government. He indicated that he saw no reason to resign from that body, and byimplication hinted that we had resigned for theatrical reasons.

Mr Poynton:

– It is quite true.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member for Grey, who is always so accurate in his statements when he allows his temper to get the better of his discretion, affirms that it is quite true. With all due deference to him, I say that it is not. I desire to read a few lines in support of the action which we have taken. In another Parliament, when a similar resolution for applying the closure was brought for-‘ ward, an honorable member said : -

What is the position now? There are several Committees connected with this House, amongst which is the Standing Orders Committee, and I maintain that this motion is a deliberate insult to that Committee.

Mr McLean:

– The first speech delivered in this House by the honorable member for Kennedy was one in which he directed attention to what he had suffered under the Standing Orders in Queensland.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The speaker continued -

In common decency the Government” should ask that Committee to consider this amendment of this standing order. The Government know they have a sufficient majority on that Committee to carry their point, but instead of doing that, they leavethe matter till the last, and then want to rush it through. What is the use of this Standing Orders Committee? It might be abolished, and I am going to tender my resignation as a member of it, because I consider it is a farce.

Who was the member who made those statements? It was the honorable member for Kennedy. He has repeatedly objected to the adoption of the closure, both in this and in another Parliament. Whenever the question has been alluded to by members of the Standing Orders Committee, he has objected to any action being taken in that direction. He declares that in the past he has suffered from the conduct of a brutal and tyrannical majority. When the Queensland Government proposed a similar standing order without reference to the Standing . Orders Committee, of which he was a member, he did what other honorable members are doing to-day. He resigned from that body. The honorable member for Bland has started that the standing order proposed by the Government is not so drastic as that which is in operation in New South Wales. I should like to know in what way it is less drastic. How could an order be more drastic? Under it, any member of the House, actuated by any motive may rise in the middle of a speech by an honorable member, and move, “ That the question be now put. “ That “motion must be voted upon without discussion, and if it be carried by a majority - although less than a third of the House may vote for it - all necessary steps may be taken to bring the question at issue to a final conclusion.

Mr Poynton:

– The honorable member for Bland also said that he was in favour of the motion being moved by a Minister.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I will come to that matter presently. I venture to say that the standing order proposed by the Government is quite as drastic as that which is operative in the New South Wales Legislature. Certainly it could not be more drastic than it is, unless we reduced the number of honorable members who are required to vote for it in order to make it effective. The honorable member for Bland” further stated that the will of the majority should prevail. I am prepared to go a long way if the will of the majority does not prevail in the Legislature. But I am not willing to deprive the minority of that proper right of criticism and’ resistance which, in the Legislatures of British communities, has been productive of some of the best results to the people. We seem to forget that it is not always a good measure which a Government may endeavour to force through, and that the power of resistance given; to Par- liament till the voice of the people may be heard upon it, has, upon certain occasions, proved one of the most valuable safe- ‘ guards of British communities. I do hope that we are not going to entirely remove those safeguards, especially as this is a new Parliament which has never, worked under Standing Orders which could be described as drastic. In’ my judgment, we should adopt a milder means of curtailing discussion, and should only take extreme action in that direction under the pressure of necessity. The present difficultyarises from the fact that a minority is attempting to rule in this House. The smallest party in the Chamber is endeavouring to rule if.

Mr Poynton:

– Who are thev ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The Government. They are attempting to rule, and in order to do so thev have to make certain bargains with the party whose motto is, “ Support in return for concession.”

Mr McCay:

– A member of that party has said1 that it is up for sale.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– That, of course, has been said. The purchase has to be completed. My objection to the proposal of the Government is that it has been submitted without proper cause, and to fulfil the conditions under which Ministers retain their seats on the Treasury tenches. Some honorable members have spoken of the dancer of the degradation of Parliament. There can be no greater danger of degradation than that which is to be found in the condition of affairs I have described. Upon Tuesday last, the honorable member for Parramatta entered1 a mild and respectful protest against the alteration which had been made in the business-paper. That is not uncommon.

Mr Poynton:

– He entered a mild protest, which continued until 9 o’clock in the evening.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member is again utterly reckless in his statement. The protest of the deputy leader of the Opposition lasted for only twelve minutes.

Mr Poynton:

– Did he not move “ That the Chairman do now leave the chair “ ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I repeat that his protest lasted for only twelve minutes. What did the Attorney-General, who was in charge of the measure immediately before the Committee, do? He rose and accused honorable members of having concocted a plot to delay the passing of the Bill, and he referred to some intimation, to that effect, which he had seen in the press.

Mr Poynton:

– His accusation was true.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member is again making a reckless statement. At one time we could rely upon his interjections, but he now makes statements absolutely careless as to whether they are accurate or not.

Mr Poynton:

– The statement of the Attorney-General was true.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– When the honorable member has finished his remarks, I will proceed. Is the Opposition, to be deprived of all rights? When its members occupied seats upon the other side of the chamber, they had to suffer all that the present .Government have suffered, and more.

Mr Poynton:

– Why, time after time we kept a House for the late Government.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I do not know who is possession of the Chair?

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Grey can speak later.

Mr Poynton:

– I am not going to be misrepresented.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The time to make a personal explanation will be when the honorable member for North Sydney has finished his remarks.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The Ministry previously in office had to suffer all, and more than the present Ministry has had to suffer, including motions “ That the Chairman do now leave. the chair,” and all-night sittings. Is the present Opposition to be deprived of all its rights? What has it done in connexion with the Trade Marks Bill to merit such treatment? When that Bill was brought forward on Tuesday last, the honorable member for Parramatta spoke merely for twelve minutes against the action of the Government in changing, its place on the notice-paper, and the Attorney-General then accused the Opposition of a plot to destroy the measure, although we take serious objection to only a part of the Bill.

Mr Isaacs:

– Did I say anything like that ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– According to the official report, the honorable and learned gentleman said that the Opposition intended to use the forms of the House to prevent the Bill from being dealt with, and stated that he had obtained that information from the press. He called on his followers to meet such tactics as they deserved to be met, and made a fierce attack on the deputy leader of the Opposition and the party supporting him, which caused the subsequent debate. I assure the honorable member for Grey that I know of no arrangement made with honorable members to speak on the motion “ That the Chairman do now leave the chair.”

Mr Poynton:

– Nevertheless, it was done.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– What was done was the result of the remarks of the Minister in charge of the Bill.

Mr Robinson:

– We should have a quorum for an important gagging motion of this kind. [Quorum formed.]

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– So far as I know, there was no intention to occupy time unduly on Tuesday last with the discussion of the first motion, “ That the Chairman do now leave the chair.” The deputy leader of the Opposition moved that motion merely to obtain an opportunity to draw attention to the change made by the Government in the position of the measures on the notice-paper. When the usual hour for adjourning came, the Opposition offered to agree to the passing of fifty-seven clauses, which, as I stated then, and as I state now, without fear of contradiction, is a greater number of clauses than has ever yet been passed in this House at one sitting. That the clauses in question were not entirely noncontroversial, and were not without need of attention in the way of amendment, I showed the Attorney-General by an analysis of them which I undertook at a later stage. The Opposition, in order to deal fairly with the Ministry, offered to put them in a better position than they would have occupied had the first motion, “ That the Chairman do now leave the chair,” not been moved.

Mr Isaacs:

– I do not agree with the honorable member.

Mr.DUGALD THOMSON.- The AttorneyGeneral cannot instance a case in connexion with any Bill, whether controversial or not, in which fifty-seven clauses have been passed at one sitting. The Opposition offered to agree to a sufficient number of clauses to more than make up for any loss of time which had occurred.

Mr Isaacs:

– The Government could not accept the Opposition’s statement - “ We will allow you to pass so many clauses, but not one more.”

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– If the honorable and learned gentleman had been a member of the Opposition, and had been told by a member of the Government, “ You have been bad boys to-day, you have misbehaved, and now, before you go home, you must do a certain task which I impose on you,” he would have resented such dictation as strongly as his dictation was resented by the present Opposition, who, indeed, did not take as much offence at his insistence as they might have done. He was offered more clauses than have ever been passed before at one sitting of this House.

Mr Isaacs:

– About an hour’s work.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable and learned gentleman knows that the amendments to which I have drawn attention will take more than an hour to consider.

Mr Isaacs:

– They ought not to do so.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– They will, unless the Minister accepts them. He expected the Opposition to act like schoolboys, and to do what he told them to do. No opposition would accept such dictation. After the offer was refused, the honorable and learned gentleman intimated that he expected the Committee to do an amount of work which, if undertaken, would have occupied honorable members until the usual hour for meeting on the followingday. Means were then taken to protest against the proposed all-night sitting, and I hope that such means will always be taken under similar circumstances. I remember that when, during the discussion of the Tariff, it was attempted on two or three occasions to sit all night, because Ministers, wishing to get on with the work, considered that enough had not been clone, the attempts were resisted, and the honorable member for Grey formed part of the resisting force.

Mr Poynton:

– But the resistance was not begun until the ordinary hour for adjourning had arrived.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The same thing happened the other night.

Mr Poynton:

– No. The motion. “ That the Chairman do now leave the chair,” was moved very soon after the House met.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Yes ; but the time occupied in the discussion of that motion would have been more than made up had theAttorney-General accepted the offer of the Opposition to agree to fifty- seven clauses. More was demanded, and an all-night sitting ensued. What is the object of the present motion? It has been moved merely to enable the Government to pass a certain Bill, the controversial provisions in which are merely accidental, not having been drafted by any Government, and never having been before the country. If the Government wish to know if the constituencies are in favour of these provisions, why do they not postpone their consideration until after the next elections? Are they afraid of the result of an appeal to the people, and are they therefore trying to pass these provisions now, in order to get a troublesome question out of the way before the dissolution ? The honorable member for Bland stated that the honorable member for Parramatta, by the amendment which he has moved, has approved of the motion, subject to its having effect next session.

Mr McDonald:

– He may have done so jocularly, but he certainly did so.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member did the same thing jocularly in Queensland.

Mr McDonald:

– I was in dead earnest.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Then the honorable member has lost his dead earnestness, because he is now taking different action, although the conditions are the same.

Mr McDonald:

– On the former occasion I had not heard the honorable member “ stone-walling.”

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I am not “ stone-walling.”

Mr McDonald:

-i refer to the other night.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honmember has seen, and taken part in, more “ stone-walling “ elsewhere than he has ever seen in this Chamber.

Mr McDonald:

– I have seen more in one week.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member for Parramatta does not, by his amendment, adopt the motion; he does not forego his right as a member of the House to move amendments on it later on.

Mr McCay:

– Hear, hear. This is only the first amendment.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– He wishes to make it clear, before any attempt is made to amend the proposed standing order, that, in his opinion, it should not have effect on the business of this session. Is not that reasonable? Surely, in view of the fact that the Prime Minister has been in office for three-fourths of the term during which the Federation has been in existence - and there were more all-night sittings in the first session than in any other - he should, long ago, have made an opportunity to bring forward a resolution of this kind. He had opportunities both as a member of the House and of the Standing Orders Committee to bring the matter under the notice of honorable members, but I have never heard him suggest any such thing. Yet, suddenly, at the end of the session, and apparently with the. object of dealing with certain proposals, which are regarded as urgent by one section of the House, he asks us to adopt the closure. I think that if any such standing order needs to be adopted, it should receive the fullest consideration, and should apply only to the work of coming sessions. We are so near to the close of the current session that no great difference would ensue if the operation of the proposed standing order were deferred until next session. If that provision were made, the stigma which now attaches to the Government would be removed. It could not then be said that they were introducing the proposal merely for the purpose of accomplishing a certain specific object, rather than for the purpose of generally facilitating public business. They may now be reproached with having exhibited too great a readiness to comply with the demands of the Labour Party, that a certain measure shall be passed during this session, even though the most drastic means might have to be resorted to. I support the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta. Whilst I am prepared to support any measure - even to the extent of adopting a proposal of this kind - if it be proved to be necessary to insure that the will of the majority shall prevail - I do not desire to unduly interfere with the liberties of the minority, and I thinkthe present proposal should be modified in the direction of making it less drastic. We cannot be said to have done very badly in view of our present loose Standing Orders.

Sir William Lyne:

– I think we have done very badly. The discussion on the Tariff occupied four or five months longer than it should have done.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Was the Minister of Trade and Customs, or any other Minister, ever satisfied with the progress of business in Parliament?

Sir William Lyne:

– I do not think that the discussion on the Commerce Bill should have occupied so long.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Of course, if the proposed new standing order is carried into effect nothing will take long. Any measure could be passed in a day. It appears to me, however, to be unreasonable to empower twenty-four honorable members to decree that there shall be no further discussion. This power should not be conferred upon any section of honorable members without some check by an unbiased authority such as Mr. Speaker. There is no safeguard of that kind in the present proposal ; and in view of the fact that honorable members sometimes become angry, and that an angry House must necessarily be an unreasonable House, we should take care to prevent the improper application of the closure. In an angry House two parties of honorable members might be fighting earnestly, and the closure might be applied by twenty-four honorable members under conditions which would involve utter disgrace. Twentyfour honorable members would constitute less than one-third of this House. I have seen even more than one-third of the members of a House, when very angry, attempt to act very unjustly. The honorable and learned member for Corinella and myself, after we had left office, brought forward a proposal in the Standing Orders Committee in favour of the limitation of speech. That proposal was rejected, not because the Committee were altogether against it, but because they thought it would not be effective. Then there was some talk about applying the closure adopted in the British Parliament. The honorable member for Kennedy expressed his views upon that point when he was a member of the Queensland Parliament.

Mr McDonald:

– I have also expressed my views in this House.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I do not know whether the honorable member is of the same opinion now. I am inclined to think that he is, because I have always found him prepared to act in accordance with his expressed belief. I was sorry that the honorable member for Bland so strongly maintained the view that the opposition of the honorable member for Gippsland was insincere, because the Government of which he was a member had proposed a standing order fully as drastic as that now put forward. I assure honorable members that I never heard of a proposal of this kind in connexion with the late Ministry. I quite admit that they saw the necessity of passing permanent Standing Orders. That work appears to me to have been too long neglected.

Mr Storrer:

– We have had no time.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– We have had time to do a great deal. We shall never have time to pass Standing Orders unless a special effort is made. There will always be other business before us, and sooner or later we shall have to put aside our ordinary business in order to deal with Standing Orders, which are urgently required for the regulation of our business. The late Government thought that permanent Standing Orders should be passed, and members of the Labour Party have had many a joke atthe expense of the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney in connexion with that subject.

Mr McCay:

– I wonder what they would have said if the. Reid-McLean Government had brought down a proposal like this?

Mr McDonald:

– We should have seen a shine then.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The gangway has more to do with changes of opinion on the part of many honorable members than has anything else of which I know. There is a number of honorable members whose opinions change absolutely when they cross it.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable member for Kennedy has practically admitted that his opinions have changed.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable and learned member is referring, not to the opinions, but to the feelings of the honorable member for Kennedy, in regard to the question of resignation. On the first occasion ‘that he had to endure such a thing, he became very indignant, but I suppose that he has become accustomed to such proceedings.

Mr McDonald:

– Yes; I have since heard the honorable member and others “ stone- walling.”

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member has, admitted that in one week he saw more “ stone-walling “ in a State Legislature than he has witnessed during the life of this Parliament.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– But the circumstances were very different in that case.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Perhaps so. Having been a member of a State Legislature, which was notorious for its, “ stone-walling “ - “ stone-walling “ in which, no doubt, he took a hand - the honorable member does not think that anything in that direction which has occurred in this House is a matter of much moment. The late Ministry on more than one occasion had to endure an all-night sitting, in consequence of the action of the Opposition, and during their term of office the motion that “ the Chairman do now leave the chair “ was, moved more than once. The honorable and learned member for Indi, who then sat in Opposition, was one of the most active obstructionists. Possibly he thought he had good reason for objecting to the Government proposals, and we certainly did not resent his actions.

Mr Isaacs:

– I did not at any time move that “ the Chairman do now leave the chair.” I made a definite proposal, and fought it out.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable gentleman did not move “ that the Chairman do now leave the chair,” but other members, of the then Opposition did so. Such a motion was submitted I believe, by the leader of the Labour Party. In view of these facts, why should the present Government claim immunity from the full discussion of their measures ? Why should they object to opposition to a measure submitted without the authority of the people, and which, in the opinion of the Opposition, is likely to have injurious effects? Had the Government said, “If you do not agree with our measures, we shall send you to the country,” I could understand their attitude.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That is the last thing they would desire to do.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I should be glad to see the Government adopt that course. I shall not say what the result would be; that would depend upon the people, but I certainly would be glad to have this matter referred to their consideration. The Government are not suffering in the way of opposition more than their predecessors or States Governments have had to endure. I therefore cannot understand why, almost at the end of the session, they should introduce this motion, and seek to apply the proposed standing order to the consideration of a measure which has never been put before the people, and contains provisions that were at no time embodied in the programme of the party supporting them. The union label provisions of the Bill were inserted in another place on the motion of a private member, and since then a determined effort has been made, at all hazards, to retain them in the Bill. Judging by opinions recently expressed by honorable members, it is doubtful whether there is a majority in favour of these provisions.

Mr Poynton:

– That being so, of what is the honorable member afraid ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– If the honorable member had remembered my words, he would know I did not speak of votes, but of opinions expressed. No doubt the honorable member is confident of what will be the result of this motion, otherwise he would not be so anxious for the House to go to a vote. No one more determinedly opposes a proposal of which he does not approve or seeks to prevent it being rushed through Parliament than does the honorable member, but the fact that he happens to be in favour of the Trade Marks Bill seems to cause him to view this matter from a different stand-point.

Mr Poynton:

– There has been no attempt to force the Trade Marks Bill through the House. It has been on the noticepaper for months.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– If the Bill had been under consideration during all that time the position would be different. As a matter of fact, while it has appeared on the notice-paper for months, it was not brought forward until recently.

Mr Poynton:

– When it was brought forword the Opposition moved the Chairman out of the chair.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Does not the honorable member think that it is remarkable that the Government, having allowed the Bill to stand over for months, should now come forward and say that it must be at once passed ? There is nothing hanging to this.

Mr Robinson:

– There is office hanging to it.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I am not speaking of the matter in that light.

Mr Poynton:

– But for the desire of the Senate to consider the Estimates without delay, the Trade Marks Bill would have been dealt with long ago.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I am not going to enter into the reasons for the delay. It is true that the Bill has appeared on the businesspaper for about four months, but no attempt was made until recently to bring it before the House. The honorable member appears to think that the delay in passing it has been due to obstruction on the part of the Opposition. But that is not the case. As I have said, the Ministry did not attempt to proceed with it for some time, but suddenly, when it had been arranged to proceed with the consideration of another measure, the Bill was brought forward, and naturally the deputy leader of the Opposition asked the reason for the change. Honorable members were taken by surprise. I for one had been preparing to proceed with the consideration of the Electoral Bill-

Mr Frazer:

– Om a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I submit that the position on the business-paper of a measure that has been, and still remains to be. debated, has nothing whatever to do with the proposal now before the Chair.

Mr SPEAKER:

– As I have already ruled, it would be out of order to discuss the merits of any measure upon the noticepaper which has been debated, and must form the subject of further debate. At the same time, an honorable member is in order in referring to any measure on the noticepaper for the purpose of illustrating what may or may not happen if the proposed standing order be adopted.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I was endeavouring to show that this motion had apparently been introduced to expedite the passing of a certain measure on the noticepaper. In answer to the honorable member for Grey, I was pointing out that the delay in the consideration of that Bill was due, not to any action on the part of the Opposition, but to the Government themselves, and that that was .not a sufficient reason for proposing to apply to it this suggested standing order. I have only to say, in conclusion, that this course never leads to any good result. The fact is that the Government, to fulfil a certain arrangement by which they hold office, attempted to force this measure forward at a more rapid rate than, was justified by the importance of some of its clauses, as well as by the fact that the proposal had never been discussed by the electors. When they found that the Opposition were determined to exercise the full right of criticism, they endeavoured to push it through by an all-night sitting. That attempt was resisted, and they now propose a drastic standing order, under which, with the aid of twenty-four honorable members - upon the motion of one member - they will be able to achieve their purpose. That course of action is not calculated to secure the results that the Ministry desire. I have no hesitation in saying that if the Minister in charge of the Trade Marks Bill had been more considerate, and more readily satisfied - and he had every reason to be satisfied with the number of clauses, which the Opposition consented to pass - that measure would have been in a much more forward stage than it is to-day. It would have been dealt with more successfully in the absence of than with this attempt to introduce a drastic standing order wherewith to force its passage.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I desire to make a personal explanation. In speaking this afternoon, the honorable member for Bland quoted from a speech which I delivered some ‘time ago upon a motion, which was submitted by the honorable member for Franklin, for the limitation of debate. As is usual with the honorable member for Bland, he merely selected a portion of that speech which suited his purpose - wresting it entirely from its context - and thus gave honorable ‘ members the impression that I was in favour of stern repressive measures, being taken, such as those which the Government now propose. As a matter of fact, upon that occasion I spoke in opposition to the motion of the honorable member for Franklin - which was mildness itself, as compared with the proposal of the Government. I said : -

I agree to some extent with the motion of the honorable member for Franklin; but I think that both he and the last speaker- 1

That was the honorable member for Barrier - wish to proceed to extremes in this matter.

That is precisely what I say in respect of the Government proposal -

I am quite sure that the honorable member for Barrier would be one of the first to raise his voice in most violent protest if an attempt were made to give effect to some of his suggestions.

That remark referred to his suggestion that the guillotine should be introduced. I continued -

I am amazed that an honorable member who professes to be in favour of liberal measures should advocate a procedure which recently resulted in the maiming and crippling of the Opposition there-

I was then referring to the old country - when some Bills of the most vital import to the country as a whole were under consideration. There is all the difference in the world between fighting for a great principle, and the deplorable waste of time which has recently been witnessed in this Chamber.

That remark was, prompted by the five hours’ speeches which had been- delivered by the honorable member for Darling and the honorable member for Gwydir.

Mr Spence:

– I have never made a fivehours’ speech.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– But the honorable member has spoken for nearly five hours.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable member should be accurate in his statements.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Apparently I must be. Minutes aire of some importance, of course, when an honorable member is. making a speech of four or five hours’ duration. I went on fo say : -

But the remedy is in the hands of the people themselves. The secret of the whole matter is that the people have returned to this House three parties so equally balanced that they neutralize each other’s efforts, and render it impossible for any effective work to be done. That state of affairs cannot be remedied by any rule of procedure which we may adopt. Even if we amended our Standing Orders in the way suggested by the honorable member for Franklin, we should find that those who wished to block the business of the House, or to prevent it from being conducted in a proper way, would still be able to do so. None of the proposals made by the honorable member would overcome the difficulty. … A minority cannot block business if there be a strong firm Government in power, supported by an adequate majority.

That is exactly the attitude which I take up to-day. One of the arguments which I advanced in the course of my speech this afternoon was that the Government have no authority either to pass the Trade Marks Bill, or to bring down a drastic proposal to gag the House. I challenge them to go and derive their strength from the constituencies!, before submitting a motion of this character. A strong Government, who have received a mandate from the people, and who have a majority behind them, should be able to give effect to their proposals.

Mr McDonald:

– What did the honorable member mean by saying that he was in favour of allowing the motion “ that the question be now put “ to be moved ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I believe that I said that in a bantering mood to the honorable member for Franklin.

Mr Higgins:

– Perhaps the honorable member is bantering now.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Perhaps I am. The honorable and learned member and myself joke with difficulty. I am firmly convinced that I made the remark of which I am reminded bv the honorable member for Ken nedy in a bantering spirit. Of course, we cannot transfer to the pages of Hansard the spirit in which our remarks are made. I further stated - and this is my final suggestion in regard to all proposals to suppress obstruction -

But the people must take the composition of the House into their own hands, and return a Government to power with a sufficient majority ta enable it to control business, and deal with it with all possible despatch.

The tenor of that speech, I maintain, was opposed to proposals of this character, and certainly the motion of the honorable member for Franklin, as I have said before, was mildness itself as compared with the proposal of the Government.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– The manner in which the Government and their supporters have treated this motion does not augur well for the success of the proposed standing order, should it be adopted. For the last hour or so, we have been treated to an attendance of eight or ten members’ upon the Government side of the House, and of only two or three Ministers. If the gag is to be applied under such circumstances, I do not think the plea of the honorable member- for Bland that it would always be used with fairness and discretion can be sustained. Upon the present occasion, we see that a majority of the Government supporters are quite prepared to vote upon this proposal without listening to any debate upon it, or to arguments adduced in favour of any amendments which may be submitted. Consequently the plea that the proposed standing order, if adopted, would always be used with fairness will not hold water.

Mr Crouch:

– There are three times as many members of the Government present as there are members of the Opposition.

Mr ROBINSON:

– There may be at the present moment, but my remarks have reference to the condition of affairs which has obtained during the past hour. I think it is a mistake to submit a proposal of this character at the present stage of the session. I do not object to the adoption of fairly rigid Standing Orders, or to some limitation upon debate being imposed. Of course, theoretically, there should be no such limitation, but in practice, I am aware that there must be a line drawn somewhere. I enter my protest against a proposal to limit debate, which is obtruded in the middle of a discussion upon a most controversial question, and especially when I know that it is submitted at this stage, merely for the purpose of forcing through the House a measure which is obnoxious not only to the Opposition, but to a majority of Government supporters, who are not Labour members. It is also objectionable to the producing and manufacturing sections of the community. When a measure of that character is under consideration, I maintain that the fullest debate should be allowed. But, instead, we find that Ministers are prepared to do the bidding of their allies in the most servile manner. They are willing to pass any standing order in order to bludgeon this particular measure through. Disguise the fact as’ we may, there is no other reason for this proposal being brought forward at the present moment.

Mr Watkins:

– The rules of the Australian Natives Association are ten times more drastic than is the proposed standing order.

Mr ROBINSON:

– No doubt the honorable member for Laanecoorie has primed the honorable member with that interjection. But I can assure him that if he knew the circumstances of the case he would understand that the rule adopted by that Association is not applicablehere. The Association had only three days in which to discuss twelve months’ business, and so far as I am aware, no attempt was made to use the “ gag “ till quite recently. Further the governing members of that body were all of opinion that its application was an absolute failure, inasmuch as it robbed the whole of its proceedings of life.

Mr Mauger:

– Was it unfairly used?

Mr ROBINSON:

– I do not think so. I believe it was the present Government whip, who, assisted by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, was responsible for its adoption. However, the proceedings of the Australian Natives’ Association lasted only for three days. If the deliberations of this House were limited to that period, possibly I might agree to the drastic proposal now submitted for our consideration. The condition of the Chamber between half-past 5 and half-past 6this afternoon does not augur well for the future of the proposed standing order.

Mr McCay:

– I think that we should have a quorum during a debate of this kind. [Quorum formed.”]

Mr ROBINSON:

– An attempt is being made to force the proposed standing order through the House in the absence of most of the members of the Ministry and their supporters, who are careless, of what may be said against it, or of what may be proposed to modify it. I am not one of those who object to the limitation of debate, but I think that any standing order proposed with that object should first be carefully and fully considered by that Committee, of which Mr. Speaker is Chairman, appointed by the House to recommend rules for its. guidance. That Committee has for some time past been engaged on the consideration of new Standing Orders, but the proposed standing order has not been referred to it, and has been sprung upon the House before we can learn the opinions of the Committee in regard to it. The word “obstruction” has been frequently used during the last few days, it having been said that the Opposition has wantonly and deliberately obstructed the Trade Marks Bill. Honorable members who have preceded! me have given reasons why the Opposition are entitled to insist upon the fullest discussion of that measure. As I have said, some of its provisions are such as do not appear on the statute-book of any part of the British Empire. They have been sprung upon us at a late period ofthe session, and we have no way of learning the opinions of the electors in regard to them. At page 171 of his well-known book, The Working Constitution of the United Kingdom, Mr. Leonard Courtney, who was for some time Chairman of Committees in the House of Commons, and had a distinguished career as a member of that body, makes, the following remarks, which seem to me entirely apropos at the present moment -

Theordinary formalities of legislative procedure in Parliament manifestly afford large opportunities of debate; and it cannot be surprising if in times of excitement, when measures in progress are strenuously opposed, the opportunities are in danger of being abused. Such an abuse is recognised by the name of obstruction ; and it is almost always denounced, sometimes without reason, sometimes with very good reason, when resistance to the course of legislation is obstinate.

In the case of the Trade Marks Bill, the resistance to the course of legislation has not yet occupied two days, and had occupied only one day when notice of the intention to move the adoption of the standing order now under consideration was given -

It may be hazardous to attempt to define obstruction. When a project of legislation is brought forward with little or no forewarning, embodying perhaps a novel policy, and containing provisions which have not undergone public discussion, and in reference to which the mind of the nation may be unenlightened, and its judgment unknown, a repetition of hostile argument in debate after debate may be a public duty such as it is the especial function of an Opposition to discharge.

Those remarks accurately describe the present situation, and entirely justify the discussion which has taken place on the trade union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill. The writer shows that it is permissible for an Opposition to endeavour to secure the awakening of the national mind on a proposal in regard to which the electors have not been consulted, and the views of the electors have not been expressed. The action of the Opposition has not warranted the extraordinary step which the Prime Minister has taken, and in a leading article headed “ Obstruction - The Gag,” in tonight’s Melbourne Herald - with whose politics I am not usually in agreement, because that newspaper is the most enthusiastic supporter of the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General to be found in Australia - a writer says -

In our opinion the remedy -

The proposed standing order for the application of the closure - is as bad as, if not worse than, the disease. We may be pertinently asked : What is the Government to do? Should it acknowledge itself helpless, and surrender - “ cave in “ is the expression of a newspaper which only a few days ago offered opinions on the subject of vulgarity - to the Opposition? No, we do not think it should. Let trie subject of legislation be what it may, the majority has to rule or our whole theory of government is negatived. As, however, the system of doing Parliamentary work is so defective that an individual member has the right to speak as long as he likes and, in committee, as often as he likes, on the most trumpery matter, and as Ministry after Ministry and Parliament after Parliament have refused to alter that system, it seems to us that it is the duty of the Government to do the best it can under the system until it has been deliberately altered.

Then follows a sentence which is, I think, a thorough condemnation of the present action of the Government -

Not in the midst of a fight, with a view of introducing a new weapon in order to serve a particular purpose, should the alterations be made, but in time of peace, with a view of re-ordering a general practice and with no special reference to any particular legislative proposal.

The proposed new standing order is being brought forward in the midst of a fight to serve a particular purpose, not in a time of peace, with a view to re-ordering the general practice. The article continues-; -

As for the closure, it is remarkable that a Ministry containing such men as Mr. Deakin and Mr.

Isaacs should, under any circumstances, propose it, still more remarkable than any, save the most intense Conservatives, should support it.

Those views should meet with the approbation of honorable members whose judgment is not heated by the occurrences of the last few days.

Mr Bamford:

– Is not the honorable and learned member a Conservative?

Mr ROBINSON:

– I do not think that I am one of the most intense Conservatives in the Chamber. I am prepared to agree to a reasonable limitation of debate. In theory I should be opposed to any limitation, but I know it to be impossible to transact parliamentary business without rules, the observance of which requires, debate to be concluded1’ within reasonable periods. That, however, does not justify members in agreeing to a complete gag, such as the standing order now proposed, nor would I agree to any standing order of the kind until it had been considered by the Standing Orders Committee. The standing order relating to lapsed Bills, which was adopted last session, in order to save time, was so considered1, and I s.ee no reason why the proposed standing order should not be submitted to the Committee. There was a debate last session upon a proposal to limit speeches, and, although I do not think that the labour members whose views I am about to quote will act in accordance with them to-night, the quotations will be of interest. The honorable member for Barrier, speaking of the closure, is reported, at page 7427 of Vol. XXIII. of Hansard, to have said -

I am not prepared to vest that power in a Minister without providing that he shall first obtain the consent of the Chairman or Mr. Speaker.

The standing order now proposed, for which the honorable member will, no doubt, vote blindly, will allow, not a Minister, but any member, to move the closure in a House of forty-seven members, without the consent of the Chairman or Mr. Speaker, and twenty-four members will be able to absolutely “ gag “ the other twenty-three. The ‘ honorabl’e member for Darling, speaking on that occasion, said that if he had1 been an offender in the matter of long speeches the honorable and learned member for Ballarat occupied “ a good second place.” Then, at page 743.5, the honorable member for Kennedy is reported to have said -

I trust that this motion will not be carried. I have worked under Standing Orders where the closure and the guillotine have been in force - where the closure was applied, first of all by a two-thirds majority of the House, and subsequently by the decision of a majority, consisting of thirty members out of a total membership of seventy-two.

The standing order now under discussion provides for a majority of twenty-four members in a House of seventy-five. The Government are going to lengths which are not paralleled in the procedure of any other Parliament.

Mr Isaacs:

– The majority required is proportionately twice as large as is required in the House of Commons.

Mr ROBINSON:

– In a House with a membership of 670, an average attendance of one-third is excellent, but the quorum of the House of Commons is only forty. The honorable member for Kennedy continued -

Independent of party feeling, which ran very high at different times, there was no greater source of irritation than were these Standing Orders. Whenever the closure was applied, it gave rise to a feeling of bitterness which lasted several months, and I am satisfied that the adoption of a similar standing order by this House would have the same result. From time to time differences of opinion occur among honorable members, but I can safely say that no honorable member of this House entertains any feeling of personal ill-will towards another.

I believe that. Then the honorable gentleman went on to say -

If we introduce drastic standing orders, enabling the gag to be applied, we shall inevitably give rise to much bitterness.

The honorable member proceeded to refer to the great length of the speeches made by the present Prime Minister, and stated that when he was in charge of a Bill he was one of the worst offenders.

Mr Wilks:

– Who said that?

Mr ROBINSON:

– The honorable member for Kennedy, who, I believe, is going to vote for the proposed standing order.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I do not believe it.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I should be very sorry to believe it, because the honorable member is one of those with whom I have always had pleasure in pairing. He is so direct and outspoken that one knows exactly how he will vote. I regard this proposal as absolutely unwarranted. A direct insult has been offered to the Standing Orders Committee, to whom the proposal should first have been referred. Since the resignation of the honorable member for Gippsland, the Government have been able to command, a clear majority of the Committee, and would probably have been able to force through any proposal of this kind. I do not think, however, that it would have been adopted in its present form. It would probably have been accompanied by safeguards which are now conspicuous by their absence. The action of the Government is intended to secure the passing of a particular measure that has not been submitted to the country, and has not been sufficiently discussed. Such opinion as has been expressed outside has been of a distinctly hostile character, and vet the Government desire to force the measure through without giving honorable members on this side an opportunity to properly debate it. The Attorney-General last night, by interjection, implied that in debating the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill, I had been guilty of obstruction. There isno foundation for that charge. I stated when I spoke yesterday, that I desired to debate the proposals at that stage, because I felt that if the proposed standing order were adopted full and fair discussion would be prevented. That is the object of the present proposal. It has been brought forward at the psychological moment. If the necessity for introducing this proposal was so urgent as has been represented, why was not notice of motion given last Tuesday, so that we might have discussed it prior to the debate on the Trade Marks Bill ? That measure was, however, brought forward first, and when the Government found that the Opposition were not prepared to swallow it at one gulp, they decided to adopt this means of forcing it through the House. I believe the judgment of the country will be pronounced against the Government. I enter my most emphatic protest against their attitude, and I trust that retribution will be visited upon them. Retribution does generally follow in cases of this kind, because we have the authority of the honorable member for Kennedy for saying that whenever the closure has been adopted it has proved to be a rod for the back of those who introduced it.

Mr McCOLL:
Echuca

– It was not my intention to address the House so soon after my return from abroad, but the trend of matters -during the present week has rendered it imperative for every one who has any regard for the welfare of the country to speak very plainly. Had it not been for the trade union label proposals embodied in the Trade Marks Bill, and for the methods adopted by the Government to force them through the House, I shouldprobably have taken my seat upon the other side of the Chamber, instead of seeking a place on the Opposition corner benches. The honorable member for Bland in speaking this afternoon very carefully avoided any reference to the main point at issue. Half of his speech was devoted to a justification of himself, and the other half to exposing the inconsistencies of the deputy leader of the Opposition. I do not think that anything is to be “gained by raking up the events of many years ago, because we are face to face with a very grave occasion - grave for the country, and especially for the Government. The honorable member for Bland quoted a remark made in response to certain observations in regard to the liberty of the subject. That remark was : “ Oh, liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name.” The present trend of events induces me to exclaim : “ Oh, Labour, what nonsense is talked in thy name, and what attempts are being made by those who are now posing as leaders to gull the working man.” ‘ the Chamber of Commerce banquet, in Melbourne last evening, some reference was made to there being a proper time and a proper place for all things. I do not think that this is either the proper time or the proper place for the introduction of the proposal now before us. If the conduct of certain honorable members during this session had been of such a character as to justify the proposal, it might - as the Prime Minister indicated in his opening speech - have been brought forward at an earlier stage. Why was not that course adopted ? The present time is either too early or too late. The proposal is made too late to permit of its being of very much service, because the whole of the remaining time at our disposal this session will probably be taken up in its discussion. Considerable time must be occupied in debating it, because it will be the duty of every one in Opposition to use their strongest efforts to combat it. If, as has been claimed, obstruction has been going on throughout the session, a new standing order should have been adopted at a much earlier stage. Then there would have been a chance of transacting some business. The honorable member for Bland was careful to side-track the main issue upon which we are fighting. We are endeavouring to prevent the union label provisions, in the Trade Marks Bill from being passed into law, and that issue should be kept very plainly before the people. Our object in postponing this proposal, this new standing order - we merely desire a postponement, because we are all agreed that some action of the kind should be taken - is to prevent it from being used as a means of forcing through a measure which is obnoxious to this House, and which will prove hurtful to the country. An attempt is being made to introduce a new factor into our industrial life. We do not know what the results will be, and we are certain that there is no necessity for any such legislation at the present time. No attempt has been made to justify it, and certainly it cannot be claimed that there is any sound reason for asking honorable members to discuss it at this stage of the session, whilst a mass of highly important business is awaiting our attention. The Government, with a knowledge of the strong opposition that would be directed to their proposals for legalizing union labels have thrust this measure forward, and must, therefore, take the full responsibility for having blocked the business of the country. With all respect to the Government, I do not think they realize the intensity of feeling throughout the country in regard to the Trade Marks Bill.

Mr Watkins:

– The honorable member has not been back very long, and, therefore, cannot know very much about it.

Mr McCOLL:

– I have hot been back very long, but I have had evidence enough presented to me to indicate the opinion of the country with regard to the measure. The union label provision is only one of many measures, that are calculated to work the greatest possible harm to the Commonwealth. We are, as it were, quarrelling about the methods of cooking and the laying of the table, when, all the time, we have no food’. ‘What is required is work and wages for the people, and neither an Arbitration Act nor industrial measures, such as those which have been submitted to us, will give us any of the things we require. We are dealing with proposals which’ are intended to tickle the ears of the workers, but which will not have the effect of filling their stomachs. Our legislation is preventing the investment of capital, which would otherwise be em- “ barked in industrial enterprises. The Prime Minister did not seem to be particularly happy when he was introducing the motion this afternoon. I have not the least doubt that if he couldhave avoided it he would have done so. I think that the fact that two honorable members - not the least esteemed nor the least able in the House - immediately handed in their resignation as members of the Standing Orders Committee, must have been felt very keenly by the Prime Minister, although, of course, he would take care not to betray his feelings. It seems to me that the Government have departed entirely from the ordinary course of procedure by thrusting forward a proposal to bring about a radical alteration in the working of the parliamentary machine without first submitting it to those specially appointed to advise the House in such matters. The Minister said that the motion might have been brought forward at an earlier stage. One may well inquire the reason for the delay. It seems to me that this proposition has been brought forward solely with the object of forcing the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill through the House. The Prime Minister said that the House had suffered from its inception by reason of obstructionist tactics. It is strange, however, that whilst several Governments have been in power, not one of them has ever attempted to deal with the trouble.

Mr WATKINS:
NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931

– They never had an opportunity.

Mr McCOLL:

– They certainly had ; but they were wise in their generation, and did not attempt to force such a proposal upon the House. They recognised that a standing order which might work well in a State Parliament might operate unjustly in a House charged with the duty of legislating for the whole Commonwealth, and in which the States are unequally represented. I can only say that what has been described as the organized obstruction’ shown towards the passing of the Trade Marks Bill was, in my opinion, absolutely justified. The resulting delay was caused, not by the Opposition, but by the Attorney-General. It has been said over and over again - and it is a fact that cannot be too strongly impressed on the minds of the people - that on Tuesday night an opportunity was given to the Government to close the sitting with a better record of work done than had ever previously fallen to the lot of a Commonwealth Ministry. That opportunity was deliberately neglected. It seems to me that the offer of the Opposition was refused simply because the Government did not desire to accept anything of the kind. The Prime Minister said this afternoon that the Parliament was being belittled in the public estimation. He never made a truer statement. If the people were ever tired of Federation, they are tired of it to-day, and I feel confident that, if a vote on the question were to be taken to-morrow, Federation would have but a sorry prospect of being carried in any of the States. This Parliament has been belittled in the eyes of the people by the bringing forward of trumpery measures, which can be productive of no good, while larger measures, to deal with which the Parliament was really established, are left in the back-ground. The sooner we reach a higher level, and attempt to deal with the larger problems of the Federation, the better it will be for the country. I think that the text of the proposed standing order is worthy of consideration. It reads -

After any question has been proposed, either in the House or in any Committee of the whole -

No mention is made of the stage at which the motion “That the question be now put” may be moved. There is nothing to show whether it will be competent for an honorable member to move it eitherbefore or after a measure has been fairly discussed. It is true that the honorable member for Bland said that no Government would attempt to unjustly apply the proposed standing order. But -

How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds Makes ill deeds done !

An attempt might be made by means of the standing order to rush through the House a Bill which a brief discussion would show was likely to be prejudicial to the country. It will be possible to bring the standing order into operation at any moment. A private member, having no responsibility whatever, will be able, if he has the numbers readied up, to dwarf the privileges of the House, and deprive honorable members of their reasonable rights. The proposed standing order continues -

  1. . a motion may be made by any member, rising in his place, and without notice -

Notice is not to be given. The more one studies, this proposal, the more one is led to wonder how an honorable member so essentially just as is the Prime “Minister could have been induced to put it forward - and whether any other member is addressing the Chair or not, “ that the question “be now put.”

Imagine an honorable member being interrupted in the middle of his speech. Just as some crucial point is to be dealt with, or some unpleasant revelation is to be made, an honorable member may by this means be gagged. No doubt a vote will be taken by the caucus earlier in the day to decide whether the gag shall be applied. A surprise will be sprung ‘upon the House when the number of honorable members necessary to carry such a motion can be secured, with the result that the debate on a Bill will be suddely blocked, and the measure itself will be rushed through. The proposed standing order continues -

  1. . and the motion shall be put forthwith, and decided without amendment or debate.

It is very much to be regretted that such a proposal should have been introduced at such a stage in the session.

Mr Johnson:

– It was brought forward at the instance of the Labour Party.

Mr McCOLL:

– I do not say that that is so. It is not fair to make such charges. The Labour Party are not responsible for the Bill submitted to us, and Ave have to deal, not with them, but with those who bring that legislation forward. The Labour Party, like every other section of the House, have a right to do the best they can for themselves. But I do say that the passing of this motion in its present form will lower the House in the estimation of the people. The trend of our legislation is such as to retard rather than assist the progress of the country. The workers who are crying for work and food will continue to make their piteous appeals until this House passes measures that are for the good of the people, and will lead to increased employment. Let us set aside these smaller matters, and determine to go in for solid work. I think that it is the duty of all who object to this motion to oppose it to Che very utmost, and to do everything in their power to prevent it coming into operation this session.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– I think that the House is bound to some extent to pay special attention to the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Echuca. He has been taunted with having been away from Australia for some few months, and obviously in some quarters a knowledge of any but Australian « affairs is regarded as a disqualification. The honorable member has returned within the last few days, and has been no party to any of the struggles or differences of opinion which have occurred in the House since the be ginning of the session. He therefore comes here as an absolutely impartial observer, more capable of giving an unbiased opinion than is any honorable member who has been taking part more or less in the party fights of the session. Consequently, when he points out, as he has done, not only the dangers of the proposed standing order, but the circumstances under which it has been introduced, I think that not only the House, but the country, will recognise the specially favorable position that he occupies for giving an impartial opinion, and will pay strict attention to what he has said. I. desire, as one who has taken some part in the discussions of the House during the present session-

Mr Watkins:

– And who is consequently biased.

Mr McCAY:

– Although in this regard I occupy a less favorable position than does the honorable member for Echuca, I have been able, fortunately, to preserve myself from bias, and wish to make a few remarks upon the proposal now before the Chair. I desire to say, in the first place, that I am now, as I have always been, in favour of some reasonable limitation of unnecessary debate. I had the honour to be a member of a Government which was subjected to much good-humoured chaff, because in its corporate capacity it considered that some such action was necessary. I had also the honour for some years to be a member of the Standing Orders Committee of this House, which had under consideration for a long time a draft set of Standing Orders, Which for many months have been awaiting the attention of honorable members. I had also the privilege, since ceasing to be a Minister, to introduce for the consideration of the Standing Orders Committee a proposal for the limitation of debate. I may say., by the way, that I would support that proposal now, as I did then. I do not know, however, whether it would receive the support, for example, of the honorable member for Kennedy. I do not wish to disclose any secrets, but think I mav say without any breach of confidence that he would view such a proposal with a critical eye. Reference has been made to his position by the honorable and learned member for Wannon. Last session the honorable member for Kennedy, in no uncertain tones, denounced the very proposal now before the House as “the gag.” He denounced it, from his own personal knowledge, as the chief cause of bitterness in deliberative assemblies. I do not mean to suggest that such a provision would embitter the honor.orable member. The sweetness of his disposition would prevent anything of the kind; but I do not believe that he will vote for this wicked proposal of the Government.; He occupies a very similar position to that of the Scotchman who, at an election, at which the name of one of the candidates was something like Roderick McPherson McGregor, had pro,mised to vote for his rival, whose name was not nearly so Scotch. After the election the Scotchman met the candidate for whom he had promised to vote, and, in veryapologetic tones, said, “ I did not vote for you after all. I went to the polling booth with the full intention of voting for you, and I crossed out the ‘ Roderick ‘ and the McPherson,’ but I hadn’t the heart to cross out the ‘ McGregor.’ “ I believe that when the pinch comes, however strongly the honorable member for Kennedy may be pressed by circumstances, by loyalty to his party, or by his desire to dish the Opposition

Mr King O’Malley:

– This is not a party question.

Mr McCAY:

– I shall show that it is. The Government have made it a party question. They have absolutely prevented it from being considered by honorable members sitting in the Opposition corner as other than a party question. However, I am content to leave the honorable member for Kennedy to his own conscience, which T am sure will have far more effect upon his action than anything that I can say. I wonder whether some honorable members who appear to be so keen to adopt the proposed standing order without any consideration having been ‘bestowed upon it by the Standing Orders Committee, and without any regard to the subsequent effect of this panic legislation,, have read the revi’sed Standing Orders, which are available for adoption by this House. If they have clone so, they will find that practically everything to which exception has been taken by honorable members upon the Ministerial side of the House has been expressly provided for. For example, some honorable members have professed the most virtuous indignation that the motion “ That the Chairman do now leave the chair “ should have been submitted on Tuesday afternoon, and again late on Tues day evening.. If they had taken the trouble to peruse the revised Standing Orders they would know that under them that motion cannot be debated, but must be put forthwith, and that it cannot be moved again for a quarter of an hour. The same remark is applicable to motions to report progress and to adjourn debates. Every method alleged to have been adopted by the Opposition to which serious exception has been taken has been substantially provided for in the revised Standing Orders.

Mr Watkins:

– Let us adopt them.

Mr McCAY:

– I am perfectly willing to do so.

Mr Watkins:

– Will the honorable and learned member do it to-night?

Mr McCAY:

– With the exception of one standing order I am perfectly willing to adopt the whole of them to-night, if the Government will withdraw their present proposal, and in saying that I believe that I speak for a number of honorable members. With the exception of the remarkable standing order which provides that a member’s attendance outside the Chamber shall be equivalent to his presence in the House, I am willing to adopt all of them.

Mr Watkins:

– Can the honorable and learned member speak for all the members upon the Opposition side of the House?

Mr McCAY:

– I am not the leader of this side of the House. I belong to a small party of two. Consequently, when the leader is absent, I am deputy leader. If some reasonable proposal for the limitation of debate were introduced at a proper time, when feeling did not run high, when there were not obviously special circumstances compelling the Government to bring it forward, and when it might be adopted simply ‘from a desire to make the Standing Orders as effective and operative as possible, it would find no more hearty supporter than I should be. But do these circumstances exist to-day? Is the proposal of the Government the result of calm deliberation, either by them or by anybody else? Certainly it is not the result of calm deliberation by the Standing Orders Committee. Is it the result of calm deliberation by the Government ? May I remind honorable /members of very recent history. At i o’clock yesterday afternoon the Government reported progress, having asked honorable members upon this side of the House to agree to the withdrawal of the motion “ that the Chairman do now leave the chair,” which I had moved some hours earlier. Progress was reported, and the House forthwith adjourned. At half-past 2 o’clock - or an hour and a half later - the Prime Minister gave notice of his intention to move the proposed standing order. I think that I am speaking accurately, and I am certainly drawing an eminently reasonable inference when I say that that standing order was prepared between 1 o’clock and half-past 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, and that progress was reported by the Government, and an adjournment agreed to, for the express purpose of allowing it to be prepared. The Prime Minister himself admitted today - I forget whether it was in the course of his speech, or by way of interjection - that the proposed standing order was drafted yesterday. It is patent, therefore, that it was prepared some time upon this notable Wednesday, after the House had been sitting for close upon 24 hours, when honorable members were not in their normal condition, when feeling had been roused. and when resentment was being felt. At such a time - when this side of the Chamber had shown its determination to resent the efforts of the Government to force upon an unwilling House and an unwilling country an injurious measure - at the height of that resentment, in the haste of that anger, the Government prepared, and gave notice of the proposed standing order. Having done so, I suppose they felt that they could not withdraw it. But surely the last twenty-four hours must have afforded them some opportunity for reflection. The kindly consideration of the AttorneyGeneral, which allowed us to adjourn at 12 o’clock last night–

Mr Isaacs:

– We adjourned at ten minutes to 1 o’clock this morning.

Mr McCAY:

– That was the fault of the Attorney -General, who spoke in the most extraordinary manner, upon the motion for the adjournment of the House. These are the facts of the case, and no amount of discussion or explanation can get away from them. This proposal was hastily conceived, hastily prepared, and hastily flung at the Opposition, which it was intended to overawe as by a demonstration of force. Under such circumstances, can anybody urge that it was properly considered? If a legislative measure of any kind be prepared under such conditions, it must., from its very birth, bear upon it the stamp of suspicion as to its wisdom. The Govern ment proposal is obviously one which is not the result of careful thought, but rather of impulseand ill-considered anger. I now wish to point out as briefly as possible why I am forced to the inevitable conclusion that the proposed standing order has been introduced for a special purpose. The present Government have not a majority.

Mr King O’Malley:

– Take a vote upon it.

Mr McCAY:

– Their proposals may command a majority because members of the Labour Corner will vote for them, seeing that they have practically fathered them before they are submitted to this House, and the Government and’ their supporters will vote for them, because they have to do so. I repeat that the Government proposals may command a majority, but the Government do not.

Mr Poynton:

– Let the honorable and learned member challenge the Government.

Mr McCAY:

– I will not do so. The party of which I am the deputy leader is not sufficiently large to justify me in wasting the time of the House upon any such motion. I am a determined foe to wasting time, and will not be a party to any proceedings by which time will be was.ted. The present Government and their supporters comprise less than one-third of the members of this, House. The Ministry took office after an interview between the Prime Minister and that genial autocrat, the honorable member for Bland. We know that that interview took place before the new Administration was formed. We have been told that there is no arrangement between the Ministry and the Labour Party, and that no definite understanding has been arrived at as to the passing, for example, of the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill. I can quite believe that the Treasurer might become festive under any such arrangement. I can quite believe that, staunch believer as he is in the union label, he is only prevented by his desire not to occupy time from giving utterance to his sentiments, and from urging the House to adopt the one legislative proposal which is so dear to the hearts of that party whose recent want of success at the polls in Western Australia he so deeply deplored. Notwithstanding his keen sympathy with and support of the union label proposals, he would probably resent being told that he had to pass them. I am quite sure that he would leave the

Ministry rather than submit to the dictation of the Labour Corner. It is, therefore, natural that no such express order would be given to the Government by the Labour Party. But there are some understandings that do not need to be set out in black and white, or even by means of an interview. I venture to say that it is very clearly understood - whether by telepathy or by what other means I do not know - that the Government must press forward the union label proposals, and that otherwise they must look out for squalls,. They are in this unfortunate dilemma, that whether they press on with the trade union label proposals, or whether they do not, they must look out for squalls. I understand the expression of sorrow that clouds the Attorney-General’s brow, but one must not allow his personal feelings to interfere with his duty, and, consequently, however, much I may sympathize with the Government in their present difficulties, I am bound to continue my opposition to the proposals. The Government have to press on with the trade union label provisions.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– What would be the consequence if they did not?

Mr McCAY:

– I leave it to the honorable member’s leader and party to say. I should like the honorable member to tell me what he thinks will happen. Does he think that the Labour Party will say nothing if the provisions are dropped? It is a curious thing that we did not have this demonstration of force and determination upon the part of the Government until after the Opposition, under the impression that a reasonable arrangement was to be made in regard to the session’s work, had allowed the Appropriation Bill to leave this House; but I will not dwell upon that point. It is my firm belief - though I should be very glad to be disabused of the impression, and so. no doubt, would the Government - that it is to be either the trade union label provisions or squalls from the flank, to use a phrase of the AttorneyGeneral’s.

Mr Chanter:

– We have had nothing but squalls since the last Government was defeated.

Mr Poynton:

– It has been a continuous squeal. Honorable members have howled ever since they were turned out of office.

Mr McCAY:

– I think it is very undesirable for an honorable member to wake up suddenly, and make interjections, when he does not know what is going on.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– It is the pointed interjections that the honorable and learned member does not like.

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable member has discovered my weak spot. The Government must go on with these proposals. But they have seen that, strong as is the desire of the Labour Party to have them pushed forward, there is an equally strong determination on the part of the Opposition to delay their consideration until the people of Australia have had an opportunity to express their opinions about them. If the Government would promise not to go further in regard to them until the views of the constituencies had been obtained, I would care little whether they were passed or not, much as I disike them. But, much as they would like to delay them, the Government dare not do so. I should like to see a termination put to this debate by the Government promising to send us to the country to ask the electors to express their opinions on the subject, but those who last year clamoured so loudly for a dissolution, were this year all for the continuation of the Parliament. Much as the Government may desire to appeal to the country - we know that the Treasurer does not, because he has said that he does not want any more marks of confidence from his constituents, having enough already - they will not be allowed to do so. Their last resort, therefore, is to say to those who honestly believe that the people should be asked to pronounce upon the great and important industrial changes which are proposed, “We willgag you, in order that you may not press your proper objections to these proposals.” That is the determining, though I will not say the sole, cause which compels the Ministry to propose this standing order.

Sir John Forrest:

– A similar standing order is in force in the Senate.

Mr McCAY:

– I wish the Government would let it stay there.

Mr McDonald:

– The Opposition should do here what the members of their party did in the Senate the other night, walk out of the Chamber.

Mr McCAY:

– The members of the Opposition proper and the members of the Opposition corner intend to use every fair means to prevent the trade union label provisions from becoming law until the electors have declared in favour of them. The Government are now proposing a course which would be justified only if there had been long continued obstruction, and then only after all other means to secure the desired result had failed. Has there been anything in the conduct of the Opposition with regardto the Trade Marks Bill which affords even the pretence of justification for this action?

Sir William Lyne:

– Certainly. It has been obstructing all the time.

Mr Frazer:

– The honorable and learned member cannot get away from the truth.

Mr McCAY:

– Although it is permissible to use the word “truth” in this Chamber, it is not permissible to say that a thing is untrue; but I have no hesitation in declaring the allegation of the Minister to beinaccurate. What the Minister of Trade and Customs disapproves of as having been clone by the Opposition is something of the same character as was done by him last session when he sat in opposition, but milder in its nature, as vaccination is milder than small-pox.

Mr.Higgins. -Is not thehonorable and learned member opposed to vaccination ?

Mr McCAY:

– Yes. The Minister suggests that the Opposition have been engaged in obstructing.

Sir William Lyne:

– In “stone-walling” to an extreme extent.

Mr McCAY:

– That, I believe, to be an unparliamentary expression, but I forgive it in consideration of the honorable gentleman’s political youth. Let me review the events of the current week, which are responsible for the sudden action of the Government.

Mr McCAY:

– How can the honorable member know, since the Prime Minister has assured us that he has had no communication on this subject with the Labour Party ? Doesnot the honorable member know that the party in another country to which he is allied in sentiment has been the sworn foe of these gagging Standing Orders ?

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable and learned member has very little sympathy with that party.

Mr McCAY:

– I have no sympathy with attempts to embroil Australia in other people’s affairs. On Tuesday the Trade Marks Bill, which had until then occupied an exceedingly lowly position on the notice paper, was, like the modest guest in the

Scriptures, invited to “go up higher,” and promoted to the top of the paper.

Mr Higgins:

– And the Opposition moved “That the Chairman do now leave the chair” directly it was taken into Committee.

Mr McCAY:

– I am about to deal with that point, but I cannot talk so fast as the honorable and learned member thinks. At twenty minutes to 3 on Tuesday afternoon the honorable member for Parramatta moved “That the Chairman do now leave the chair,” in order to obtain an opportunity to enter his protest a.gainst the sudden alteration of the business-paper. That protest would probably have ended with his remarks had not the doughty AttorneyGeneral announced that he had seen in the newspapers the statement that there was to be organized obstruction on the part of the Opposition. Although he was informed by interjection that that statement was without authority, this great mind-reader, who reads minds inaccurately, this discerner of thoughts, who discerns them wrongly, announced that he saw the announcement - I forget his exact words, - and that, whether it was inspired or not, it was apparently true. That statement was made when one honorable member on. this side of the House had been speaking for about twelve minutes. How could the Attorney-General, even with all his boldness - and his political courage shrinks at nothing when he has a majority behind or beside him - allege that at that stage he saw that the statement was true? His statement was absolutely incorrect, so far as my knowledge went - and I believe I was aware of the intentions of most honorable members on this side of the House.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– If it was not true, why was the debate kept going for six hours ?

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable member is thinking faster than I can talk. The fact was that honorable members on this side could not sit still under the unprovoked and wanton attack of the Attorney - General. The only weapon that a minority can use against a Government controlled by the Attorney-General is to enter its protest ; and when; the Attorney-General spoke in the terms I have indicated, we felt bound to quarrel, as was our duty, with his allegations. Five or six hours after that the motion was negatived without division. It might have been carried if there had been a division, but members of the Opposition did not go to that length. Then debate ensued on the Trade Marks Bill. At about 11.45the Attorney-General was offered fifty-seven clauses of the measure before progress was reported, and he would not agree to that proposal.

Mr Isaacs:

– I was practically told that that was what the Opposition wouldcon- cede.

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable and learned gentleman objects to its being said that that was what the Opposition would concede. He objects to what he regards as dictation, and yet he was engaged in dictation and brow-beating of an infinitely worse character when he turned to the members of the Labour Party in the corner and said, “ I hope the House will deal with the matter accordingly.” If that was not a threat, I do not understand the meaning of words. The Attorney-General was told that if he would refrain from keeping a large number of his own side, and a small number of ours, out of their beds all night, the Opposition would offer no objection to his going as far as clause 57; and I say that never but once in his experience has he ever managed to pass fifty-seven clauses of a measure in an evening. Upon that exceptional occasion, honorable members who were criticising the measure formally washed their hands of all responsibility for it, because he would not accept any amendment.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– And he ruined his party through it.

Mr McCAY:

– I do not say that.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– They say so.

Mr McCAY:

– I do not wish to discuss that point, because it is irrelevant. I do not desire to speak for more than an hour or so, because I have nowish that the debate should relate to anything but the very question before us. The AtrorneyGeneral refused the offer to which I have referred at 11.30, although he was begged over and over again, to accept it. I contend that this Parliament should not be called upon to do business after 11.30. The only excuse for keeping honorable members until a later hour is that time has been wasted deliberately, and that sufficient work has not been done. I contend, however, that fifty-seven clauses of the Trade Marks Bill would have constituted more than sufficient work for one sitting.

Mr Mahon:

– The honorable and learned member’s late leader tried to keep us after midnight upon one famous occasion.

Mr McCAY:

– Ministers always ask for a great deal, but do not always get it. I do not blame them forthat, but I do blame them when they are offered a great deal and do not accept it. If during the last session the Reid-McLean Government had been offered fifty-seven clauses of any measure as a night’s work, they would have jumped at the opportunity. There would not have been time for those making the offer to retract it. But it is not very profitable to dive into ancient history. The records of the last few days will suffice to occupy our attention without going any further back.

Mr Wilks:

– It will keep us going for a week.

Mr McCAY:

– I hope not. If the Prime Minister attends in the Chamber, and exercises his modifying influence, we shall not see displayed the same obstinate indifference to the welfare of honorable members that has been manifested by the AttorneyGeneral.

Mr Isaacs:

– The speeches of the honorable and learned member during the last night or two have not been conducive to the welfare of honorable members.

Mr McCAY:

– I have been rather proud of them. That only shows how mistaken one may be. The Attorney-General refused the proposal to which I have referred, and as the ordinary hours of sitting were past, the Opposition determined that the Government would have to wait until the ordinary time next day before they would be permitted to proceed with business again.

Mr Mahon:

– The minority intended to compel the majority to bow to their wishes.

Mr McCAY:

– The minority have a right to object to business being forced upon them at improper hours - a right that the minority will always exercise, and one that the honorable member took mighty fine care to enforce when he was sitting in Opposition last session. He was very particular in insisting that the House should not sit beyond a reasonable hour. I ask whether it is reasonable to require honorable members to sit for longer than eight hours at a time, when a reasonable amount of work has been offered ? I understood that the members of the Labour Party were believers in eight hours as a maximum working day.

Mr Tudor:

– Eight hours’ work.

Mr McCAY:

– The Government would have achieved more than a day’s work if they had accepted the offer of the Opposition, and no avoidance of the question can get rid of that fact. The House met at 2.30 yesterday afternoon, and at 2.45 it was in Committee on the Trade Marks Bill. If ever an Opposition had inducement - if they had allowed their natural feeling of resentment to sway them - to obstruct business, this Opposition had it yesterday afternoon, when the proposal of the Prime Minister was announced. They, however, refrained.

Mr Higgins:

– They were afraid of the proposal.

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable and learned member is entirely mistaken. There was not the slightest intention on the part of honorable members on this side of the Chamber to do anything but go into Committee on the Trade Marks Bill, and if the honorable and learned member had been here, he would have seen some honorable members go from this corner and ask why. the honorable member for Dalley had moved that the Chairman leave the chair, only to be told that the motion would be withdrawn within the next ten minutes. I can assure honorable members that the intention was to do what was done - that was to go into Committee on the Trade Marks Bill. At 2.45 the House was in Committee, and from that time until the House adjourned the Trade Marks Bill, and particularly the union label provisions, were being discussed closely and earnestly. Unfortunately., only one honorable member on the Government side so far honoured the House and the country as to break silence. The honorable member for Bland spoke for an hour and a quarter, and although his speech was very interesting, he avoided the main issue. If a speech of that length had been made by an honorable member on. this side, it would at once have been described as “ stone- walling.”

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable member for Wentworth spoke for two hours.

Mr McCAY:

– It must be remembered that the honorable member for Wentworth is not able to compress his remarks in the same way as a practised speaker, like the honorable member for Bland.

Mr Tudor:

– But he did not touch the question.

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable member for Bland avoided the real issue for the greater part of the time. He talked about our duty to protect thepublic against fraud and other matters entirely alien to the measure under consideration. At about 11.30 I began to speak. I urged the AttorneyGeneral to report progress; but he would not do so, and accordingly I addressed myself first to the legal aspect of the Bill, and secondly to the question how far the American analogy had anything to do with the case. Some little time before the House adjourned, this conversation took place. I now propose to quote from the first proofs of Hansard -

It is not fair to assume that any honorable member can address himself closely to so important a question at this hour, and expect that reasonable attention will be given to his remarks. If I am given an opportunity to conclude my remarks under ordinary conditions, I shall undertake not to discuss the general question again, but to confine myself strictly to a discussion of each of those clauses to which I am opposed. This question of the union label is the biggest question which has been before Parliament this session. It is of greater importance than the fate of a Government. The country will recover more quickly from the effects of a change of Government than from the institution of the union label. It was referred to shortly during the second-reading debate in connexion with other matters, and it has been under the consideration of the House in Committee during one sitting. However the AttorneyGeneral is in an obstinate mood, and he will not say what he is prepared to do.

Mr Isaacs:

– I have moved the omission of two words, and I cannot get that done.

Mr McCAY:

– Will the honorable and learned gentleman agree to report progress as soon as those words are omitted ?

Mr Isaacs:

– I am not going to submit to any dictation.

Mr McCAY:

– I am not dictating, but asking a civil question.

Mr Isaacs:

– I shall make no such bargain with the honorable and learned member.

The Attorney-General then refused the . offer to close the general debate forthwith. The honorable gentleman might have known that if a suggestion of that kind were made it would meet with the approval of other honorable members. But he would not take the chance of seeing whether or not it would; to use his own words, he declined to make any such bargain. The omission of two words, to which I have referred, constituted the bargain, and had that bargain been accepted, the general debate would have closed. But the honorable and learned gentleman refused to do that which he said he desired to do - to attend to the business of the country ; he refused the opportunity to enable honorable members to do men’s work, although shortly after taking office he exhorted1 us to do so. It seems to me that he declined to allow the business of the House to proceed, because he wished to have an excuse for the introduction of the proposal now before us. He desired to be able to say : “ Look at what the Opposition are doing. We must have this standing order.” In support of my contention, I would point out that, on the motion for the adjournment of the House, he said : “ Now it has been proved to demonstration that these standing orders” - meaning the proposal now before us - “ are essential.” He made this statement after he himself had refused to accept the opportunity to do that which would have proved that this standing order was not required. I call that insincerity.

Mr Isaacs:

– So do I.

Mr McCAY:

– I say that the AttorneyGeneral was not sincere. On two successive evenings it was nothing but his obstinacy that prevented full progress being made with the business of the country. One is inevitably forced to the conclusion that this obstinacy was intentionally persisted in, in order to give the Government an excuse to submit the motion now before us, and thereby discharge the debt that they have to pay, in the form of the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill, to the Labour Party. That there is a price to pay is, to use the Attorney-General’s own words, proved to demonstration. In these circumstances, a most remarkable standing order is proposed.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– Is a time limit to be imposed?

Mr McCAY:

– It is not yet proposed, although I favour that being done. The House will have an opportunity later on to debate the desirableness of fixing a time limit to speeches in the form of a proposal which I had the honour to, submit to the Standing Orders Committee. Some reference has been made to arithmetical questions, and I notice the curious fact that the motion “ That the question be now put,” must receive the affirmative votes of not less than twenty-four honorable members. What is the strength of the Labour Party in this House ?

Mr Tudor:

– Twenty-five members.

Mr McCAY:

– So that there will be one to spare.

Mr Watson:

– We shall have a few more to spare later on.

Mr Wilks:

– That one may bein the Chair.

Mr McCAY:

– Yes. This will allow the honorable member for Kennedy to act as temporary Chairman of Committees. I have no doubt that it is only a coincidence, but coincidences are sometimesinteresting.

Mr Tudor:

– What is the strength of the honorable and learned member’s party ?

Mr Watson:

– Four, without the twenty.

Mr McCAY:

– I have already said that I am not quite sure of our strength, but the party to which I belong, unlike that of which the honorable member for Bland is leader, is a growing one. The honorable member will find, as soon as the electors have been allowed to give expression to their will, that his is a diminishing party.

Mr Watson:

– There is no evidence of growth on the part of the honorable and learned member’s party.

Mr McCAY:

– The Opposition corner is overcrowded. We believe that when the electors obtain the opportunity that should be given them to express their opinions, those who have to grieve over a loss will be reconciled by the knowledge that the people of Australia, and not the pretended representatives of only a class of the people, have spoken.

Mr Watson:

– That is what we object to - the representation of a class.

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable member is selfish. He and his party do not desire other honorable members to be the representatives of a class.

Mr Watson:

– We do not wish to represent only the Employers’ Union.

Mr McCAY:

– The Employers’ Union has never been wildly enthusiastic in my behalf.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable and learned member is bearing up to them very well.

Mr McCAY:

– That is a matter of opinion. The Government proposal is that, at any moment, in the House or in Committee, the dominant party shall be at liberty to force the passing of a whole measure, not merely from clause1 to clause 57, but from clause 1 to clause 1,000, if the Bill under consideration be one of such magnitude.

Mr Chanter:

– Does the honorable and learned member seriously believe that any Government would allow such a thing to take place ?

Mr McCAY:

– I seriously think that if the proposed standing order be allowed to pass, and be put into operation in connexion with the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill, some honorable members will show remarkable haste in coming to a decision that the matter has been sufficiently discussed. This proposal has been introduced solely to enable those provisions to be pushed through the House.

Mr Ronald:

– Question.

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable member may question my statement, but it is obviously correct. Will honorable members opposite agree to the exemption of the Trade Marks, Bill from the operation of the proposed standing order ?

Mr Watson:

– That is a good suggestion !

Mr McCAY:

– Is there any other measure on the notice-paper as to which it is conceivable that there would be any justification in bringing the proposed standing order into operation ? None whatever. The Government were told a fortnight ago that although some members of the Opposition differed from the Government views, they considered that there was no other measure which the people of Australia had not had an opportunity to consider, and that consequently there was no other Bill on the notice-paper which would be so strenuously contested.

Mr Watson:

– There is a lot of room for difference in that respect.

Mr McCAY:

– Unfortunately I cannot speak for every honorable member. I la rr endeavouring to express my own views, and whether honorable members agree with them or not, I trust that I am uttering them with sufficient clearness to enable them to be understood, and with sufficient brevity to avoid any imputation of a desire on my part to waste time. I think that I may claim that I have done so. I shall not deal with the proposed standing order in detail until an opportunity is given the House to consider the alternative proposal submitted to the Standing Orders Committee, but not adopted by them. I have only to say, in conclusion, that the country knows that this proposal is being made for the specific purpose of enabling the Government to pay its debt to the party in the Ministerial corner. Feeling that they must pay that debt, or accept the possibly unpleasant consequences, they are shirking nothing. They are prepared to pay it, regardless of what will be the effect upon the procedure of this House, regardless of what will be the effect upon those rules of fair play which should be applied to a minority, and utterly unmindful of the effect which the passing of union label legislation will have upon the industrial well-being of the Continent of Australia.

Mr LEE:
Cowper

– After the speech just delivered by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, the House is certainly entitled to an explanation from the Attor- ney-General, who, of all Ministers, is responsible for the present unfortunate position of affairs. It seems, however, that honorable members opposite are satisfied with the speeches delivered by the Prime Minister and the leader of the Labour Party, and that they intend to allow the Opposition to exhaust themselves in discussing the question now before us. In submitting the motion, the Prime Minister did not display that brilliancy which usually characterises his utterances. He spoke in a half-hearted way, and sought to justify his action by declaring that the majority should rule. No one disputes that it should, but we consider that the present is an inopportune time to bring forward such a - drastic proposal as that which we are now asked to accept. It has been said that more drastic Standing Orders have been adopted by. other Parliaments. I should like to be informed of the wording of a more stringent provision. The Ministry have to obey orders, and are doing so with all haste. The Attorney-General is endeavouring at all hazards to force the Trade Marks Bill through the House. Apparently he is compelled to do so. Both he and the Prime Minister occupy, the humiliating position of having to do the bidding of their masters.

Mr McDonald:

– Will the honorable member tell us how he stands upon- the question of prohibition ?

Mr LEE:

– This afternoon a quotation was made from a speech by the honorable member upon a closure proposal, which shows that his attitude upon this matter has changed much more than have my views upon the question of prohibition. It is fitting that the proposal of the Government should be brought forward in conjunction with the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill. The one means the application of the gag inside the House, and the other the application of the boycott outside. This proposal is intended to provide the machinery by which the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill shall be pushed through Parliament during the present session. I do not understand what the Government can be thinking about. When they assumed office they occupied a unique position. They were masters of the situation. They had the Labour Party behind them, and its members were prepared to do their bidding. But somehow or other they have allowed that party to dominate them. I make bold to say that if we can believe their utterances, there are at least three members of the Ministry who are opposed to the union label proposals. If the Treasurer were’ not trammelled by the responsibilities of office, we all know the way in which he would flout them. His support of those proposals is the price which he has to pay for his present position. Further, members are drifting from the Ministerial ranks. Three or four of the ‘Government supporters are opposed to the union label proposals, and if they were not compelled to do the bidding of their masters there would be no Trade Marks Bill before the House. TheGovernment are sacrificing their self-esteem by supporting a Bill in which they do not believe. There are other measures upon the business paper which are very dear to honorable members. The Prime Minister represents the protectionists of this country.

Mr Ronald:

– Some of them.

Mr LEE:

– There are measures uponthe business-paper which are very dear to the hearts of protectionists. For example, there is the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, Why have the Government not proceeded with that measure? Because their masters have told them that they must push through the Trade Marks Bill at all hazards. Then there is the Sugar Bounty Bill, in regard to which the farmers are anxious to know what action is to be taken. There is also the Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill, in which the very credit of the country is bound up. All these measures have been set aside in order that the Trade Marks Bill may be pushed through this House. I think that we should be acting wisely if we accepted the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta, and deferred consideration of this proposal until next session. I do not think it can be urged that I have ever taken an active part in prolonging discussion. I have always recognised that it is idle to repeat what has already been said. I deny that any necessity exists for the introduction of a proposal of this character. The only reason why such heat has been imported into the discussion of the Trade Marks Bill is that the Opposition believe that if honorable members voted according to their convictions there would be a majority opposed to the provisions in respect of the union label.

Mr McDONALD:
Kennedy

– As my name has been mentioned very freely during this debate, I desire to say a few words upon the proposal under consideration. The honorable member for Cowper, as a supporter of the late Government, ought to be the last to talk about the present Ministry being subservient to a section of honorable members whom he is pleased to call’ their masters. We all remember the humiliating spectacle which the late Government presented upon a memorable occasion in this House. A more degrading position was never occupied by a Ministry in any British Legislature. We all recollect how the then Prime Minister, the right honorable member for East Sydney, accepted the dictation of the honorable member for Wilmot, who stood at the table and distinctly told him that he held the Ministry in the hollow of his hand, and had no respect for them. As a supporter of that Government, the honorable member for Cowper ought to be the last to lecture any honorable member upon his conduct. He can be swayed by the very smallest considerations. At one time he was the leader of a great party in this House, but suddenly, without the slightest warning, he abandoned his convictions. ‘ He did not please his masters, who held the whip over him; hence his back down. The deputy leader of the Opposition has also taken up a most extraordinary attitude upon this proposal. In the most bitter terms he has denounced the Government for bringing it forward, despite the fact that last session he was in favour of it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member is stating what is entirely inaccurate.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable member for Parramatta says that his remark, as reported, was intended as a joke.

Mr McDONALD:

– If it were, it was the first joke that he has made in this House. The motion submitted by the honorable member for Franklin in favour of the limitation of debate was strictly in accord with the programme which was advocated by the Opposition on every public platform during the last recess. At Brisbane, Hawthorn, and Bundaberg, the leader of that party spoke in favour of curtailing speeches, and complained bit- terly of the action of certain honorable members, who he alleged had been guilty of wasting the time of the House.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We say that now.

Mr McDONALD:

– The honorable member is not merely in favour of curtailing the length of speeches - as has been done in America and New Zealand ; but he goes further, and says that an honorable member should be at liberty to move a motion similar to that for which this proposal provides. In dealing with this aspect of the question, he said : -

In such circumstances they can carry it on only until such time as the Government says that it shall stop. By a small alteration of the Standing Orders, we should be able to give the Government the power to shorten a debate, when there is a majority in the House to support a motion “ that the question be now put.”

It is idle for the honorable member to assure us that his remark was merely intended as a joke. Any person who reads the whole of his speech can come to no other conclusion than that he intended to emphasize that particular point.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Not if he reads it upside-down, I admit.

Mr McDONALD:

– A good deal has been said regarding the action of the Government in removing the Trade Marks Bill from the bottom to the top of the business-paper. Asa Minister of the Crown for a number of years, surely the honorable member is aware that the Government have power to regulate the order of their own business.

Mr Lonsdale:

– That is admitted.

Mr McDONALD:

– In every legislative assembly it is customary to alter the arrangement of Government business from day to day, and the practice has always obtained here, as will be seen by a reference to our notice-papers.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I have never known a measure of the importance of the Sugar Bounty Bill to be shelved after two days’ discussion, in order to make way for business like the trade union label provisions.

Sir William Lyne:

– The honorable member knew on the previous Friday that it was to be done.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– No. I thought that the Electoral Bill was to be dealt with on Tuesday, and so did the Minister.

Mr Deakin:

– Honorable members were informed that, after the Sugar Bounty Bill had been launched, an interval of two or three weeks would be allowed for its criticism.

Mr McDONALD:

– It is customary in this House, after the second reading of a Bill has been moved, to adjourn its consideration for a week or two, to allow honorable members to read the speech of the mover, and to make themselves acquainted with its provisions.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– But the Sugar Bounty Bill had been debated for two days..

Mr McDONALD:

– The second reading of the Trade Marks Bill was debated for three weeks, a good part of which time was, in my opinion, deliberately wasted. Then, at the request of honorable members, the Bill was laid aside for several weeks.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It was laid aside to enable the Attorney-General to revise it.

Mr McDONALD:

– It was laid aside to give honorable members an opportunity to look into it further, and to allow Chambers of Commerce and other persons outside to express their. views in regard to it. It is idle to say that there was anything irregular in moving the Bill from the bottom to the top of the notice-paper. The proceed- ings of Tuesday last have been put before the House very plausibly by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but the facts were these : Immediately the Bill had gone into Committee, the deputy leader of the Opposition moved, “ That the Chairman do now leave the chair.”

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I explained my reason for doing so.

Mr McDONALD:

– It is true that the honorable member’s remarks on the motion did not take up much time, but it was 9.15 p.m. before the motion was disposed of.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That was the fault of the Government.

Mr McDONALD:

– There would have been no justification for what occurred, even if the Attorney-General had spoken more severely than he did. There was no reason for penalizing other honorable members in the Attorney -General’s remarks.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– What a difference the position of the Trade Marks Bill makes to the honorable member’s views !

Mr McDONALD:

– Whenthe honorable member was supporting a Government in which he did not believe–

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Rubbish !

Mr McDONALD:

– It is an absolute fact.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– No man ever gave a Government more cordial, willing, and, I hope, efficient, support.

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable member stated in the House that he was not satis-‘ fied with the last Government.

Mr Spence:

– He meant that for a joke..

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I said that in regard to one small matter of administration only. It is scandalous to twist things in this way.

Mr McDONALD:

– The honorable member is. a good hand at twisting. Last session he was in favour of curtailing debate.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I have heard the honorable member express dissatisfaction with a Government which he was supsporting.

Mr McDONALD:

– Very likely, and I shall probably do so again.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Yet the honorable member finds fault with others for doing so.

Mr McDONALD:

– I am not finding fault ; but I am showing that the honorable member for Parramatta haschanged his views. Following him the other afternoon, the honorable member for Kooyong threatened the Committee. He said that the gloves were off, and that every effort would be made to prevent the Trade Marks Bill from passing.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– But he has not spoken since.

Mr McDONALD:

– After the occurrences of Tuesday last, any Government would be justified in taking the stand which this Government is taking. A good deal has. been said about the position which I took up in Brisbane. As a member of the Queensland Parliament, I bitterly opposed attempts to curtail debate, and honorable members who value the liberty of speech would have acted similarly under the circumstances. At that time the party to which I belong was fighting a Government which stopped at nothing to gain its ends, and, on one occasion, had attempted to deprive a large section of the community of its rights, and privileges as citizens.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member is now supporting a Government which would do anything to keep in office.

Mr McDONALD:

– We were opposing that Government in connexion with a proposal to alienate large tracts of land for the construction of syndicate railways - a reversal of the settled policy of the country. One of the measures to which we were opposed was that sanctioning the construction: of the Chillagoe railway.

Mr McWilliams:

– And the Government put the gag on.

Mr McDONALD:

– That is true.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– It was not a good thing, when it was applied to the honorable member.

Mr McDONALD:

– I still say that I do not believe in it. and I am going to vote against it on this occasion.

Mr Robinson:

– Hear, hear!

Mr McDONALD:

– I do not want the honorable member’s, cheers. I shall vote against it, because I believe that in principle it is bad. Much as I value the trade union label clauses of the Trades Marks Bill, and much as I should like to see them become law, I feel that if I voted for the proposed new standing order, I should be voting for a rule which, some day, may work great harm to the community. Nevertheless, I think that the Government have ample justification for the course which they have taken. It is idle for honorable members to say that they do not intend to prevent the Trade Marks Bill from becoming law.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Not the Bill.

Mr McDONALD:

– The trade union label provisions.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Those who are opposed to any part of a measure always try to prevent it from becoming law.

Mr McDONALD:

– There are times when “ stone-walling “ is justified. I would justify a minority in taking a strong stand, and even preventing the transaction of business, in national emergencies. But I do not think that an Opposition is justified in “ stone-walling “ merely for party purposes. I have never taken part in a “ stone-wall “ merely for obstructive purposes, though I have done so when there has been some big national interest at stake, and such action was necessary in the interests of the community.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member built a big “ stone wall “ in this Chamber.

Mr McDONALD:

– It is not worth talking of. I am surprised that the honorable member for Parramatta should have moved the amendment which is now before the Chair.

Mr Wilks:

– Why?

Mr McDONALD:

– Because he has made a personal explanation, inwhich he has stated that he did not mean what he said with regard to the honorable member for Franklin’s motion last session.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I did not say that.

Mr McDONALD:

– The honorable member said, in an off-handed manner, that he had spoken more in jest than in earnest. The amendment which he moved this afternoon, however, shows that he approves of the motion, so long as the standing order is not to take effect this session.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Does the honorable member know that the honorable member for Parramatta does not intend to move further amendments?

Mr McDONALD:

– I am not a thoughtreader; but I do not remember to have heard him say that he intends to move further amendments. No doubt the further amendments are an after-thought, he having discovered that he has “ put his foot into it.”

Mr Spence:

– Probably there has been another caucus.

Mr McDONALD:

– Yes; the honorable member, having been hauled over the coals for having placed his party in such an awkward position, apparently thinks that the standing order would be a good one if it did not take effect until next session. I do not think that it should apply either this session or next. That is where we differ. The statement that the Prime Minister has not been in favour of the curtailment of debate is, I think, not justified. I believe that I shall not be committing a breach of confidence when. I say that it was owing to his sympathy with my views that a rule limiting debate was not put in the draft Standing Orders.

Mr McCay:

– That statement is correct, so far as it goes.

Mr McDONALD:

– The Prime Minister expressed himself in favour of a rule limiting debate.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– But not so drastic a rule as that now proposed.

Mr McCay:

– If I remember rightly, a resolution to that effect was carried by the Standing Orders Committee.

Mr McDONALD:

– My recollection is that I, having said that I should oppose any such standing order in the House, the Committee was good enough not to exercise its power to recommend such a rule.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Does the honorable member think that the matter ought to be dealt with without reference to the Standing Orders Committee?

Mr McDONALD:

– That matter rests entirely with the Government. With regard to my resignation from the Standing Orders Committee in the Queensland Parliament, I should like to say that I was nominated without my consent. My name appeared as a member of the Committee for two or three years, but no meeting was held, and I tendered my resignation.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member stated that he had resigned because the Committee was ignored.

Mr McDONALD:

– It is quite possible that I may have said that. I do not think any special notice need be taken of the resignation of the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney. He has taken an heroic step, such as is very much to his liking. Some time ago he resigned from this House because of certain action that was taken here, but he did not create the sensation that he had expected. When we consider that the right honorable member did not attend one meeting of the Committee, it does not matter much whether he resigns or not. I should not have taken part in this debate but for the fact that my name has been dragged into it. Why that has occurred I do not know, because everybody was aware of my views on. this matter. I regret very much that the time has arrived when such a drastic proposal as that before us should be regarded as necessary. It would be much better for this House to conduct its business without wrangling. If we could do so, we should study the best interests of the community, and certainly add to our own dignity. Restrictions such as those now proposed cannot fail to produce ill-feeling, and I trust that if the motion be carried, the new standing order will be used only when it becomes absolutely necessary.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I think that the honorable member for Kennedy has shown, by his interesting speech and independent attitude, that the charge of tyranny so frequently preferred against the labour caucus has been rather overstated. I sympathize very strongly with the honorable member in his objection to a standing order of the kind proposed. It is lamentable that a body of civilized men, upon meeting to deliberate for the good of the people, should require to be checked in this fashion. I agree, however, with the honorable member in his references to the gross, obvious, deliberate waste of time of which six or seven honorable members have been guilty. Neither during my personal experience, nor in my reading, have I been made acquainted with a case inwhich time has been so wantonly wasted as by six or seven honorable members in this Chamber. My sole object in rising is to justify my., action in voting for the motion. A similar standing order has, been passed in the British Parliament, in our own Senate, in the United States Congress, and in most of the States’ Parliaments. I am not sure about Canada. I have been much chagrined to find that, in this Parliament, in. which we are brought together for the purpose of designing a new scheme of legislation for Australia, some honorable members have actually been “ stone-walling “ in order to fulfil the prediction of their leader that no practical business could be done.

Mr Lonsdale:

– That is worthy of the honorable and learned member.

Mr HIGGINS:

– It is worthy, and every one knows that it is true. The honorable member knows that it is true. He is one of the most guilty - one of the noisiest and most voluminous talkers in the House. He is one of the six or seven members who have degraded the House.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I should like to know whether the honorable and learned member is in order in saying that any honorable member has degraded the House.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I must ask the honorable and learned member to withdraw that remark.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I withdraw the remark, but I would ask the honorable member for New England not to interrupt me again. I only made the observation in answer to an interjection.

Mr Wilks:

– The honorable member is getting, angry.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I am angry, and the country is angry. The House is becoming lowered in the eyes of the people by the conduct of a few honorable members, whilst the majority are anxious to do work. Unfortunately, the public, when they read the newspapers, do not take the trouble to distinguish between those who are delaying “the business and those who are endeavouring to expedite the work of Parliament. With great reluctance I support this motion. There is nothing in the world that makes one squirm so much as. when he is called upon to curtail the liberty of speech of the minority. Honorable members are entitled to express their views, and to enforce them as far as possible, and to obstruct Bills with which they do not agree, by means of. genuine debate, but it must be remembered that we have had dilatory devices resorted to for weeks and months.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The Trade Marks Bill was kept off the table for months.

Mr HIGGINS:

– That Bill has nothing to do with the matter. What have we seen this week? A series of dilatory devices have been resorted to for months. Every one knew that they were intended to waste time then!. A statement was, made by the official whip of the Opposition this week that it was intended to use all the forms of the House to prevent business being done.

Mr Wilks:

– That is not so.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Is it not a fact that the honorable member made a statement to that effect?

Mr Wilks:

– No. I said that if I had my way - I was merely expressing my own personal feeling - all business would be blocked until the Capital Site question was disposed of.

Mr HIGGINS:

– That is worse and worse. It is proposed to block- the whole of the business of the country for the sake of the wretched Capital Site question. One would think that there was nothing in the whole business of Australia but the question of the Capital Site. I have never wavered in supporting the establishment of the Capital in New South Wales as a part of the bargain made with that State; but those who think that the people of the rest of Australia will allow their business to be brought to a standstill unless that one question is settled, are greatly mistaken. What happened this week? A statement appeared in the press - if it is wrong, the honorable . member for Dalley can contradict it-

Mr Lonsdale:

– It has been denied time after time, and the honorable and learned member knows it.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I am not aware of it. When the Trade Marks Bill was brought forward, instead of proceeding to discuss the clauses, honorable members opposite sought to remove the Chairman from the chair. The debate which followed occupied six or seven hours, and then collapsed. A similar movement was made later on.

Mr Lonsdale:

– What business were the Government offered ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– They were offered fifty-seven clauses of the Bill. That was a most scandalous offer. Either the clauses were wrong or they were right. If they were wrong, they ought not to have been passed, no matter what might happen. If they were right, they should have been a.greed to. Just think of a Government accepting a scandalous offer of that kind !

Mr Lonsdale:

– They wanted seventyone clauses.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Several honorable members to whom I have previously spoken have persistently interrupted the honorable member for Northern Melbourne. He has a right to speak, and I am bound to preserve that right to him. I would therefore ask honorable members not to persist in their interruptions.

Mr HIGGINS:

– May I say that, in addition! to the reported speech of the honorable member for Dalley, articles have appeared in the Melbourne Argus and in the Sydney newspapers encouraging members of the Opposition to block business. We have to put these things together, and I would ask honorable members whether there has not been a deliberate waste of time. Every honorable member is entitled to urge his views to the fullest legitimate extent, but I deny the right of any man to block business because he does mot agree with the majority. We must get the business done somehow. I am quite sure that some members of the Opposition deprecate the attitude of the six or seven members to whom I have referred as much as does any one on this side of the House. I am exceedingly sorry that the honorable and learned member for Corinella, whom I have never known to indulge in “ stonewalling,” should appear to be aiding and abetting those who are obstructing the business. I can only conclude “that he has fallen into bad practices owing to the com.pany he is keeping.

Mr McCay:

– I have never “ stonewalled “ yet.

Mr HIGGINS:

– It is dangerous for the majority to curtail debate by the minority, and it is only in the present extreme case that I venture to help the Government to adopt the proposed standing order.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– There is another way cut of the difficulty ; we can go to the country.

Mr HIGGINS:

– That is always the cry of honorable members who do not want to go to the country .

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable gentleman will find that I am ready enough.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I do not wish to be led off the track. All I desire to say is that I have weighed this proposal, and that at first, in- spite of everything, I was averse to it. I feel, however, that there is no other course open to us. If this House is to remain a deliberative assembly, we must have some such provision in operation. I suggest to the Government a few amendments of the proposed standing order, which are not alarming, but, if adopted, will to some extent protect the minority. We have to remember that those who are in a majority to-day, may be in a minority tomorrow. After the words, “ and the motion shall be put forthwith,” I should like to move the insertion of the following words, which appear in the House of Commons rule-

Unless it appear to the Chair that the motion is an abuse of the rules of the House, or an infringement of the rights of the minority.

Those words must be well weighed. If it be permissible for any honorable member to move, “ That the question be now put.” the power may be exercised simply to waste time. I, therefore, hold that Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman, should be able to say, “ I will not put the motion ; it is an abuse of the rules.” If, as has been suggested, the word “ Minister ‘ ‘ be substituted for the word “member”-

Mr Isaacs:

– The Prime Minister expressed his willingness at the outset to agree to that ‘ amendment.

Mr HIGGINS:

– If such an amendment be made, the need for a provision as to an abuse of the rules of the House will not be so great, but .even in such circumstances, it is desirable that the Chair should have the right to determine whether the moving of the motion “ That the question be now put,” is an abuse of the procedure of the House. A Minister usually has a majority with him, and if some such provision as I suggest be not inserted1, there will be great danger of the rights of a minority being interfered with. I hope, therefore, that even if the power to move the motion, “ That the question be now put,” be limited to a Minister, the Government will agree to an amendment providing that the motion shall be put -

Unless ft appear to the Chair that it is an infringement of the rights of the minority.

An incidental amendment would then be necessary ,to bring the standing order into line with the House of Commons rule. It should not be permissible to move “ That the question be now put,” when a temporary Chairman is in the chair. There ought to be a proviso that it shall be moved1 only when Mr. Speaker or the Chairman is in the chair. I need not explain the importance of such a safeguard. I, therefore, propose to move the following amendment : -

Provided always that this rule shall be put in force only when Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Committees is in the chair.

Mr Isaacs:

– That would be an additional sub-clause?

Mr HIGGINS:

– Quite so. It will also be necessary to move a further amendment; but as there is already an amendment before the Chair, I must refrain from moving those which I have outlined until a later stage. I understand that a prior amendment as to the desirableness of substituting “Minister” for “Member” will be suggested. I shall not move this amendment until it has been dealt with.

Mr SPEAKER:

– There is. already an amendment before the Chair.

Mr HIGGINS:

– As to the word “ Member “ ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– To insert after the word “That” the words “Except as regards business for this session.”

Mr HIGGINS:

– Then I give notice that I shall move the insertion of the words I have indicated after the word “ forthwith,” as well as the insertion of the word’s “shall be” after the word “and.” But the proviso will come in at the end of the motion.

Mr FULLER:
Illawarra

– I have listened to the speech delivered by the honorable and learnedmember for Northern Melbourne–

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It was a tirade.

Mr FULLER:

– I do not remember having previously heard such an exhibition of temper on the part of the honorable and learned member.

Mr Higgins:

– I had good cause.

Mr Kelly:

– The honorable and learned member wasted the time of the House by submitting a motion relating to Home Rule.

Mr FULLER:

– I intend to refer to that matter. The honorable and learned member charged the Opposition with having wasted the time of the House.

Mr Higgins:

– I said that six or seven members of the Opposition had done so.

Mr FULLER:

– I am not among the number. A good deal has been said as to the action taken by the deputy leader of the Opposition in regard to the trade union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill. I think I may throw some light on the matter. On Tuesday afternoon, when the Bill was under discussion, I was about to leave for Sydney, and was assured by the honorable member for Parramatta that he did not intend to do more than enter a protest against the action of the Government in giving that measure precedence over other measures. He therefore thought that

I might safely leave. In these circumstances:, I took train for Sydney that afternoon, and upon my arrival there was surprised to receive a telegram intimating what had taken place in the House during my absence. The trouble that has arisen has been due, not to any action on the part of the deputy leader of the Opposition, but to the Attorney-General himself. The reports of the speeches delivered by the honorable member for Parramatta prove that he did that which he told me he proposed to do. I have no hesitation in saying that by this time the country is fully aware that the Attorney-General is responsible for the difficulty that has arisen. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has said that the action taken by six or seven members of the Opposition must tend to degrade the Parliament. I would remind him that it is only a few weeks since he introduced a motion relating to Home Rule, which raised the sectarian issue, not only in this Parliament, but throughout the Commonwealth. The motion referred to a matter which, in my opinion, is wholly outside the province of this Parliament, and the honorable and learned member, who charged the honorable member for Dalley and others with having raised the sectarian issue throughout the Commonwealth, must himself accept the responsibility for having introduced in this House a question that must divide the people of Australia. His action in that regard has done more to degrade the Federal Parliament than has anything else of which I know.

Sir William Lyne:

– What has that matter to do with the question under consideration?

Mr FULLER:

– The Minister will find at the next general election that the people consider that it has much to do with it.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · PROT; IND from 1910

– Come and oppose me.

Mr FULLER:

– The honorable member may be perfectly satisfied thatI shall fight my battles as I have done in the past. I had no hesitation in voting against the Home Rule motion, and shall not hesitate when I go before my constituents to tell them why I did so.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The question to which the honorable and learned member is now referring must not be imported into this debate. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne merely answered an interjection, which ought not to have been made; but, as it had been,

I did not feel justified in at once calling him to order. I cannot allow any further reference to the matter.

Mr FULLER:

– Surely, as the honorable and learned member held the Opposition to be responsible for the waste of time that has occurred, I am entitled to call attention to the fact that he” submitted a motion that led to a great waste of the time of the House.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The point at issue is not the waste of time that has occurred by the introduction of certain resolutions or measures, but that which has resulted from what has been described to-night as obstruction, or “.stone-walling.” That is the only kind of time wasting to which I can allow any allusion.

Mr FULLER:

– I bow to your ruling, sir. I can only say that I regret that the motion relating to Home Rule should have been introduced. The honorable and learned member declared that one would think that the only matter for our consideration was the fixing of the Capital Site. The question is certainly an important one, and should have been dealt with long ago. I think that the honorable and learned member, and many other representatives of Victoria, are deserving of the censure of the people of New South Wales-

Mr Isaacs:

– So far as that matter’ is concerned, the Victorian representatives have done a great deal more for New South Wales than have the representatives of that State.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am very sorry to have to again interrupt the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, but I would point out that it was merely because of the remark made by the honorable member for Dalley-

Mr Wilks:

– I shall be blamed for everything.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable member observe the Standing Orders? A telegram was published stating that the honorable member for Dalley had made a certain statement in Sydney, and it was to that telegram that reference was made. The honorable member for Dalley then made an explanation, which gave rise to the question of the Capital Site. That question cannot and must not be imported into this debate.

Mr FULLER:

– I have been led to make these observations by the heated remarks of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. I should like to say that the action of the Opposition in opposing the union label provisions of the

Trade Marks Bill meets with my full approval. It seems to me that this motion has been introduced with a view to force those provisions through the House. Apart from the speeches delivered by the AttorneyGeneral and the honorable member for Bland, no argument has been adduced from the Government side of the House, in support of the union label provisions. This proposal has been brought about by the alliance between the Ministry and the Labour Party made in circumstances which, so far as the Prime Minister is concerned, appear to me to be the most contemptible and treacherous in parliamentary annals. After breaking the compact which had been made with the leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister has entered into an alliance with the Labour Party. At the conclusion of his speech this afternoon, the honorable and learned gentleman made use of these significant words -

The task of to-day has to be performed.

What is the task of to-day ? Evidently it is to carry the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill. In order to do that, the honorable and learned gentleman deems it necessary for the House to adopt the standing order proposed. In my opinion, those provisions are not so important as to warrant the summary setting aside of all other measures upon the business-paper. As a matter of fact, at the last election I did not hear the question of the union label mentioned in any shape or form. When the Watson Government came into power, they thought so little of it that they did not include in the Trade Marks Bill which they introduced any provisions in reference to it. Now that we are approaching, the end of a barren session, the Government exhibit a feverish haste to press the union label proposals through the House. They have to do the bidding of their masters. The statement of the honorable member for Bland that the Ministry could not exist without the support of the Labour Party is perfectly true. In order to obtain that support, they have had to make certain concessions. The passing of the union label provisions appears to be part of the price which they have to pay for the support of the Labour Party. In view of his utterances in pre-Federation days in regard to the “rarer atmosphere” which would be found in this Parliament, the position occupied by the Prime Minister is a most humiliating one. Some time ago he relinquished his high office because he declared that his position was intolerable, owing to the existence of the three-part)’ system of government. Yet he is now prepared to subscribe to precisely similar conditions. The Treasurer has proved himself the grandest political acrobat in the history of Australian representative institutions. When a member of the previous Deakin Administration, he was prepared to swallow almost anything in order to retain office, and to regain place and power he is now content to accept the dictation of the Labour Party. What can I say of the Vice-President of the Executive Council ? I have the sincerest admiration for him ‘as a man and as a private citizen. His political actions, however, can evoke nothing but pity from those who know him best. It is notorious that these Ministers are directly opposed to the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill. Yet they are prepared to support them. Under such circumstances, how can we speak of the dignity of the Commonwealth Parliament? In introducing this proposal, the Prime Minister said that we had suffered from the* absence of some such standing order ever since the inception of the Federation. I venture to say that we have suffered more from the actions of men who have occupied the office of Prime Minister, and who have degraded the name of the Commonwealth Parliament in all parts of the world. The honorable and learned gentleman also said that Parliament was not a debating society, nor a Junta, whose proceedings were hidden from the public eye. It appears to me, however, that the reasons which have prompted the introduction of this proposal are concealed from the public eye. I am surprised that honorable members opposite, who claim to represent the democracy of Australia, are prepared to support a motion to suppress freedom of speech. Personally, I intend to oppose this proposal. Liberty of speech is one of our dearest privileges. I fail to see that the Opposition have exceeded their rights in criticising the Trade Marks Bill. If the electors of Australia were clamouring for the measure, I could understand the motion being submitted. But, so far, not a single petition has been presented in favour of that Bill, whilst nearly every newspaper in Australia has expressed its strong opposition to the union label proposals. Under these circumstances, the Opposition are justified in fighting against the suppression of freedom of speech.

Mr HUTCHISON:
Hindmarsh

– The honorable and learned member for Illawarra, like a number of his colleagues, appears, to be greatly concerned about the attitude of the Labour Party towards this proposal. If I thought that its adoption would result in honorable members being “ gagged .” in the ordinary sense of the word, I should oppose it. But I entertain no such fear. For some years I was a member of a Parliament in which a similar standing order was, in operation, and I never saw its application abused. It has been used! against members of the Labour Party - and, I admit, rightly so - because they were obstructing the transaction of business in what they deemed to be the best interests of the country, just as members of the _ Opposition have attempted to obstruct business from similar motives. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra and the honorable and learned member for Corinella have endeavoured to make the House believe that this proposal is being submitted chiefly for the purpose of facilitating the passing of the union label provisions, of the Trade Marks Bill.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I do not think that there is any doubt about that.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– There is a good deal of doubt about it. To-day the deputy leader of the Opposition has admitted the necessity for this proposal in its present form. After all, he is only echoing the desire of his leader.

Mr Wilson:

– He did not admit the necessity for the adoption of any proposal in this form.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– He admitted the necessity for adopting a proposal which would have precisely the same effect. He agreed that whenever the House so desired, it should be possible to move the motion. :” That the question be now put. “ I should like to call attention to what the leader of the Opposition has said in this connexion. Honorable members will then see that, in his opinion, this proposal ought to have been adopted at a much earlier stage of the session. He proposed to amend the Standing Orders - in fact, that practically constituted the policy of the late Government. But they resigned, and ran away from their programme. The amendment of the Standing Orders was to be the whole work of the session, but the late Government ran away from the task which they proposed. Speaking at Hawthorn, on 22nd June last, the right honorable member for East Sydney said -

Why should any man be allowed, for the mere sake of talking about every thing in general, and nothing in particular, to waste time, and to obstruct business?

He added that, to end the state of things which allowed that to be done, would be to confer a benefit on the Opposition, because of the position in which it would place them when they, in their turn, took office. He said that the question was a non-party one, because the proposed change would benefit all parties alike. Speaking on. the 24th April, at Adelaide, he put the position even more clearly -

Last sessionthe weakness of the Standing Orders was brought to light. He thought it was in the interest of all parties that the right of free parliamentary discussion should not be subjected to outrageous parliamentary abuse. Such an abuse should be put down.

It must be remembered that these speeches were made before there had been anything like the abuses of the last few days, which are unparalleled in the history of this Parliament. Had similar abuses occurred, the right honorable gentleman would have been still more emphatic than he was when speaking in Brisbane on the 10th June -

Last session they had a few members on the Opposition side, talking four or five hours each on subjects which clearly did not call upon them to take up so much public time.

Mr Johnson:

– That has not been done by honorable members this session.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– The right honorable member continued -

The effect of one or two taking up such an inordinate share of the public time was that other members were deprived of a fair opportunity of expressing their views. That was an abuse which any Government ought to check, and which he hoped would be one of the first things that the Government would deal with in the new session.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– He did not say anything about the closure in any of these speeches.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– What else is referred to but the closure ? How could these abuses be effectively attacked in any other way?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Thereisanotherway.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– There are several ways, but that proposed is the most effective, though, no doubt, the honorable member would like to see the least effective way adopted. The speeches to which the honorable member for Lang referred can- not be classed as “ stone-walling.” They were delivered on. a motion of censure.

Mr Johnson:

– With the avowed purpose of obstructing.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– The whole administration of the Government was being condemned, and the speeches referred to contained, not inanities such as those which we have heard from the honorable member for Lang recently, but sound and solid information from beginning to end. I should like to see the two sets of speeches placed alongside each other, and the verdict of the public obtained in regard to them. If that were done, we should know what the public considers “ stonewalling,” and what it thinksis fair, though perhaps lengthy, criticism. The right honorable member for East Sydney stumped the Commonwealth during the recess to awaken the people as to the need for a standing order such as is now proposed, and would have been bound, had he remained in power, to submit to the House some such proposal. He was very careful, however, as he always is, not to say what form the remedy which he thinks so necessary should take.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The honorable member for Bland said to-night that the right honorable member for East Sydney stated that he would resort to the closure. I contradicted that remark, and the quotations which the honorable member has read proved that I was right.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– I admit that last session the Labour Party “ stone-walled “ for an afternoon and a night.

Mr Mahon:

– No; only after 11 o’clock at night, and then because they would not be brow-beaten.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– It was done for the sake of showing the unreasonableness of the demand of the late Prime Minister that the whole of the Estimates should be put through in one night, and to make it evident to the country that his Government were unable to control the conduct of business. But afterwards, when the right honorable member for East Sydney showed a desire to proceed with public business, he had no difficulty in getting myself and other honorable members to assist him in keeping a House, which I am sure is far more than the present Opposition would do.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The House was counted out last session, and a whole day was wasted in restoring business to the notice- paper.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– Reference has been made to the smallness of the majority necessary to apply the closure - twenty-four members.

Mr Johnson:

– Less than a quorum.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– There is often difficulty in getting more than forty or fifty members to attend our sittings, and I think that from fifty to fifty-five members would be more than an average attendance.

Mr Johnson:

– Look at the Ministerial benches now.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– The present state of the Chamber would justify the reduction of the number from twenty-four to twelve. Although I am in favour of the adoption of the proposed standing order, if I saw that it was likely to be used unjustly, to prevent the fair expression of the views of the Opposition, I would not be a party to the application of the closure.

Mr Johnson:

– What is there to prevent it from being used unjustly, seeing that any honorable member can put it into operation ?

Mr HUTCHISON:

– It cannot be put into operation unless a majority numbering at least twenty-four members vote for it.

Mr Johnson:

– A brutal majority can do anything.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– If a Government wished to force measures through by the application of the closure before they had been fairly discussed, its supporters would not help them, because they would know that the closure would be put into effect against them when, in their turn, they sat in Opposition, and were in a minority. It has not been shown that the closure has been unfairly used in any of the State Parliaments. I know that the honorable member for Kennedy feels aggrieved because it was used against him in Queensland, but, while I believe that the- Labour Party there were doing right in obstructing the proposals of what they considered a corrupt Government, I think that the closure was fairly used against them in most cases. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra has twitted the Labour Party that the closure may be. used against them, and has expressed surprise that a democratic party should vote for such a motion. He forgets that democratic government is not possible when a minority can block business as a minority is at present blocking the only proposal of an industrial character in the Government programme for this session.

Mr Wilson:

– The minority in this Chamber is the Government party.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– The honorable member is in a minority. The honorable member for Echuca has said that the Government, instead of trying to pass the trade union label provisions, should give their attention to finding work for the unemployed, but if they try to do so by revising the Tariff, they will find great difficulty in getting anything done, unless with the assistance of the closure. The conduct of the present Opposition has shown the motion tobe absolutely necessary. They have made it evident that, no matter what the will of the majority may be, they will prevent the progress of public business, and I shall be no party to such obstruction. I do not think that the proposed standing order has been used tyranically in the past, nor do I think that it will be used tyranically in the future. If it is so used, I shall be willing to assist in repealing what will then be shown to be an obnoxious arrangement, but what the present experience, not only of the Parliaments of the States, but of the House of Commons as well, has shown to be necessary.

Mr LIDDELL:
Hunter

– The statement of the honorable member for Hindmarsh that the members of the late Opposition never “ stone-walled “ is calculated to make one weep.

Mr Hutchison:

– I admitted that they “ stone-walled “ one night.

Mr LIDDELL:

– The honorable member also said that the Labour Party when in Opposition had1 never made speeches which could be regarded as inane. I sat here and listened upon one occasion for four and a’ half hours to a speech- by the honorable member for Darling, and I came to the conclusion that that oration was delivered solely in order that it might be printed in pamphlet form and1 circulated amongst the honorable member’s constituents. Then, again, what happened in connexion with a speech delivered by the honorable member for Southern Melbourne ? In the room now occupied by members of - the Opposition, and formerly tenanted by members of the Labour Party, there is a large packet of reprints of the speech of the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, which, I believe, were originally circulated with an advertisement on the back of the pamphlet. What the character of the advertisement was, I do not know,, but from what I am told1, it would have justified any one in asking the PostmasterGeneral to prohibit it from being conveyed through the post. So much for honorable members who were formerly in Opposition, and so much for their “stone-walling.” I cannot understand how any honorable member of the Labour Party can stand up here and speak in the strain adopted bv the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I shall be only too glad1 to see the speeches of honorable members curtailed. If any one has a right to speak in that way, I have, because I do not very often trouble honorable members. Any Government that will bring forward a measure that will have the effect of preventing the delivery of lengthy and useless speeches and the constant waste of time, will perform good service to the country, but I object to the way this proposal nas been introduced. I believe in fair play, and I think that the Prime Minister, in introducing his motion in the midst of a discussion on the Trade Marks Bill, is attempting to use a bludgeon for the purpose of putting down all opposition. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Kooyong declare “that he was prepared to use every legitimate means to prevent the passing of the Trade Marks Bill, and I shall give him every assistance in my power. I am a member of His Majesty’s Opposition, and I have a high sense of the duty which devolves upon me as such. We are at present in a minority, but we have our rights, and will assert them to the best of our ability. The Government are kept in office by a combination of minorities, but I would ask how many of the honorable members in the Government following have been returned here by accident. For example, how many electors does the honorable member for Kalgoorlie represent?

Mr Frazer:

– It would be an accident if any honorable member of the Opposition shifted me.

Mr LIDDELL:

– I have it on the authority of the Treasurer that the honorable member represents not more than 25 per cent, of the electors in his district.

Mr Frazer:

– That 25 per cent, was sufficient to give me a majority of 3,000.

Mr LIDDELL:

– I am opposed to the motion, because I consider that the Government have acted most unfairly to members of the Opposition in introducing it at this stage.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– I wish to make an earnest appeal to” the good sense of the House with a view to securing an adjournment.

Mr Maloney:

– The honorable member said a day or two ago that the gloves were off.

Mr KNOX:

– They are still off. No one can accuse me of being a proficient in the gentle art of “stone-walling.” I consider that the “ stone-waller “ is born, not made, and that I am not fitted to successfully carry on obstructive tactics. I cannot justly be accused of having deliberately wasted the time of the House upon any occasion. I would now appeal to Ministers to adjourn the debate, and allow honorable members to get a decent night’s rest. Honorable members are very much fagged after their recent long sittings, and the officers of the House, including the members of the Hansard staff, are completely tired out. The proposition now before us is a mast important one, and is opposed1 not only by honorable members on this side of the Chamber, but by others, notably, the honorable member for Kennedy. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has made a number of valuable suggestions which are worthy of the consideration of the Government, and which indicate that the fullest time should be allowed for deliberation before we make any important departure from our previous practice. It cannot be justly said that any of the speeches delivered this evening have exceeded the bounds of reasonable debate. Although I am opposed to the proposal introduced by the Prime Minister, I think that some steps will have to be taken to regulate debate, and to prevent persistent obstruction of business and useless repetition of arguments. If we adjourned this evening, and reassembled to-morrow morning, we should come back to a clearer atmosphere, and be free from much of the ill-feeling that has been generated by previous debate. I appeal to the AttorneyGeneral to agree to an adjournment.

Mr Isaacs:

– We must go straight on and finish this debate.

Mr KNOX:

– If the Attorney-General is going to throw down the gauntlet in that way, he must take the consequences.

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable member threw down the gauntlet when he said that the gloves were off.

Mr KNOX:

– I say so again. It is unfortunate that the Attorney-General should take up an attitude of absolute defiance. He is unreasonable when he expects honorable members who are tired ont to continue this debate.

Mr Isaacs:

– Can the Opposition show the’ Government that this debate will be finished to-morrow ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– No.

Mr Isaacs:

– Then we must go on.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We cannot do anything with an unreasoning animal like the Attorney-General.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I must ask the honorable member to withdraw that expression.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I withdraw it.

Mr KNOX:

– Business men are wondering what has come over this great institution. We are supposed to be deliberating; in the best .interests of the country, and to be bringing our best energies to the consideration of the questions submitted to us, and yet our request for a reasonable adjournment is refused.

Mr Batchelor:

– The honorable member said that the gloves were off.

Mr KNOX:

– Even when the gloves are off, the contestants are sometimes called out of the ring in order that they may refresh themselves and come back reinvigorated. We are being called upon to consider a very ‘serious proposal which requires a great deal of thought, and honorable members are not now in a fit state to deal with it.

Mr Groom:

– All that is asked is that the debate shall be concluded to-morrow.

Mr KNOX:

– The Attorney-General must be held responsible for the results of his own want of consideration. I have declined to allow myself at any time to be made a party to the deliberate obstruction of the business of the House. My desire has always been, irrespective of what party may be in power, to assist in the proper conduct of public business ; and that being so, I feel that I am fully justified in asking the Minister to agree to the adjournment of the debate. My old and valued friend, the Prime Minister, is tired out, and we all should have an opportunity to secure some rest. The Opposition cannot be justly accused of having wasted time. The obstruction which took place on Tuesday night was necessary to enable the public to recognise the excrescences of the Trade Marks Bill. If the Attorney-General is determined to refuse the request of the Opposition it is idle for me to move that the debate be adjourned. In all friendliness, I assert that the present difficulty is largely due to his failure to exercise that tact which he undoubtedly possesses. On

Tuesday night he declined the offer of the Opposition to agree to the passing of fifty-, seven clauses in the Trade Marks Bill, and the Government must, therefore, accept the responsibility for the serious position that has arisen. When we go to a division on the union label provisions of the Trade. Marks Bill it will be found that the action of the Opposition was abundantly justified. I am confident that the House will be almost equally divided. That being so, it should not be said that a small minority has sought to block the business of theHouse.

Mr Wilks:

– Fancy a little chap like the Attorney-General blocking a man like the honorable member.

Mr KNOX:

– The honorable and learned gentleman is a man of eminent capacity, and at the present time is bearing down other members of the Government who, I am inclined to think, approve of our request. I trust that reason will prevail. If the AttorneyGeneral throws down the gauntlet, and insists that the price of his granting an adjournment of the debate shall be a promise on the part of the Opposition to bring the discussion to a close to-morrow afternoon, it is difficult to foretell what wilt happen. In view of the amendments which have been, foreshadowed in regard to this proposal to gag a House supposed to represent a people possessing the freest Constitution the world has ever, seen, it would be an outrage upon our parliamentary institutions to expect us to refrain from bringing our deliberate judgment to bear upon the motion.

Mr Batchelor:

– Let us vote to-night.

Mr KNOX:

– It has been said that the Government have long desired to take thisstep. I ask the House to say whether the suggestion is not a fanciful one. It must be remembered that we were in the verv thick of the fight on the Trade Marks Bill when its consideration was postponed, and’ this motion was introduced - and introduced,. I believe, to enable the union label provisions of that Bill to be carried. If thedesire of the Government is merely to prevent idle debate, it is strange that they did not take action long ago. At the very time that the Opposition were endeavouringto show good reasons why the Trade Marks-. Bill should not be passed this gagging motion was brought forward, and it is idle therefore to say that it has not been introduced for the express purpose of enablingthe union label clauses to be rushed through- the House. It is an outrage that we should be asked to agree to bring the debate to a close to-morrow afternoon, in the event of an adjournment now being granted.

Mr Isaacs:

– Surely every honorable member has made up his mind with respect to this question.

Mr KNOX:

– In view of the fact that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has foreshadowed some important amendments, is that a reasonable assumption?

Mr Isaacs:

– They were all foreshadowed by the Prime Minister.

Mr KNOX:

– Then it seems to me that the Prime Minister should have embodied them in his original proposal. I approve of the amendments suggested by the honorable and learned member.

Mr Isaacs:

– Has the honorable member any other amendment to suggest?

Mr KNOX:

– I may have. I wish to have time to consider the matter. I have been in the House practically since 10 a.m. Honorable members have to attend to their duties as members of Select Committees, and many demands are made upon their leisure. I do not wish to enter upon a lengthy criticism of the motion, but if necessary we shall deal with it in such a way as to satisfy the Attorney-General that at least some honorable members are not prepared to be deterred in this way from gaining full consideration for the questions submitted to the House. Mr. Speaker has been in the chair since 2.30 p.m., and I think that it is unreasonable that he should be expected to remain here all night. Without desiring in any way to reflect upon the Deputy Speaker, I cannot help saying that I think it is well that you, sir, in view of the inflammatory nature of the subject under discussion, should remain in the chair. I invite the Attorney-General to glance for a moment at honorable members generally, as well asat the Hansard staff, the officers of the House, and the press, and to say whether they do not appear to be almost exhausted by the labours of the week. In the circumstances, is it reasonable to ask us to continue here throughout the night? If we were engaged in debating the union label proposals embodied in the Trade Marks Bill there might be some justification for the action of the Government in compelling us to sit all night. If the AttorneyGeneral still persists in causing honorable members to lose their last trains the re sponsibility must rest with him and his colleagues. Honorable members are not fit to deal with an important question of this character when they are jaded and exhausted.

Mr Brown:

– Does not the honorable member think that this debate ought to be closed within a reasonable time?

Mr KNOX:

– I venture to say that if the revised Standing Orders had been submitted for our consideration, and the discussion of this particular proposal had occupied a whole week, no objection would have been taken by the Government. It is unfortunate that the Attorney-General will not accede to my reasonable request for an adjournment of the debate. I am satisfied that no good will result from his refusal. No progress will be made. It would be much better for him to allow us , to catch our last trains, so that we may return 10 our labours in the morning refreshed and in the best of temper. Only to-night the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who very rarely betrays any warmth, became quite heated over this matter.

Mr Groom:

– That was only his righteous indignation.

Mr KNOX:

– I shall be no party to obstruction, but I shall do everything that is necessary to insure proper consideration being given to this proposal. Personally, I do not know the nature of the amendments suggested by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. I submit that they ought to be printed and circulated before we are called upon to discuss them. I again ask the Attorney - General to agree to an adjournment of the debate.

Mr Isaacs:

– We must finish the business before us.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

– If the Government have any spark of humanity or reason in their composition they will give due consideration to the request which has been so temperately put forward by the honorable member for Kooyong.

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable member himself spoke for two and three-quarter hours the other evening.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I do not make any appeal upon my own behalf. I am prepared to proceed with business at any time.

Mr Frazer:

– I have listened attentively to the remarks of the honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for

Lang, and I submit that for the last quarter of an hour they have not even touted upon the question that is before the Chair.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The question before the Chair is. the motion of the Prime Minister, together with the amendment thereon which has been moved by the honorable member for Parramatta. That question must be discussed. The honorable member for Kooyong and the honorable member for Lang have made an appeal to the Government for an adjournment of the debate. They were perfectly justified in doing so, but I think that their appeal has now lasted long enough. I must therefore ask the honorable member who is in possession of the Chair to confine his remarks to the question which is under consideration.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I can only express my surprise that a motion of this character should be tabled toy , a gentleman of the political standing of the Prime Minister. I am perfectly sure that, under other circumstances, he would have been one of its strongest opponents. I am satisfied that when the terms of that motion are read by the electors of Australia a cry of indignation will be heard from one end of the continent to the other. Its sole object is to stifle free discussion in this House, which should be the medium of communication between the Government and the people. It is a blow which is aimed, not only at the liberty of Parliament, but at that of the people whom we represent.

Mr McDonald:

– The honorable member used those exact words in reference to the Trade Marks Bill.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I made no reference whatever to that aspect of the matter, and I defy the honorable member to produce a record of any such statement. He and his party occupy their present position as the result of the efforts of their ancestors, who shed their blood to secure a Parliament in which the opinions of the people could be voiced. But, instead of defending the privileges which have been won for them, they appreciate them so little that they are the first to trample them under foot. If there is one section of the House more than another which ought to jealously guard the right of free speech,, it is the Labour Party I venture to say that if they had been in the thick of the fight for the purpose of gaining the liberties which they now enjoy and the boon of parliamentary representation, they would not allow one iota of the privilege of free discussion to be infringed. They ‘ would be the first to resent any attempt to interfere with their liberties. I am sure that the Opposition have no objection to a standing order for regulating the business of the House and confining debate to reasonable limits. For some time I have recognised the necessity for a standing order for that purpose; but the one which is now proposed by the Prime Minister was introduced for a purpose which is totally different, and does not reflect credit upon either the Ministry or their supporters, and if carried will not reflect credit on the House.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– It is only the conduct of the honorable member and a few others which calls for it.

Mr JOHNSON:

– If every honorable member took as much pains as I do to keep within the rules of debate, there would not be any need to introduce the “ gag.” I think that no one can complain that I have ever exceeded the limits of decency and decorum in criticising any measures. I do not think that I have ever abused any right which I possess as a representative of the people in laying my views before ,the House. Therefore the proposed standing order cannot apply to me in the way which has just been rudely suggested. The object of this motion is not to confine discussion within reasonable limits.

Mr Frazer:

– It is to stop obstruction.

Mr JOHNSON:

– The object of the motion is to prevent the discussion of measures which have for their object the sacrificing of the rights of citizenship of a large majority of the people of the Commonwealth. No one knows that better than do honorable members sitting in the Ministerial comer, who have posed, and are still posing before the country as the champions of public liberties. Nice champions of public liberties are those who propose to gag the people’s representatives in their Parliament ! I take it that they, will have to exercise considerable ingenuity in inventing excuses for conduct which is so palpably unjustifiable. I guarantee that when the people have had an opportunity of reading the reports in Hansard, and learning the true inwardness of this motion, some of those honorable members who are now so jaunty in their demeanour will receive at the next general election a very needed rest, perhaps a permanent rest ; and I think that the honorable .member for Kalgoorlie will be one of that number. The results of the recent election in Western Australia bear out my opinion. The people are beginning to awake to the dangers which confront them. A particular section of the representatives of the people have complained about the legislation which has hitherto been passed, on the ground of its class character and oppressive nature; but never has any legislation been carried through a Parliament which in severity and attempt at curtailing the liberties of the people compares with the legislation which has been promoted here by those very honorable members. If the object of this motion were to confine discussion within reasonable limits, it would be worded in plain language, which would leave no doubt of the underlying intention. I am satisfied that if such a standing order had- been submitted, the deputy leader of the Opposition would have been one of the first to assure the Government that he would do his best to secure its adoption, provided, I presume, that it was submitted at a proper time. Is this motion brought forward at a proper time? It is proposed under very peculiar circumstances, and the object is to use the standing order as a political sandbag. It can serve no other purpose. We have to consider how a weapon of this character may be used by an unscrupulous majority. There may come a time when a standing order of this kind may be used with as little scruple as the boycott is now used under the guise of promoting the union label in the United States. Why has this motion been interposed during the consideration of a measure which the Government profess that they are very anxious to have passed, but which is absolutely delayed by their very action?

Mr Storrer:

– The honorable member, knows very well that that is not correct.

Mr JOHNSON:

– -The honorable member knows that but for the interposition of this motion, we should now be discussing the Trade Marks Bill, the first business set down on the notice-paper for to-day.

Mr Batchelor:

– We should have been discussing a motion “ That the Chairman leave the chair.”

Mr JOHNSON:

– The Trade Marks Bill is the first business put down on the programme of the Government for consideration to-day.

Mr Batchelor:

– Amd which the Opposition did not approach.

Mr JOHNSON:

– The honorable member has no right to make that assumption.

There was no indication an. the part of any member of the Opposition to interpose with any other business; and certainly, if they had intended to make a movement of that kind, it would have been made before the business of the day was called on, so that the interjection is puerile, and was evidently intended to mislead. Is not the interposition of this motion in. the middle of a discussion on the Trade Marks Bill a sign of panic on the part of the Ministry? ls it not an indication that . the real purpose of ‘ the Government is to prevent the public from getting at the (rue meaning of certain clauses in that Bill? In my opinion that was the underlying purpose of the Prime Minister in bringing forward1 this motion at the present juncture. I believe that those who are behind the Government, and who are really responsible for suggesting this proposed standing order, must have foreseen that , once the public knew the drastic character of the powers which they sought to confer upon trade unions for the purpose of coercion and intimidation, and setting up practically a reign of terror, indignation would have been roused to such an extent that from one end of Australia to the other there would have been protests.

Mr Frazer:

– Nonsense.

Mr JOHNSON:

– No one knows that better than the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, who ought to be ashamed to give his voice and vote in favour of so drastic and infamous a proposal. When he was in Opposition he expressly stated that it was his intention to obstruct business. One has only to turn to Hansard to verify the correctness of my statement. I repeatedlyheard him declare to the previous Government that as long as he could he would obstruct business, and do everything possible to block it.

Mr Frazer:

– Absolutely incorrect.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I have seen the honorable member adopt such an attitude that if anything could justify the application of the gag, his conduct merited that treatment. But the right honorable member for East Sydney, /while he was at the head of the Government, was too loyal a parliamentarian, and had too great a love of liberty, to resort to extreme measures of that kind. The Prime Minister this afternoon stated that the proposal of the Government wasidentical with one indicated by the right honorable member for East Sydney when he was at the head of the late Government.

Nothing of the. kind was the case. I do not say that the Prime Minister deliberately made that statement with any intention to mislead, but unfortunately he has lapses of memory. The standing order suggested by the right honorable member for East Sydney was one for the purpose of limiting speeches to reasonable bounds. That is a very different’ thing from a proposal which is aimed at preventing criticism of any character whatever. That such is the intention of the Government was made clear from a statement by the Prime Minister himself, which” I took down at the time. Though what I shall read may not contain his exact words, it conveys the sense of what he said. He stated that a reason for bringing forward this proposal was “that argument was quite unnecessary, for the opinions of members are never influenced by it, nor does it influence their votes.” Apart from the fact that that statement was an unprovoked insult to Parliament, and through Parliament to the people of the Commonwealth, it was an indication of the purpose which this standing order is intended to serve. Let me draw attention to its terms. It says -

That notwithstanding any provision in the Standing Orders to the contrary -

Mr Mauger:

– I rise to order. I wish to know whether it is not an inexcusable waste of time and a useless repetition for the honorable member to read a document that has already been read by the mover, and is in print, in the hands of every honorable member?

Mr SPEAKER:

– If the honorable member for Lang, read the motion several times, his conduct would incur the displeasure of the House, but’ as this is the first time that he has read it, he is entitled to do so.

Mr Kelly:

– I wish to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]

Mr JOHNSON:

– The reason for reading the standing order again is that phrases are sometimes used in a document which do not at the first reading strike one as possessing any special significance, but which when they are read again, present themselves in a new light. The Prime Minister tried to excuse this motion on the ground that it was couched in terms similar to those of a standing order adopted by the House of Commons. It is impossible for the Prime Minister or any one else to assure us that a standing order such as this will never be put into operation without warrant, seeing that the power is left in the hands of any single member, no matter what position he may occupy, or on what side of the House he may sit. I understand there is a standing order of the kind in New South Wales, but that is safeguarded from abuse, in so far as there must be certain conditions precedent to its application. Under the proposed order, any single member may interrupt another in the middle of his speech, and, without debate, move the application of the “gag.” It is quite possible to conceive that even a Minister might be prevented from uttering a single word in favour of some Bill or motion he desired to submit.

Sir William Lyne:

– The honorable member cannot point toa single case in which that has been done.

Mr JOHNSON:

– That is no guarantee that the proposed order will not be used in that way in the future. I am assured by the honorable member for Macquarie that in New South Wales he has seen honorable members interrupted under the most unjustifiable circumstances. We must have regard not only to what has happened in the past, but to the possibilities of the future. It might happen that the caucus of a certain section of honorable members might decide to apply the standing order in the case of a Minister, and a decision, under the peculiar circumstances of that party, might be binding on the whole of the members of the party, although some of them individually might not approve of the step in contemplation. Even if the decision were not binding, some members of the party might be prepared to put the standing order in operation for party purposes. We must examine the inner meaning of a standing order of the kind in order to ascertain whether it may not ultimately prove a more dangerous weapon to those who employ it than to those against whom it is employed.

Mr Conroy:

– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]

Mr JOHNSON:

– I can even conceive of a combination of members of different sections of the House to use this power. Even the Treasurer might, by means of this standing order, be prevented from making his Budget speech. These are reasons which should appeal to the judgment of honorable members. The Prime Minister stated that the opinions of honorable members are never influenced by discussions in the House, and that they make up their minds how they will vote on any measure, irrespective of the debate on it. That is a reflection on the intelligence of honorable members, and an insult to the people who send them here. If honorable members are not influenced by argument, why not abolish Parliament altogether? If we are not here to deliberate upon, the measures proposed to be passed into law, it would be interesting to know for what we are here, and what object the electors had in sending us here. Although this proposal has been brought forward by the Prime Minister, we know perfectly well that he was not the originator of it. The honorable and learned gentleman has admitted so much himself. Wei know that it was suggested from a quarter from which one would least expect to receive a suggestion of the kind. When sitting behind the previous Ministry, I have felt so irritated by what I have considered irrelevant speeches from the Opposition that I have been inclined to resort almost to any measure to put a stop to them, but if a proposal of this character had been brought forward by my leader I should have strenuously opposed it. I recognise that it is better to put up with a good deal of abuse of privileges than to attempt to restrict them one jot. I do not admit for a moment that there has been any abuse of their privileges bv honorable members in Opposition, nor do I charge honorable members supporting the Ministry with having abused their privileges during the. time the last Ministry were in office, but even if the privileges of honorable members had been abused to any extent, I should be one of the last to seek to apply measures of this character to remedy the abuse. Other means, less drastic, and more humane, and in accordance with sense and reason could be employed for the purpose, t notice that an article appears in the Herald of this evening suggesting a way in which the matter might be dealt with, and in that article special reference is made to the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral in terms of the strongest disapprobation of their action in bringing forward a proposal of this character. When honorable members sitting behind the Government are anxious that certain measures should be pushed through, I can understand that they should feel irritated at the silence imposed upon them.

Mr Conroy:

– Would not the honorable member like fo have a quorum present? [Quorum formed.”]

Mr JOHNSON:

– In the circumstances I have described honorable members are required to listen to criticisms from the Opposition to which’ they would like to reply, and they are naturally irritated. I have experienced that sense of irritation myself, but I ‘Should not permit it to lead me to adopt extreme methods of this character. I remind honorable members opposite that this is a two-edged weapon. It will not always be in the hands of the same Ministry, or the same party, and it may be used as effectively against themselves at some future time as against those to whom they are now opposed. The speeches made on this side upon measures of practical importance have not been of undue length. If the Prime Minister really thinks that no discussion of measures submitted to Parliament is necessary, I would direct his attention to the fact that he thought it necessary to speak four and a half hours on the question of preferential trade. What would be his opinion of such a standing order as this if it were successfully applied to himself when he rose to move a motion on the subject of preferential trade? The hon- orable arid learned gentleman would denounce the tyranny of such a standing order, and’ assert the necessity for rescinding it.

Mr Storrer:

– Does the honorable member, think that twenty-four members would vote for the application of the closure under the circumstances he names?

Mr JOHNSON:

– I hope they would not, but I can conceive the possibility of even the honorable member voting for it. This afternoon it took the Prime Minister forty minutes to give merely a skeleton, outline of his opinions concerning the probable effect of the proposed new standing order. He told us that it would not result in the curtailment of legitimate debate, and I am willing to believe that he personally regards it as a weapon to be used only in extreme cases ; but it is impossible for him to bind other honorable members, or to say what will happen in the future. The proposed new standing order could Be used in a number of ways, which have probably not suggested themselves ‘ to the Prime Minister. He has assured the House that in moving the adoption of this new rule he has not acted under pressure, and that none was needed ; but in view of the peculiar circumstances surrounding the Government’s tenure of office - their supporters constituting the smallest party in the House - it is obvious1 that the vaguest hint on the part of the honorable member for Bland, in his capacity of leader of the party on the continuance of whose support the existence of the Ministry depends, would be as effective as a threat. Having regard to the lateness of the hour, I shall not proceed further on this subject, although the notes which I have prepared extend over several- large pages, and contain solid and weighty reasons why the course proposed by the Government should not be followed- I appeal to the Ministry, however, for the good reputation of Parliament, and in consideration of the officers and staff of the House, the reporters in the press galleries, and others whose duties make their attendance here compulsory, not to further prolong the sitting.

Mr WILKS:
Dalley

– I appeal to the Minister of Trade and Customs, who is the only representative of the Government present, to agree to an adjournment. As he makes no reply, I move -

That the debate be now adjourned.

I feel, M.’r. Deputy Speaker, that I should commence my remarks with an apology for the undignified attitude which I have been compelled to assume during the past” halfhour, but- I am almost worn out by the long sittings which we have had. The motion is not moved for, obstructive purposes ; but, since the Minister will not give a reply to my request for an adjournment, I wish to present to you some reasons why the debate should be adjourned, as, in Committee, on other occasions, I have found it necessary to give reasons why the Chairman should leave the chair. My first reason for asking for an adjournment of the debate is that honorable members are physically exhausted. Mr. Speaker, having given close attention for ten hours to speeches which have not been excelled in this Chamber, has himself been compelled to seek repose, and you, sir, having rested, have taken his pla.ce. To-night we have had no fewer than seventeen speeches an a question of great constitutional importance, affecting not this Parliament only, but all succeeding Parliaments.

Mr Thomas:

– Has not the whole ground been covered in seventeen speeches ?

Mr WILKS:

– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.] Now that there are more Ministers present I appeal to them for an adjournment. As they do not reply, I shall not make the request again, but will proceed with my remarks. In the first place, I -would point out that there is no evidence of obstruction in to-night’s proceedings. That is evident from the character of the speeches which have been delivered. Honorable members, however, are now thoroughly worn out.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I would point out to the honorable member that the conditions which apply to a motion in the House for the adjournment of a debate are not at all similar to those which obtain in Committee when a motion is moved “ that the Chairman do now leave the chair.” It will be necessary for the honorable member to strictly confine himself to stating the reasons why he thinks that the debate should be adjourned.

Mr. Speaker having resumed the chair,

Mr Kelly:

– On a point of order, I would ask you, sir, whether, upon the motion now before the Chair, it will be in order to argue that honorable members have been sitting for so long, and are so tired, that they are unable to give to the subject before them the serious consideration that its importance demands?

Mr SPEAKER:

– If the question before the Chair were the adjournment of the House,’ such arguments would be quite in place, but in view of the fact that the adjournment of the debate would not preclude other business from being proceeded with, observations such as those indicated would not be in order.

Mr WILKS:

– I have been endeavouring *o advance reasons which would induce Ministers to consent to the adjournment of the debate. I mentioned that honorable members were worn out, and that you, sir, had been in the chair for many hours. Furthermore, I pointed out that there could be no suggestion that .obstructive tactics had been resorted to by the Opposition.

Mr SPEAKER:

– lt would be perfectly in order for the honorable member to refer to the fact that the debate has been fairly conducted, and that numerous speeches had been delivered, but he would not be justified in referring, except incidentally, to the lateness of the hour, to the fact that honorable members were tired, or to the extent to which I might be personally affected by the prolongation ot the debate.

Mr WILKS:

– I would again urge the importance of the subject which we have been called upon to consider. If there had been any evidence of obstruction, I could have understood the objection of Ministers to adjourn the discussion, but no exception whatever can be taken to the) eighteen speeches which have been delivered.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– I second the motion, and I am full of hope that Ministers may be induced to consent to an adjournment of the debate at this stage. The question we have been called upon to discuss is one of immense importance, and vitally affects the privileges of every member of this House. A number of able speeches have been delivered by honorable members on this side of the House, and the debate has also been contributed to by supporters of the Government. It cannot be seriously suggested that any obstructive tactics have been resorted to. I hope that the Government will quickly recognise the fact that they are right up against a brick wall, and that they will put the Trade Marks Bill into the waste-paper basket.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Will it be in order, sir, for an honorable member to bring into the chamber bed-clothes and place them on any seat in the House, particularly in view of the fact that a Minister is in possession of a comfortable bed ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– Honorable members have the same right to the benches in the chamber at this hour as they have at any other hour and are entitled to make such reasonable use of them as they may find it convenient to do.

Mr KELLY:

– The refusal of the Government to grant an adjournment of the debate to the honorable member for Kooyong is a justification for the action of the Opposition. We do not wish to harass Ministers, ‘but to secure a reasonable adjournment in which honorable members can consider the arguments adduced by the various speakers on the main question, especially those put forward by the honorable member for Kennedy. It is only reasonable that they should have an opportunity to ascertain how the closure has operated in other Parliaments. I hold in my hand a volume of the Queensland Hansard, which contains most important information on this subject. In 1900, the Government sought to make still more restrictive the closure rule of the Legislative Assembly.

Mr Watson:

– Is the honorable member in order, sir, in giving as a reason why the debate should be adjourned that the Legislative Assembly of Queensland considered the” subject of amending its closure rule some time ago, and, further, ought he not to be ruled out of order on the ground that he is transgressing standing order 276?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I think that the fact that on a motion to adjourn the debate the honorable member has taken up forty minutes does “suggest that he is making a speech of more than ordinary length. I ask him to continue his remarks more connectedly.

Mr Kelly:

– Is there any time limit, sir?

Mr SPEAKER:

– There is. no time limit except such as the circumstances of the case may suggest to be reasonable; but I do not think that any honorable member would consider that forty minutes is a reasonable time to occupy in discussing the question whether a debate should be adjourned. I think that any honorable member would consider that time longer than is necessary. ‘

Mr KELLY:

– It does not matter to me whether I put before the House the arguments contained in this volume on this motion or on an amendment to the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta. Certainly, it contains enough arguments to occupy the earnest attention of honorable members for two or three days. It is only fair that the Government should agree to an adjournment of the debate, and give us an opportunity to get on with non-contentious measures.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - In asking for an adjournment of the debate, we should be prepared to show the Government that the motion deals with a question of such magnitude as to merit full consideration by the House when its members are present with unjaded intellects. The importance of the question under consideration is shown by the fact that it affects the exercise of one of the most essential functions of this assembly. It affects the question of freedom of speech. Another most cogent reason for adjourning the debate is that the consideration of such a question should not be pressed to a conclusion without the intermissions which ordinarily take place in connexion with the consideration of’ all measures of importance submitted to the House under normal conditions. Considering that sixteen speeches on this question __ a_ were delivered between five minutes to 3 o’clock and half-past n o’clock, it will be admitted that the only abnormality in this case has been the abnormal brevity of the debate. It has been pointed out that the adjournment of the debate will not neces sarily be followed by the adjournment of the House, and it is therefore important to consider the business which is likely to occupy our attention when this debate is adjourned, I find that the next business on the paper is the further consideration in Committee of clause 3 of the Trade Marks Bill, which contains no less than 100 clauses, and the consideration of which occupied the attention of another place for many weeks. The relative importance of the measures which remain to be discussed must be taken into consideration as supplying another sound reason for the adjournment of this debate. Besides the ninety-eight clauses of the Trade Marks Bill which still remain to be considered, there are the thirty-three proposed new clauses to be inserted in lieu of six now in the Bill. We may fairly assume that the consideration of these 115 clauses will occupy at least three weeks.

Mr Thomas:

– If the proposed new standing order is carried?

Mr McCAY:

– Yes.

Mr Watson:

– Is the honorable member in order in discussing the Trade Marks Bill at undue length?

Mr McCAY:

– I have endeavoured to confine myself strictly to the question, and submit, that I am in order in giving, as a reason for the adjournment of this debate, the importance of other business on the notice-paper, which, in my opinion, is entitled to preference.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I ask the honorable and learned member to bring his remarks to a conclusion, on the ground, not that they are irrelevant, but that they are of undue length. To speak for forty or fifty minutes in support of a motion for the adjournment of a debate is to delay that which honorable members profess to desire.

Mr Kelly:

– Would that ruling apply, sir, in regard to. an ordinary adjournment?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I must be guided by the circumstances which come under my notice. It by no means follows that because the honorable and learned member for Corinella has been permitted, because of his ingenuity, to speak at some length, that the same latitude would be allowed to another honorable member.

Mr. FULLER (Illawarra).- We are now dealing with perhaps the most important proposal which has been brought before this Parliament, and as, no -dou6t, all honorable members wish to give a conscientious vote upon it, I think that they should be given an opportunity to refer to a debate which took place in the Queensland Parliament! in 1900, on a similar motion, so that they may inform themselves in regard to points which have not hitherto been brought under the notice of this, House. The then leader of the Labour Party in Queensland said during the debate: -

Only this morning -

Mr Groom:

– Is the honorable member in order in reading an extract which, I submit, is not relevant to the issue?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I think that the honorable and learned member would do better to reserve these remarks until we return to the consideration of the main question.

Mr FULLER:

– I am submitting, as, a reason why the House should adjourn, that the information which was. put before the House this afternoon was so meagre that honorable members should be given an opportunity to refer to the debate which I have mentioned, and this can be given only if the debate be adjourned.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That argument is legitimate, but the honorable and learned member cannot give the information in detail during the present debate.

Mr FULLER:

– I find from Hansard that the honorable member for Kennedy, who was then a member of the Queensland Parliament, said that he hoped the House would never allow a motion limiting freedom of speech to pass.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member may only call attention to the fact that there is this information.

Mr FULLER:

– Then I will indicate the pages, where it is to be found. My first reference is. to page 1266 of the Queensland Parliamentary Debates, vol. 85, 1900. The second reference is to the same page, and the third to pp. 1269, 1271, and 1272 - passages in a speech delivered by Senator Stewart. The speeches delivered by Senator Givens, Senator Turley, and Senator Higgs are recorded at pages 1275 to T296. The opinions of Mr. W. Hamilton-

Mr Mauger:

– I would ask your ruling, sir, whether the honorable and learned member is not clearly endeavouring to unduly prolong the debate on this motion.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I would point out that there are three things contemplated under standing order 276. The first is “ continued irrelevance,” which I think the honorable and learned member has so far avoided. The second is tedious repetition, of which the honorable and learned member has not so far been guilty. The third matter referred to is the taking up of time by a speech of such unwarrantable length as to obstruct business. I ‘am not quite sure that the honorable member will avoid offending against that portion of the standing order if he proceeds to speak at much greater length. As I have already pointed out, the question is as to whether the debate should be adjourned, and, seeing that three hours have already been occupied in the discussion of the motion, I do not think that I shall be justified in permitting the honorable and learned member, or any other honorable member, to take up much more time.

Mr Kelly:

– I would point out that upon previous occasions honorable members have been permitted to speak for as long as four and a-half hours, and that the standing order referred to has never been enforced against them.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Circumstances alter cases. A speech upon a question of vital importance might reasonably occupy four hours, whereas a speech of five minutes’ duration upon some other question might be inordinately long.

Mr FULLER:

– I think it is desirable that honorable members should have an, opportunity of enlightening their minds upon this very important matter, and of considering the views that have been expressed regarding it. It is unbecoming, on the part of Ministers to force us to continue the discussion of this question at this late hour, and in my opinion the interests of good government would be ‘best served by the adjournment of the debate.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - My first reason for urging the adjournment of the debate is the continued absence of the Prime Minister, who is in charge of this proposal. The Prime Minister ought not to have moved the motion and then have bolted from the chamber, never to be seen again during the evening. He should have been present, in order that some arrangement might have been made with regard to the conduct of the debate.

Sir William Lyne:

– He conferred with the honorable member before 11 o’clock.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

-Yes; and he made one of the coolest proposals that I have ever heard. That reminds me that the Attorney-General had the effrontery to ask me to give him a pair. It seems to me that Ministers who are incapable of remaining in the chamber to conduct the business in their charge ought to consent to an adjournment of the debate. I ‘submit that when the Commonwealth Parliament begins to sit late it at once sets a bad example to the States Parliaments. If we continue in this course they will cease to respect that Parliament which, according to the Prime Minister was to be “ strong as a fortress, and sacred as a shrine.” When the honorable gentleman asked me to-night over the tableto consider the proposed standing order, with a view to making a reasonable modification, I told him that, from want of time, I was utterly unable to consider it with that seriousness which it deserves. Thereupon he left the chamber, and since then he has not been seen. In his absence, is the Minister for Home Affairs, or the Vice-President of the Executive Council, or the Minister of Trade and Customs authorized to entertain a suggestion from this side for the modification of the Government’s proposal ?

Sir William Lyne:

– Yes.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I have now an idea as to what should be done with the proposal, but I am not prepared to communicate it to the honorable gentleman. The Minister who is responsible for all this delay, is the Attorney-General, who has gone home for a short respite. One strong reason why the debate should be adjourned is because it relates to a proposal which the Government have received no authority from the electors to make. Again, we ought not to consider the proposal any further until the measure relating to the Federal Capital Site has been dealt with. The Government have been guilty of a gross breach of faith with the House, and treated it in a dastardly fashion by bringing forward this proposal immediately after the Appropriation Bill had been sent to the other Chamber, preparatory to closing the session. We were assured, not by three Ministers, but by more, that, if we would allow that measure to pass out of our control, the session would be closed very quickly. It strikes me very forcibly that the closure is sought to be introduced in order to rush through a measure dealing with trusts. If the Prime Minister is not coming into the Chamber again, I despair of doing anything to put an end to this controversy. If we can get nothing from Ministers but a conspiracy of silence, they must expect that we shall continue to resist the adoption of their proposal. Since it was submitted in a half-hearted speech by the Prime Minister, neither a Minister nor a direct Ministerial supporter has said a word in its advocacy. I believe that if the Prime Minister could only have time for giving it fuller consideration, he would be so heartily ashamed of it as to make him even anxious to modify it.

Mr WILSON:
Corangamite

– I intend to vote against the motion to adjourn the debate. I understand that when that motion is rejected the Government intend to proceed without intermission with the debate on the proposed standing order until it is concluded. I consider that the debate should be advanced as far as possible before Sunday is reached, in order that honorable members may not be detained here on that day. I desire to elicit your opinion, sir, on the question whether it is right or proper for the Government to propose to detain honorable members on Sunday if the debate be not previously finished ? Seeing that the Government have been cruel enough to continue the debate until 4 o’clock in the morning, there can be no reason why it should not be continued until the usual hour of closing Friday’s sitting. I fail to see that any cogent reason has yet been given why the debate should be adjourned prior to that time.

Mr LONSDALE:
New England

– As none of the speeches which have been delivered on the matter before the House can be said to have been of inordinate length, I am unable to understand why the Government should be opposed to the adjournment of the debate. There are many matters on the business-paper of very much more importance than that which has given rise to this proposal for the curtailment of the liberties of honorable members. It cannot be contended that the passing of drastic Standing Orders will serve in any way to increase the prosperity of the people; nor are we likely to do much to that end by continuing the debate in order to hasten the passing of the union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill. I realize that nothing we can say will move Ministers, who are unable to resist the forces behind them, and which are impelling them to adopt this course. It would tend to create good feel ing and would remove friction if Ministers would consent to the adjournment of the debate.

Mr. KELLY (Wentworth). - I wish to make a short personal explanation. In the Age of this morning the statement is made that at 1.55 a.m. a point of order was raised that I had been guilty of tedious repetition, and that the Speaker upheld the point. That statement is absolutely inaccurate. Members of the Opposition have often had to complain of the gross and deliberate inaccuracies of this lineal descendant of Ananias and Sapphira. The point taken by the Speaker was that my speech was inordinately long. I pointed out at the time that that was due to my brief political experience; but the Age has not done me the credit to point out the cause of the abrupt conclusion of my remarks.

Mr. JOHNSON (Lang).-I have only to draw attention to theslumbering forms reclining round the Chamber to show how physically unfit are honorable members at the present time to. properly conduct the business of the country. The circumstances under which the debate is being continued are calculated to place Parliament in an unfavorable light before the public. Requests for an adjournment were made to the Government at an hour when a number of important speeches had been made. The Prime Minister started the debate before 3 p.m., and was followed by the deputy leader of the Opposition half-an-hour later, and not one of the speeches, since delivered, though valuable, has been unduly prolonged. The motion is one which on an ordinary occasion would surely have been regarded as a legitimate subject for several days’ debate, and the manner in which it has been dealt with today has given no ground for the attempt which is being made to force a determination during the present sitting. There are on the business-paper measures which honorable members will be wholly incapable of dealing with, if these long sittings are continued. One of these questions is the settlement of the Capital Site, which, in New South Wales, is a very burning one. Another measure is the Electoral Bill. Some measure, is necessary to give effect to the wishes of the constituencies for a new electoral law. A report was furnished by the electoral officers who met in conference to consider complaints made by honorable members and the public about the condition of the electoral law–

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Is the honorable member in order?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It has been customary to allow references of this kind on a motion, for the adjournment of a debate. One of the honorable member’s reasons, for desiring the adjournment is to allow other business to be dealt with.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member may mention measures which he considers urgent, and for which he thinks this motion should be adjourned, but he may not do more than that. At the same time I cannot allow honorable members to repeat, not merely arguments .which they themselves have used, but also arguments used by other honorable members.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I rely upon you, Mr. Speaker, to notify me if I am going over ground which has been covered by other honorable members, as I have had to leave the Chamber for a time to try to obtain an hour’s necessary rest, though unsuccessfully. The Ministry are making an unjustifiable appeal to honorable members, and I ask them to allow humanitarian considerations to have weight with them, and to remember that the people of the country cannot be edified by these proceedings.

Mr Mauger:

– The honorable member has stated that he does not know what has been said during this debate, he having been absent from the Chamber, .and it seems to. me that, under the circumstances, his remarks should be regarded as vexatious and not tending to advance the business of the country.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Seeing that the question of adjourning the debate has been before us for nearly four hours, I shall be compelled very shortly to limit the discussion much more stringently than I have done hitherto.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I have no desire to unduly prolong the discussion, and I do not think that I have exceeded the bounds of reasonable debate. I think that, in view of the demoralized state of the House, the debate ought to be adjourned.

Question - That the debate be now adjourned - put. The House divided.

AYES: 2

NOES: 27

Majority … … 25

In division :

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the negative.

Motion negatived.

Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- The motion upon which the honorable member for Parramatta has moved an amendment is one that would, in any representative assembly, necessarily give rise to a prolonged discussion and considerable feeling. The Opposition have exhibited the utmost moderation under the most trying circumstances, and have refrained from resorting to obstructive tactics. We were told by members of the Labour Party, at an earlier stage of the debate, that the necessity for the proposed sweeping innovation arose from the fact that the members of the Opposition had for some time past adopted “ stone-walling “ tactics. That charge was at once hurled back upon the Labour Party, who were reminded that their action during last session had resulted in an all-night sitting. The honorable member for Coolgardie interjected that the Labour Party on that occasion had “ stone- walled “ because they would not submit to being brow-beaten. I would ask any impartial man whether the present Opposition has not been required to submit to a far greater amount of browbeating than that to which the Labour Party were subjected when they sat on this side of the chamber. They were then asked to agree to certain proposals that had been discussed for an inordinate length of time, whereas, in the present case, a standanddeliver attitude has been adopted to- . wards honorable members from the outset.

Unlike that Opposition, the present Opposition was not refusing definitely to assume anything. It made an offer to the Attorney-General to pass in one sitting fifty-seven clauses of an intricate measure, but he indignantly refused to accept the offer, with the result that wewere compelled to resist his tactless tyranny and continue the sitting into the next day. When the Opposition was faced on that day with the question whether they would carry on the combat which he had forced upon them, or whether they would revert to a business consideration of the measure, they loyally decided to begin its consideration, and gave the Ministry an opportunity of meeting the House at half-past 2 o’clock. On the strength of the episode the piqued AttorneyGeneral, whose vanity is much like that of the peacock, and with equal cause, decided to bring in this bludgeoning proposal. That is the position, so far as the necessity for the adoption of the closure exists. The Attorney-General, it is clear, has not acted in the way in which one would usually expect a tactful, experienced Minister to act, and it prompts me to ask whether he, in refusing to transact public business, and forcing what he calls a “ stone-wall,” in order that afterwards he may introduce a’ “ sand-bagging “ standing order, has not left himself open to the charge of deliberately taking the course, in order to secure to himself the plaudits, and encouragement of the Labour Party, and so undermine the position of his leader with that party. We know that the Attorney-General has taken this step without rhyme or reason, so far as an impartial man can see. It was reasonable for us to expect that he had a sufficient knowledge of the world to know the necessary result of his attempted intimidation of the Opposition.

The Speaker or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the House or Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition.

I am not suggesting that the honorable member is guilty of that - or the taking up of time by a speech of such unwarrantable length as to obstruct the business on the part of a member, and may direct such member to discontinue his speech : Provided that such member shall have the right to require that the question whether he be further heard be put, and thereupon such question shall be put without debate.

The honorable member will see that under certain circumstances an isolated speech might occupy four and a-half hours in delivery and not be of unwarrantable length. I have to take into account not only the speech itself, but its context. That is what I am doing now. The honorable member has already occupied as much time as he ought to occupy in making quotations, and, if he desires to erect a superstructure upon them, it is time that he did it.

Sir William Lyne. - Impudence

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member has repeated the remark which he made a moment ago, and which he had to withdraw. I again ask him to withdraw it.

Mr Conroy:

– I withdraw it, and I regret that I repeated it.

Mr Chanter:

– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member for Wentworth has - intentionally or otherwise - reflected upon the Chair. He has stated that you, sir, may exercise your right to use the “gag.” That is an expression which ought not to be applied to any presiding officer, and more especially to Mr. Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am quite sure the honorable member for Wentworth intended no reflection, and consequently I raised no objection to his remarks.

Mr Conroy:

– I beg to call attention to the extraordinary remark which the Minister of Trade and Customs applied to the statement of the honorable member for Wentworth. Whatever we may be suffering from as the result of an all-night sitting, I submit that he should not be permitted to use such language. I am not one of those who has received £100 cheques.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member must withdraw that statement. He has suggested that some honorable members have received £100 cheques.

Mr Watson:

– It is a most atrocious statement to make.

Mr Conroy:

– It has been published in the newspapers.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable and learned member withdraw that remark ?

Sir William Lyne:

– Let him make the statement outside the House.

Mr Conroy:

– I withdraw the remark. It has already been published outside the House, but that is no reason why I should publish it here.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member must know that that is a withdrawal which I cannot accept. It is one which aggravates the offence rather than otherwise.

Sir William Lyne:

– The honorable and learned member distinctly referred to me. I say that his statement is absolutely without foundation, and I challenge him to make it outside. I say that unless he does so he is not a man.

Mr Conroy:

– It has been published outside.

Sir William Lyne:

– Coward !

Mr Conroy:

– What does all this harvester business mean?

Mr SPEAKER:

– Unless the honorable and learned member withdraws that remark, I shall be obliged to name him.

Mr Conroy:

– In deference to. your ruling, sir, I withdraw it.

Mr KELLY:

– Under the proposal of the Prime Minister, any honorable member may move, “ That the question be now put,” and it must be put forthwith; whereas under the existing Standing Orders the responsibility of curtailing debate rests with Mr. Speaker, or with the Chairman of Committees. Standing order 276 covers the whole ground.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member must see that the standing order to which he refers is based upon something which an honorable member has said; whereas the proposed standing order relates to something which may be said. One relates to the past, and the other to the future, and, consequently, I cannot see that they cover the same area.

Mr KELLY:

– The new standing order is designed to prevent obstruction. Obstruction is a matter of the past, and not of the future.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I cannot allow the honorable member to proceed upon those lines. The proposal under consideration refers not to the past, but to what may transpire in the future.

Mr KELLY:

– I propose to conclude by briefly pointing out what has led up to the present situation, in order to show the House why I consider that the circumstances do not warrant the Government proposal. Considerable bitterness existed in the House as the result of occurrences at the beginning of the session. It was reported that a certain party was to receive a substantial quid pro quo for supporting the new Ministry, and the Opposition, believing that there had been treachery and betrayal, felt that it was necessary to be extremely watchful. Statements were recently made from which the inference might be drawn that with the passing of . the Appropriation Bill we should speedily go into recess, but after we had dealt with that measure, the consideration of a Bill to which the Opposition most strenuously objected, was suddenly pressed forward. I think that a review of the events of the last few days ‘ should satisfy honorable members, that the delay of business which has occurred has been due to the AttorneyGeneral. I should not object to such a modification of the Government proposal as would limit the application of the standing order to questions which have come before the electors. I wish to secure proper inquiry into proposals now being rushed through the House, and as, to which the electors know nothing. I therefore move -

That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “business” the words “which has not been submitted for the consideration of the constituencies,” with a view to leaving out the words “ for this session and.”

If my proposal be agreed to, it will be impossible to smuggle through the House legislation which has not been considered by our masters - the people. It will separate the House into two camps, the one consisting of those who do not wish the people to know what they are doing, and the other comprising those who are determined that if the union label proposals must be passed, the people shall know exactly what its effect will be, and what it means to the Labour Party. If the members of that party , consider that their own rights as members of this House are such that certain questions, ought to be referred to a referendum, they cannot refuse to support my amendment, which will give the people an opportunity to examine the Trade Marks Bill before it is forced on to ‘the statutebook of the Commonwealth.

Mr Batchelor:

– The debate is now limited to the amendment of the amendment.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That is so. The difference between the amendment and the further amendment moved by the honorable member for Wentworth is this: that the honorable member for Parramatta has moved that the proposed new standing order shall have no application to the business of the present session, whereas if ‘the amendment of the amendment be agreed to’, it will come into operation immediately upon its adoption, except in regard to matters which have not been before the electors. So far as I can see, the result would be that the Trade Marks Bill would be the one measure excepted from its operation.

Mr Watson:

– I do not wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, to give a hurried ruling, but I should like to know how it would be possible for you to carry out such a standing order. I consider that you could have no official knowledge of what matters have been placed before the country, and that it would be too much to expect you or the Chairman to determine such a question. I think the point is worthy of consideration as effecting the admissibility of the amend. ment of the amendment.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– On the point of order I would point out that it is not the rule when proposed standing orders are submitted to the consideration of the House to ask Mr. Speaker how he would interpret them.

Mr SPEAKER:

-I am compelled to give a ruling forthwith,” because the ensuing debate will depend upon my decision on the question raised. With some hesitation - because I recognise all the difficulties of administering such a provision - I. hold that the amendment of the amendment is admissible, inasmuch as there would be a material difference between applying the projected standing order to the whole work of the session and to only a part of it.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

The Standing Orders under which we have been working since the commencement of this Parliament have been stringent enough to enable a considerable number of enactments to be placed upon the statute-book. Some of those measures have awakened the bitterest of political passions, and yet they were carried through without any restriction of debate. One is particularly surprised that the Labour Party should -support the proposed standing order,’ because it looks like anr attempt to enable the work of the country to be shirked by dispensing with the necessity for regular attendance. That is an unfortunate position to be taken up by a party which boasts of the frequent attendance of its members. Unfortunately, how 7 ever, there is a wrong impression in the public mind as to what that attendance means. As a matter of fact, under our system an honorable member may secure 100 recorded attendances without spending, more than 100 minutes in the Chamber.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the amendment before the House.

Mr CONROY:

– It is difficult to say exactly what is meant by measures which have been submitted to the country, as mentioned in the amendment. Fo.r instance, I have brought before my electors, on several occasions, the fact that the allowance granted to members of this House under the Constitution is utterly inadequate, and that so far from amounting to £400 a year, it does not mean more than £120, in view of the expense involved in attending a Parliament sitting in another State than one’s own, and the neglect of one’s business that is necessitated. I again draw attention to the absence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.”] On a point of order, I should like to ask whether honorable members now in the chamber can be said to be present when they are asleep, and cannot be attending to business ? In the House of Commons it is considered to be highly disorderly for honorable members to lounge upon the benches.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– We are, I admit, largely governed by the practice of the House of Commons, but there are circumstances in which a good deal of latitude should be allowed.

Mr Chanter:

– This is not latitude, but longitude.

Mr CONROY:

– It is rather dispiriting to address a House, the members of which, owing to physical causes, are unable to pay attention to what one says. One of the most objectionable features of this proposal is that the Government is endeavouring to enforce the gag without rhyme or reason.

Mr Thomas:

– I rise to order. Is the honorable member discussing the amendment? I admit that the meaning of the amendment is not known by any one on’ earth - it may be known in heaven - but still the honorable member should be confined to it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-I have carefully followed the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa, and I do not think he has wandered from the amendment since I drew his attention to it.

Mr CONROY:

– It is most unfortunate that the honorable and learned member for Indi should have been in charge of the Trade Marks Bill.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– That is not relevant to the question.

Mr CONROY:

– I was merely about to point out that, but for the fact that the Attorney-General had charge of the measure, there would have been no necessity for the motion now before us.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– We are now discussing, not the motion, but the amendment.

Mr CONROY:

– No doubt that somewhat limits the debate, but I do not see why we should adopt a standing order of the kind, which can be applied to almost every question except that of the trade union label. If the standing order be a good one, it should be applied to all questions and Bills. Practically, it may be said that the question of the trade union label has not yet been submitted to the country, and that raises the whole question of whether Parliament ought to initiate legislation or merely act as the mere delegates of the electors.

Mr Wilson:

– I beg to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]

Mr CONROY:

– I find it difficult, if not impossible, to deal with the amendment without at the same time discussing the motion as a whole. A standing order of the kind might even be applied to the leader of the Opposition when submitting a vote; of censure on the Government. What might have happened if, before the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had really begun his attack upon the late Government, some honorable member had risen and moved “ That the question be now put”?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I would point out that the honorable and learned member is now referring to a matter which can only arise upon the main question.

Mr Batchelor:

– The amendment is a hopeless one.

Mr CONROY:

– It is not a hopeless amendment. This Chamber is not going to be turned into a bear garden by any honorable member. We will not submit to brow-beating here.

Mr Watson:

– I have been listening for some time to the honorable and learned member’s enormous voice, and I have not heard him utter one word in regard to the amendment before the Chair. I should like to know whether he is in order in discussing every subject under the sun except the amendment?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I have more than once asked the honorable and learned member to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair, and I am waiting for him to do so.

Mr CONROY:

– Surely the amendment proposed is a very sound one. It embodies one of the most elementary principles of responsible government. The more we study the matter, the more apparent it becomes that no restraint should be imposed upon parliamentary discussion. If the amendment be not carried, legislation may be thrust upon us in regard to which the electors have never been consulted. Let us suppose that certain members upon the Ministerial side of the House join with others in forming an unholy alliance.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I would point out to the honorable and learned member that the amendment does not deal with alliances.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I rise to a point of order.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– It appears to me that, whenever I give a ruling, a point of order is raised upon it. That cannot be permitted. I ask the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to continue his speech, and to connect his remarks with the question that is before the Chair.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I think that your remark, sir, was a most improper one.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member has made a statement which is highly disorderly, and I ask him to withdraw it.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– If you consider it disorderly sir, I withdraw it.

Mr Crouch:

– I rise to a point of order. Standing order 276 reads -

The Speaker or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the House or the Committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance

You, sir, have already called attention to the irrelevance of the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa about ten times. The standing order continues and may direct such member to discontinue his speech.

I contend that, under the circumstances, the honorable and learned member should be ordered to discontinue his remarks.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I am aware of the discretionary power which is vested in the Chair by that standing order, and at the proper time I shall not fail to exercise it. In my opinion, however, the honorable and learned member has been called to order very frequently, as the result of interjections.

Mr CONROY:

– I wish to direct attention to the fact that the proposals of the Government as embodied in the Trade Marks Bill have not been submitted for the consideration of the constituencies. The object of free discussion is to prevent any measure from being rushed through the House. If the proposal of the Government is not intended to suppress debate, they can manifest that fact by accepting the amendment.

Sitting suspended from 8.30 a.m., Friday, until 9.30 a.m.

Mr CONROY:

– It would not be advisable, for the House to accept the motion, even in the form in which it is proposed to be amended. I take it that we have not yet reached a stage at which we are prepared to effectively’ gag discussion. I think that we ought to have a quorum present. [Quorum formed.] It seems to me that it would be impossible for Mr. Speaker or the Chairman to determine whether any question had been submitted to the electors, and that it would be unwise to pass a standing order which would thus “leave honorable members in a state of uncertainity. Having regard to all these facts, I see no course open to me at present but to await further arguments before arriving at a final decision with regard to this, question.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– I feel that I should not be doing my duty to my constituents if I neglected the present opportunity to express my views upon the motion now before the Chair, and that I should be pardoned if, in endeavouring to voice their views, I momentarily put forward argu-ments similar to those advanced by other honorable members. It is my duty, as far a* possible, to express what I believe would be the views of those who sent me here if this question were submitted for their consideration. So far as I am able at present to judge, the amendment on the amendment would prove so unworkable in practice that its advantages would’ be outweighed by its disadvantages. We must at the outset recognise that if there is a measure in respect of which the closure ought to be applied rarely, and with great caution, it is one in respect of which the constituencies have not had an opportunity to express an opinion. We come here, in the first place, to enunciate the views to which we have given our adhesion on the public platform, and of which our constituents have shown their approval by returning us to this House. But, in addition to the general policy to which we bind ourselves when before the people, there is a multitude of details as to which it is impossible for us to give a specific promise to our constituents. Thus it is that in respect of a vast number of subjects on which divisions take place we come here pledged only to make our actions harmonize with the general promises we have made. If I may put the position in a prosaic form, we are unable, when before the people, to do more than promise what our second-reading speeches will be, and we are free within the limits of that promise, to vote as we think bes.t with regard to the details dealt with in Committee. We are therefore both representatives of, and delegates from, our constituencies, or, if honorable members object to the word “ delegates,” I may say that we are representatives within the limits which we ourselves have voluntarily laid down. The result is that it is absolutely necessary that we should have the fullest opportunity of discussing the details of proposals in respect of which the country has not only had no opportunity to express an opinion, but could give no opinion. It is also necessary that we should have the fullest opportunity to discuss the general principles of proposals submitted’ to the House, in order that amid the clash of wits and the fire of debate we may secure that full consideration which results in wise and prudent decision. The words which appear in the outer hall, “ In the multitude of counsellors there is safety,” have certainly no great applicability where the closure exists. By the adoption of such methods, we become but a multitude of driven voters, and depart absolutely from the very principles upon which we were elected. Matters which have not been fully discussed outside ought certainly to be fully considered within the House. But it seems to me that if the duty of ascertaining whether given proposals had or had not been submitted for the consideration of the constituencies, were imposed upon Mr. Speaker or the Chairman, there would be never-ending trouble. So far from this proposal being a method by which a definite decision could be arrived at, there would be as many conclusions as, there were varieties of opinions in the House. What would be the test of a matter having been submitted for the consideration of the constituencies? Would it be that I, in my electorate, or any other honorable member in his electorate, had raised a question, or had had a question asked him, whether by a political opponent or by an injudicious friend? The word “submitted” itself raises a great many difficulties. But I take it that what is intended is either a matter included in the Government pro gramme, in the Opposition programme, in the Labour programme, or it may be, in the programme of honorable members sitting in the Opposition corner. But in addition to questions contained in the programmes of regular political parties, there are other questions to which public attention is directed, and which might be discussed in’ nearly every constituency. It seems to me that this amendment would preclude such questions from coming under the consideration of Parliament. The vague words used by the honorable member for Wentworth would render it impossible to deal with the matter satisfactorily. Let us fake, for example, the programme submitted by the Deakin Administration at the general election in December, 1903. Take the subject of trade marks which appeared in that programme. I suppose that that question was considered by the bulk of the electors to apply to marks, in which the ownership of the mark, and the ownership of the goods to which the mark applied, accompanied each other. But suppose that when the Trade Marks Bill came before Parliament, it contained a series of clauses, such as exist in some of the laws of States of America, popularly known as union label provisions. The question might then fairly be argued whether the matter of trade marks, including the union label, had ever been submitted to the constituencies, and the question which would be submitted for Mr. Speaker’s consideration would turn almost entirely upon whether the term “ trade mark ‘ ‘ could’ be held to include what is popularly known as the union label. One can imagine the time that would be occupied by two sides, not only animated by a desire to have a clear interpretation of the standing order, but also by a feeling that a victory on the point of order would involve a victory on a question of substance. Then take as another example the Immigration Restriction Act.

Mr Mahon:

– I rise to order. I wish to know whether the honorable member is in order in entering into the region of speculation, to discover subjects on which there -<nay at some future period be a possible difference of opinion? I should like to know whether he is not bound to confine himself to the terms of the amendment.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The hanorable member for Corinella is, I take it, endeavouring to strengthen his argument by illustrations. I think that is, perfectly legitimate. But I should not be prepared to allow the honorable member to multiply illustrations having a marked resemblance to each other.

Mr McCAY:

– I am giving illustrations to show how the vague and indefinite words of the amendment would lend themselves to the taking up of valuable time. My second illustration has reference to something which has actually occurred. At the first Federal elections, the question of the prohibition of coloured aliens was brought before the electors. By a considerable majority, the constituencies signified to their representatives in this Parliament that they were in favour of what is called the White Australia policy. When the measure came before Parliament, a proposal was made and carried to make the Bill apply to other than coloured persons. It. was made to provide that contract labour of any kind was not admissible into Australia, except in cases, where, special skill being required, the Minister was justified in granting an exemption. If the proposed standing order, amended as the honorable member for Wentworth desires, had been in operation, there would have been considerable doubt as to whether the question submitted to the electors included the prohibition of other than coloured labour. I have always thought, and still think, that it is desirable to keep questions of order apart from questions of policy. Questions of. order should be discussed with the same absence of personal partiality which would prevail in discussing an abstract question of law. This amendment, by causing questions of politics to be mixed up with questions of order, might thereby prove most injurious, and lead to decisions, being given for party reasons rather than for parliamentary reasons - a very improper and undesirable result indeed.

Mr Wilson:

– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]

Mr McCAY:

– Those two illustrations show very markedly the danger of adopting such words as have been proposed by the honorable member for Wentworth. The next point I desire to submit is as to the effect of the amendment upon a substantive motion. The object of the motion is to enable any one honorable member, who can secure the support of twenty-three others - presuming that there are not more than twenty-three opposed to him - to apply the closure to any Bill from the time clause1 is considered, until the end of the measure is reached!. The effect of the amendments which have been moved ‘ would be to pre clude the application of the closure to business which had not been submitted to the constituencies, and to business coming before the House during the present session.

Mr Batchelor:

– What is meant by “ submitted “ ?

Mr McCAY:

– I take “ submission “ to imply inclusion in the official programme of a party, though it might be held to mean direct submission, as by referendum. If that is what is intended, I point out that our Constitution does not provide for even what is commonly known as the dead-lock referendum, and no provision is made in it for an initiatory referendum. There might be a reference of questions to the votes of the electors by an act of the Legislature, but there are very few questions which can be so submitted. It was suggested some time ago - I think by a member of the Labour Party - that the fiscal question might be so submitted to the people, but a candidate, when before his electors, could only declare himself a supporter of free-trade or protection, and members would have to be left to deal on their own responsibility, as they do now, with the details of any Tariff introduced1 into Parliament. But, surely, if it be right to apply the closure only to questions which have been submitted to the electors, the advisability of having a closure rule at all should be so submitted, and I think the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth should not be agreed to unless words are added to it to bring that about. I shall vote against it.

Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin

– Before a motion, which has been made to provide means to bludgeon through the House provisions - the Union Trade Label clauses of the Trade Marks Bill - to which honorable members generally are diametrically opposed is agreed to it should, undoubtedly, be submitted for the opinion of the constituencies.

Mr McDonald:

– Last year, the honorable member wanted the “ gag. “

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– It is true that last session I submitted a motion which, if carried, would have had the effect of preventing waste of time in this Chamber, but, in advocating it, I referred to the closure as the most objectionable means that can be employed to bring a discussion to aclose.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I ask the honorable member to speak only to the amendment, and not to reply to interjections which are irrelevant; and I appeal to honorable members not to make inter jec- tions which render it impossible for the honorable member to confine his remarks strictly to the question before the Chair.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Many subjects were before the constituencies at the time of the last elections. It was my business as a journalist, although I had my own election to fight, to read the speeches of the important candidates who were in the field, and I do not remember that any one of them advocated the adoption of either the trade union label or the “ gag.”

Mr Hutchison:

– Why does the honorable member speak of the ‘ ‘ gag” ?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I prefer to call things by their plain English names. The proposals for which the “ gag “ is to be used to bludgeon through the House have not received the approval of the constituencies, though a number of honorable members think that of small moment. Moreover, members of the Ministry are opposed to this drastic method. The rule which the Prime Minister wishes them to adopt is even more drastic than that which has been employed recently in the House of Commons to dragoon through such extreme measures as the Licensing and Education Acts. With a Ministry in power possessing only nine supporters, and depending for its existence on the support of another party, there may . be no limit to the proposals to which it will be sought to apply the proposed new standing order. The amendment will take the whole sting out of the proposed order, and will prevent misapplications of the closure, such as have occurred in New South Wales. The “gag” has been used most remorselessly in that State upon men who have scarcely done more than open their mouths.

Mr Chanter:

– Can the honorable member mention any instance in which that has taken place?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Yes.. I can give the honorable member a number of instances. It is sought by means of the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth, not only to protect honorable members, but to prevent a wrong being inflicted’ upon the electors. If is desired to provide a safeguard against honorable members assuming the position of autocrats, and riding rough-shod over the people. There is no reason why we should not take the electors into our confidence upon this subject. By this time next year, we shall be before our constituents, and we ought to postpone the operation of the proposed new standing order until we have had an opportunity to ask them fortheir decision as to how the closure shall be applied - if it is applied at all. Without a safeguard such as. that proposed, it would be possible for the Government under the proposed order to bring down a measure regarding which the electors had never been consulted, and rush it through without any discussion.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member is. now dealing with the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth as if it were an amendment upon the original question, instead of being merely an amendment of a proposition that has been made by the honorable member for Parramatta.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– If the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta were adopted, the proposed new standing order would not be brought into operation until this House had had another opportunity to deal with it, but that would afford no safeguard to the electors. We should simply be postponing the application of an objectionable provision for one session. It is desired to modify, as far as possible, the application of this abominable system of “ gag,” coercion, and dragooning. I hate the “ gag “ in all its shapes and forms, and I hope that honorable members will recognise the very wide distinction between the application of the closure in the manner now proposed and the limitation of speeches under conditions such as were suggested by me some short time ago. If we limited the duration of speeches, it would not be necessary to apply the “ gag.” I trust that the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth will be carried, and that the electors will thus be afforded the protection to which they are entitled.

Mr WILKS:
Dalley

– I cannot understand why the honorable member for Wentworth has proposed his amendment, which has really had the effect of stifling debate, inasmuch as honorable members are now precluded from discussing the main question. The great political reforms of the world have not originated spontaneously with the people, but have been suggested by the great intellects and’ leaders of the race, by writing, and in speeches, and become burning questions in the constituencies only after years of struggle in the Chambers of Legislature. Is not this statement borne out by the history of the Franchise reforms? It cannot be desirable to apply the closure to the discussion of such questions as those ; but can we discriminate in the application of a rule such as the Government wish the House to adopt? Of what use will the rule be to the Government if it can be applied only to questions which have been submitted to the electors? Could it be said that the details of any proposed measure had been so submitted ? Take the very proposals in whose interest the Government are desirous of enforcing the closure - the .trade union label clauses of the Trade Marks Bill. Would it be possible to get the opinion of the people on such details as are there provided for? All that the constituencies can declare is that they are or are not in favour of the adoption of some principle of legislation, so that practically the rule, if amended as the honorable member for Wentworth suggests, would be applicable only in connexion with the second reading of a Bill. I would support the amendment if I thought that it would have the effect of expediting business and preventing waste of time, though, remembering the abnormal conditions of the present situation, I should be opposed to bringing it into effect during this session. I am afraid, however, that the amendment is really increasing the confusion which the discussion of the past few hours has -made so obvious. The honorable member for Wentworth, who was born with a golden shovel in his mouth, is, I am afraid, tardily discovering himself as a Conservative, and if ever “ stone-walling “ could be justified, it would be in obstructing the passing of an amendment of conservative tendencies. Would a bold radical like the honorable member for Darwin, who tables notice of motion 500 years before their time - and, no doubt, does not expect the House to vote for them until that time has arrived - vote for an amendment like this, which I am opposing? My chief objection to the amendment, however, is that it is having the effect of side-tracking the debate, and removing the attention of honorable members from the consideration of the constitutional position involved in the main question before the Chair. No doubt the intention of the honorable member for Wentworth is a good one, but he has been ill-advised. He apparently objects to forcing, this House, by means of the closure, to adopt proposals which have never received the consideration of the constituencies ; but the cost of referring all the questions which must come before Parliament to the electors would be colossal. The people look to those whom they send here to deal with the details of all matters affecting the public interest, which must have the attention of Parliament, and it will be a sorry day for the country when honorable gentlemen- shrink from their proper responsibilities. To seek to shoulder those responsibilities on to the electors would be scandalous. Members of Parliament are not delegates, but representatives. If they were delegates they could deal only with the specific questions upon which they had been elected to vote, and, as each such question had been disposed of, would have to go before their electors for a new mandate. The honorable member for Wentworth would be the first to scorn to accept such a position, and has more than once objected to the attitude taken up by the members of the Labour Party in this very matter. But the amendment, if carried, would have the effect of making all Members of Parliament no longer representatives, but delegates. There is a wide distinction between a national and a State mandate. The amendment pays no regard to that distinction, and, in ignoring it, presents evidence of slovenly consideration of the subject by the honorable member responsible for it. One honorable member would have a mandate from his constituents to support a certain proposal which another honorable member would be sent here to oppose. Would the closure be applied in such a case as that? The whole of the trouble of the past few days has really been due to the carelessness of honorable members in permitting Government after Government to continue to carry on business under temporary Standing Orders, Our rules of procedure should have been calmly and fully considered months and even years ago. Personally, I should be prepared to leave the rights and liberties of honorable members in the hands of Mr. Speaker and Mr. Deputy Speaker, but the future danger of such’ a course is obvious. I hope that the House will treat the amendment as absolutely irrelevant.

Mr FULLER:
Illawarra

– 1° cannot support the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth, which seems to me to be vague and impracticable. The honorable member proposes that the closure shall not apply except in regard to questions which have already been “submitted “ to the electors. I do not quite understand what the honorable member means by the use of that term. It would be difficult, in many cases, to decide what issues had been submitted to the electors, and also the nature of their decision with regard to them. In addition to the subjects to which special reference has been made by the honorable and learned member far Corinella, and the honorable member for Dalley, I would point to the preferential trade issue. Some people hold the opinion that it is intended to break down all our fiscal barriers, so far as the mother country is concerned ; others suppose that a scheme of preferential trade would involve complete reciprocity, not only between ourselves and the mother country, but between the Commonwealth and every other portion of the Empire. Others, again, hold the view that we should retain our present Tariff as against all countries except Great Britain and her dependencies. It would be difficult to form a correct estimate of the actual state of public feeling upon this very vexed question, and it could not be said with certainty that the subject had been “ submitted “ to the electors in any concrete form. I have a further objection to the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth in that it would tend to reduce the representatives in this Chamber to the position of delegates. I would point out, further, that the application of the closure under the restrictive conditions suggested, might operate to the disadvantage of representatives of the smaller States, who might be denied an opportunity to properly express the views held by those whom they represented. I trust that the Treasurer will give us the benefit of his lengthy political experience, by informing the House what he thinks would be the effect of the proposed new standing order, if amended as the honorable member for Wentworth wishes to amend it. In my opinion, the trade union label provisions should be submitted to the electors before an application of the closure is made to their consideration in this Chamber. I do not remember that these proposals have ever been laid before the country by those who are asking this Parliament to agree to them.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The amendment upon my amendment has my approval, and seems to me an admirable one. It widens the scope of my amendment, and enables honorable members to give attention to considerations which otherwise would have escaped them. It recognises the well-known democratic principle that the people must rule - that the authority of Parliament is derived from the people, and that no steps should be taken here to prevent the passing of proposals which have received the approval of the electors ; but, on the other hand,that nothing should be done in this Chamber to prevent the fullest consideration of matters in regard to which there has not been an opportunity to obtain an expression of the popular will. It is more than probable that a weak Ministry, kept in office only under a compact with a third party in the House, as to which the people have never been consulted, will on too many occasions be forced by their allies to try to pass into law measures which could not obtain the approval of Parliament without the application of the closure to put an end to their free criticism. The honorable member for Newcastle professes to believe that the majority should rule.

Mr Watkins:

– The majority does not rule here.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am concerned, in view of the conditions created by the present .position of parties, not with the rule of the majority in this Chamber, but with the_ rule of the majority in the constituencies. For many years the honorable member complained - with justice - of the inequality of our electoral representation, and was one of those who was responsible for the adoption of manhood suffrage in the State of New South Wales. But now that the people have the fullest representation, parliamentary government is, to some extent, in a state of transition. In the House of Commons, the power of Parliament is passing more and more into the control of a secret committee called the Cabinet, which frames its measures and! submits them to the representatives of the people for approval or rejection.

Mr Watkins:

– Is the honorable member in order in discussing the main question ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I think that the honorable member has not gone beyond what he is entitled to say in speaking on the amendment.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– In an excellent work, The Governance of England, by Sidney Low, this “ point is borne out very cleverly.

Mr Watson:

– Is the honorable member in order in discussing, not the amendment, but the main question? The effect of the amendment is to prevent the application of the closure to questions which have not been referred to the people.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I see no reason at the present moment to rule the honorable member out of order, but I trust that he will keep as closely as possible to the amendment.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– My purpose is to show that the government of this Chamber is conditioned by the will of the electorates, whereas the adoption of the proposed standing order will introduce a vicious system which should not operate, at any rate in regard to measures which have not been, submitted to the constituencies. Every one knows that the trade union label proposals have never been before the electors, and other measures are in the same category. The people have determined that no preference should be given amongst free men, which is, in effect, an emphatic negative of the principle underlying these proposals. Have the people expressed their views on the proposal of the Government to interfere with the Immigration Restriction Act, the extension of the period during which a bounty shall be paid to the growers of sugar, or most of the other measures in the Government programme? At the’ last election, fiscal peace was the first item in the platform of the Government’ Party, but we are now told that the Parliament should re-open the Tariff. Can that proposal be regarded as having the popular approval ? Then we are informed that the action of the harvester trust demands interference on the ‘part of Parliament, and the Government tell: us that they are contemplating the introduction of a measure to limit the competition of foreign manufactures in our local markets. Has that proposal the consent of the electors? The amendment has been introduced to prevent’ the; possibility of the Government forcing these and other proposals through the Chamber without allowing fair discussion iti the public interest. The Prime Minister has no right to even submit for consideration, still’ less has he the right to endeavour to force through the House, any proposal for Tariff reform until it has received the popular imprimatur. In the past, Members of Parliament were clothed with very large powers, being trusted by their constituents to do their best for the country without being pledged, to any’ extent, to a definite programme. ‘ But the people have been taken more and more into the confidence of the Legislature, until, as competent writers have pointed out, Parliament is becoming more and more a mere registering machine. But the same writers complain that this body is becoming less and less capable for the work which it is constituted to perform. Therefore, it is increasingly important that nothing shall be done to lessen its power of useful and effective criticism. The Prime Minister last night contended that there is no need for lengthy discussion in Parliament, because of the high standard of education amongst the people outside. Legislative proposals are discussed in the press and on the public platform, so that in these and other ways the people know almost as much about the questions of the day as do the Members of Parliament whose especial business it is to give attention to them. That contention furnishes the strongest argument why no proposal which has not been before the country should be pushed through Parliament until an opportunity is given for its consideration by the people. What harm would result if the trade union label proposals were postponed for a few months, until the constituencies could be consulted upon them? Parliament must automatically go before the people every three years, and under such circumstances nothing should be done as to any question, in regard to which opinion is widely divided, until an opportunity has been given for its discussion by the electors. The Government dare not go before the people with these proposals.

Mr Watkins:

– Is the honorable member now in order ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I think that the honorable member is now getting away from the amendment.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am arguing that, instead of limiting the discussion of public questions of importance, the Government should give the fullest opportunities for their criticism by the representatives of the people until the verdict of the countrycan be obtained in regard to them. The legislation of this House, affecting as it does the whole of Australia and our- relations with the Empire as a whole, should be subjected to the fullest discussion before it comes must operation. The power of the House must decline as the powers of the Cabinet increase, and what ds proposed now but to increase the powers of the Cabinet? Mr. Speaker Lenthall s.aid, on one me- morable occasion, “ I have neither eyes to see nor ears to hear except as the House may direct me.” Similarly, the powers of Parliament are derived from the constituencies, and nothing should be permitted to be done which will lessen those powers, or hinder the effective exercise of them.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).There is no doubt that we hold our positions here as representatives of the people of the States from which we come, and when it is proposed to take from us any of our privileges, whatever is attempted to be done in that direction should have the approval of the constituencies. At one time, it was stated that Parliaments should be chosen annually^ in order to give the people still more control over the legislation of the country. The honorable member for Coolgardie, I understand, believes in the referendum to make the people active participants in our legislation. The proposed new standing order is intended to prevent the full and free discussion of a particular measure, which has been resisted By trie Opposition to the full extent of their strength, because, in their opinion, it would prove inimical to the best interests of the community. The amendment .proposed by the honorable member for Wentworth seems to me to afford the safeguard necessary to prevent measures involving important constitutional chang.es from being carried into law behind the backs of the people; and I trust that it will be adopted. I hope that honorable members will take care to safeguard the rights and privileges of their electors.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I cannot agree with the two honorable members who have preceded me in the support which they have accorded to the amendment proposed by the honorable member for. Wentworth. I quite agree that in exercising the .powers granted to us, we ‘should be guided by the consideration whether or not the people have had an opportunity to express their opinion ; but I do not think that we should embody in a standing order any condition of that kind. Sometimes we confer upon Ministers powers which are hedged round with restrictions, but in other cases it is impossible to lay down the conditions subject to which’ ‘certain powers shall be exercised. Therefore, we have to allow the fullest freedom on the understanding that Ministers will satisfy themselves thai they have the best of reasons for acting in any given direction. To embody such a condition as that proposed by the honorable member for Wentworth in the proposed new standing order would result in making confusion worse confounded. How could it be stated that any particular proposal had been approved by the people? In the first place, it is difficult to submit for their consideration in a concrete form many matters’ of vital importance. That is one of the great drawbacks attaching to the referendum. Where -the question is a simple one, it can be submitted in a concrete form, and a definite opinion can be expressed. But where a number of details are involved, of which some may be approved and others disapproved of. difficulty must be experienced in arriving at a definite conclusion. It is proposed by the honorable member for Wentworth, not that the people shall have approved of a particular measure, but that it shall have received their consideration. Many .measures may have received consideration, and some may have been .partially approved of, others may have been wholly approved of, and still others may have been practically rejected. And yet, under the amendment proposed by the honorable member, the standing order could be enforced in regard to the discussion of a matter which had been merely considered by the people. The honorable member has adopted a principle without considering how it could be applied; and I utterly fail to conceive how his object could be accomplished. He has not specified whether the consideration required is to be of a favorable or an unfavorable character.

Mr Kelly:

– lt would be difficult to define what was favorable or .unfavorable.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member is creating difficulties for himself. Then the amendment is not clear as to what is meant by a reference to the people. Is it to be a reference by the Ministry, or by the Opposition, or by a section of any particular party ; or is it to be a reference to the electors of the Commonwealth as a whole, or to any particular group of constituencies? No indication is given as to the consideration necessary to justify the application of the standing order. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Parramatta, upon which the proposal of the honorable member for Wentworth is to be engrafted, presents a clear issue. Ir” provides distinctly that the standing order shall not apply to the business- of the present session. That is something clear and distinct, but the further amendment merely befogs the question. We must look to the practical effect of the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth as applied to the business at present on the paper. Its operation would be most unequal and most undesirable. For instance, some of the measures on the business-paper have been considered in one form or another bv the people. In regard to many of them, however, it cannot be said that the public have expressed any concrete opinion. In some instances the people have expressed a willingness, by means of the provisions of the Constitution, that the Parliament should deal with certain matters, but have not indicated their opinion as to the manner in which the powers conferred upon the Legislature should be exercised. Authority has been given to us to deal with electoral matters, which to that extent have received consideration by the people. They have not, however, instructed us as to the proposals which should be carried into effect. That has been impracticable, because any measures relating to that branch of legislation must necessarilv be complicated and full of detail. The” Electoral Act may be said to have been accepted by the people, because we have been elected under the provisions of that measure. But the Electoral Bill which has been under consideration this session has never been before the country, and might or might not, under the terms of the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth, be regarded as a proposal the discussion upon which would be subject to the application of the proposed new standing order. If we were required to decide whether the Sugar Bounty Bill and the Sugar Excise Bill had been considered by the people, we should find ourselves in a’ serious dilemma. It may be claimed that the sugar bounty system has been considered by the people to some extent, but the present proposals for an extension of the bounty and the alteration of the sugar excise have never been submitted to them. Then again, there is the Immigration Restriction Bill and the Contract Immigrants Bill, in respect to which a peculiar situation would arise. The provisions of those measures cannot be said to have been approved by the people, and yet they certainly have been to some extent considered by them. If we had to deal with the question whether the proposed new standing order would apply to discussions upon those matters, we should have to decide by some means or other whether the reference to the people, since the passing of the Immigration Restriction Act, and the discussion which has since taken place, could be considered sufficient to justify the application of the standing order. I am afraid that in such a case the result would be to waste time rather than to facilitate progress. Similar arguments apply to the Census and Statistics Bill, which deals with a matter regarding which this Parliament has full power to legislate. The method in which those powers shall be exercised has, however, been left entirely to Parliament. The Copyright Bill contains a highlycontroversial proposal, in connexion with which the question would arise, under the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth, as to the applicability of the new standing order. Then there is the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. Ministers claim that the principle underlying that measure has been approved by the people, but we have no evidence that the proposal before the House-, or the new proposal that has been promised, would be accepted by them. In connexion with the Trade Marks Bill, which undoubtedly is the immediate cause of this proposal having been tabled, it might be said that power had been given under the Constitution! to deal with trade marks, and that Parliament need make no further reference to the people in order to prove that consideration had been given to that question. There is, however, another aspect to be considered. It might be argued that the people had deliberately withheld from the Commonwealth Legislature the power to deal with industrial and labour questions except in so far as they might affect more than one State, and that the inclusion of certain provisions in the Trade Marks Bill was an attempt on the part of the Government to assume powers that had been deliberately withheld. It might be claimed that the people had given their authority as regards one portion of the measure, and not as regards the other. Could we split up the Bill, and deal with one part under the proposed new standing order, and1 refrain from applying it -to the discussion upon another part? That would be a ridiculous situation. In connexion with the Estimates, consisting of thousands of items, we should find ‘ourselves in a very awkward position. If the Ministry were trying to force the

Estimates through - and that is one of the purposes for which the proposed new standing order will be used, and one of the great dangers that we have to apprehend - the question would be raised upon every item as to whether the people had or had not considered it. I would point out, further, that at some future date, we shall have an amended Tariff before us, and that it will be impossible to say whether or not the whole of the items have been considered by the people. There should be no limitation of the application of the proposed standing order to certain measures. But good reasons may be advanced for’ postponing its application until all business upon the paper, which has given rise to heated controversy, is out of the way. That is a reasonable proposition, and is also a practicable one, and I shall therefore support the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta.

Mr McLEAN:
Gippsland

– As we have now arrived at the usual time for adjournment on Friday, I would ask whether the Government will consent to adjourn the debate.

Mr Groom:

– No.

Mr McLEAN:

– I only wish to remind the Minister that if ever there was a proposal that should not be forced through Parliament at one sitting, and without affording honorable members an opportunity for calm consideration and full deliberation, it is that which is now before us, which aims at taking away from the representatives of the people liberty of speech.

Mr LEE:
Cowper

– I think it must be recognised that honorable members are completely tired out after a continuous sitting of twenty-five hours, and that we may reasonably appeal to Ministers to consent to an adjournment of the debate, so that we may return to our homes, and come back to the House in a proper frame of mind. No good purpose can be served by carrying on the debate until Saturday night. Will the Prime Minister consent to an adjournment?

Mr Deakin:

– No.

Mr LEE:

– Then, I move-

That the debate be now adjourned.

Mr POYNTON:
Grey

– Of all the cool propositions I have ever heard of, this one “ takes the cake.” We are asked for a little more time, forsooth. We have been here a week, and we are now told that if a little more time is allowed mature consideration may be given to this proposal with good results. Surely members of the Opposition must regard us as a lot of fools. I never knew of a greater piece of audacity. Some honorable members opposite have had to ask members of the Labour Party to assist in keeping a House for them, andwe have done it time after time. I have paired with members of the Opposition, whilst they were away attending to their own business. Now, after having wasted our time, these honorable gentleman ask for consideration. The present attitude of the Opposition is a menace to the Commonwealth, and I was deeply pained to see the honorable member for North Sydney standing up and defending the tactics that are now being resorted to. I could understand a larrikin or a cad acting in such’ a manner, but it is difficult to realize that the Opposition “ stone-wall “ is being carried on with the connivance of solid, sensible men. It is really shocking, and members of the Opposition deserve no consideration whatever at the hands of the country.

Mr Cameron:

– Let us go to the country, and fight it out.

Mr POYNTON:

– It is indeed pitiful to see men of brains and intelligence entering upon a campaign of paltry obstruction. Hundreds of pounds have been wasted owing to the miserable drivel which honorable members have talked for weeks past, and much of which has been recorded in the pages of Hansard. This has happened in what has been termed the “ rarer atmosphere of Federal politics.” I say that we have need to be ashamed of honorable members. They have brought discredit on the Commonwealth. If our masters could1 only have seen the exhibition we have witnessed here during this week, they would say, “ Shut up the Parliament for ever, and save us from any further displays of such idiocy.” I trust that the Government will fight the matter out to a finish.

Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - The honorable member has evidently been preparing for this dramatic outburst for some considerable time. Except upon the occasion whenhe was discussing the question of the duty on salt, I have never seen him so earnest. The honorable member is one of those to whom I alluded yesterday, when I said that the opinions of some people could be changed by crossing the gangway that runs across the chamber. I can remember the honorable member not only taking part in an all-night sitting, but speaking on unimportant questions, and putting forward trifling, meagre arguments purely for the purpose of resistance - I will- not degrade Parliament by alluding to his utterances, as drivel, as he has done to those of others - in his resistance to what he conceived to be an injustice to the people. What do we hear to-day ?

Mr Poynton:

– Drivel.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member belongs to a party which has always declared that ‘it would resist any interference with’ the liberty of speech in Parliament. It has always stated, as a party, that it was opposed to the “ gag.” The honorable member for Grey is now joining with the majority in attempting to force through the House at one sitting a motion designed to take away, to a large extent, the liberties of his fellow-members, in order that a measure designed in the interests of a section of the people only may become law. Last session, he constituted part of a continuously resisting force which made it extremely difficult for the late Ministry to get any business done. This Ministry has been very differently treated, having received great, assistance from the Opposition. It has been in connexion with particularly controversial measures only that discussion has been prolonged. If the Government think that we have unduly obstructed business they can appeal to the country on the question, but rather than do that they have made a compact with the members of the Labour Party, and as the price of the bargain have determined to force through Parliament the trade union label provisions of the Trade Marks Bill, members of the Labour Party, on their part, agreeing to vote for drastic repressive measures which, under other circumstances, would never receive their support. The Trade Marks Bill, as originally introduced in the Senate, did not contain the trade union label provisions. Even the Watson Administration did not think it necessary to insert those provisions. Eventually they were inserted on the motion of a private member, and the Bill, after its second reading in this Chamber, was allowed to lie unnoticed for a period of four months. On Friday last it was understood that the business for Tuesday would be the Electoral Bill, but when we met on Tuesday we found that the Trade Marks Bill, which for months had occupied a position low down on the notice-paper, had suddenly, without any notice being given, been placed on the top. The Opposition took exception to this treatment, but after discussion agreed to offer to pass fifty-seven clauses on the first evening - more than half the Bill, and a larger number of clauses than has ever yet been passed by this House in one sitting. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has characterized that offer as dishonest, on the ground that if the clauses did not need amendment they should have been passed as a matter of course, while, if they did need amendment, they should not have been passed as they stood. I pointed out, however, the necessity for amending them, and it was understood that we should agree to “what amendment was necessary.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks more closely to the question of the adjournment of the debate.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– It is obvious that the motion for the adoption of the proposed new standing order has been moved to push the Trade Marks Bill through the House, but, as I have shown, the action of the Attorney-General in regard to that measure indicates that there is no need for such haste. Any Opposition would resist such attempts to dragoon it into obedience. What other Ministry would pretend to expect to have its measures dealt with so rapidly? Personally, I should not object to the proposed standing order, subject to certain modifications, but I object to the demand that we should pass it at one sitting, and it will not redound to the credit of the Government party that brute force has been resorted to in order to gag the discussion of a particular measure.

Mr Storrer:

– The House has not done any business this week.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– No wonder, when Ministers are so inept.

Mr Watson:

– The last Government passed only one Bill.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– If that statement is accurate, and for the sake of argument I will deal with it as if it were, it is an admission which condemns the attitude of the present Government towards the Opposition. The honorable member admits that the late Opposition, whose members are now supporting the Government, allowed only one Bill to pass in a whole session ; but they are now seeking to compel the present Opposition to pass a measure a night. Nothing will be gained by refusing to adjourn, as nothing has been gained up to the present, because the proposals of the Ministry will continue to meet with the strongest resistance.

Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- Other honorable members having appealed to the Government in vain, I appeal to the master of the situation, the honorable member for Bland. In my judgment, the Ministry are afraid to agree to an adjournment unless he will consent. It seems to me, because of the persistency with which honorable members opposite refuse to listen to any proposals to adjourn, that their home life can be none too happy.

Mr Thomas:

– Why does not the honorable member go home?

Mr WILKS:

– Because the country is in danger.

Mr Watson:

– Wilks to the rescue.

Mr WILKS:

– Opposing Watson, the tyrant, as my famous namesake opposed tyranny in the past. The present Ministry are supposed to do departmental work, for which they are highly remunerated, but, during the past four days, that work must have been absolutely neglected, to the detriment of the public interest. How can honorable members give consideration to the business on the notice-paper unless they are given an opportunity to get some rest before the sittings of next week. The Opposition made a request for an adjournment of the debate at 12 o’clock last night, and what have the Government gained by refusing it? Nothing is more surprising to me than the good humour which has hitherto characterized these proceedings. The debate, moreover, has been most instructive and informing. But now that honorable members are physically exhausted, and irritated by nervous strain, it is not likely that the sitting will be further prolonged without unpleasant consequences. Many honorable members seem already to have caught the “sleeping sickness,” and what can be gained by continuing the discussion under such circumstances? If this request for an adjournment is refused, the Ministry will be throwing kerosene oil on the embers of obstruction.

Mr Thomas:

– What compromise does the honorable member offer?

Mr WILKS:

– What I ask for is an adjournment until Tuesday next. If the adjournment is granted, probably it will not be difficult to come to some arrangement in regard to this closure proposal, but we are not willing to have it rammed down our throats. The present situation is largely due to the unreasonableness of the Attorney-General, but I am willing to believe that, after honorable members have rested, they will be able and ready to give calm consideration to our proposals. We are not in the right frame of mind to make them now. I ask the Prime Minister what he hopes to gain from a prolongation of the debate? The honorable gentleman seems too exhausted to answer my question. Are the Government determined to conduct our proceedings solely by brute force?

Mr.. KELLY (Wentworth).- When supporting a request for an adjournment fourteen hours ago, I had no idea that the Ministry would compel us to continue our proceedings until the arrival of Sunday will put an end to them. The sacrifices made by our having to attend the meetings of this House seem to be entirely forgotten by the Ministry. Half the members of the House are able, as it is, to spend only the weekend with their wives and families, travelling backwards and forwards over long distances, and surely they are entitled to some consideration. You, Mr. Speaker, perhaps can afford to take high and patriotic views on an occasion like this, but I should like to be given an opportunity–

Mr SPEAKER:

– The question is not that the House, but that the debate be adjourned.

Mr KELLY:

– We cannot adjourn the House until the debate has been adjourned.

Mr SPEAKER:

– But the debate might be adjourned without the adjournment of the House following.

Mr KELLY:

– I hope that that will not happen. The proceedings of the past twenty-six hours have” been instructive in the highest degree.

Mr King O’Malley:

– They have advertised the union label.

Mr KELLY:

– With the result of increasing the public meetings held to protest against its adoption. Have honorable members yet taken the opportunity to read the debate on the closure proposals in the Queensland Parliament? Wherever the closure has been applied, it has been disastrous to the views which its has been used to enforce. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra has supplied us with references to the Queensland debate, and I donot think that honorable members can be fitted to deal with the motion of the Government until they have read that debate. There are, unfortunately, very few honorable members who devote .themselves seriously to the legislation which is put before us. Most honorable members on the Ministerial benches think that their duty is done when they sit silent and force the proposals of the Government through the House by sheer numbers. But to endeavour to force through, by all-night sittings, a measure which has never been before the constituencies, is opposed to the principles of true democracy, whose violation will, I am sure, not pass unnoticed by the people. Do Ministers think that honorable members on this side should allow to be forced through this Chamber business of which they know their constituents do not approve?

Mr Mahon:

– The Sydney train has gone.

Mr KELLY:

– One cannot ignore the intellectual influence of the honorable member on the attitude of his party, and, through them on the Government, and I appeal to him to urge the Government to consent to our reasonable request for an adjournment.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - There is something to i>e urged both for and against the motion, but, taking as dispassionate a view as I can, I think that the debate should be adjourned. If the debate be adjourned, the House could be asked either to adjourn. or< to proceed with business other than the question of the closure. So far as this week is concerned, there has, been comparatively little business finally dealt with. The Government, if it had chosen, might have passed more than half of the Trade Marks Bill through Committee on Tuesday, and finished the debate on the union label clauses on Wednesday. But they deliberately refrained from doing the business which might have been done, and now imply that the Opposition is to blame for the present situation, and contend that the business before the House should be considered. What is that business? It is not the question of the union label, but the adoption of a standing order, which, unless it has an ulterior object, is quite unjustifiable, in view of the state of the public business and the late period of the session. It was not thought of in its present form until Wednesday morning. In an angry moment, Ministers abandoned the business which the’y professed their anxiety to pass, and introduced a proposal even more contentious than the union label clauses. On Wednesday afternoon, at 2.30, it was notified that it was intended on the following afternoon to ask the House to adopt the “gag.” This is the first occasion upon which the adjournment of the debate on * question of great importance has not been granted after the conclusion of the opening speech. The necessity for adjourning the debate on a motion is greater than it is in the case of a Bill. 11 was greatly surprised when the request of the,- honorable member for Gippsland for an adjournment of the debate, and necessarily of the1 House, at the usual hour this afternoon, was not acceded to, and that the Prime Minister did not Consider that) he owed to that honorable member the courtesy of saying a single word. This debate has been pressed on in such a way asl to render it impossible for honorable members to ascertain the views ©f their constituents, or to refer to various authorities on the subject, or to consider the experience of other legislative bodies in connexion with a similar, although not identical, proposal. It cannot be said that there is any congestion of business, because when the Prime Minister was asked if he was not expecting too large a programme to be carried through before Christmas, he said that in his opinion there was no reason why, with reasonable consideration, the work should not be done. If he had then said that there was a great deal of business on the notice-paper, and that honorable members must sit late’ and early in order to put it through, I could understand his attitude in refusing an adjournment of this debate. With one or two exceptions, the House has always adjourned at about 4 o’clock on a Friday. If the Government would promise to adjourn the House to-morrow in time to enable honorable members to catch’ the first trains for the country, I believe that this motion for an adjournment of the debate would be withdrawn. But, apparently, I can elicit no reply to that reasonable offer of a compromise. Another reason for adjourning the debate is that the views of honorable members as a whole are entitled to consideration. There is not one honorable member who is not anxious to get away. They have heard as much on the question of the1’ closure as they can possibly assimilate. From one end of Australia to the other, if the opportunity be offered by adjourning this debate, the Government and their friends will learn that the ejectors are aghast at the very thought of the discussions in this House being curtailed by the application) of the closure. If the debate were adjourned, we might be spending our time in considering measures which would make for the welfare of Australia. There are upon the notice-paper measures which are designed to be of service to the people; but when they ask for such things as bounties, amd are offered the closure, the Government are mistaking the relative importance of things. The fact that only a few weeks of this session are left should induce the Prime Minister to give way. I am surprised to find the utter want of political perspective which the Government display. The way for them to secure a decision on a contentiousmatter is not by insisting upon honorable members sitting day after day until a conclusion be arrived at, but by allowing them ordinary periods for rest and refreshment.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The appearance which Ministers upon the Treasury bench present is the clearest possible indication of the inability of the House to conduct business properly. They remind me of nothing so much as a row of poultry on a wet day. It is manifest that thev are incapable of attending properly to their duties. I believe that if we could get an adjournment of the debate until Tuesday, we should then be prepared to submit to the Government proposals which might verv materially assist in passing the proposed standing order in a reasonable form. We on this side are not;, and never have been, opposed to a reasonable limitation of debate. We do not dispute the right of the Ministry to hold over the House a penal power to be used only in exceptional circumstances. I have never known another case where a Prime Minister has submitted a motion in a half-hearted speech, and then bolted from the Chamber, and, except for giving an occasional look in, has remained absent ever after. It is high time that he realized his responsibility - not only to the House, but to Australia at large - and condescended to make an occasional appearance. He has left his proposal in charge of the Attorney-General, who has. provoked all this trouble by his unreasoning and unyielding attitude. It may be that this has all been the carrying out of a deep-laid scheme for the purpose of making an occasion for this political illdeed. So far, the debate has been barren of result, and therefore it should be adjourned.’ What has taken place during its progress? Nothing, except an attempt - fortunately without success - now and again to provoke recriminations. The result of flinging this proposal at the House has been to cause a prolonged debate, and thus prevent useful business from being done. I am pleased to say that, as a rule, the discussion has been distinguished by good temper and tone, but if it be indefinitely prolonged irritation may be engendered.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I support the motion for adjournment, because I think the Government have been most unreasonable. I cannot conceive what reason the Government can have for thus compelling honorable members to remain away from their homes. The debate up to the present has been conducted with an entire absence of those unfortunate scenes so often witnessed under similar circumstances. I remember an occasion when a newspaper which was advocating what has been termed the “gag”-

Mr SPEAKER:

– The point is not whether what the honorable member has termed (the “gag” ought ,or ought not to be applied, but: whether ‘the debate should ‘be adjourned.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The action of the Government in persistently refusing an adjournment is not calculated to promote that good feeling which ought to characterize our proceedings. The Government are anxious that the debate should close within the next few hours, but I submit that it is not fair to ask honorable members, after sitting, practically since Tuesday last, to seriously consider a proposition of such importance as that now before us. If the Government were anxious to have a rule of the kind put into operation, why did they not propose it earlier in the session ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I think there ought to be a quorum to hear this. [Quorum formed.”]

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– If for no other reason, we ought to adjourn in consideration for the officers of Parliament, and also the attendants, who have been kept here to minister to our comfort and convenience. The public ought to be given an opportunity to know and resent the manner in which the Government are conducting the business of the country. The day will come when the Labour Party will’ be thankful to the present Opposition for their defence of the rights and privileges of the House. I am glad to see the Prime Minister once more in his place, because I am sure that had he been present previously there would have been no need for the present urgent appeal for an adjournment. All that the Opposition asks is that there shall be an adjournment.

Mr Deakin:

– And all I ask is that we shall proceed with business.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I know no precedent for the action which the Government have taken in connexion with the present motion. However, they seem determined to show no sympathy with either the members or the officers, and, so far as I am concerned, I shall make no further appeal.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– This debate must be taken simply as a protest by this side of the House against the action taken by the Minister in charge of the Trade Marks Bill. Citizens I have met to-day are amazed that the Government should continue to resist the request which was earnestly and sincerely made last night for time to consider the important proposal now before us. I find on inquiry that standing orders in legislative bodies have received consideration day after day and week after week, in order that the details might be thoroughly and thoughtfully considered. Nothing has been gained by the Government since I made an appeal to the AttorneyGeneral last night. And why? Because we are’ making a just and proper protest against an attempt to thrust down our throat an ill-considered motion. In view of the dogged determination on the Ministerial side to adhere to the motion and say nothing, the members of the Opposition are doing merely what they feel to be their duty. We are making the public understand the real object of the protest from this side of the House. We wish them to be informed why we are being forced to take up our present attitude.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Does the honorable member contend that the adjournment of the debate would conduce to the giving of that information?

Mr KNOX:

– I think that the debate may do so.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The question now is the adjournment of the debate.

Mr KNOX:

– While we continue to speak on the motion for the adjournment, 1 think the object is rather that the public may understand what is the difficulty, and what we are contending for at the present moment. We are justified in continuing our protest against the bulldozing attempted by honorable members opposite. I know that the measure, which is the primary cause of all this friction, is considered of vital importance by honorable members on the other side who are usingthe Government, the instrument they have created, to carry out their desires in respect of it.

Mr Frazer:

– On a point of order, I direct attention to the fact that the honorable member for Kooyong is repeating what has already been said many times by other honorable members, and I submit that the standing order 276 covers the tedious repetition of arguments used by honorable members other than the honorable member who happens to be speaking at the time attention is directed to it.

Mr SPEAKER:

– In the early hours of the morning, I ruled that the standing order to which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has referred is applicable, not merely to an individual speech, but to all the speeches, made in a given debate. I ask the honorable member for Kooyong not merely to confine his remarks to the question, but to avoid the repetition of arguments used by other honorable members in the same way.

Mr Wilks:

– I have no intention to question your ruling, sir, but, as a matter of instruction from the Chair, I should like to know whether the honorable member for Kooyong - -although the reasons he may have to advance in support of the motion may be the same as those which have been offered by other honorable members - is not entitled, in his representative capacity, to submit those reasons ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– Many honorable members will probably recollect a ruling I gave some two or three years ago, when, I think, the consideration of “the Tariff was drawing to a conclusion. A letter which had been written concerning the Tariff was read two or three times by different honorable members, and I ruled, under standing order 276, that the letter having already been read more than once, I could not allow honorable members to repeat it in the. same relation. I am taking up the same position now. If one hon- orable member uses certain arguments in a certain way, and others propose to use the same arguments in the same way, I am bound to interfere, because I consider that not merely in the letter, but in its spirit, this standing order would thereby be violated.

Mr KNOX:

– The situation is an extremely unfortunate one for the reputation of theFederal Parliament, and those who are. responsible for it must accept the responsibility. I. hope that the motion will be agreed to.

Mr McCOLL:
Echuca

– I think that the debate should be adjourned, because if these proceedings are continued until midnight to-morrow we shall not have advanced one step further. It should also be adjourned in order that the people of the Commonwealth may have time to understand clearly what the proposals of the Government are, and why this “stone-wall “ has been erected. It is also very desirable that time should be given to enable the opinions of the press on these proceedings to be circulated. If the debate is not shortly adjourned, the irritating effects of so harrassing a situation are likely to be felt during the discussion of every matter which will come up for consideration during the rest of the session.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).Ministers must by now have realized that it would have been better for them to accept the offers of the Opposition, made earlier in the debate. They cannot expect to gain very much from the continuance of these proceedings, and I hope that in the interests of the officers of the House they will permit the motion to be carried.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

– It must be recognised that the business before the House has not been advanced in any way as the result of the action of the Government in compelling honorable members who desire to safeguard the liberties of the people to remain up all night. The debate should certainly now be adjourned, if only in order that our constituents may learn what is the meaning of these proceedings. Nearlythe whole of my correspondence this afternoon was comprised of letters from electors who desire to be enlightened as to what is meant by the action of the Opposition. Personally, I may say that, expecting that we should be able to get away this afternoon as usual, I made arrangements for holding a meeting of my constituents to-morrow night, at which I proposed to explain the action which has been taken in this House. I regret that the persistence of the Government, in compelling honorable members to remain here, has made it necessary for me to cancel that arrangement. I hope that the action of Ministers will not be persisted in very much longer, and that the members of the Opposition, as representatives of the people, will be treated with the courtesy to which they are entitled.

Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– I appeal to the Government to consent to an adjournment of the debate, so as to “afford honorable members an opportunity of recruiting mentally and physically. The House has been sitting almost continuously since half-past 2 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon!, and honorable members are now thoroughly exhausted. I am satisfied that no good will result from any further prolongation of the discussion. I most earnestly ask the Ministry to consent to an adjournment, with a view to overcoming the present parliamentary crisis.

Mr CAMERON:
Wilmot

– I support the motion of the honorable member for Gippsland. I think that an adjournment of the debate should be granted, if only out of consideration for Mr. Speaker. I repudiate the suggestion that members of the Opposition have been guilty of wasting time. In the best interests of Australia, ‘ an adjournment of the discussion should be agreed to.

Mr LIDDELL:
Hunter

– I heartily support the motion. I feel that the tone of this Parliament has been lowered by the proceedings of the past few days. To-night this Chamber presents more the appearance of a magnified railway carriage than of anything else. We see piles of rugs all over the benches.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I am afraid that the honorable member’s remarks are scarcely relevant to the motion.

Mr LIDDELL:

– I am endeavouring to show that by their obstinacy the Ministry are bringing disgrace upon the House.

Mr Mahon:

– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member is not in order in saying that the conduct of the Ministry is bringing disgrace upon the House.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– As the honorable member’s remark is a reflection upon Ministers, I must ask him to withdraw it.

Mr LIDDELL:

– I withdraw it and apologize. I appeal to the Government to consent to an adjournment of the debate in the interests of the health of honorable members. How can we be expected to satisfactorily discharge our duties if we are kept here night after night in this fashion? Upon more than one occasion I have pointed; out that the atmosphere of the Chamber is extremely vitiated, and therefore detrimental to the health of honorable members. For that reason, if for no other, the Government should agree to the adjournment.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– There are many reasons why the modest request for an adjournment of this discussion should be acceded to. The honorable member for Gippsland is not in the habit of obstructing business. He bears an unblemished reputation, and a request coming from such a source should receive every consideration. It is agreed upon all sides that it is necessary to adopt some” standing order imposing a time limit upon the speeches of honorable members. The best way in which to secure a satisfactory solution of the present difficulty is for the Government to agree to an adjournment, so that peace-makers from both sides of the House may meet, with a view to proposals which will be mutually acceptable. I remember an all-night sitting last year, when honorable members were in an exceedingly irritable frame of mind. Upon that occasion an adjournment and a few kindly words by the honorable member for Wide Bay led to a settlement of the trouble, which was assuming somewhat formidable proportions. I am convinced that an adjournment at this stage would have equally happy results. The feelings of the officials of the House can be better imagined than described. As ‘for the recording angels, we had better not ask their opinion of our proceedings, because it would probably be framed in language which would be at once ruled out of order. What possible object can be gained by continuing the present discussion? If an arrangement be arrived at in the absence of an adjournment, it must necessarily be a hasty settlement, and one which is resolved upon in anger. It is bound to leave a nasty “taste in the mouth. In a leading article in the Herald of this evening, a reference is made to our proceedings during the past two days, and I propose to read it.

Mr Isaacs:

– I rise to a point of order. I submit that it is against the Standing Orders for an honorable member to read any newspaper references to a pending debate.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– That is so. The honorable and learned member will not be in order in quoting any such references.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The point of order raised by the Attorney-General is of the usual contemptible character.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member must withdraw that expression.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I withdraw it. The Attorney-General himself is continually quoting from newspapers.

Mr Wilks:

– He writes leading articles for the Age.

Mr Isaacs:

– I ask that the honorable member for Dalley should withdraw that statement. If that observation came from some honorable members, I should ignore it, but 1 cannot do so when it comes from hi mi.

Mr Wilks:

– As the .Attorney-General has appealed to me so nicely, I will withdraw the statement. He does not write for the Age newspaper.

Mr ROBINSON:

– Certain writers in the pres.s have pointed out that the refusal of the Government to agree to an adjournment is not calculated to strengthen their position. The health of some honorable members is being impaired by the long hours which we are being called upon to sit. Personally - although I possess, a robust constitution - I have found that late sittings in the vitiated atmosphere of this Chamber result in a lowering of vitality. Moreover, prolonged sittings engender bitterness between honorable members, which is greatly to be regretted, since parliamentary government cannot be carried on unless honorable members are more or less friendly disposed towards each other. It is impossible for Ministers to satisfactorily administer their Departments, or for honorable members to give proper attention to the parliamentary papers which are constantly being placed in our hands if we are asked to sit unreasonably long hours,, and for that reason, if for no other, this debate should be at once adjourned.

Mr WILSON:
Corangamite

– I am opposed to an adjournment of the debate for many reasons. One of them is that up to the present moment the physical tenacity of Federal politicians has never been demonstrated, and this is one of the occasions upon which it might be demonstrated. As the Attorney-General remarked upon a previous occasion, we are here to do men’s work, and it is, therefore, unfortunate that the Government have seen fit to interrupt an important debate for the purpose of submitting a proposal to apply the closure. The business-paper is full of important measures which demand our attention, especially as the session is approaching its close. The outcome of the present situation should be a dissolution, and therefore it is essential that we should at the earliest possible moment determine upon a scheme for the redistribution of the electoral provisions of the Commonwealth. The Sugar Bounty Bill is, of vital importance to Queensland. The Immigration Restriction Amendment Bill and the Contract Immigrants Bill should also be dealt with as soon as possible. Another important measure upon the business-paper is the Copyright Bill. Therefore I feel that it is absolutely necessary, in order that the business of the country may be proceeded with, to continue the debate, and so reach finality. There is another matter of very great importance that was referred to by the honorable and,1 learned member for Wannon. He said that it was necessary that Ministers should have more time to attend to their work.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-I would point out that that is not an argument for adjourning the debate.

Mr WILSON:

– I submit that I have a right to traverse arguments adduced by the honorable and learned member for Wannon.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– No, the honorable member has no such right.

Mr Conroy:

– I rise to order. Do I understand that your ruling is that if an honorable member makes remarks which are in order there can be no contradiction of them?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– No; and the honorable member must not discuss my ruling.

Mr Conroy:

– I am entitled to give my reasons for not agreeing with it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member is not entitled to give reasons why he thinks that the ruling of the Chair is not a sound one.

Mr WILSON:

– I point out that Ministers generally have double work to do. They have to attend to work, not only in

Parliament, but also in their Departments. But the Attorney-General has three lots of work to do - he has his departmental work, his Bar work, and occasionally he even does some work in the House. I think that it is desirable that the debate should be kept going as long as, possible, if only in order that he may be made to devote some time to the work of the country.

Mr. FULLER (Illawarra).- It must be patent to every one that, after the long sittings we have had, honorable members are not in a proper frame of mind and condition of body to consider the very important business that has been put tei ore the House by the Prime Minister. I thought that some member of the Government would have had the courtesy to reply to the inquiry of the honorable member for Gippsland, in view of the respect in which he is held by the people of Victoria, and having regard to the fact that some members of the present Government are old colleagues of his. But it appears that nothing which can be said by any honorable member will affect the Government in its determination to force through the proposed new standing order. Their action has very properly received severe criticism at the hands of intelligent people, who take an interest in the proceedings of this Parliament. Surely the time has arrived when, in the interests of good government, they should consent to an adjournment. We have a staff of officers, and I wish to make an appeal to the Government on their behalf.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– That argument has been mentioned by a previous speaker.

Mr FULLER:

– I submit that whether the argument has been put before the House by another honorable member or not, I am not debarred from using it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

Mr. Speaker has already ruled, and it is in accordance with the practice of the House of Commons, that repetition may consist not only of a re-statement of a matter by the honorable member who is addressing the House, but also of a re-statement of the arguments of those who have preceded him. As the ‘statement which the honorable member was making has already been made by other honorable members, I ask him not to repeat it.

Mr FULLER:

– I am always willing to bow to your ruling, but I would ask you to remember that as I represent 30,000 electors of New South Wales, I have a right to let them know what I feel about this matter ; and I cannot do so unless I am permitted to put my arguments before the House.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I ask the honorable member not to canvass or discuss my ruling. It is perhaps unfortunate for the 30,000 electors, to whom the honorable and learned member refers, but our rules are framed for the conduct of parliamentary business, and I, therefore, ask the honorable member to obey the ruling of the Chair.

Mr Conroy:

– This is a most important matter. I wish to intimate that I dissent fromyour ruling, sir.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable member put his dissent in writing?

Mr Conroy:

– My protest can be simply stated. The question which I wish to put toyou is this–

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable member take his seat ? I call on the honorable member forIllawarra.

Mr Conroy:

– I am asking for information to enable me to state my protest.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I understand that the honorable and learned member for Werriwa desires to express his dissent from my ruling. If the honorable member will put his dissent in writing, I will immediately take the proper steps; but in order to save time while the honorable member is writing his protest, I call upon the honorable and learned member forIllawarra to continue his speech. When the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has written his protest I will proceed to deal with it.

Mr Fisher:

– Is it not necessary to give notice of dissent from a ruling?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– No.

Mr Conroy:

– I beg to intimate that -

I dissent from the ruling of the DeputySpeaker that the opinion of 30,000 electors in a constituency should have no influence upon this House in considering whether the debate should be adjourned.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I rule that the honorable and learned member’s statement of his dissent is out of order. It does not correctly represent my ruling.

Mr Conroy:

– But I dissent from your ruling, sir. and insist that notice shall be taken of my dissent.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa will resume his seat. I hope it will not be necessary for me to apply the standing order.

Honorable Members. - Chair, chair !

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I again ask the honorable and learned member to resume his seat.

Mr Conroy:

– And I insist upon having my dissent taken notice of.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I name the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, Mr. Conroy, for persistently disobeying the order of the Chair, and I ask the leader of the House to take the necessary action.

Mr Isaacs:

– I would ask the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to express his regret. I do not think that he intentionally flouted the Chair, but there is no doubt that what has happened has not been conducive to the maintenance of the dignity of the House. I ask him to express his regret, in order that the incident may be closed. .;

Mr Conroy:

– I merely stated that I dissented from the ruling ofthe DeputySpeaker; but, in deference to the apparently general opinion of honorable members that I am in the wrong, I willingly express my regret.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member will allow me to point out to him that my only desire is - and it is my intention also - to maintain order in this House. I insist, and shall always insist, that honorable members shall, when I rise from the chair, take their seats. I went to the extreme course of warning the honorable member, recognising that the matter had reached a serious phase. As, however, he has expressed his regret for the action which he has taken, with the concurrence of the House I will withdraw my naming of the honorable member.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Before I call upon the honorable member forIllawarra to proceed with his speech, I should like to point out that the dissent expressed in writing by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa does not correctly state the effect of my ruling. The ruling was that our rules prevent an honorable member from repeating an argument which has been previously used.

Mr Conroy:

– I asked you to tell me exactly what your ruling was, in order that I might state my objection precisely.

Mr Fuller:

– The ruling which you have given, and which the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has objected to, seems to me to be of such an extraordinary character that I myself shall formally dissent from it. I have put my dissent in the following form: -

I dissent from the ruling of the Deputy Speaker that an honorable member is not entitled to use an argument already used by another honorable member.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Illawarra’ has handed in his written dissent from my ruling, but the terms he has used in his protest scarcely express the effect of the ruling. I will give the honorable member an opportunity to put his protest in proper form if he so desires,. My ruling was that an honorable member would be guilty of irrelevance, or repetition if he were to use arguments used by an honorable member previously in the same debate.

Mr Fuller:

– That, I think, is hardly the way in which you corrected me. I was about to state an argument, and you called me to order on the ground that that argument had already been used by another honorable member. With all respect, I took exception to that ruling, and pointed out to you that it appeared to me to be one which could not be upheld, because I, as the representative of 30,000 electors in New South Wales,, ought to have an opportunity of expressing my opinions.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable member add to his motion of protest the words “in the same debate”?

Mr Fuller:

– Yes.

Mr Johnson:

– I beg to second the motion.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– In accordance with standing order 287, the motion having been proposed and seconded, the’ debate upon it stands adjourned until the next sitting. day.

Mr Fuller:

– It is difficult for me to make sure that I shall not use arguments which have previously been used by other honorable members, because I was not present whilst some of them were speaking. It is impossible for me to know what arguments they used.

Mr Conroy:

– I rise, on a matter of privilege, not on a point of order. I beg to call attention to the offensive conduct of certain honorable members in making this House a bedroom. I say, unhesitatingly, that such a state of affairs ought not to be allowed to continue. It is most objectionable. This is a matter upon which we can all agree. Look at honorable members opposite 1

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable member state his point of order?

Mr Conroy:

– I put it as a point of privilege. It has relation to the observance of decorum in the Chamber. If this state of affairs is to continue, what else are honorable members to be permitted to do? I ask you, sir, to look around you. Such a thing has never been allowed in the British House of Commons, no matter how late it sat, and it ought not to be allowed amongst us.

Mr McDonald:

– I rise to order. I ask whether the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is in order in saying that this is a. question of privilege?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I do not think that what the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has mentioned1 is a question of privilege. It is a question, of order, and I ask him to state it as briefly as possible, so that I may deal with it.

Mr Conroy:

– What I complain of is this : I say that it is a breach of privilege that certain honorable members opposite should conduct themselves as they are doing.

Mr McDonald:

– No; Mr. Speaker has ruled against the honorable and learned member

Mr Conroy:

Mr. Speaker stated that in a particular case certain conduct to which attention was directed was rather a matter for the good taste of honorable members than for his intervention. But this is an entirely different proceeding. Certain honorable members are now seeking to turn what should be a place of debate into a bedroom. I presume that if this is allowed, all the other accessories of a bedroom will also be brought into this place

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Werriwa has drawn my attention to the fact that certain honorable members, in view of the possibility of their having to spend a considerable amount of time in the Chamber, have endeavoured to add to the comforts which are ordinarily permitted to honorable members. I hope that, if anything of that kind is done, it will be done in as unobtrusive a manner as possible; but I do not feel inclined to deprive honorable members of any comforts which they may require to maintain their attend:ance here. I merely ask them to make use of their privilege in such a manner as not to offend the susceptibilities of other honorable members.

Mr Johnson:

– Would you, sir, permit another honorable member to bring a bed, bedding, and bedstead into the chamber ?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-It is not the function of the Speaker to give information of that character. Should what the honorable member indicates occur, I shall be prepared to deal with it.

Mr Johnson:

– I think I shall proceed to do what I have suggested.

Mr Conroy:

– I direct your attention to the fact that standing order No. 1 provides that-

Inall cases not provided for hereinafter, or by sessional or other orders, resort shall be had to the rules, forms, and practices of the Commons House of the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland in force at the time of the adoption of these orders, which shall be followed as far as they can be applied to the proceedings of the House of Representatives.

I urge that, under that standing order, it is evident that you, as our presiding officer, must view with disapproval the conduct of certain honorable members opposite.

Mr King O’Malley:

– They carried beds into the House of Commons during the Home Rule debates.

Mr Conroy:

– No; it was not allowed. The point is that under the standing order which I have quoted, you, sir, have power to rule with regard to the conduct of which I have complained. It has been decided in the British House of Commons that to bring bed and bedding into the House is disorderly, and a breach of the rights of other honorable members. I need hardly refer to the fact that, supposing each member were to lie down on the benches, there would not be room for the whole of his fellow-members.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I ask the honorable member not to debate the question, but to state concisely the point upon which he requires a ruling.

Mr Conroy:

– I submit that under the standing order I have quoted there is power–

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-I recognise the power ; but what action does the honorable and learned member desire me to take?

Mr Conroy:

– I call attention to the fact that in the British House of Commons it has been held to be disorderly to bring bed and bedding into the chamber.

Mr Frazer:

– Where is the proof?

Mr Conroy:

– If the honorable member will consult the text-books, he will learn that whatI have stated is correct. That rule has been applied so far that it was ruled that even to sit in the Chamber and read a newspaper was a breach of the rules and orders of the House.

Mr McDonald:

– It is even a breach of order in the House of Commons to have water-bottles on the table. Yet we have them here.

Mr Conroy:

– Surely that is a most sensible thing.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member has given me sufficient information as to his point of order,, and I am prepared to rule upon it.

Mr Conroy:

– I trust that, with a view to maintaining decency of conduct in this Chamber, it will not be turned into a bedroom. A room has been fixed up on the Senate side of the building, ‘ where honorable members can sleep if they desire ; and I submit that it is not right that they should sleep here. Of course, I can sympathize with honorable members in their present tired state, but it is distinctly against the rules that such conduct as I have indicated should be permitted.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie rose. Do I understand that he wishes to bring under my notice another point of order referring to the same matter?

Mr Frazer:

– I desired to take a point of order while the honorable and learned member for Werriwa was speaking.

Mr Johnson:

-Which the honorable member cannot do.

Mr Frazer:

– I was going to submit that this question had been brought up previously, while you, sir, were not in the Chamber, and that Mr. Speaker had given his decision upon it. Consequently no attempt should be made to go any further in the matter.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It is quite true that Mr. Speaker had his attention directed to certain conduct. But in that case an honorable member was simply reclining on a pillow.

Mr McDonald:

– I rise to a point of order.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member cannot rise while I am speaking to a point of order.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order ! The honorable member for Parramatta will see that, although an honorable member cannot raise a second point of order while another one is being stated, it is not possible to claim that the honorable member discussing a point of order can be permitted to say things that would not be allowed under other circumstances. The honorable member for Kennedy is perfectly in order in rising with regard to a statement made by the honorable member for Parramatta.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I was refused permission to do so last night.

Mr McDonald:

– I ask for your ruling as to whether an honorable member is in order in discussing a point of order when the Speaker has already given his ruling upon it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-I point out in respect of that–

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– May I not speak to that point of order?

Honorable Members. - Chair., chair !

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable member resume his seat?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It seems to me that some honorable members have privileges thatwe have not.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member must take his seat, or I shall proceed to name him.

Mr.Joseph Cook. - Name away !

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I name the honorable member for Parramatta, Mr. Joseph Cook, for constantly disobeying the ruling of the Chair, and refusing to take his seat when called upon by me to do so.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That is not correct ; I have not done so.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– Give us fair play !

Mr Isaacs:

– I ask permission to say this : 1 am sure we all desire to conduct our business without unnecessary friction ; but at the same time we must maintain the authority of the Chair.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Macquarie has just now made a statement which I regard as a reflection upon the Chair. He has stated, in so many words, that the Chair is not giving fair play to the honorable member for Parramatta. I ask him to withdraw that statement.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I withdraw it. I desire to be respectful to the Chair on all occasions.

Mr Isaacs:

– I donot wish to say anything more about the unpleasantness that has arisen than this - that it is a matter of supreme importance to this Chamber to know exactly where we are in our con trol of business, but whatever may be the result, I earnestly trust that we shall be able to conduct the proceedings without personal friction. I think the honorable member for Parramatta must himself see that it is an essential foundation for the proper conduct of our affairs that the authority of the Chair must be maintained. I am sure that he will recognise at once that it is especially his duty, as acting leader of the Opposition, as it is the duty of any one leading the House on this side, to set an example. I ask my honorable friend - I am sure that he thoroughly understands me - to save any further trouble in the matter by withdrawing expressions which he has used with regard to the Chair.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I should like to know what is required of me.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Perhaps I may inform the honorable member of what really occurred. The honorable member apparently thought that he was not being accorded the same privileges as were other honorable members.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I certainly did; I think so still.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member rose to his feet, and when I rose I requested him to take his seat ; but he disregarded my direction.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Because I thought–

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member again disregarded the direction I gave. As he persisted, I had recourse to the only means of asserting the authority of the Chair.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– No such thing.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member dared me to do it. I was reluctant to take this step, but in order to assert the position of the Chair, I had to do so. That is a plain statement of what occurred. I ask the honorable member if he has anything to say?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Yes, sir, I have something to say, and desire, to say it. I felt, and I still feel, that you treated me in a manner that was unnecessarily peremptory when you directed me to take my seat, and I objected to the tone and manner in which you addressed me. I hope that I shall always be found not wanting in respect to the Chair. But may I remind you that there are reciprocal duties, obligations, and courtesies in this House? In this case I feel that I was not being treated with becoming courtesy.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Order ! I do not think that I can allow this. I ask the honorable member not to proceed upon those lines.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I hope I may be allowed to explain what led to the trouble.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– As it appears that the honorable member does not realize what the position is, perhaps we had better proceed in the ordinary way. I am anxious that the proceedings should be conducted in a friendly and considerate fashion, but I cannot allow the honorable member to continue in the s.train which he has adopted.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The trouble occurred through what I regarded as apparently a desire to prevent me from calling attention to a matter which had occurred, whilst at the same time other honorable members had been allowed the greatest possible latitude.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Is that all that troubles the honorable member?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Yes, that is all.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Then I think I can at once remove the honorable member’s misapprehensions. A point of order was taken, and was stated. Then the honorable member for Parramatta proceeded to speak to the point of order. While he was speaking to it, the honorable member for Kennedy rose to order, with reference to something which he had said. The honorable member for Parramatta, apparently relying upon some other decision, appeared to think that during the time when he was speaking to a point of order no other point of order could be raised. I pointed out to him that if that view were conceded it would permit expressions of a disorderly character to be used under cover of being used whilst an honorable member was speaking to a point of order. The honorable member for Kennedy stated his point of order, and I was proceeding to dispose of it, but the honorable member for Parramatta, apparently thinking that he was going to be prevented from speaking any further, made an objection. There the trouble arose. I wish to assure the honorable member that he would not have been prevented from speaking, and that the point of order would have been decided in his own favour.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I certainly withdraw anything I have s.aid ; and now I hope

I may be permitted to make’ an explanation. It is quite clear, from what you havesaid, that there has been a misapprehension on your part, as well as on mine, and I am going to point it out. You say that the honorable member for Kennedy rose to take exception to something which I had said. My understanding is. that he rose to say that mv point of order should not be upheld because Mr. Speaker had already determined the matter.

Mr McDonald:

– My point of order is this, that when a point of order is raised, it cannot be discussed without the permission of the Chair. The honorable member for Parramatta got up to speak on the point of order, and my objection was that he had no right to speak upon it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Really, the matter is not worth talking about. I unreservedly withdraw everything.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Under the circumstances, I withdraw the naming of the honorable member for Parramatta.

Mr FULLER:

– Perhaps I may now be permitted to continue my speech.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I desire now to take your ruling on the point previously raised. My point is that owing to the action taken by certain honorable members, the appearance of this House is, to say the least of it, not decent. I submit that no honorable member has a right to give an appearance to the Chamber which is offensive to other honorable members. Last night a little latitude was allowed - and reasonably allowed. But surely the sort of thing that is now going on should not be permitted. Already an honorable member has inquired whether he will be allowed to bring a camp bed into the Chamber. I venture to say that if the Chamber is to be allowed to assume the appearance of a bedroom, it will be most unbecoming. This is a legislative Chamber.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Parramatta has raised a point which has already been dealt with. I have pointed out that honorable members are entitled to render their position here as comfortable as possible. But I also desire to say that they are not, in my opinion, justified in doing so in such a fashion as to cause offence to other honorable members. I therefore rule that honorable members in adding to their comfort should do so in such a manner as not to offend others. If this direction be ignored, I shall have to direct the removal of the sources of offence.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I certainly take strong exception to what is being done.

Mr FULLER:
ILLAWARRA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– What has just occurred must furnish a substantial reason why this debate should be adjourned.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I rise to order. I ask you, sir, to so enforce the ruling which you have just given as to lead to the decent appearance of the Chamber.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I have noticed a couple of pillows, and I have directed that they shall be covered or removed.

Mr FULLER:

– What has occurred shows the tremendous strain upon honorable members, mentally and physically.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I rise to order. The abuse to which we have just directed your attention, and which you have ordered to be removed, is being accentuated. I protest in the name of this Parliament against the proceedings being conducted in this fashion.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I have given instructions which, I think, will cause the removal of what is offensive to the honorable member.

Mr FULLER:

– I trust that, apart from what has just occurred, the members of the Government will see the necessity of taking steps to maintain the dignity of the Chamber, not only in the eyes of honorable members, but in the eyes of the public of Australia. If we do anything to give rise to a feeling of distrust on the part of the people in our parliamentary institutions, we shall strike a heavy blow at the Commonwealth, and, feeling satisfied that such proceedings as the Government have forced upon us are not calculated to uphold the dignity of the House, and maintain its high position in the public estimation, I earnestly ask the Government to accept the motion for the adjournment of the debate.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I, for one, would certainly like the Government to consent to the adjournment of the debate, if only for a short period. There is undoubtedly a desire to arrive at an amicable arrangement to put an end to the present unsatisfactory state of affairs, and a brief adjournment might enable that desire to be carried into effect.

Mr Austin Chapman:

– What are the terms?

Mr CONROY:

– I have no terms to offer. The debate should be carried on with some toleration.

Mr Batchelor:

– We are showing toleration.

Mr CONROY:

– Honorable members opposite seem to consider that the capacity to remain seated implies the capacity to think.

Mr Watkins:

– We are fresh enough.

Mr CONROY:

– I have heard of men, in moments of irritation–

Mr Watson:

– We want Johnson.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I must ask honorable members to refrain from interjecting. They are scarcely treating the honorable and learned member for Werriwa fairly.

Mr Watson:

– He is not treating us fairly.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I must ask that the honorable and learned member be not interrupted.

Mr CONROY:

– We have asked for the adjournment of the debate.

Mr Watson:

– On what grounds ?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I call attention to the persistent interjections of the honorable member for Bland. It is impossible for any honorable member on this side of the House to speak owing to his interruptions.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

-If the honorable member is persistently interjecting, I must ask him to refrain from doing so.

Mr Watson:

– During the last halfhourI have been in the Chamber for only two or three minutes, and have had the opportunity of listening to some remarks which were perhaps interesting to the honorable member who was uttering them, although they did not seem to be very clear.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Is the honorable member in order in reflecting on another honorable member?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I understood the honorable member for Bland to be making a personal explanation, and I feel assured that he will not speak on lines that would be offensive to the honorable member.

Mr Watson:

– Certainly not. I have no desire to offend the honorable member for Parramatta.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member is not offending me.

Mr Watson:

– I was merely asking the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to clearly indicate on what grounds he thought an adjournment of the debate should be granted.

Mr CONROY:

– Had the honorable member been offensive to me, I should have thought that he was not in his usual frame of mind. I ask for an adjournment of the debate because I do not think that the House, after sitting continuously for so many hours, is in a fit position to proceed. We have already sat seventyfive hours this week, so that, having regard to the usual duration of our sittings, we have compressed nine and a half days’ work into less than four and a half days. We have to consider whether we are in such a frame of mind as to be able to carry on the debate with a proper regard for the forms of the House, ‘and for that general propriety of conduct that should mark our proceedings. I do not think we are. There should be such an adjournment as would enable honorable members to ascertain! the views of their constituents on this question. I do not believe in making a trial of brute force in this way. I should not think of agreeing to a standing order such as that now proposed, but a brief adjournment might enable us to arrive at a mutually satisfactory compromise. Last night the AttorneyGeneral was enabled, owing to the considerationof the honorable member for Macquarie, who remained in the Chamber, but gave him a pair, to obtain some hours’ sleep.

Mr Isaacs:

– The Opposition made terms to obtain their night’s rest.

Mr CONROY:

– A number of honorable members of the Opposition remained in the Chamber. If the Attorney-General is determined to bludgeon the proposed standing order through the House, we shall have to remain here for another twenty-four hours. I wish now to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.] My proposal is that the Ministry should allow at least a short adjournment, in order that we may see whether an amicable arrangement cannot be arrived at.

Mr Isaacs:

– I think that the honorable and learned member has been for some time discussing utterly irrelevant matters.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member has been urging the adjournment of the debate, on the ground that it would afford an opportunity for a conference. As he has dealt with that point at some length, I must ask him to refrain from further discussing it.

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable member was inconsiderate in calling attention to the state of the House when a number of honorable members were at supper.

Mr CONROY:

– I did so because I saw it was utterly useless to address any arguments to the honorable and learned member in favour of an adjournment. Honorable members cannot possibly be fit to do the work before them after having gone through such a very long sitting.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member cannot repeat over and over again arguments that have already been used.

Mr CONROY:

– I do not intend to repeat them, because I do not feel physically capable of doing so. The fact that the request for an adjournment has been ignored shows an extraordinary want of recognition of the conditions under which the debate is being conducted. Honorable members on this side have decided not to make any. further requests for an adjournment of the debate, and the Attorney-General can only expect that consideration fromus that he metes out to others.

Question - That the debate be now adjourned - put. The House divided.

AYES: 0

NOES: 0

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the negative.

Mr. JOHNSON (Lang). - I support the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth, because I object to the principle of the! closure, and especially to its application to measures that have not been considered by the electors. A number of Bills which have been presented for our consideration should certainly not be dealt with without the very fullest discussion, and certainly the proposed standing order should not operate in regard to them. The exhibitions that we have lately witnessed < demonstrate that this House has outlived its usefulness, and that an- appeal should be made to the country at the earliest possible moment. Certainly no attempt should be made to rush through many of the measures included in the; Government programme without first consulting the electors. It is difficult to know at present what the feeling of the people is in regard to a number of matters which have not yet been placed fairly before them. The Prime Minister told us that Parliament was not a debating society, but existed for the purpose of conducting and supervising legislation. I should like to know how the end indicated could lae attained without debate.

Mr. CAMERON (Wilmot). - I candidly, confess that I find, it extremely difficult to understand the amendment of the honorable member for Wilmot. At first sight it would appear that the honorable member is in favour of the application of the closure to the discussion of all matters regarding which the electors have been consulted. I sympathize with the view that under ordinary circumstances, debate should not be unduly prolonged, but occasions will arise when it is desirable that the freest discussion should be permitted. We know that the electors of Australia take a very keen, interest in political matters, and there is a good deal to be said in favour of taking them into our confidence as far as possible. I am sure that they would resent any restriction .upon debate relating to measures .which had not been previously submitted to them. At the same time I have grave doubts as to the practicability of the amendment now under discussion. I should like very much to refer to a number of matters which I think are deserving of consideration in connexion with the Government proposal ; but I understand that I cannot address myself to the main question. I trust that my constituents will fully understand that I am re-‘ strained by the rules of the House from fully debating this question.

Mr. ROBINSON (Wannon). - The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Wentworth is an important one, and, as bearing upon it, I should like to refer to a passage which occurs at page 171 in Mr. Leonard Courtney’s well-known book The Working Constitution of the United Kingdom. He says: -

When a project of legislation is brought forward with little or no forewarning, embodying perhaps a novel policy, and containing provisions which have not undergone public discussion, and in reference to which the mind of the nation may be unenlightened, and its judgment unknown, a repetition of hostile argument in debate after debate may be a public duty, such as it is the especial function of an Opposition to discharge.

I apprehend that the intention of the amendment is to meet a position such as that referred to. The honorable member for Wentworth desires that the proposed new standing order should not apply to the discussion of matters regarding which the public are unenlightened, and their judgment unknown. The chief thing to be said in favour of the amendment is that it would prevent any proposal which had not been discussed by the electors from being closured through the House. For example, under the amendment the discussion on the Trade Marks Bill, which cannot be said to have been before the electors at the last election, at any rate so far as its union label provisions are concerned, would not be subject to the application of the proposed new standing order. In so far as it would do that, the amendment would accomplish a good object. At present a deliberate attempt is being made to stampede this Parliament in regard to a matter of which the constituencies know nothing, and in reference to which the public mind is sought to be inflamed by a number of misleading statements.I refer to the agitation in favour of preventing the importation of harvesters. Under the amendment, a proposal of that kind could not be closured through the House. I have been informed that if the proposed standing order be adopted it is the intention of the Government to closure then, not only the trade union label proposals, but also legislation for the alteration of the Tariff. That surely would not be justifiable. But the amendment, however desirable on broad and just grounds, would be, to some extent, unworkable. The following list of eighteen proposals has been dealt with this session, but the effect of the amendment would have been to prevent the application of the proposed new standing order to most of them, however unwarrantably prolonged the discussion of them might have been. The proposals to which the House has agreed this session are the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Bill, the Papua Bill, the Jury Exemption Bill, the Evidence Bill, the Secret Commissions Bill, the Service and Execution of Process Act Amendment Bill, the resolution in favour of granting£25,000 as a memorial to the late Queen Victoria, the Public Service Classification, the Census and Statistics Bill, the Wireless Telegraphy Bill, the contracts for a mail service with the United Kingdom and Europe, and for a mail service with Canada and America, the Estimates, the Appropriation Bill, the Representation Bill, the Amendments. Incorporation Bill, and the Life Assurance Bill.

And save and except proposed laws which appropriate revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.

Although, as the honorable member for Wentworth is, not here, I have not had an opportunity to consult him in reference to that amendment of his amendment, I feel bound to take this course, because of the opposition shown to his proposal by honor able members of my own party, such as the honorable members for North Sydney and Dalley. His position is, from some points of view, a proper one, and has the support of distinguished constitutional writers; but it should not, I think, be accepted by the House without the addition of the words which I have read.

Only two amendments can be proposed at the same time to a question. Some limit is necessary, and the usage has grown into law that an amendment to an amendment is allowable, but that no motion to amend further can be entertained until one of the two amendments is disposed of. There is no limit, however, to the number of amendments to a question.

In all cases not provided hereinafter, or by sessional or other orders, resort shall -be had to the rules, forms, and practice of the Commons House of the Imperial Parliament?

No decision appears in the Canadian journals on this point, but the usage is uniform.

Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - I am considerably relieved by the decision, you, Mr. Speaker, have based on the words of the excellent constitutional authority whom you have cited. Honorable members would be at great disadvantage if. they could be asked to consider so intricate a question as would be before us if the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth upon the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta could itself be amended. This debate has now lasted so long that, surely, an opportunity has been given for supplying honorable members with printed copies of the proposals to which we are being asked to give our consideration. As we have not been provided with printed copies of the amendments which have been proposed, I must rely upon a pencilled note of them, made as they were read out from the Chair.

Mr. WILSON (Corangamite). - It seems to me impossible to discuss the amendment without taking fully into consideration its effect if agreed to, upon the proposed new standing order. While I am in favour of some limitation of debate - though not of so drastic a character as is proposed by the Prime Minister - the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth would, it seems to me make the application of the closure absolutely ineffective. No doubt the honorable member has considerable justification for his contention that the closure should not be applied to business which has not been submitted to the constituencies, but it seems to me that any rule for the limitation of discussion must apply uniformly. * A practical difficulty in the application of the principle which the honorable member for Wentworth wishes us to adopt is that at any election the three parties in this’ House would submit varying methods for dealing with questions of public interest. It is quite possible that some planks in the programme of a party may not have been submitted to the electors in the various constituencies, but under the amendment they could not be brought within the application of the closure. It should not be applied ruthlessly to such measures as have been submitted to the electors at the time of a general election. If it is to be of any service at all, it should be so framed as to apply to all matters which are brought before the Parliament, and not to a special section, such as those which may have been submitted to the electors at a general election. The honorable and learned member for Wannon has pertinently asked whether it should be applied to the consideration of the Estimates. His amendment was, I think, an undesirable one, because, if any business offers an opportunity for obstruction, the consideration of the Estimates does. In Great Britain and Canada - in fact, in all British possessions enjoying responsible government - the Opposition has been known to offer very serious obstruction to the passage of the Estimates. If the closure is to be applied in any case, then, subject to reasonable modification, it should1 be applied to financial questions. Therefore the amendment fails very seriously in that regard. Even in the case of the union label clauses of the Trade Marks Bill the debate should be restricted if, in the opinion of the Government, it be necessary ; but under this amendment it could not be done. I contend that this proposal has been introduced by the Government at the wrong time. It should have been introduced, not in the middle of the debate on a Bill, but towards the end of a session, for use in the following session, or towards the end of a Parliament for use in the succeeding Parliament. On one occasion Mr. Duncan Gillies considered that the Legislative Assembly of Victoria should adopt certain Standing Orders. He asked the members of the House to consider his proposals in a fair spirit, but as soon as he found that serious opposition was raised to the proposed rules, particularly to those relating to the application of the closure, he withdrew his motion, because he felt that new rules should not be considered on party lines. I commend that incident to the consideration of the Government. I contend that the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth would apply to the Sugar Bounty Bill and the Excise (Sugar) Tariff Bill, because those measures were submitted to the electors at the last general election, though, perhaps, not to a great extent in the constituencies not immediately affected. In the same way it would apply to the Immigration Restriction Act Amendment Bill, because the question of immigration restriction was made a live one at the last general election. Again, the use of white labour in the stoke-hold’s of mail steamers was very widely discussed. If a Bill dealing with the contract section of the Post and Telegraph Act were submitted, then, under the amendment, the closure could be applied! if any great obstruction were offered by the Opposition. The question of contract immigrants was also discussed at very great length at the last election, so that the amendment would apply to the Contracts Immigration Bill. The Copyright Bill contains very contentious matter, which I believe will be “discussed at great length, especially the provision relating to* copyright in newspaper cablegrams. It is possible that the closure would be applied to what seems to be a purely technical measure, but that is mainly due to the fact that unfortunately Ministries have got into the habit of tacking on to what are otherwise perfectly innocent measures, contentious clauses, which have raised considerable turmoil. Perhaps it may be necessary to provide some rule for the restriction of debate, but its application should be made much more general than the honorable member for Wentworth proposes. The Manufactures Encouragement Bill was discussed to a great extent at the last general election, and therefore the amendment would apply to it. I take it that the business of the House includes not only the consideration of motions and Bills, but the framing of rules. According to this amendment, a proposal to adopt the closure should have been previously submitted to the electors . for their consideration. The Standing Orders of the House have not been submitted to the electors for their consideration, and, according to the amendment, the closure could not be applied to s. discussion on new standing orders. I take it also that private members’ business would come1 within the category of business which should have bean submitted to the constituencies. The motion of the honorable member for South Sydney on the subject of decimal coinage is one to which it would. not have been necessary to apply the rule. Again, the question of a penny postage system raised by the honorable member for Cowper is one which can be discussed without acrimony and on non-party lines, and should not be open to the application of the closure. On the other hand, the recent motion relating to Home Rule has raised considerable feeling on each side of the House, and stirred the country from one end to the other. That is , a motion to which, under this amendment, the closure could not have been applied, because it had not been submitted to the electors. Whilst I sympathize with the spirit of the amendment, I think that the proposed standing order would be made more useful if it were amended in another way. I shall be compelled to vote against the amendment in its present form.

Mr. LIDDELL (Hunter),- The amendment is one which I think should be fully discussed, and certainly it should have been printed by this time. The honorable member for Wentworth desires to have inserted after the first word “ that “ in the motion the following words “except as regards business which has not been submitted for the consideration of the constituencies.” The motion is distasteful to me partly because it is drastic and experimental, and partly because it leaves no discretion to the Chair. But, quite apart from the motion, the amendment is open to many objections. At the first glance it is difficult to understand what it means. I question very much whether it is even grammatical. It would have been very much better if it had been introduced at the end of the motion. But even if the amendment were made grammatical, or more easily understood, it would not be any more acceptable to me, because, if passed, it would render the motion practically null and void. It would be impossible. I take it, to apply the motion in the form in which the honorable member for Wentworth desires it to be amended. The amendment requires, that certain business shall be submitted for the consideration of the constituencies. I do not know how the constituencies are to consider any matter, or how the House is to submit any matter to them. I am ‘told that a very similar practice is in vogue in Switzerland. I have referred to the literature on the subject, and was particularly struck by the following paragraph by Vincent, in his Government in Switzerland: -

The rules of the Council of States do not differ essentially from those of the Lower House. Both are characterized by a desire to have matters carefully examined, and to give full opportunity for discussion. The Chambers are not so large as to demand a rigorous closure for the expedition of business, and obstruction does not seem to be much in vogue. The rules allow debate to be brought to a close by a vote of twothirds of the members present.

House to do is to reject the amendment and the motion.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).- I cannot support the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth, who seeks to draw a great distinction between measures which have already been submitted to the electors and those which will be subsequently submitted to them. I cannot see any reason why the closure should not be general in its application. The honorable member seems to be anxious that it should be applied to many of the measures now under consideration. He seems to think that it would be no interference with the privileges of honorable members if, when the Trade Marks Bill was under consideration, the closure was applied at the instance of an honorable member who was suffering from the tired feeling incidental to a long sitting. If the honorable member has no objection to the application of the closure in that case, what does he propose to do in the case of equally important measures which may be subsequently submitted, and which have not received the direct consideration of the electors? It would be a most difficult thing to ascertain .what measures have been considered by the constituencies. As a rule, most measures which have been submitted to the House have, at one time or other, been submitted by the Government or the Opposition, or by individual members to the electors. I think that you, sir, would have a most difficult task to perform if you were called upon to determine whether particular measures had received the consideration of the constituencies. It is unfair, I think, to expect you to decide so difficult a point. I do not know from what source the honorable member for Wentworth has derived the impression, but he has assured me that there is a likelihood of his amendment being carried. I cannot believe that it wilt command the support of a. majority of honorable members. Certainly I shall be no party to its adoption, because I consider that it would make utter nonsense of the proposed standing order.

Question - that the words, proposed to be inserted in the amendment be inserted - put. The House divided.

AYES: 31

NOES: 10

Majority…… … 21

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- If the words “ for this session ‘ ‘ are omitted, there will toe no indication as to when this standing order shall first come into operation. There are some honorable members who are anxious to test the question whether the standing order ought to come into operation before there has been a general election. If the words, are struck out, will it be competent for an honorable member to propose that action shall be deferred until after the general election?

Question - That the words “ for this session, and “ be left out - negatived.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I intend to address, myself to the motion, and before I sit down, to propose as an amendment on ihe amendment that after the word “ constituencies “ the words “ as regards the business of this Parliament “ be inserted.

That the amendment be amended by the insertion after the last words “ session and “ of the words “ as regards business for this Parliament.”

The SPEAKER:

– I offer no opinion as to what the words “ for this session “ may mean; but whatever they mean, no amendment can be accepted which would restrict them in any way. As the amendment now proposed is an addition, and does not cut down those words, I see no alternative but to accept it.

Mr CONROY:

– With regard to the business to be transacted by this Parliament, I have only to refer to the principal financial measure, the Appropriation Bill, to show honorable members how necessary it is that the proposed standing order should not apply to such a measure. Honorable members will see how important it is that this amendment should be agreed to, when they remember that next session we may have under consideration the question of the transfer of States’ debts, including the transfer of the railways, and any measure necessary to give effect to the powers conferred upon this Parliament by section 51 of the Constitution.

The SPEAKER:

– To permit a reference to measures that might be introduced under section 51 of the Constitution would be to include in the debate discussion on every possibility of Federal politics under the present Constitution, and that cannot be permitted. As many matters to which the honorable and learned member proposes to refer will probably come before Parliament in succeeding sessions, he has rendered it necessary, by the form of his amendment, that he should confine himself to business which’ may come before Parliament next session, and only next session.

Mr CONROY:

– I think it is possible to mention many matters, in the consideration of which the House will agree, that it would not be advisable to apply the proposed standing order. I submit that it is only by the acceptance of my amendment that we can give full effect to the amendment already accepted by the House. Next session we may have to deal with an amendment of the Immigration Restriction Act; we will in all probability have to consider the mail contract, and also it is probable that we shall deal with the question of uniform penny postage.

Mr SPEAKER:

– It is difficult to conclude that the matter under discussion, which has relation to a new standing order for the limitation of debate, can be connected with the speculations in which the honorable and learned member has indulged. He has rendered it necessary, by the form of his amendment, that he should deal, as a whole, with the business of the next session, which he suggests should be excepted from the application of the proposed standing order. I cannot allow a discussion of the application or otherwise of the standing order to individual measures.

Mr CONROY:

– I had used the word “Parliament” in my amendment, and its legislative work is only one branch of the work of Parliament, which includes also administrative and executive functions. Such questions as the deportation of the Kanakas and quarantine may be forced upon us. It is highly desirable that the representatives of the smaller States in particular should have every opportunity of addressing themselves to those questions. But if this standing order is passed, they may find themselves deprived of that opportunity at the very time when it is necessary that the voice of their constituencies should be proclaimed.

Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- I support the amendment, because the amendment carried at the instance of the honorable member for Wentworth has left the motion in a chaotic condition. I really believe that if the motion, as it stands at present, were submitted .to any intelligent person he would arrive at the conclusion that it emanated from Kew Asylum. Surely this shows the folly of endeavouring to pass an important standing order of this kind without first of all submitting it to the consideration of the Standing Orders Committee. It is said that there has been obstruction. But whenever the power to move the Chairman out of the chair has been exercised, it has always been at the instance of a large and united party, who felt that it was necessary to take an extreme step.

By applying the closure to the discussion of the financial proposals of any Government it would be quite possible to absolutely destroy States rights. That in itself is an argument in favour of the adoption of the amendment.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta),- I support the amendment, which aims at making a further exception in the “sandbagging” proposals of the Government, so far as the work of the present Parliament is concerned. One has merely to read those proposals to become aware of the nature of the instrument which they desire to impose upon this House. It is practically certain that some of the business of next session will consist of remanets from this. We all recognise that it is impossible, before the prorogation, to clear the business-paper. In the course of a speech on Thursday last the Prime Minister outlined the measures with which we shall be invited to deal next session. The honorable gentleman has declared the present position intolerable, and has spoken of the need for preventing obstruction, for the purpose of clearing the business-paper of measures which will otherwise block the great issues which he considers should be dealt with next session. Those measures are enumerated in the speech which he delivered in this Chamber on the 26th July last, embodying the Government programme for the Parliament. I take it that the Government are pledged to make an endeavour to give effect to them next ses.sion, as Parliament will expire by effluxion of time before the end of the coming year. Among these proposals to which, according to the honorable and learned gentleman, we are to be asked to give our attention stands first a s’cheme for the taking over of the debts of the States, and’ compensating them for properties transferred to the Comomnwealth. Is that a question whose consideration should be expedited by the application of the “gag”? I wish honorable members to bear in mind, in connexion with the argument which I am now addressing to the House, that proposals which might be right, fair, and proper, if they affected one State only, would hot, when applied to the Commonwealth, necessarily do justice to each of the body of States which, by common consent, have surrendered the exercise of certain of their powers to the Federal Parliament. All the States are, of course, interested in the settlement of the debts question, because of the effect any arrangement we may come to will have upon their finances ; but they may not all be injured or advantaged in precisely the same degree by the proposals made. Moreover, while some of them may be ready to transfer their debts to the Commonwealth, others will not be so ready to do so, because Federation is not very popular just now, and the Commonwealth credit is not likely to be so good as to permit us to offer any great advantage to the Treasurers of the States. Thus, during the consideration of this matter, great differences of opinion will arise. But infinite injury may be done to the States if advantage is taken of the proposed standing order, which we are now discussing, to hinder, or put an untimely end to, debate. Protests against certain proposals for dealing with the debts of the States have already come from Tasmania and South Australia, and other States have drawn attention to what they regard extravagant notions on the part of the Commonwealth Parliament. I do not say that these allegations of extravagance are justifiable, but those who vote for the application of the “ gag “ to the consideration of a subject like this will have a very heavy account to settle with their constituents when next they go before them,. The remarks which I have made about the transfer of the debts of the States apply to the allied question of the payment for transferred properties. Then there is in existence a Royal Commission, which, under the direction of the PostmasterGeneral, is, I believe, busily engaged in making inquiries with a view to presenting a report which will determine the policy of the Government in regard to a Federal old-age pension scheme. It has been repeatedly declared in this House that such a scheme is to be proposed, either by the Government or by a private member - it does not matter which for the purposes of my argument. Estimates of the probable cost of such a scheme vary from £1,000,000 to £1,200,000, and suggestions have been made for the imposition of special taxation to finance it.

What I am at present concerned with, however, is the unequal bearing which such a scheme will have upon the finances of the States. In New South Wales, where the State Government already controls an old-age pension scheme, whatever arrangement is come to will probably make little difference to the State’s finances, but it will be a different matter in those States where no provision is now made. Again,

I ask, are large matters of finance, such as are involved in this proposal, to be hurriedly dealt with by the stifling of free discussion by means of the “gag”? I am aware that, in the House of Commons, proposals involving millions of money are frequently closured through ; but that application of the closure has a justification in the fact that there! is usually nothing novel in the proposals themselves,, and that the procedure adopted has obtained the approval and authority of the constituencies. I need scarcely point out that the proposal which we have now under consideration has not been before the people. The Government also proposes to encourage rural industries. That is a matter which will not affect the States equally, and will cause considerable debate. Is the “gag’’’ to be applied to its consideration ? Then there is the far-reaching question of preferential trade, which, according to the Prime Minister, is to be dealt with during the present Parliament. I can conceive of no proposal likely to come before us which will provoke a keener, more searching, and detailed debate than it will provoke, and it will be a serious thing, having regard to the interests of Australia, if any attempt is made to stifle that debate. ‘As the House is at present constituted, to apply the “gag” to the consideration of proposals for the adoption of preferential trade will necessarily result in the misrepresentation of the feelings of Australia. . The only way in which the true opinions of the electors can be ascertained and expressed is by a direct appeal to the constituencies, and the return of a strong Government pledged to some particular scheme. The Prime Minister proposes, also, to offer bounties for the encouragement of new products. I presume that he intends to encourage in this way the growing of cotton in Queensland, and, perhaps, the cultivation of beet in Victoria. But the conditions of the States as to climate, and in other particulars, vary so greatly that any proposal of this kind would affect them unequally, particularly if the bounties granted are paid from the Commonwealth Treasury. The same remarks apply to the proposals for the establishment of speedier, better, and cheaper means of transportation for meat, butter, and fruit. The honorable member for Barrier, who is so anxious for the adoption of the proposed new standing order, is Chairman of the Committee which has been appointed to inquire into this matter, and also into a project for the maintenance of a Commonwealth line of steamers, in the equipment of which millions of money will be involved. Will he desire the application of the “ gag ‘ ‘ to the consideration of those proposals, or to his scheme for purchasing an Atlantic cable, and a Canadian telegraph line? Is the House to be “gagged”when considering matters of the gravest importance affecting New Guinea? Then, to mention a matter which concerns chieflythe State which I represent, I presume that when the Capital Site has been definitely determined the Government do not intend to allow it to remain unused and untenanted. Will the “gag” be applied to the consideration of proposals affecting the Capital? Another important matter to which our attention is to be invited next session is the Navigation Bill, which, I understand, is almost ready for presentation to the House. Its discussion will involve the most far-reaching and important considerations, affecting wages and labour conditions, on vessels which hardly come within the jurisdiction and control of the Commonwealth. The provisions of the measure will, no doubt,- provoke even keener debate than we have had on the union label provision. Is that discussion to be stifled, so that the passage of the Bill may be hastened? Then there is the re-adjustment of the electoral boundaries, which must shortly take place. I venture to say that if the “ gag “ is applied to the debates on theproposed scheme of redistribution, it will be a very sorry thing for the Government responsible for it. The mere enumeration of all these matters establishes an overwhelmingly strong case in favour of the contention that the proposed standing order should not take effect in regard to the proposals which have to come before us during the present Parliament. I am persuaded that if the “ gag” comes into operation in this Parliament, party feeling will run. very high. It must be remembered that in other Parliaments in which it is in operation there are not the same heterogeneous elements that are to be found in this House. In fact, the closure has not - so far as I know - been applied in the Legislature of any federation, for the reason that it would bear very differently upon the conflicting State interests than upon the affairs of a single State. Therefore, we see that the “ gag “ is not the simple matter that some honorable members would have us believe.

We are told that the High Commissioner Bill, which has been temporarily withdrawn, will be dealt with next session.. Already a proposal of the most unique character has ‘ been adopted by the Senate, and will shortly have to be considered in this House, namely, that the High Commissioner shall be selected by Parliament. Surely the closure should not be applied to an important matter of that kind without consulting the people. The proposed new standing order will affect private as well as public business, and will, therefore, apply to a large number of most important measures that come before us from time to time. The application of the new rule of debate to the work of the current session would result in stifling the expression of the views of the representatives of the people upon some most important questions. The members of the Labour Party have been sent here as delegates to carry out a definite programme, and I would ask them whether they were deputed to perform their work subject to the application of the closure. The proposal now before us is of more importance than any item in the programme of the Labour Party, and should not be disposed of without reference to the people.

Mr Thomas:

– Would it be possible to pass a Federal land tax except by the application of the closure?

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– If we are to infer that one of the objects of introducing the closure is to enable members of the Labour Party to pass a double progressive land tax, we are furnished with one of the gravest reasons why the work of this Parliament should be exempted from the application of the proposed new standing order. It would be an outrageous proceeding to force land tax proposals through this Chamber by means of the closure.

Sitting suspended from 8.30 a.m. Saturday until9.30 a.m.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We have also had put before us a proposal to nationalize the tobacco industry, and I suppose something like £2,000,000 would be required to buy out the tobacco trusts of Australia. I do not now intend to deal with the merits of the proposal, but refer to it only as one of the matters which might be dealt with under the closure order, and as showing that the business of this Parliament ought to be exempted from the operation of that order. It is quite conceivable that the Government, from the terms of their alli- ance may be compelled to take up the matter, and Ito deal with resulting financial proposals running into millions of money. Would it be right to apply the closure rule to the discussion of such a question before it had been approved by the people? We have to look in a broad way at this question. Then there is the proposal which stands in the name of the honorable member for Melbourne, who recently returned from Japan imbued with the idea that we ought, as part of our scheme of defence, to acquire the iron and coal mine?, of the Commonwealth. To give effect to any such idea, we should require, not only £2,000,000, but probably more than £20,000.000. Should any measure making provision for a national scheme of that kind be subject to the application of the closure? If so, the very magnitude of the idea should deter the honorable member from doing anything until he has- first submitted his scheme to the people as a whole. We derive our authority from the people, and it is our duty to consult them before we adopt a new method of procedure, such as that now put before us. The businesspaper of the present session - and, in fact, of every session - contains proposals, which, if carried out, would involve the expenditure of hundreds of millions of money, and I ask whether the discussions upon matters of such importance should be closured. I feel sure that honorable members have not considered the matter from the aspect in which I am now putting it, and that they have not grasped the financial possibilities of the “gag,” in regard to the rights of the States, as well as the corporate rights of the Federation. I should have no objection to the “gag,” if honorable members first obtained the authority of the people for its application. There is, no doubt that it is intended- to apply the proposed new standing order to the business which has recently engaged our attention, and which we shall be asked to complete as soon as this proposal is disposed of. If that were not intended, the present proceeding on the part of the Government would be idle. My contention is that the application of the closure should be deferred until further opportunities have been given for discussion of the question in Parliament, and for its consideration by the people.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has two ob jects. One is to insure that the more than strong control proposed to be exercised by means of the standing order shall not be the cause - as it might be if hastily applied - of heat and bitterness in the House, and the other is to enable the constituencies, after having seen it in operation for a short time, to decide as to the propriety or otherwise of continuing it. If the motion be carried in the amended form proposed, we shall have a very novel state of affairs. The proposed new standing order will, be applied to some matters, and not to others, and no more admirable opportunity could be afforded the public to become acquainted with its operation. It is only fair that the people should have an opportunity to judge between the two methods of procedure, and to decide at the next general election which is to be preferred. Not only is it wise, but it is necessary, in view of the relations in which we stand to our constituents and to each other, to give the electors that opportunity. After the object lesson to. which I have referred, the operation of the proposed new standing order should be suspended during the coming session, in order that we may not commit ourselves to a course of which the people have never approved. It would not, in view of the postponement of the reference to the people, be fair to allow the standing order to operate next session. On the one hand, it might be considered unfair to those who are supporting the Government proposal that its, operation should be suspended1, because opportunities would not have been presented for giving it a fair trial ; but, on the other hand, if it were frequently applied ‘ during the next session, conclusions, unfavorable to its adoption might be formed. I feel sure that the public sense of fair play would revolt against the continuous forcing next year of the wishes of the majority upon the minority; consequently, the verdict of the electors would again be hostile to the continuance of this procedure. On the other hand, it is conceivable that the electors might take the view that unnecessary criticism was being applied by the minority to the business proposed by the majority, and they might consequently favour the continuance of the application of the closure. But from whatever point of view the matter be regarded, it is clear that the people should be asked to express, their opinion of the procedure only after a reasonable trial has been given to it, and not after such a tria as might induce an improper predisposition one way or the other. Another reason for refraining from applying such a standing order to the business of the House next session is that questions of this kind should not be decided in the bitterness, of dispute, and that if the application of the closure were carried on right up to the eve of the general election, the heated feelings of honorable members might be communicated to the people themselves. There are some obvious reasons why the application of this rule should not take place next session. A-. the inauguration of the Commonwealth the attention of the Parliament had frequently to be directed to matters of machinery rather than to questions of large public policy, and the consideration of many of the latter has, had to be postponed longer than would have been necessary under other circumstances. The facts point strongly to the conclusion that during next session a number of these questions will have to be considered. If there be a time when freedom of debate should be entirely unrestricted, it is when great questions of public policy are under consideration. Let us take, for example, one matter respecting which certain proposals are almost .sure to be placed before the House next session. In another place yesterday, the Minister of Defence intimated that the Government expected to propound next ses.sion a complete programme with respect to the defence policy of Australia. That is a matter on which there is a wide divergence of opinion. There are two prominent schools of thought in relation to it, and we may confidently anticipate that when the Government proposals are submitted honorable members will be found ranged in almost equal numbers, on either side. Surely that is not a question to which the closure should be applied ? Finding themselves seriously attacked, the majority might say - “We will apply the ‘ gag,’ and make our numbers, effective.” We might easily take a wrong step, involving heavy expenditure, to the great injury of the Commonwealth, as the result of the use of the political bludgeon rather than the political rapier. The closure might be applied to prevent the minority pointing out in what respect the views of the majority were wrong. On the 26th July last the Prime Minister put before the House a list of thirty-six matters as to which, he said, the Government proposed to take action, and I am grounding my argument on the fact that next session we shall have before us a number of questions of exceptional importance. The AttorneyGeneral said early this morning that we had no Governor-General’s speech in respect of next session. As a matter of fact, the present Prime Minister was . in office when the Governor- General’s, speech in respect to the work of the present Parliament was delivered in March, 1904, and on 26th July last he declared that that speech remained almost as completely applicable as it did when delivered nearly sixteen months before. He then proceeded to mention the subjects therein outlined. The first of these is the taking over of £he debts of the States. It would be most unjust to allow honorable members, in dealing with financial matters affecting the States, to run the risk of being closured when seeking to put before the House proposals . or views which they believe to be beneficial totheir constituents.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.’)

Mr McCAY:

– - Suppose that in this. House of seventy-five members, an arrangement were proposed which would be beneficial to the two larger States in the union, but greatly to the disadvantage of the foursmaller States, the former would have a representation of forty-nine, whilst the latter would have a representation between themof only twenty-six members. The party of” forty-n:’ne members, uniting in what they believed to be a just cause, and vexed by what they believed to be the unnecessaryopposition of the representatives of the four smaller States, might very well say to them, “ You have told us again and” again of your views, and we are going toput this matter through without furtherdelay.” A great injustice might then bedone to the smaller States, owing to the judgment of the representatives of the twolarger ones being unconsciously affected ‘by the fact that they represented those States.. In view of the character of the questionsto be considered, changes of Government are unnecessary to effect changes in theconstitution of majorities. It is, impossible to say what mav be the compositionof the majority on one or other of the great questions far above party considerations, which await settlement. ‘ One of thesetemporary majorities, unable to endure justcriticism, because their case was not what it ought to be, might seek refuge fromthat well-directed criticism by the applica- tion of the closure. We find special circumstances associated with the coming session, which justify us in anticipating that it would be undesirable to have the closure then in operation.

Mr Kelly:

– I call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]

Mr McCAY:

– The Prime Minister promised us in March, 1904, and again in July last, that next session proposals would probably be submitted for a Commonwealth system of old-agepensions, and we have heard constantly that funds are to Be provided for this costly, but desirable, scheme, by means of a Federal Progressive Land Tax. A proposal for such a tax appears in the Inter-State Labour programme.

Mr Brown:

– That is subject to the approval of the States.

Mr McCAY:

– My point is that the question of the imposition of such a tax will be forced upon us in connexion with the consideration of the old-age pensions scheme. That being so, we shall have to discuss, in the very fullest way, the means of raising the necessary funds. Are we to be coerced by a small majority forcing its, views upon a strong minority, which is equally clear that it is in the right?

Mr Chanter:

– If the closure be good for the next Parliament it should be good for next session.

Mr McCAY:

-I do not say that it would be wise to apply the proposed standing order in the next Parliament, but at present, I am not at liberty to deal with that phase of the question. I am pointing out that there are special reasons why it should not be applied next session. We are promised a Navigation Bill next session. It will bristle with technical details, and will inevitably be productive of much debate. Surely it ought to be fully considered.

Mr Frazer:

– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I wish to know whetherit is competent for the honorable and learned member to anticipate debate by discussing the merits or demerits of a Bill which is yet to be submitted to the Parliament?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member has not attempted ‘ to discuss the details of the . Bill, but I would remind him that an honorable member who preceded him dealt with a number of matters that might be submitted to the House during next session, and that the list is becoming rather a lengthy one.

Mr McCay:

– But all these measures are promised.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– Promises are not always kept.

Mr McCay:

– So far, I have merely alluded to four out of the thirty-six subjects mentioned in the Governor-General’s speech at the opening of this Parliament, and referred to by the Prime Minister in July last.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I would point out to the honorable and learned member that if the one list already put before the House by another honorable member was in order, the two lists cannot possibly be in order, as comprising matters likely to be dealt with next session.

Mr McCay:

– I draw your attention, sir, to the fact that Mr. Speaker Holder, on a point of order, held that it was competent for an honorable member to discuss the defence policy, inasmuch as it had been announced by , the Minister of Defence that the matter was to be dealt with next session. If a Ministerial statement that a matter is to be dealt with next session be sufficient to allow of reference to the question, surely an intimation in the GovernorGeneral’s speech at the opening of the Parliament that certain subjects are to be dealt with, should be accepted as sufficient evidence that they will be so dealt with.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– I entirely agree with the honorable and learned member’s contention, but he is now reading the list of subjects outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s speech at the opening of this Parliament.

Mr McCay:

– I have been taking the list of subjects dealt with in the Ministerial statement made in July of thisyear.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– As more than half the time within which those measures were to be dealt with has passed by, does the honorable and learned member think that the remaining ones are likely to be considered by the present Parliament?

Mr McCay:

– With the adoption of the closure, a programme of twice the length could be dealt with. A Government which has to look to its flank for support may, as the result of the clamouringof different sections of the community, be subject to considerable pressure.

Mr Frazer:

– I submit, sir, that the. honorable and learned member’s argument is addressed exclusively to the general proposal, and not to the amendment.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:

– The amendment relates exclusively to certain business, and the honorable and learned member has been dealing with that business in detail. I made the suggestion that he should not do so, but, apparently, he does not intend to adopt it.

Mr McCAY:

– As a matter of fact,, sir, I am not dealing with the Government’s proposals in detail, for I have mentioned only four out of the thirty-six subjects to which reference was made by the Prime Minister, in his Ministerial statement in July last. About six of those matters form the subject of measures on the businesspaper for the present session. The Government is being subjected to honest pressure, on the part of those who desire these measures to become law, and unless we except next session from the operation of the closure, that pressure may become irresistible. I have further confirmation of the fact that the main portion of the measures outlined by the Prime Minister will be submitted next session in the statement made only on. Thursday last by the honorable and learned gentleman that -

The present position was untenable and intolerable, and action was necessary if the Government was to prevent obstruction from blocking the way to the great issues that must be dealt with next session. The Government must deal with pressing business and clear the way for the questions that went to the very root of the conditions of this country - questions to which the Government was pledged and great issues that concerned the development of the country. These great issues must not be prejudiced by neglect of the work that ought to be done, and must be done now.

Even with moderate debate, all these measures could not be dealt with next session. It is obvious, therefore, that in addition to the immediate object of applying the closure during this session, there is an ulterior object in view, and that is, irrespective of what ought to be done in the best interests of the people, and quite irrespective of the soundest of any criticism that might be directed against them, to force through the House next session, measures that express the Government view and have received the approval of their allies in the Ministerial corner. I say, therefore, that a political crime) would be committed by the passing of all these measures in a session. It is because we are aware of the politically undesirable relations existing between those in the Ministerial corner and honorable members -sitting on the Government benches that’ we fear the result of the application of the closure next session. If must be remembered that the feeling that Parliament should noi be asked to run the risk of these great and vital issues being dealt with in this way is not confined to the Opposition or to those in the Opposition corner, who cannot support the Prime Minister, in view of past occurrences. Irrespective of party considerations a number of honorable members feel themselves bound to support the amendment. Of all sessions the next is. the one in which the greatest injury and the most serious* wrong could be done to Australia by the use of the closure. It should not be applied during next session, in order that the measures on the Government programme may be forced through without having received adequate consideration. Holding these views, I strongly urge the House, if it is determined to pass this motion, to pass it with the amendment proposed.

Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - I did not agree with the amendment which, at the instance of the honorable member for Wentworth, and by the support of the Government, has been added to that of .the honorable member for Parramatta, but I do agree with the present amendment, because it seeks to prevent the application of the closure to the business to be submitted to the House, in the coming session. The question of adopting such a drastic rule as the closure should be submitted to the country before it is, dealt With here. At the time of the last election the electors anticipated that their representatives would enjoy the freest opportunity to state their views on all questions which* might arise in Parliament, and it is very important that they should be afforded that opportunity. The House would commit a serious wrong if it unnecessarily curtailed the rights of its members,, by means of standing orders which it had adopted without their receiving the approval of the electors of the Commonwealth. Since the amendment of the honorable member for Wentworth has been carried, the motion, if passed, would apply in an unequal and uncertain manner to the business of the present session. Although it was described bv a Government supporter as a foolish and silly amendment, still it was carried by means of their support, although not with the approval of myself and other members of the Opposition. How the Government intend to -treat the present amendment I do not know, but I support it as strongly as I opposed the previous one. The experience which will be gained from the application of the rule during the present session should enable the electors at the next general election to decide whether it is one which should be continued. It may be considered illogical to allow the application of the gag, to a certain extent, during one session, but not at all during the next session. But that is all due to the action of the Government in assisting to carry an amendment which was designed to give an unequal application to the rule. If the previous amendment had been rejected, we should have been in a position to deal more freely and less inconsistently with the present amendment. If the latter be carried, it will enable the electors at the next general election to say whether the closure should be applied to the measures which may be submitted in future Parliaments.

Mr Chanter:

– How would it be possible to get their decision without taking a referendum ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Under our system of responsible government it is not difficult to ascertain how a proposal is regarded by the electors generally. If, on an appeal to the electors, Ministers included in their programme a proposal to adopt the “gag,” and were returned, it would show that the objection to the restriction of debate was hot so great as to justify the defeat of the Government. Surely honorable members, however strongly they may favour the motion, are not prepared to s.ay that the effect of the present amendment, if adopted, would be so serious as to cause them to insist upon the immediate and full application of the closure. Surely thev cannot object to allow a sufficient time to elapse - that is to the end of this Parliament - before it is finally adopted?

Mr Mauger:

– If it is poison now, what will make it meat then?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– By that time, the final authorities on all questions which may arise in Parliament would have had an opportunity to record their opinion. The object of some standing orders is to regulate the business of the House, but the proposed standing order is designed for the purpose of depriving honorable members of their right to fully discuss measures generally. For that reason it should be considered by the electors before it is adopted. A precedent for taking that course is furnished by the records of the Legislative Assembly of Victoria. If the closure be adopted only temporarily, then, during the present session, we should have an ‘opportunity of testing, in an undesirable way it is true, the effect of its application. And after a general election had been held, the Government of the day could, in the light of experience, ask the next House to consider whether the closure, either in the proposed form, or in a form not containing such stringent provisions, should be adopted. Another reason for not agreeing to ‘the motion is that if it were carried, the closure could be applied to legislation whicli is being considered in the heat of a party struggle. Very seldom indeed does legislation passed in such circumstances have permanently beneficial results. It would be infinitely better to- allow the cause of the dispute between parties to pass away, and then, after an interval - the period of next session - ask the next House, when there will be no intense feeling prevailing, to consider this proposal in all its bearings. On some questions strong feeling is always exhibited. In every Parliament there are occasions when quite justifiably the Opposition may exhibit some heat over the proposals of the Government. That is not a time for adopting a rule to penalize one portion of the House. , If the consideration of this proposal were delayed until we had all returned to a calm deliberative mood, it would be more likely to be dealt with in a reasonable manner. A proposal of this serious character should be regarded not from one aspect, but from every aspect, not in the light of the present time, but in the light of the future. In this instance, the proposal is being regarded from the stand-point of present events. The operation of the closure in a Federal Parliament, cannot be gauged by the experience of its application in the States Parliaments,, or even in the Imperial Parliament. A Federal Parliament is differently constituted from a State Parliament. A rule which might work effectively in some Parliaments might operate very seriously and wrongly in a Parliament in which State interests are represented. That point ought to be considered more fully than it has been before the House adopts a rule which would give an opportunity to the majority to suppress the representatives of one or more States. That leads me to think that the closure ought not to be applied in the coming session. There might be occasions when the representatives of a State would be prevented from submitting arguments in order to secure just treatment for the State. Surely, for that reason, it is desirable to leave the question of permanently adopting the closure to be decided in a new Parliament. In my opinion, it is infinitely better that the House should be allowed to conduct its business without our imposing such severe restrictions of debate as is now proposed. We ought to look at this proposal from a broad viewpoint. We should consider the circumstances in which the application of the closure might lead to serious results. The result of its application at the present time might, to some extent, be gauged by a consideration of the measures on the notice-paper. Take, for instance,the Representation Bill. A redistribution scheme might affect the interests of a State advantageously or disadvantageously. Suppose that, owing to circumstances which arose here, it were thought that the interests of a State were not being properly considered, that it was being deprived of a right, or treated unjustly, why should not the fullest opportunity be given to its representatives to express their views? What could hinder an autocratic Government - a Government which had just come back from the country with what it believed to be the full support of the people - from suppressing the representatives of that State by the application of the closure? That position might arise in any case in which the interests of a State were affected. Some measures do not particularly affect an individual State, but there are on the notice-paper measures which do affect the interests of particular States, and those interests might be entirely lost sight of or overridden,, with the aid of the closure, by an autocratic Ministry. We can well understand the ill-will and friction which its application would engender. Therefore it is desirable that it should not be applied to the business of the coming session. Again, there is great diversity of opinion in the House in regard to the Manufactures’ Encouragement Bill. Some honorable members are strongly opposed to any bonus ; some honorable members are not opposed to any bonus, but to the one proposed by the Government; while other honorable members, including Ministers, are in favour of the bonus, as proposed in that Bill. Suppose that there happened to be a very small majority in favour of the Government proposal, ought that fact to be regarded as a reason for forcing the measure through the House by means of the “ gag,” and without that full discussion which it should receive from representatives of divergent views? It is quite possible that in the ensuing session there might be a majority of honorable members in favour of having a High Commissioner in London, but not in favour of the gentleman whom the Government wished to appoint to the post. Suppose that the Government intimated its intention to appoint a particular gentleman, and by applying the “ gag “ declined to allow a discussion upon his qualifications, for instance, or the effect which his appointment might have upon the interests of Australia. That would be highly objectionable, and for that reason the question of adopting the closure might be left to be considered in a new Parliament. The Government also propose in the coming session to ask the Parliament to exercise certain legislative powers), which it enjoys under the Constitution. If they were to bring down contentious measures, the closure might be applied more objectionably in the last session of the present Parliament than in a future Parliament. Again, the Transcontinental Railway has caused considerable diversity of opinion. To some extent. State interests are involved. The representatives of some States think that there is no justification for requesting its taxpayers to contribute a large sum to carry out at the present time what, in their opinion, is an unnecessary work. There might be a very slight majority in favour of the proposal when it was submitted. In that case a, determined effort might be made to put the Bill through even if it were necessary, by means of the closure, to suppress the views of an Opposition. Very likely the closure would also be applied to the Tariff proposals of the Government.

Mr Mauger:

– Not unless there were good reason.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I think the honorable member will admit that if the closure had been included in the rules of the House it would have been applied time after time to the Tariff proposals of the Barton Government.

Mr MAUGER:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA · PROT

– On one or two occasions, I think.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– On a great many occasions, I believe. A Tariff affects the States in different ways. In some cases a duty affects a State itself ; while in other cases a duty affects certain interests in a State. Are the representa- lives of any State which maty be affected by the Tariff proposals of this Government to be prevented, by the application of the “ gag,” from expressing the views of that State? A Tariff Bill is promised for the coming session, and I believe that if ever the “ gag “ is applied, it will be made use of in connexion with that measure, to prevent the representatives, not merely of different policies, but of different States, from having the fullest opportunity ‘to point out the probable effects of certain proposals, and resist the imposition of duties, which, in their opinion, would be injurious to the interests of their respective States. There are many questions and measures which would be affected by a standing order of this kind; but I shall refer only to preferential trade. However slight might be the majority in favour of such a policy - and the discussion must engender strong feeling, if only because of wide difference of opinion - the proposed standing order, if passed,, would be used in order to force it into operation.

Mr Kelly:

– I think we ought to have a quorum. [Quorum formed.”]

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– A promise has been made by the Prime Minister that the question of Standing Orders shall be dealt with next session; and I remind honorable members that if we pass the motion, it may be used to force through other standing orders to which there may be strong objection. Then the responsibility which attaches to business introduced by a Minister does not attach to private business1; and it is quite possible that combinations may be formed outside the Chamber, with the object of forcing certain private business through by means of the proposed standing order. Some items of. private business are highly contentious, and, in the opinion of some honorable members, dangerous proposals; and, for that reason alone, I think the proposed standing order ought not to be brought into effect during the coming session. Rules of this sort should be finally adopted only after experience, if possible; and, while I do not agree with the amendment as tacked! on to that of the honorable member for Wentworth, it has the merit of affording opportunity for gaining experience. Then, in my opinion, such a rule ought not to be adopted in view of present particular -circumstances,- but from the wider point df view of the conduct of business in the future. It is possible that a new Parliament might be so constituted as to present no need for such a standing order; and, even if a rule of the kind were deemed necessary, it would be adopted by honorable members fresh from an appeal to the people, and more likely to base their conclusions on broader grounds than present circumstances permit. To postpone the operation of the standing order would certainly result in no harm to the Commonwealth Parliament, and would, at all events, safeguard, the interests of the people of Australia.

Mr STORRER:
Bass

– It is strange that honorable members opposite, who are opposed to the proposed standing order, should, when members and supporters of the previous Administration, have strongly favoured a similar rule.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The honorable member is quite mistaken.

Mr STORRER:

– It was a rule with much the same object ; I do not want to quibble about words. My contention is that, if a standing order of this kind would be good for the next Parliament, it cannot fail to be good for the present Parliament. The Opposition have declared that the next general election will return them to power ; and while I do not impute motives, it certainly does appear as though they were determined that such a rule shall not apply to them when in opposition, but shall be called into operation in time to serve their purposes, when they are the dominant party. .Members of the Opposition, especially the’ honorable and learned member for Corinella and the honorable member for North Sydney, have laid before us a surprisingly long list of measures, which they suggest will be dealt with next session ; and yet a few months ago the Government, of which those gentlemen were members, presented to the country a programme consisting of a blank sheet of paper. I must say that during the debate I have felt some pity for honorable members opposite in their endeavour to find arguments against the proposed standing, order. One honorable member contended that the new rule would prove very injurious to the small States; but if its operation results in saving time, and. consequently, in saving expense, it is difficult to see how the smaller States, who have to bear heavy financial burdens, can fail to be benefited. It is from the economical stand-point that I favour the motion, and it is to be hoped that aspect of the question will not be lost sight of. The fear has been expressed that under such a standing order questions may not be adequately discussed ; but that result has not been found to follow the adoption of similar’ rules m the House of Commons, and other legislative bodies,. Of course, as in other spheres of life, there may be exceptional cases ; but, on the whole, the general public are well satisfied with, the closure wherever it has been put in force. I feel confident that under such a rule honorable members on both sides will see that no injustice is done. A few individuals may endeavour to take an undue advantage, but, personally, I aim prepared to abide by the decision of the majority in this House, or in any deliberative assembly of the kind. I shall always uphold the rights of the minority ; but, at the same time, it must not be forgotten that the majority possess the power and the right of control. I hope that the amendment will be negatived; and that the proposed new rule will be put into operation.

Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- Under the Appropriation Bill there must be new expenditure proposed, and it is of importance (hat this Houfe should retain absolute liberty to deal fully with such matters. Honorable members must see how unreasonable it would be if, before the constituencies had been consulted, criticism of the) various important matters to be discussed in the next session, of Parliament, should be restricted, or altogether prevented, by ‘the operation of the proposed standing order. The necessity for the amendment will be clear when I remind the House that this Parliament mav next session be called upon to deal with’ important questions in connexion with the Estimates, the redistribution of seats, the intricate question of Tariff revision, and defence. The honorable member for Dalley has already informed us that he proposes, next session, to ask this Parliament to rescind the motion carried this session in connexion’ with Home Rule for Ireland. The honorable member for Barrier will ….’…., , 1—- - proceed with bis motion for the purchase of any Atlantic cable, and the honorable member for Brisbane with his motion approving the issue of Treasury notes. There is1 still the question of the coinage mr c to be brought before us. and the amendment is necessary to enable all these questions to be properly considered. The honorable member for Bland, who is admittedly the dictator of the present Government, will in all probability, next session, press, upon the attention of Ministers the necessity for carrying legislation on the lines of the labour platform, to establish a graduated land tax, to effect the proposed, bank steal of ^11,000,000, to deal with the area of the Federal territory, and with the nationalization of industries. All these are questions on which we should have; the verdict of the constituencies before legislation upon them is carried. The amendment meets the difficulty by providing that the proposed standing order shall not come into operation next session. After next session honorable members will have to go before their constituents, and those who have Surrendered the right to interfere in their behalf will probably get the reception . they deserve.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).The amendment proposes that the closure’ shall not be applied to matters which’ may come up for consideration during the remainder of the term of this Parliament. Honorable members will recognise that it would be absolutely unfair to permit any party in this Parliament which was elected on the basis of fiscal peace to make use of the closure in next session to :arn alterations in the Tariff. We have reason to expect that next year an effort will be made to give legislative! effect to an oldage pension scheme, and to make the necessary financial provision by the imposition of a graduated land tax. Tt must be admitted that it is right that the consideration of these important matters should not be hampered in any way by the application of the closure. There are many important matters which might come up for consideration next session, and upon which the constituencies have not so far expressed an opinion. Before we abrogate ihe right of the representatives of the constituencies to freely discuss all these questions, the electors should certainly be consulted. Itrongly ssupport the amendment, and I have no doubt the electors will note the men who have fought to strip them of their privileges, and also the men who, in this struggle, have fought, not for their personal interests,’ but to retain for the people rights which they have enjoyed for centuries. It is an astonishing thing that the members of the Labour Party, who profess to be the especial exponents of democratic principles, should attempt to gag discussion as they are now doing.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member is discussing the main question. We are not now debating the desirableness or otherwise of adopting the standing order proposed by the Government., We are two stages beyond that. The question now is whether the proposed standing order shall or shall not, if adopted in any form, apply during the remaining life of this Parliament?

Mr. FULLER (Illawarra).- It is a serious matter that the representatives of the people should be deprived ofa full opportunity to express their views. As I understand the matter, the amendment excludes from the operation of the standing order, the business before the present Parliament. But it would apply to measures to be submitted to the next Parliament. Some of those measures require the very’ fullest consideration. It is, for instance, proposed to appoint a High Commissioner to represent this country in England. Surely every honorable member should have an opportunity of being fully heard as to that. A Royal Commission has been sitting, and under the chairmanship of the Postmaster-General, has taken voluminous evidence, with respect to old-age pensions. That matter will involve considerable expenditure. Surely it is necessary that it should receive the amplest consideration. The Manufactures Encouragement Bill, better known as the Iron Bonus Bill, is also likely to reappear. While a large number of honorable members are in favour of granting bounties for the encouragement of that industry, others are strongly opposed to them. It surely is one of those questions to which a standing order intended to limit discussion, should not apply. The suggested Transcontinental Railway is a project verydear to the heart of. the Treasurer. We have been assured that it was on the promise that that line would be built that Western Australia consented to enter the Federation. Its construction would involve the expenditure of an enormous amount of money, and surely it is essential that discussion upon it should not be limited. One of the principles upon which this Parliament was elected was the maintenance of fiscal peace. A Tariff Commission has been sitting, of which I have the honour to be a member. It is understood that the reports of the Commission will be considered next session. It may or mav not be a proper thing to bring up the Tariff again before the electors have been appealed to. The opinions of honorable members are strongly divided upon it. It is said that some industries are languishing or being strangled, owing to the operation of the present Tariff. Others deny those statements. The very fact that there is such a conflict of opinion makes it essential that the representatives of the people should express their views as fully as possible. Preferential trade with the mother country is a kindred subject. Some honorable members think that the barriers which we have raised against the importation of British manufactures should be lowered to give them a fairer chance in the Australian market. Others strongly hold the view that those barriers should be increased against the products of foreign manufacturers with a view of assisting British trade. It would be a monstrous thing if, in discussing a question of such serious importance, any attempt were made to limit discussion. The honorable member for Richmond, who holds the high and distinguished office of Vice-President of the Executive Council, has expressed some important views as to the line of policy that should be pursued in regard to the defence of the Commonwealth. The question is one of vital interest to the States. It was largely in consequence of a famous speech on defence made by Sir Henry Parkes at Tenterfield many years ago that life was put into the movement which eventually led to the establishment of this. Commonwealth. The honorable member for Corinella, who is an expert on military matters, holds very strong views with respect to the proper policy to be pursued. Other honorable members do not agree with him. I, although not an expert, feel strongly on the question, and should be much aggrieved if I were deprived of an opportunity of expressing my views as amply as I thought necessary. Another question as to which honorable members are divided is, that of the establishment of the Federal Capital. It is, proposed by the Government to deal with that question next session. Whatever view may be taken in regard to it, every possible policy means the expenditure of large sums of public money. A standing order which enables the majority to stifle discussion on that question would render parliamentary proceedings farcical. The question of penny postage, in which the honorable member for Cowper has taken great interest, is also likely to be brought to the front. Some honorable members consider that the reform which the honorable member advocates should be realized as early as possible, whilst others think that it would not be justifiable in the present state of the finances of the Commonwealth, that the reVenue which would) be lost to the States through the establishment, of such a system should be so sacrificed. That is, a matter as to which there ought to be full and free discussion. I need hardly state that the question of Home Rule, in which the honorable member for Northern Melbourne is interested, belongs to the same category. Indeed, all questions, upon which strong feelings are entertained should be debated without undue restriction. For these reasons, I intend to support as strongly as I can the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Werriwa. I look upon it as being a matter of vital importance that the representatives of the people should have the fullest opportunity to express their views. At all events, a drastic standing order like that proposed should not be brought into force until the electors have been consulted ; and I feel satisfied that when that is done the result will be disastrous to those who support it.

Mr. CAMERON (Wilmot).- Shortly before the adjournment for luncheon to-day, whilst you, Mr. Speaker, were taking that well-merited repose which you required after your protracted labours, and the Deputy Speaker was occupying the chair, and while the honorable member for Wentworth was, speaking. . there were continual shouts of “ Cameron ‘ ‘ from honorable members opposite. I could not help being reminded of an occasion, about this time last year, when I held a certain important position in relation to political affairs. As I listened to those cries for “ Cameron’,” I could not help thinking- °< ;How are the mighty fallen “ ; but I consoled myself with the reflection that the position of honorable members opposite has also changed. Now they feel secure in their position, and, although thev are quite willing to hear “Cameron,” they do not care twopence, on this occasion, what he says one way or the other. When honorable members on this side of the House are fighting to the utmost of their ability to defeat what they believe to be a proposal fraught with danger and menace to the country, we ought to receive kindness and consideration at the hands of our opponents. We know that we are in a minority, but we believe that we are fighting in a good cause. I spoke last evening on the proposal of the honorable member for Wentworth. Since then his amendment has been carried. I desire to offer my sincere congratulations to the majority upon the manner in which the/ accepted it, I believe they were actuated by sincerity, and had not the slightest intention to weaken the proposed new standing order. I credit them with the noblest of motives, and feel sure that they will accept the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa in the same spirit. It must be admitted that the second is the corollary of the first, and’ that if Ave exempt the present Parliament from the operation of the proposed standing order, Ave shall have an oppor tunity next session to give calm consideration! to the important measures which are likely to be submitted to us. There will then be no fear of the debate on a question of much concern to the people being brought to a sudden termination by the application of the closure on the motion of an honorable member, angered, it mav be, bv a casual interjection. We ha;e managed to conduct our proceedings fairly wei during the last four years without any such standing order, and I think I am justified in urging upon honorable members the desirableness of supporting this amendment. Among the measures mentioned by the Prime Minister in his, Ministerial statement of July last, as those which the Government favoured Avas a Bill providing for a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions. Such a system must involve a large amount of increased taxation. Some say that the necessary funds should be raised by means of a State tobacco monopoly, and others by the imposition of a graduated land tax. Whilst not prepared at this stage to discuss the question, I may say at once that I think the producers of Australia are at present sufficiently handicapped, and that the suggestion of one of the members of the Labour Party that, in order to raise the fund’s necessary to give effect to the Bill, a graduated land tax should be imposed, will require to be very carefully investigated. With such a standing order as the Government propose, that might be impossible. The same remark will apply to a number of other measures included in the Ministerial programme, and all of which will require very careful consideration. The High Commissioner Bill, for instance, will involve the appointment of the representative of a land” which I “ may liken to the rising sun, since owing to the ability displayed by the leader of the Labour Party in this House it must reflect its glory over the world. It seems to me that it is absolutely necessary that the appointment of a High Commissioner should be made by the House. In another place a resolution was carried that the appointment should be! made by ballot.

Mr Frazer:

– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I submit that it is not competent for the honorable member to debate in detail the advantages of appointing a High Commissioner by a vote of both Houses.

Mr SPEAKER:

– If the honorable member was doing so, he certainly was out of order. I must ask him to confine his remarks to those aspects of the question which bear upon the work of the remaining life of the Parliament.

Mr CAMERON:

– I bow to your ruling, sir. I may at once tell honorable members that when the general question is debated, I shall express myself strongly in favour of a limitation of debate, but shall endeavour to show that a proposal of this sort ought to be introduced in a proper way and at the right time. I have always been in favour of a time limit being placed upon the speeches of honorable members. The Western Australian Railway Survey Bill is another measure that may comebefore us next session. As a representative of one of the smaller States which is interested in that measure, inasmuch as it would be called upon to contribute to the cost of the survey, I would strongly urge the undesirableness of the closure being applied during its consideration. Tasmania has but five representatives in this House, and all, I believe, are strongly opposed to the proposal. As against that number there are seventy honorable members more or less in favour of the survey being made.

Mr Culpin:

– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, what possible bearing can the fact that thereare seventy members holding certain views as against five others holding different views, have upon the question before the Chair?

Mr SPEAKER:

– It seems to me very clear that the honorable member is entitled to suggest that, as Tasmania has only five representatives, as against seventy representing the other States, her representatives should have the amplest opportunity to discuss the measure in question.

Mr CAMERON:

– It is extremely probable that the Bill’ in question will again be brought forward next session, and if the closure be in force, the majority in favour of the measure may support its application, saying, “ We have the numbers ; why waste time in further discussing the matter?” Such a procedure would arouse a feeling of intense resentment amongst the people of Tasmania generally. They would feel that their representatives had been cruelly “ gagged-“ As it is, there is a belief that on some occasions they have not been treated fairly, and such an action would accentuate that feeling. If Iwere to deal with the bearing whichthis proposal may have on other measures to be considered next session, I should feel that I might be dealing with subjects that had already been discussed, and I shall therefore not attempt to do so. I have no wish to weary the House, but I do desire to say a few words when the main question is. under discussion.

Mr REID:
East Sydney

– In the first place, I regret that the remarks which I propose to make will be somewhat affected by the form of the amendment which is before the House. However, in dealing with that amendment, I shall endeavour to keep within the legitimate bounds of debate. At the outset, I should like - I think I am entitled to do so by way of personal explanation - to make some reference to observations which have been made regarding my attitude towards the proposal which is now before us. I have been represented as having advocated the proposals which the Government have submitted and I wish to set myself right in regard to that gross misrepresentation. It is perfectly true that on many occasions I have expressed my strong conviction of the urgent necessity which exists for the adoption of some rules to insure the reasonable despatch of public business, and no one, I think, could have noticed the proceedings of this and of other Parliaments without coming to the same conclusion. Unfortunately, instead of my gaining any support for the views which I then expressed, they were made the subject of ridicule by those who were opposed to me. My eagerness to improve the conditions under which public business should be transacted, which was the subject of a number of addresses to the electors, earned for me practically an avalanche of ridicule, just as if any proposal to alter the Standing Orders were a sign of political imbecility. Consequently, I am greatly astonished to find these very gentlemen, who held me up to ridicule because I recognised the necessity for a change in our methods of conducting business, now making a life and death struggle to establish a form of closure which they have represented me as favouring, but which I absolutely denounce. I have stated over and over again the sort of abuse which I thought should be put down, lt was not a free expression of opinion bv honorable members of this House, if was not an intelligible and intelligent discussion of the principles of measures or of the merits of proposals. No one, I am sure, would wish to discourage that, or to ‘ suppress it - at least, I thought so, until these proposals were introduced. But the evil which I denounced was this - and although I was ridiculed for it, I think in the inner consciousness of every honorable member, it will be acknowledged that every word I said was right.

Mr Watson:

– I stated at Newtown that I would assist the right honorable member.

Mr REID:

– I do not say that the honorable member did not. If he did so, it is one of the rare occasions upon which he has said something nice. But I wish to say that my honorable friend did me a great injustice when he represented me as sharing his views as expressed in these proposals. The alteration that I. suggested in our methods of despatching public business was one by which one or two honorable members should not be allowed to take up between eight and ten hours of public time, in order to absolutely obstruct public business, and with the effect of preventing any other honorable member from expressing his views. That is the only abuse which, in my opinion, has marked the history of this Parliament. I wish to say to honorable members upon both sides of the House - of all parties - that, so far as my experience has gone this Parliament will most favorably compare with other Australian Parliaments from the stand-point of the method in which its business has been conducted, no matter who may have been in possession of the Treasury benches. The one blot upon it has been the fact that one or two individuals have been able to occupy hour after hour of public time in saying nothing at all, and with the deliberate intention of saying nothing. That was what I denounced - any abuse which was crippling the usefulness of the Commonwealth Parliament, and bringing it into undeserved disrepute. In spite of important differences between honorable members of various parties, I say again that, so far as I am concerned, the general conduct of this Federal Parliament - apart from that one blemish - is not open to very serious criticism.

Mr Hutchison:

– The right honorable member said that any Government ought to attack that abuse, and that his Government would do so during this session.

Mr REID:

– I assure my honorable friend that I say the same thing now. I would be the first to support any proposal to prevent inordinately long speeches by one or two honorable members, if only in defence of the rights of other honorable members, who merely wish to occupy a reasonable proportion of the public time. But to represent me as being in favour of a system which, instead of suppressing individual nuisances, who take up the time that honestly belongs to other honorable members, would deprive the whole body of members of the right to say anything at all, and which would give any Government which might be in office- if two or three honorable members abused their rights - power to silence the whole House, to stifle the intelligence and conscience of the entire Parliament, is grossly unfair. That is a clumsy way of reforming abuses. The remedy of the abuse to which I refer is not one which requires free discussion in this House to be stifled, or a large number of honorable members to be put under some sort of criminal discipline. The real trouble is rather an individual abuse of the rights enjoyed by honorable members, and it is a very gross abuse. The way to remedy it is to limit the application of any rule which may be framed to the cases of individuals who abuse their right to be heard. As I stated at the time - and as my honorable friends in the late Cabinet know - this matter was never settled by us. We did discuss it in an informal way, and the furthest point that we reached was to agree that where honorable members were speaking at inordinate length, there should be some power of stopping them, but that there should always be reserved to them the right to appeal to the House to be further heard, so that they should not be arbitrarily stopped.

Mr Hutchison:

– The deputy leader of the Opposition argued for something much more stringent than that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– That is not a correct statement.

Mr REID:

– Perhaps he did, but I may tell the honorable member that I prefer to accept the assurance of the honorable member for Parramatta.

Mr Hutchison:

– A reference to Hansard will show that my statement is correct.

Mr REID:

– I was not referring to the deputy leader of the Opposition, but, perhaps, I may be allowed to digress from the subject for a moment, in order to express my deep and grateful obligation to him for the splendid manner in which he has discharged his duties.

Mr Wilks:

– He is a grand fighter.

Mr REID:

– And I am happy to say that he is not alone in that respect. I wish to clear myself at once from the imputation to which I have alluded. The Prime Minister, and not merely the leader of the Labour Party, stated that he had read all my speeches upon this matter, and that he found I was in favour of the closure. I wish to say that he could not have read my speeches. Certainly I would not expect him to do so, because I confess that I do not often read his addresses. But if he did read my speeches, his statement is the grossest possible misrepresentation of them. There is not a single word in any address which I have delivered to the people of Australia which justifies the association of my name with these proposals.

Mr Watson:

– Not even with the closure?

Mr REID:

– I have never expressed an opinion in favour of any such proposal.

Mr Watson:

– Has not the right honorable member expressed himself in favour of the closure in general terms?

Mr REID:

– I have never heard that term used in reference to an individual member. I think that my honorable friend will admit that it is inapplicable in that connexion.

Mr Watson:

– The term was attributed to the right honorable member in an address which he delivered at Bundaberg.

Mr REID:

– Then it is a gross misrepresentation, because the term “closure” is never applied to the case of members who speak for an indefinite number of hours. That is not the closure. The closure applies to a general’ exercise - not exactly of brute force, but of something very closely approaching it, for the purpose of suppressing a whole political party. In the vicissitudes of our political fights, one side may win to-day and another side to morrow. One day we may occupy seats upon the Treasury benches, and the next we may be in opposition. But there are principles which, though embedded in the most venerable foundations of our parliamentary system, are still visible to every eye, and are still animating the soul of our public life. What is really the soul of our parliamentary existence, if it is not the right -which honorable members possess of addressing themselves intelligently to those matters of public business which come before this House? The tyranny which suppresses the minority of to-day may in turn be used to suppress the oppressor. I wish to lift this thing above the mere exigencies of party politics.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! Has the right honorable member concluded his personal explanation ?

Mr REID:

– I am just about to do so. I will conclude it in this way : My view of this question, affecting as it does the efficiency of Parliament, is that if we had a method of restricting the abuse of their right by individual members, the right of free speech might be preserved to every honorable member of this House. I am much obliged to you. sir, for allowing me to make these remarks by way of explanation. Now I come to the amendment, to which I am restricted, and which proposes that these closure rules shall not apply to the remaining business of this Parliament. I cannot address myself to that amendment without making some reference to the need of the Government proposals. I cannot intelligently bring my mind to a consideration of, its effect upon the business of this Parliament in future sessions, without making at least incidental reference to the nature of the rules which will- apply to that business if this amendment be not carried. The Government propose that certain rules shall be applied to all our business for the rest of the Parliament.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– To the business of every Parliament.

Mr REID:

– Yes, to the business of future Parliaments as well. The amendment is intended to exempt the business which will occupy our attention during the remainder of the Parliament. The issue between the two propositions is : “ Shall those rules be applied to the business of other sessions of this Parliament, or shall thev not?” I cannot discuss that proposition without making some reference to what those rules are. In the first place I am surprised that the Prime Minister should associate himself with rules of this description. It is not a case of accident, or of inadvertence; it is a deliberate act. The Prime Minister has adopted the form of closure which was proposed by himself when he was in office in Victoria, and has deliberately cut out of it the safeguards which protect honorable members with the judicial impartiality of the presiding officer of the House. Of course, I can understand that in the hurry of drafting rules, an. unfortunate omission might be made. But the serious point of these proposals is that, whereas in the form of closure adopted in the mother country- and in his own proposals in Victoria - a clause was inserted extending the protection of the judicial authority of the Chair to every honorable member of the House, and to every minority in it, so that the rules should be idle unless the presiding authority considered that the occasion required their application, the Ministerial pen was deliberately put through that safeguard so as to prevent Mr. Speaker from seeing fair play.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! Will the right honorable member kindly permit me to say that his argument will be perfectly legitimate when the main question is under consideration? But as I have during the past two or three days prevented fifteen or twenty members- perhaps more - from discussing the main question uponthis proposal, it would be very unfair if I now permitted him a liberty which I have refused to extend to them. When these amendments have been disposed of, the whole question will be open to the fullest debate. But at the present time, by the will of those who have moved the amendments, and not by my own, the area of debate has been narrowed down until the only point which can be discussed is whether a certain standing order, whose substance has not yet been determined, shall, or shall not, be applied to the business of this Parliament after the close of the present session.

Mr REID:

– I submit that I shall be in order in alluding to the actual proposals of the Government upon this subject, upon which hang all the amendments with which we are now dealing. ‘You will see, sir, that the amendment proposes to alter a distinct proposition which is now in the hands of honorable members, and which includes the closure rules. It would be idle for me to speculate upon some other forms of closure, when certain rules are already embodied in this very proposition.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The right honorable member has very much strengthened the line of argument which I took just now. It must be manifest that as yet there has been no debate - except on the part of three honorable members, in the persons of the Prime Minister, the honorable member for Parramatta, and the honorable member for Gippsland - upon the substance of the proposed standing order. Under the provisions of our Standing Orders, I have expressly prevented any such reference. Therefore, the determination of the final form of the standing order remains absolutely in abeyance. That question has been entirely superseded by the question before the Chair, which is, whether a certain standing order which has not yet been formulated, and which is not now under consideration, should be allowed to be applied to the business for the rest of this Parliament.

Mr REID:

– As I have been absent from the Chamber for some days, I am sure you will allow me to say that upon looking at the business-paper of the House, 1 see the following notice of motion by the Prime Minister : -

That, notwithstanding any provisions in the Standing Orders to the contrary, there be forthwith adopted the following standing order–

I understand that the amendment under consideration is not to embody in the proposed standing order the wholeof the words, which follow, but to place certain words in advance of them. If those words are inserted, that proposition will then become the proposition which is in the hands of the House. I understand that we have now before us a proposal to establish a definite system of closure, and that the amendment contemplates the insertion in the earlier part of it, of a provision that that form of closure - the closure embodied in the motion which is now in the hands of honorable members - shall not apply to the remaining business of this Parliament. I am at a loss to understand why I should speculate as to some unknown form of closure, when there is a definite form before the House, and when the proposal under consideration is that that special form of closure shall not apply to special business. Surely, sir,you do not wish to rule that the words which follow do not represent a concrete proposition before the House. I quite recognise that I might not be in order in discussing the question generally ; but it is impossible for me to vote as to whether these proposals should be applied to the remaining business of the Parliament, if I cannot consider their nature.

Mr Deakin:

– Then we had better deal at once with the amendments on the businesspaper.

Mr REID:

– I quite realize that I cannot discuss this amendment as the substantive motion. But in investigating the question whether these proposals should be applied to the remaining business of this Parliament, surely I can discuss their nature ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I recognise that the absence of the right honorable member during the past three days makes it necessary for me to explain to -him, some of the things of which, in the absence of that explanation,he may not be aware. The fact of the matter is that the proposed standing order in the form in which it has. been moved by the Prime Minister is not now before the House. It has been expressly superseded. It is not before the House any more than the succeeding orders of the day are before the House at the present moment. The form of the standing order proposed has been superseded first by the amendment submitted by the honorable member for Parramatta. That amendment being under consideration as an alternative to the proposal of the Government, was debated at some length.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Surely not as an alternative?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am very careful to choose the words which I employ, and I am sure that the honorable member will presently see that I am accurate. When the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta was before the House, the position was a choice between two alternatives. The one was the motion as moved by the Prime Minister, and the other was that motion as proposed to be altered by the amendment submitted by the deputy leader of the Opposition.

Mr Reid:

– I presume that that amendment did not remove the substantive motion, but only grafted upon it a qualification..

Mr SPEAKER:

– When thos.e two alternatives were before the House, it was open to honorable members to refer to either. But at a later stage, an amendment was moved upon the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta. After considerable debate, the second amendment, as the result of a vote of the House, was added to the amendment of the honorable member for Parramatta. Then a’ s.till further amendment was submitted which is now before the Chair. The effect of that amendment is that a form of closure which has not yet been determined, in the slightest degree, by any vote of the House., shall not apply to certain business. The question is whether some form of closure shall or shall not be applied to the business of this Parliament after the current session. . If the right honorable member will take the trouble tq look up any work on parliamentary practice, or on the forms adopted by Parliament in Great Britain, Canada, or elsewhere, he will see that I am fully justified in giving that ruling. I shall conclude by saying that the ruling which I am now giving - and which. I have previously given - in no. way precludes the fullest discussion of every detail of the motion when the main question is under consideration. But just as the amendment has grown from the original motion by the addition of amendment after amendment, so we must get back, to the original position by the reverse steps. First, we must dispose of the amendment which is now under discussion, and afterwards of the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta. Then honorable members will be at liberty to discuss the original motion in any way that they may please.

Mr REID:

– I think I can now see that I am at liberty to discuss more than the particular form of closure suggested by the Government. You, sir, have said that the question is whether some form of closure shall be applicable to the business of the Parliament, so that I am quite at liberty to discuss any form of closure.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The right honorable member is certainly entitled - as is every honorable member - to discuss the effect of applying a form of closure - either this or another form - to the remaining business of the Parliament.

Mr REID:

– That, sir, will give me every latitude to discuss the question without infringing your ruling. I now propose to debate a number of forms of closure, with a view to consider whether we should adopt any closure at all, and if so, what form of closure, to the remaining business of Parliament. I assume that in doing so, I need not avoid an incidental reference to the particular form of closure which appears upon the business-paper.

Mr SPEAKER:

– So long as the right honorable member does not anticipate a later debate.

Mr REID:

– I see your point, sir. In investigating this question, I should like to pass in review the different kinds of closure of which we have had some experience in the parliamentary history of the British Empire, because I suppose it is even more valuable to discuss methods which have been tried in existing Parliaments than to soar into the air and debate purely theoretical methods. Now let us in connexion with the very important question, whether we should apply some method of closure to the remaining business of this Parliament, pause to consider the merits of the British form of closure. We cannot consider that particular form of closure without bearing in mind the circumstances which brought it into existence. As we know, for many centuries the grand historical House of Commons legislated without any of these novel methods of suppressing liberty of speech, and it might have gone on for centuries more without resorting to “ arbitrary restraints but for gross abuses which arose in that Chamber - abuses which certainly have not arisen in this House. What suggested this novel method to that venerable House was a determined attempt of an organized party to prevent the transaction of any public business whatever. Their operations were carried on throughout a series of violent scenes, which reduced that great House to a position of perfect impotence. There was an actively disloyal party in the heart of the British Empire,’ which was trying to rend the Empire asunder - trying to separate one of the vital parts of the United Kingdom from England and Scotland - and they were determined that no business should be transacted until Home Rule was granted to Ireland’. Under the flag of Home Rule, there occurred a series of the most bitter struggles known in parliamentary history. And when was the closure applied ? Was it applied in the middle of a session ? No. A special session was convened in order that such a radical innovation upon the timehonoured liberties of the House of Commons should be considered free from the heat of party politics. Are we discussing this vital innovation under such conditions ? Is not the present proposal thrown in upon us suddenly, at the very end of a session, and in connexion with a Bill which, after having been buried down in the lowest part of the business-paper, was suddenly transferred to the top? And the proposed new standing order has been put forward in order to enable that Bill to be dragooned through Parliament.

Mr Wilks:

– It is a trick.

Mr REID:

– I do not call it a trick. There is something honest about it - it is the outcome of a desire to pay a debt for which a creditor is pressing.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am sure that the right honorable member will be the first to admit that the matter to which he is now referring can have no possible connexion with the amendment before the Chair.

Mr REID:

– I am trying to discuss the present circumstances in reference to a proposal to apply some form of closure to the proceedings of this Parliament. I am pointing out that it will be better to discuss the matter during a special session when party feeling shall have subsided rather than at the present stage.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I repeat what I previously said to the right honorable member, namely, that that would1 be a perfectly legitimate argument at the proper time and place, but not now, and here. If the right honorable gentleman were to pursue his present line of argument, he would be anticipating debate that will come on at a later stage. The only question before the Chair is, as to whether any form of closure should be applied to the business of this Parliament after the close of the present session.

Mr REID:

– I suppose that I shall be permitted to discuss the question of the evils of a system of closure - speaking generally, as an advocate of no system of closure - as applied to the remaining business of this Parliament.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Other honorable members have argued for a great many hours upon the amendment, and have managed to keep at least within the circumference of the question before the Chair. The right honorable gentleman will see as clearly as any one that the line of argument that he desires me to permit him to follow would be most distinctly in anticipation of debate that should properly take place at a later stage. The question whether the honorable member is, or is not, an advocate of the closure may be a perfectly legitimate subject for discussion upon the main question, but it matters not when we are discussing whether some such provision should be applicable to the business of the coming session. The right honorable gentleman is entitled to give his reasons for opposing the application of the closure to the business of next session, but not his reasons for opposing the closure generally, because that would be clearly in anticipation of subsequent debate.

Mr REID:

– I quite follow you, sir, in that. Now I am coming to the question of the business of next session. It is important to consider the Ministerial statement, made by the head of the Government, on 26th July -last, when Ministers took office, from which we gather the measures which are likely to be presented for our consideration next session. I think there is a pretty big list, and that I shall not need to -trouble you, sir, to give a ruling for some time. In order that there shall be no ambiguity about the relevance of my remarks, I propose to refer to the Ministerial statement in which the Prime Minister said -

This Ministry adheres to the practical policy sanctioned by the country at the last general election, and already submitted to this House, and exists for the purpose of giving effect to it.

Now I am going to pay the Ministry a compliment that it really does not deserve. I am going, to assume that it really does exist for the purpose of giving effect to that policy. I am assuming the unthinkable, because, in point of fact, Ministers exist only to do what they are told to do, and to pay their political debts. And I think the ultimatum has already been pretty plainly conveyed. It is to be either the closure, resignation, or dissolution. That has been put pretty plainly to the Ministry, and they know exactly the position in which, they stand. The Prime Minister said -

A majority of the members of the Cabinet are directly responsible for the programme submitted to Parliament in 1904, which was then accepted in almost every particular by our present colleagues, so that we represent to-day the same policy and the same party. The circumstances of our assumption of office prevent a formal submission of our programme in a speech from the Governor-General.

That is quite true, because they had to submit it to Mr. Watson.

But this is rendered comparatively immaterial, because the speech of His Excellency at the opening of this Parliament remains almost as completely applicable now as sixteen months ago, when it was delivered. To refresh the memories of honorable members, I will rapidly run through the programme then formulated, and now resubmitted.

We remember how rapidly it was done.

Taking the subjects mentioned, in the order in which they appear in his Excellency’s speech of March, 1904, honorable members will find - The taking over of the debts of the States.

Now, that subject is not included in the business-paper for this session, and as; the Government have declare’d that they exist for the purpose of giving effect to their announced policy, I presume that it is a fair inference that they intend to propose some measure to deal with the States debts during the life of this Parliament. That will not be unduly stretching the inference, even in the case of the present Government. There is a distinct measure of policy, which, if the Ministry is to be relied upon, will engage the attention of this Parliament during its remaining session. The taking over of -the public debts of the States is one of the most stupendous financial transactions in which the Commonwealth can engage. And I want to ask, are we going to apply the system of the closure to the complicated provisions which deal with the whole finances of the Commonwealth and of the States, involving hundreds of millions of public money ? Are the complicated vital and tremendous issues affecting the welfare of the whole Commonwealth, not only as a Commonwealth, but as diversified, separate communities, to be solved by the application of brutal methods of compulsion, by a power which can stifle the voice of protest, not of one member, but of a whole political party, and commit the Commonwealth in ten or twenty minutes to untold liability ? On the threshold of problems of that sort is it to be placed in the power of - I do not say twenty-four members, because it might be irregular to refer to the ‘number which is mentioned in a certain proposal - I shall say twenty-five members-

Mr McCay:

– That is the number of the Labour Party.

Mr REID:

– That is about the number - that is to say, the high-water mark.

Mr McCay:

– That allows one member for Chairman.

Mr REID:

– The party are becoming so insecure that they want to finish what they have in hand at once. I want, as one of the guardians of the public interests, to consider the precise sort of measures to which this kind of closure is to be applied. If provision were made that the Speaker,, as the guardian of the rights of every member of this House, should approve of the application of the closure, we might feel more secure, because I am sure that Mr. Speaker would in the future, as in the past, vigilantly preserve those rights. If there were some such provision in this closure, this undisguised, -naked attempt to seize irresponsible power would have some show of shame in it. There would be at least one hostage given to honour, one guarantee to which the members who were dragooned ‘by the majority could look. But no such safeguarded system of closure is likely to be passed so long as my friends opposite have their way. Just consider for a moment what it would mean. We have a House consisting of seventy-five members. In the ordinary course, owing to the enormous size of this Continent, it is impossible for the whole of the members to be here at any one time. I suppose that, in view of the special circumstances, an average attendance of about fifty members out of seventy-five might be reasonably looked for. I want to discuss in particular the kind of closure in which twentyfivemembers could stifle the voice of Parliament and register acts of everlasting consequence, as one would register transactions in a totalizator om a race-course. There would be seven Ministers out of the twentyfive, and the Government Whip, who nearly was a Minister, and the other honorable member who ought to have been a Minister, would make nine. Nine deducted from twenty-five would leave sixteen-. Then, ‘if we took all the best elements from the Labour Tarty, we should have about fifteen or sixteen left. So that included in the twenty-five members required to apply the closure there would be seven Ministers and eighteen other honorable members.- Deducting seven Ministers from the seventylive members of this House, we should have sixty-eight left, and,, therefore, eighteen members out of sixty-eight would have the power to push through this Parliament measures which might be fraught with’ the utmost misery to the whole of the people. During this debate one honorable member below the gangway made a remark which I hope will be repeated throughout Australia, as to the means necessary to pass some of the measures which are not proposed to be adopted this session, but which may well form part of the programme to be dealt with during the life of this Parliament. The Ministerial statement to which I have previously alluded refers to the Governor-General’s speech, which makes mention of a proposed system of old-age pensions. Now, that is a matter upon which we are all- agreed. The wisdom and policy of a system of old-age pensions is a question to which I would not in a normal case fear the application, of the closure, because I think we are all in .spirit favorable to it. Although I had a strong objection to the appointment of too -many commissions, I was thoroughly in accord with the grand object held in view in appointing the Old-age ‘Pensions Commission. I made no difficulty about the Select Committee continuing its labours as a Commission during the recess. Now I wish to remind the House of a remark that was made this morning when the old-age pensions question was brought up. When the honorable member for Parramatta was speaking the honorable member for Barrier, who is a leading member of the Labour Party, when there is anything wrong to be done, asked in the presence of this House how the honorable member for Parramatta supposed a Federal land tax could be passed through this House except by means of the closure. We see this socialistic hand spread out towards the only hope they have of grabbing at a source of income which will not affect the friends of the Labour Party. Their object is to be carried out by means of a system of closure. What does that mean? The proposal cannot live on its own merits. If it were subjected to the ordinary processes of deliberation and discussion which ought to precede important parliamentary .decisions, it would be found impossible to apply such a principle to such a purpose. We can now see the spirit which is behind this movement. The Labour Party are satisfied as to their own weakness. Having undermined parliamentary institutions bv holding another parliament of their own, but having failed to sufficiently demoralize the other Parliament, they are now proposing a system under which the will of the caucus can be forced upon this Federal Parliament. The decision as to when the thumb-screw shall be applied to Members.of Parliament, the decision as to when the ordinary rules of free discussion shall be suspended, will be arrived at at a secret gathering. The decision will be arrived at there, and the independent patriots who depend on them will have the machinery ready to carry out the dictates’ of the caucus. The caucus will decide, and

Ministers will play the part of the executioner. The present Prime Minister, who patriotically denounced, not only tha -caucus, but the leagues behind it, and the whole system which has been built up, and which he described as destitute of patriotism and destitute of any good influence, and as rushing this unhappy country over the brink of a precipice - the patriot who registered those views is now so submissive to the men he denounced that he is now prepared to convert into a political1 guillotine the Constitution of which he spoke as a sacred shrine. With all his faults, we know that in the Prime Minister there ure enormous potentialities for good. Bitter as my difference from him is, I recognise that, unfortunately, like other men with a number of good instincts, he generally becomes subjected to the influences of the strongest man in his neighbourhhod. If that be so, just consider the strength of the influence of the caucus upon his unhappy temperament, which, as I have already stated, has brought the Prime Minister clown from the lofty heights of patriotism to a position of abject pandering to a party that despises him.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Does the right honorable gentleman think that that has anything to-do with the subject?

Mr REID:

– Yes. I think it has. I believe that if what I say were not true we should not be called upon to discuss the question whether some system of closure should be applied. to the remaining business of this Parliament. I wish to explain one of the reasons why I object to the closure. Such a proposal could not be made except under Government authority.

Mr Watson:

– If the amendment were withdrawn the right honorable gentleman would be in order in speaking as he is now_ doing.

Mr REID:

– The Speaker is keeping a pretty tight hand on me, but apparently the honorable member wants to apply the “gag “ a little before its time.

Mr McCay:

– He has been doing this for some days.

Mr REID:

– Then he has said more during those few days than during the last six months. We ‘are now considering a system of closure to be applied by a Government only in relations such as I have suggested with a certain , party in this House. Under what other circumstances would the practice which has been followed since this Parliament began be departed from? You, sir, as the honored president of this House, know that from the beginning of Federation, any suggestion to alter the Standing Orders has always been referred to a’ tribunal expressly appointed by this House to consider such’ matters. I confess that I have not attended the meetings of the Standing Orders Committee. I have had so much confidence in you, sir. 1 thought that you, being in the Chair, would see that everything! went well. Without any further reference to myself, I should like to say that we have had on our table for a long time a complete code of Standing Orders.

Mr Watson:

– I rise to a point of order. I should like to know whether the right honorable gentleman is in order in proceeding to refer to the Standing Orders, and in referring to the general question of the proposed new standing order, or to the closure generally. If the right honorable gentleman is allowed to proceed in his present strain, I take it that other honorable members may desire to reply to some of his statements, and that a general discussion may be precipitated that would properl v belong to a later period.

Mr SPEAKER:

– It is quite impossible for me to allow the? right honorable gentleman any greater latitude than would be extended to any other honorable member. I am sure that he does not desire that. Until the last few minutes, I think that he has kept fairly* well within the circumference of the question, but his references to the Prime Minister, and some suggested relation between him and one of the parties in this House, were not relevant to the question before the chair.

Mr REID:

– I shall now return to the subject of the old-age pensions. I think we can all agree that the question of old7 age pensions is one of the most pressing, one of the most important, and one of the most difficult that we could possibly consider. Notwithstanding unanimity of opinion regarding the principle, any Ministry endeavouring to carry out a system of old-age pensions would be confronted by a multitude of difficulties. A question of such magnitude, like the enormous question of taking over the debts of the States, should certainly be submitted to a House which has the fullest opportunity for frank, fearless, and thorough criticism. We used to think that these were obvious truths. If we think of having some system of closure applied to the remaining business of this Parliament, I submit that the application of any such system should be preceded by a reference to the Committee specially appointed to advise the House on such questions. Now, for what purpose was the Standing Orders Committee appointed? - to bring before this House a comprehensive code of orders for the governance of public business, and we have at the present moment on this table a scheme dealing fully with that subject. Now, I do not think that in the proposed standing orders there is any like that which has been put forward by the Government. With reference to the Standing Orders Committee, I was present at a meeting of that body not long ago - as my honorable friend from the saltbush country has reminded the House, theonly meeting of the Committee which I have attended - at which we discussed the advisability of adopting some new system for expediting the despatch of public business. I pointed out that we should have some rule to put down members who abused their rights by speaking hour after hour with the deliberate intention of wasting public time. But, by the adoption of any system of closure, the wrong thing would be done. Let me first take the most legitimate case for the application ofthe closure which can be imagined. Some proposition is before the House, and an undue amount of public time has been taken up in dealing with it - say, two sittings, two or three honorable members having monopolized one of them. Then, if the closure were applied in order to prevent further waste of time, instead of having suppressed the men who were wasting time, it. would gag those who had not been heard.

Mr Hutchison:

– There is not a quorum present.[Quorum formed.]

Mr REID:

– My objection to any system of closure is that it would be applied in the wrong way, at the wrong time, to the wrong persons.

Mr Deakin:

– I suppose that that is the way in which the right honorable member applied it in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly?

Mr REID:

– The honorable and learned gentleman is referring to what occurred a long time ago, and I am sorry that he is getting away from his own shrine. That was a beautiful phrase in which he spoke of the Federal edifice - “ strong as a fortress; sacred as a shrine.” I do not understand that the fortress still exists, and the sanctity of the shrine seems to have gone. Honorable gentlemen will recollect that the honorable members for Darling and Gwydir on one occasion occupied between them about ten hours - a magnificent and intellectual display of physical endurance. But, if any system for preventing wasteof time were adopted, I would apply it all round, and not to one more than to another. We might provide that, at the end of one or two hours, no honorable member should be allowed to consume further time, unless the question were put without debate that he be further heard. Under that system no one would be gagged, and no one’s views would be stifled ; but there would be some safeguard against the waste of public time, and offenders,, instead of the innocent, would be punished. One of the. possibilities of this tyrannical remedy is that a most important proposition may be put at a moment’s notice - under the excuse that there has been waste of time, possibly instigated by the Government to create the excuse. No one would abuse the closure in an open and unashamed way, if he could avoid doing so. I feel that the Attorney-General has become the real head of the Government–

Mr Conroy:

– He is responsible for all the fighting which we have had.

Mr REID:

– I do pot wish to pay fulsome compliments, but I think that if the Prime Minister had been in charge of the House last week, we should not have had this trouble.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The right honorable gentleman is not now referring to the business before the Chair.

Mr REID:

– That is why I have made the reference so short. If there were some rule under which an offender could1 be stopped, he would be punished, while there would still be an opportunity to be heard for those who had not abused their rights and privileges. But under any system of closure, the Prime Minister could get two or three of those long-winded orators who have been speaking all their lives without ever having done anything, to occupy five hours each, and then, in a state of virtuous indignation, move the application of the closure to the whole House. These are the abuses of the system to which its adoption would expose us.I think enough of my fellow members,’ wherever they may sit, to believe that it would very rarely happen if we had this iniquitous rule that it would be put into force in a discreditable way. But the great danger would be that, while it would be a dead-letter during the transaction of the ordinary unimportant business of Parliament, while abuse would continue unchecked during the discussion of trivial measures, this wicked power might be used for selfish ends, when “a compact power in the House had a Bill dear to its heart, compassing sectional aims, and designed to injure the public for the benefit of individuals. I cannot, of course,- in dealing with the amendment, refer to the business of the present session ; but let us suppose that towards the end of next session some measure, which, perhaps, is the only one then dear to the hearts of the Labour Party, has been buried for weeks at the bottom of the notice-paper, while all sorts of unimportant measures have been allowed to occupy time. Let us suppose, too, that the Government have introduced two Bills unpalatable to the Labour Party - perhaps Bills to amend the Immigration Restriction Act. The usual warning might be given to the Government by the Labour Party, “ We will throw you out over these amending Bills ; you had better drop them, and force our Bill through, because we will not let you go into recess until you do.” Under those circumstances, the closure might be applied. The picture that I have drawn as a possibility of next session is, in fact, a statement of what has occurred this session, though I mav not refer more directly to the present position of affairs. I would point out, however, as a future’ danger, that this driving force would be used, not for patriotic and national ends, but at the dictation of the masters outside of the masters inside of the present Government. One of the reasons why the parliamentary institutions of the mother country have acquired their reputation throughout the world, so that the British Parliament, in spite of its privileged orders, and its House of Lords, is looked upon by the reformers of all nations as an example to be copied, is that, although many mighty storms have raged in that august Chamber, strewing it with the wrecks of political fortunes v and political parties, although in its history the fate of empires has been fought out, through all the defeats, and all the victories, there has remained a spirit of freedom, a right to express individual convictions, a power of legitimate difference of opinion, which is reflected in the glorious attributes of the British people.

Mr Deakin:

– The British House of Commons has a more drastic closure than that which we propose to adopt.

Mr REID:

– Does not the Prime Minister remember that that closure was provided for in a special session of Parliament, when a party in the House of Commons had paralyzed public business for months, for a purpose which was practically disloyal ? Because, whatever may be the change which has passed over thousands of the Irish people to-day, at that time the moving power of Home Rule was hatred of England, and a determination to break up the British Empire.

Mr Mahon:

– That is the game the right honorable gentleman is going to play at the next elections.

Mr REID:

– The honorable member has played his game, and it was a bad one. I ask the House to recollect who is responsible for bringing this subject into this Chamber. Some influences in our politics are most dangerous when all their engineering work is conducted underground, and the professions of broad patriotism and hatred of sectarianism are confined to addresses on public occasions. The fire which has been kindled in our Australian politics was kindled in spite of my strong protest. I asked the House to leave the path along which it was sought to direct it, to -say nothing for or against the subject, to leave it to the good sense of the great peoples of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Mv overture of peace was rejected. These gentlemen have forced it on. The adoption of the closure in the House of Commons was not entagled with the strenuous fights of an active session over contentious matters. The atmosphere being clear, the subject was dealt with in a special session. Here, however, the closure is being proposed under conditions which make the proposal a disgrace to the Government.

Mr SPEAKER:

– This is not the opportunity for the right honorable member to use these arguments

Mr REID:

– It is always difficult to draw a fair line between legitimate opposition and wrongful obstruction. When we are in power we are prone to look upon all opposition to our measures as obstruction. But our views should not acquire a force under heated political conditions which would enable us, in the settled institutions of Parliament, to suppress those whom we dislike. They should not acquire the power to stifle parliamentary discussion, because it is thought that a point has been reached at which the representatives of the people should be silenced, and become mere voting machines. Of all the surprises of the present .situation, none is greater than this, that the men who are fighting to put a gag on Parliament are the Labour Party of Australia. There have been many surprises in the political history of Australia, but none greater than the present. I have heard members of the Labour Party denounce tyranny, force, and oppression in all its shapes ; but, in this sudden and violent attempt to destroy the proper parliamentary independence of this House, the men who are pulling the strings, and driving the Government to adopt a means which they should1 be the first to denounce, are the members of that party. In order to carry one Bill which they favour, they are prepared to destroy the fabric of our parliamentary liberties.

Mr Mahon:

– We believe in majority rule.

Mr McLean:

– Honorable members left office as a protest against majority rule.

Mr REID:

– The events of to-day remind me of somewhat similar occurrences in the State of New South Wales. There for months a set of proposed new standing orders had been before the House, when the Government of the day took advantage of the temporary absence of the Opposition to adopt them. We were very indignant when we found out what had happened, but in a few weeks our party came into office, and for five, years the rules which had been adopted by our opponents proved a rod for their own backs. I wish to point out to those honorable members who are leaving their usual track - because they profess no sympathy with these violent measures-

Mr Hutchison:

– We have had rules of this kind in South Australia for many years.

Mr REID:

– A number of strange things have happened in South Australia.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The right honorable’ gentleman appears to me to be debating the general question, and not the amend-, ment.

Mr REID:

– I wish honorable members who interject would recollect the danger of that, and not lead me astray. I am pointing out that the closure is so opposed to the genius of the political activities of the members of the Labour Party, that there must be some explanation for their present attitude. I do not accuse the party of being anything but a thorough businessorganization. It is up for the highest bidder, and the highest bidder gets it every time.

Mr Hutchison:

– Is the right honorablemember in order in saying that any section of this House is up for the highest bidder ?

Mr Wilks:

– One .member of the party said so in the Senate.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Hindmarsh having taken exception to thestatement, I ask the right honorable member to withdraw it. I am sorry to have to remind him again that he is still transgressing the rulings which I have given.

Mr REID:

– I withdraw the remark if it be offensive. I should not have made it, had not Labour members said the same thing outside, over and over again. I should not have fallen into the error of stating what is a fact, but for- the circumstance that it has been openly admitted by members of the party.

Mr Hutchison:

– Is the right honorable member in order in repeating that remark ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– The right honorable member knows quite well that an offensive expression must be withdrawn without qualification, and that to repeat it is not in order..

Mr REID:

– I had forgotten that for the moment. I will say instead that honorable gentlemen who sit below the gangway have definite objects, and I wish them to remember that this instrument of the closure which they propose to use to serve those objects may become, in unworthy hands, an instrument of tyranny against themselves. One of my objections to the proposed new standing order is, not that it merely inconveniences the Opposition to-day. but that it is really dangerous to the Parliament, irrespective 1 of party interests and considerations. I do not care how high-minded a Government may be, or how pure its aspirations, there can be nothing more dangerous than to place in its hands a weapon which may be used to suppress its opponents. There can be nothing more dangerous than to have that weapon at hand in . times of great political excitement. This is a matter of principle, and those who sacrifice their principles in order to pass a particular measure will make a mistake. They are valuing that measure at too high a price. If it commands public approval, they may depend upon it that, although there may be delays and difficulties, it will pass into law. But to pass it into law by means of force may make it detested. The weapon which is used to destroy parliamentary liberties may be a bright one, but once used in that way it becomes stained. If one has confidence that the people of Australia are behind him–

Mr Hutchison:

– It is very disappointing that we have not a quorum to listen to the star speaker.

Mr Liddell:

– It is a strange Government that cannot keep a quorum under circumstances like these.

Mr SPEAKER:

– There is a quorum present.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the disorderly conduct of the honorable member for Hindmarsh in calling attention to the state of the House when a quorum was present.

Mr Hutchison:

– It has been done many times during this debate.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– If it has been done, it has been clone inadvertently. To call attention to the state of the House when a quorum is present, in order to interrupt a speaker, is disorderly, and should not be permitted.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I thought that the honorable member for Macquarie rose to a point of order ; I was not aware that he intended to deliver a ruling himself. This is not the first occasion when attention has been called to the state of the House while a quorum has been present, but it is the first occasion on which serious objection has been taken to such conduct. I ask honorable members to be careful to ascertain that there is not a quorum present before calling attention to the state of the House.

Mr Hutchison:

– I express my regret.

Mr REID:

– I know that the object of calling attention to the state of the House is to convey the false impression to the public that there is no one- present to listen to my speech. That object is a” mean one, but I am above regarding such conduct. I wish to draw a distinction between the application of the closure system to a Federal Parliament, and its application to a State Parliament. The closure is a dangerous weapon in a State Parliament; but in a Federal Parliament, where all sorts of questions arise, involving State interests which are in conflict, and causing one State to combine against another, it is ten times more dangerous.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have already ruled that the merits or demerits of the closure system, and a comparison of different methods of imposing the closure, are alike beyond the scope of the present question. I ask the right honorable member not to discuss this subject until the amendment has been disposed of, and the House is again dealing with the larger question.

Mr REID:

– I cannot better express my views on closures generally than by quoting the lines of an eminent poet, whose words,I am sure, will be listened to with respect by the members of all political parties. This is a -topic upon which poetic genius has been expended, I think, with considerable success.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Will the right honorable member kindly reserve the reading of the lines of poetry until the debate on the main question is resumed ?

Mr REID:

– No,sir, because the lines apply to all formsof the closure, and, therefore, are relevant to the amendment.

Mr SPEAKER:

– It may be that, owing to the severe strain I have undergone that I have been unable to make my meaning clear to the right honorable member. Matter which is appropriate to the motion is not appropriate to the amendment.

Mr REID:

– I assure you, sir, that the lines I propose to read are applicable to the amendment.

Mr SPEAKER:

– In that case, the right honorable member will be in order in reading them.

Mr REID:

– I consider that the lines are very relevant to the amendment -

Should an Opposition member try to fan the sinful ember

Of resistance to the party that has got you in its bag,

You may stifle protestation, and prevent expostulation, by the simple application

Of the Gag.

There are ways and ways of dealing with a man of hostile feeling -

You may rule him with road metal, you may settle him with slag ;

You may whip him with a wattle, or may bruise him with a bottle, but the surest way to throttle

Him’s the Gag.

Don’t legislate in by-ways; choose the obvious and nigh ways; all the gentry of the highways

Use the Gag.

Mr. LEE (Cowper). - In view of the fact that very few members of the Ministry and the Labour Party are present, and that no one is offering to speak to the amendment, I move -

That the debate be now adjourned.

After sitting for fifty hours, we are entitled to an adjournment. The officers of the House have been subjected to great mental strain, and are deserving of some consideration, lt is now twenty-five and a half hours since I moved the adjournment of the debate. The Government ought to be in a position to realize what amount of progress has been made in the interval . If they propose to continue the debate without intermission day after day, they must be prepared to remain here for a very long time. They ought to take warning by the lesson they have had.

Mr Frazer:

– I rise to order. Standing order 288 reads -

A debate may be adjourned either to a later hour of the same day or to any other day.

I claim that no provision is made for moving the adjournment* of a debate without reasonable and sufficient justification. In the absence of such provision, we have, under the first standing order, ‘ to fall back upon the practice of the House of Commons. At page 827 of May’s Parliamentary Practice, the standing order of the House of Commons is quoted in these terms -

That if Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of a Committee of the whole House shall be of opinion that a motion for the adjournment of a debate, or of the House, during any debate, or’ that the Chairman do report progress, or do leave the Chair, is an abuse of the rules of the House, he may forthwith put the question thereupon from the Chair, or he may decline to propose the question thereupon to the House.

I submit, sir, that the submission of a. third motion for the adjournment of this debate is an abuse of the procedure of the House, and that you should either forthwith put the question that the debate be adjourned, or rule the motion out of order.

Mr Reid:

– I understand, sir, that it is fully twenty-four hours since the last proposal to adjourn the debate was made. The abuse is not in asking for an adjournment, after sitting here for two or three days continuously, but in the state of things which prevents the House adjourning. Surely, sir, after the ‘lapse of twenty-four hours, it is a reasonable tiling to submit such a proposition.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie must see that before the standing order of the House of Commons could be applied he must show that this motion to adjourn the debate “is an abuse of the rules of the House.” I know of no rule of the House of which it can be said to be an abuse. The motion belongs to a class which., in the House of Commons, are commonly called dilatory motions, and if we fall back upon its practice, we come to this result : that the limitation on dilatory motions is that one shall not be_ proposed within fifteen minutes of another.” I would not be prepared to accept a limitation approaching- in any way to the shortness of that which is practised in the House of Commons. I rule that the honorable member for Cowper is in order.

Mr LEE:

– By this time the Ministry must be convinced of the utter hopelessness of attempting to force their proposal through the House. If they were to sit for ‘ another month the position would be exactly the same. They ought to recognise now that “it is not in their power to force the -closure down the throat of the Opposition. I do not altogether blame the Ministry for the length of this debate, because they have had to submit to the will of their masters, the Labour Party. If the Ministry had shown any desire to come to a compromise, we could have resumed the debate on the general question. After the lapse of fifty hours, we find that no progress has been made, and chiefly on account of the domineering, manner in which the Attorney-General has tried to force the closure down the throat of the Opposition. In view of the very severe strain to which the Speaker and all the officers of the House have been subjected, it is only reasonable that the Government should consent to an adjournment of the debate.

Mr. LIDDELL (Hunter).- We have been sitting long enough for our own good and for the good of the country. How any man can be expected without serious consequences to sit day after day” in a chamber in such a vitiated condition as this is, I cannot understand. By this time the Ministry should recognise that a continuance of this sitting must be detrimental, not only to honorable members, but to any legislation which they may be prepared to pass. I believe that the sickest men here to-day are not the members of the Opposition or the Labour Party, but the Ministers who have been obliged to do,as they have done. If they could only afford to “ cut the painter” and go home they would be very pleased, but they are bound by the shackles which daily the Labour Party are forging, and therefore they cannot do as they wish.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I rise to ask the Government if they will consent to adjourn the debate this afternoon.

Mr Deakin:

– No.

Mr McCAY:

– The House must adjourn, I submit, within six hours and eleven minutes of the present time.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– Why?

Mr McCAY:

– Because, with a very brief interval on Wednesday evening, when, by some almost miraculous interposition of the gods, the Attorney-General, in a moment of aberration, permitted us to go home to bed, we have been sitting here sincehalf-past 2 o’clock on Tuesday. Withthe exception of fourteen hours, we have been sitting continuously for 100 hours. Greedy as I am for work, eightysix hours per week is sufficient for me. It is far more than is permitted under the Wages Boards of Victoria, or under a Conciliation and Arbitration Act in any other State. It is as long as were the hours of the bakers before the Legislature intervened.

Mr Isaacs:

– This is not work; it is a strike.

Mr McCAY:

– If it is a strike I would ask the honorable and learned member to lock us out and refer the dispute to conciliators. We have been sitting here for eightysix hours, and by the time the last suburban trains go to-night - and I suppose the Government will not be convinced before that event - we shall have been sitting here for ninety hours. I urge that the debate be adjourned for the additional reason that it is by no means at an end. Inasmuch as we have undergone a severe trial of strength during the last four or five days,we want an interval of rest between now and Tuesday next, in order to be properly prepared for the arduous labours we shall have to undergo during a portion of next week.

Mr Carpenter:

– The whole of next week.

Mr McCAY:

– Obviously that is a still better reason for adjourning the debate now than any I have been able to offer. The House must adjourn before 12 o’clock tonight.

Mr Mahon:

– Why?

Mr McCAY:

– Because we have been working here all the week, and because it is the custom in self-respecting British communities not to engage in this, kind of business on Sunday. « We have been told, with more or less authority, by the honorable member for Fremantle, that the House has. to sit on every day next week. That must be because the Government intend to insist upon forcing their proposal through the House. If that be their intention it is obvious that honorable members should have an opportunity of seeing the blue sky, and breathing fresh air for at any rate one day.. Apparently the Government are determined to use their majority in order to beat us by mere physical brute force.

Mr Carpenter:

– The Argus says that the Opposition will lose.

Mr McCAY:

– There are some defeats which are infinitely better than victories, as the honorable member would know if he had an elementary knowledge of ancient history.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– There is no dishonour in being defeated after putting up a good fight.

Mr McCAY:

– By the time the fight is finishedthe country will understand the position a great deal better than it does at the present time, and that is one reason why I ask for an adjournment of the debate.

Mr Mauger:

– The country understands the position all right.

Mr McCAY:

– I want the country to have a chance to understand what the Government are proposing to do. Iwish to fight for what Ibelieve to be right, and for that reason I desire a rest, until some time in the early part of next week. I cannot get that rest, so long as this motion; withits obvious ulterior motive, is under consideration.

Mr Tudor:

– Would not the honorable and learned member fight as hard as we on this side do, if he happened to be in the Ministry ?

Mr McCAY:

– No. If that is the price of being in a Ministry it is a bit high, and fortunately for myself I have a document which was prepared months ago, and which you, sir, have seen, embodying my views as to the proper form, of limiting debate. Another reason for an adjournment of the debate is that a standing order of the kind proposed is practically unknown in this Parliament.

Mr Deakin:

– It is known in the Senate.

Mr McCAY:

– There is a standing order of the kind in the Senate, but I believe it has never been applied.

Mr Page:

– It has; Senator Dawson moved its application.

Mr McCAY:

– However, that isbeside the question before us. There has never been an occasion in the history of Australian Parliaments, when, on the submission of a motion of this importance, the House has not adjourned at the usual hour on the same day, in order that honorable members might have time to consider it, and that the public might be apprised of what was proposed. The almost invariable practice has been, after the introductory speech on a motion of the character, to adjourn as a matter of course. If the Government and their supporters are determined to carry their will, regardless of the demands of fair play, or the warnings of common sense, there must be some reason. Is the reason that the Government have been offered a choice between forcing this motion through, and resignation, or a dissolution?

Mr Deakin:

-Thisis the first suggestion I have heard of any such choice.

Mr McCAY:

– I accept the assurance of the Prime Minister.

Mr DEAKIN:
BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · PROT; LP from 1910

– More than that, I say that there is not a shadow of justification for such a conclusion.

Mr Storrer:

– Surely it is a fair thing to have a division after a sitting of fifty hours ?

Mr McCAY:

– It is a fair thing to have an adjournment, which I personally desire, in order to preparemy speech on the original motion, when the amendments shall have been cleared out of the way. The Government are showing an utterly reckless disregard of ordinary fair play to the members of the Hansard staff, the officers of the House, and all concerned in ministering to our convenience and comfort.

Mr Deakin:

– We should not object if the Hansard staff were allowed to retire.

Mr McCAY:

– We are forced to the conclusion that the Government are not their own masters in the matter. Do the Government hope to concludethe debate before midnight? The Opposition will meet reason with reason, , and obstinancy with firmness.

Mr Watkins:

– Offer terms.

Mr McCAY:

– I offer no terms. I am not authorized to offer terms, and, so far as I am personally concerned, the Government may do what they will. I made my last offer to the Attorney-General - an offer which was brusquely rejected by the honorable and learned gentleman. Even if the Opposition had been guilty of all the crimes which the silence of the Government and their supporters would sug gest, the Government are bound, in common decency, to adjourn the debate now. The sitting and debate, I presume, will be resumed on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr Mauger:

– On Sunday night, I hope.

Mr McCAY:

– I do not. know under what standing order, or practice ofthe House of Commons, that step can be taken.

Mr McDonald:

– The sitting may go right on.

Mr McCAY:

– I admit there is nothing to require the debate to cease at midnight, but I anticipate that it will be adjourned at that hour.

Mr SPEAKER:

– There will come a time when it will be proper to discuss at what hour the House shall meet again. That time is after the motion that the debate be adjourned has been agreed to, and the question before us is the adjournment of the House. At present, however, the only question before us is whether or not the debate should be adjourned.

Mr McCAY:

– My contention is that we might as well adjourn now as at midnight. In any circumstances not utterly abnormal the arguments I have employed would have been considered unanswerable, and I am forced to consider the motives which have induced honorable members opposite to remain obstinate. The greater part of this long sitting has been occupied by addresses from honorable members on this side, and I am forced to the conclusion that we are being charged with obstruction. I admit an organized protest against organized tyranny. The only way in which I can answer the. suggestion that the Opposition have been guilty of obstruction is to consider the facts which have led up to the present position of affairs. It seems to me that I shall thereby connect a history of the week’s events with the question whether the debate should be adjourned.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I have no doubt that an honorable member ingenious inmethods and thought could gradually link on to the present debate almost every conceivable question, in “such a way that it might be very difficult to say at which particular link in the chain the connexion would be weak. But it is not difficult, by comparing the first link with the twentieth, to say whether or not the subject has been departed from. It appears to me that, while it is difficult to say at which link in the honorable and learned member’s speech the connexion with the subject of the motion is faulty, there can be no doubt that its connexion nowis lost as compared with the honorable and learned member’s first link.

Mr McCAY:

– Between now and the next motion for the adjournment of the debate I shall examine the chain. I shall not endeavour to infringe upon the ruling, nor shall 1 speak for such a time as would justify you, sir, in directing attention to the length of my speech. As nothing can be gained by continuing this debate, I hope the Government will admit the wisdom of adjourning it.

Mr. JOHNSON (Lang).- It wants but a few hours to midnight, when we shall have Sunday upon us, and when, I hope, no one will desire to remain here. We should adjourn the debate now. that honorable members may make their preparations for the Sunday. I have been suffering from headache and occasional nausea, which I am informed by my medical adviser, Dr. Liddell, is due to the vitiated atmosphere of this Chamber. Other honorable members have not escaped similar inconvenience, and, as due regard should be paid to the health of those who are assembled to make the country’s laws, Ministers should consent to the adjournment of the debate. We should also adjourn the debate because, in this country, there is a consensus of opinion that sweating should not be countenanced, and it would be a pity that a reputation for sweating should be given to the members of a political party which is believed especially to advocate reasonable hours of work. The honorable member for Fremantle, who should speak with some authority as a member of the inner circle at present directing the business of this House, has asserted that it is proposed we shall sit the whole of next week. If that be so, we shall have ample time to consider the proposal which has led to the present position of affairs, and it is an additional reason for adjourning now. I direct attention to the fact that a most important speech has this afternoon been delivered by the leader of the Opposition, and it would be only in accordance with the usual practice of the House, when an important deliverance has been made by the leader of a party that we should adjourn, to enable honorable members to digest that speech. It is a degradation of Parliament to continue to oppose brute force to reason. As there will be ample time before this Parliament expires to consider all the matters included in the Government programme,

Ministers must recognise the reasonableness of the request made for the adjournment of the debate. Even Ministerial supporters are not displaying any interest in the proceedings of the House. It is not fair toexpect honorable members on this side to address arguments to a House when many honorable members are fast asleep, and, as a consequence, are absolutely oblivious to what is said. The atmosphere of the chamber is so vitiated that, personally, I cannot sit here for more than an hour without suffering from headache. Indeed, it is so bad that the matter ought to be brought under the notice of the Health authorities of the City of Melbourne. Of course, Ministerial supporters are not obliged to remain in the chamber. The difference between them and the Opposition is that the duty is imposed upon us to endure physical discomfort, and sacrifice personal interests in order to safeguard the rights and liberties of the people from infringement. As the Prime Minister is now present, I make a direct appeal to him. I ask him to note the haggard appearance of honorable members on both sides. Let him look at the redness of their eyes. Nearly every one is suffering from headache. Several honorable members, as a result of this extraordinarily protracted sitting, are in great need of medical attention. I earnestly ask the Prime Minister to consider these points, and to consent to an adjournment.

Mr. KELLY (Wentworth). - I urge as a reason why the debate should be adjourned that a quantity of new and important matter has been introduced which requires our consideration. We have listened to a speech which, for lucidity and comprehensiveness, has rarely been equalled in this House. The right honorable member for East Sydney has addressed himself to the question in a manner which I am sure must commend itself to the minds of intelligent people. Although the Minister of Trade and Customs, who is now at the table, did not hear it, I hope that he will be careful to read it in Hansard. If he does, I am satisfied that he will be convinced that the attitude of the Opposition is justified. I listened with pleasure to the concise Johnsonian address’ of the honorable member for Lang, but even that speech was a mere circumstance to that of the right honorable member for East Sydney

This House has now been sitting almost continuously since Tuesday last, and the whole of that time has practically been occupied in keeping a quorum. That is not the way in which business should be conducted. Consideration of public questions is impossible if we are to be kept here night after night and denied all opportunity for study. It is impossible for this debate to be concluded to-night. According to the journal in whose editorial sanctum the Attorney-General occasionally takes refuge, the sittings of the Commonwealth Parliament cost the country between £3and £4 per minute. Like most statements in that newspaper, the allegation is inaccurate. Nevertheless, the continuance of this debate is costing the country something, and,as the Attorney-General cannot expect it to conclude to-night, I appeal to him to take a reasonable view of the situation, and consent to its adjournment.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I propose to offer some very weighty reasons for the adjournment of the debate. This is the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament that we have sat upon Saturday. From time immemorial that day has been regarded as a parliamentary holiday. Under these circumstances, one is naturally prompted to inquire the special reasons for our attendance here to-day. In endeavouring to discover them I naturally turn, to the Treasury benches. There I see a determined expression upon the faces of Ministers - an expression which denotes that, though they are almost in despair, they are still resolved to turn the flank of the Opposition., and to compel us to act as though we were engaged in the orderly conduct of debate. I can see determination writ large on the spacious brow of the Attorney-General. But I can also notice some signs of physical weakness, and I fancy that, like myself, he is utterly exhausted. Of course, I recognise that our personal convenience or inconvenience must not weigh against the work whichwe are called upon to perform. Everybody is aware of the importance of the problemswhich await solution at our hands. We also recognise the burning anxiety of the AttorneyGeneral to treat them with a consideration befitting their importance. What could more clearly indicate his mind in that connexion than the fact that during a whole weekwe have seen him in this Chamber every day. Why he persists in being present I am quite unable to say.

Mr.Isaacs. - I rise to a point of order. The honorable member is travelling a long way to bestow upon me compliments which my modesty does not permit me to accept, but his remarks have no relevance to the motion under consideration.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I must ask the honorable member to strictly confine his remarks to the question before the Chair. May I add that I have made this suggestion so frequently that if honorable members continue to disobey the Standing Orders I shall be driven to take such action as those Orders lay upon me, whenever a breach of them occurs.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I trust, sir, that the first honorable member, with respect to whom you will proceed to inforce that determination,will be the irrelevant and tediously repetitive Attorney-General. As I have said, my first argument for the adjournment of the debate is that I am

Aery tired, whilst my second is that you too, sir, must be tired, and in need of rest and refreshment.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I should prefer no personal references to myself.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– To-morrow is Sunday, and I believe it is not the custom in civilized countries to transact parliamentary business on that day. The fact that the taunt has been flung at us, that even the) brilliant speech’ made this afternoon by the leader ofthe Opposition, could not always command the attention of much more than a bare quorum -which consisted for the most part of the Opposition - is in itself an indication that the House ought speedily to adjourn. The absence of honorable members opposite was intended to be a studied insult.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That has nothing to do with the motion for the adjournment.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I connect it by pointing out that as the result of this long sitting, honorable members opposite are in such a determined attitude of fierce, bitter, party antagonism to the leader of the Opposition, that they studiously kept away during the delivery of his speech. My point is that these late sittings are provoking heat in the Chamber, and are conducing to the lowering of the dignity of the House. We are indulging in recriminations. The AttorneyGeneral, for instance, says things that he ought not to say. I have been waiting for some time in the confident belief that his consciencewould prick him, and cause him to rise and offer an ample apology to me for what he has said.

Mr Isaacs:

– I am ready to apologize for having got the honorable member out of a very difficult position last night.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– My impression is that the honorable and learned gentleman had not a little to do with an attempt to get me into that tight place.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member cannot discuss as a reason for the adjournment of the debate anything which happened last night.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The poetic fancy of the House seems to have been stirred to-day, and when reference was made to the fact that we had been sitting for sixty hours,, I was reminded of the lines -

We live in deeds, not years : in thoughts, not breaths ;

In feelings, not in figures on a dial.

We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives

Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best.

I have been at some pains to discover the author of the brilliant poem which was recited this afternoon by the leader of the Opposition. Are honorable members prepared to learn his name?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I am quite certain that if the honorable member were in my place, and I in his, he would not permit me to evade the Standing Orders in the way that I should be doing if I permitted him to go into such matters as he now desires to discuss. I have twice warned the honorable member, and must ask him to obey my ruling.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Another reason why the debate should be adjourned is to be found in the fact that the House is thoroughly tired, and incapable of performing the business which it ought to perform. The Government is inflicting a grave injustice on Australia in seeking to push measures through the House without proper consideration. We cannot afford todo this kind of thing. The conduct of business in the Chamber, owing to the methods of which I am complaining, is already producing irritation throughout the States. How can the people respect a Parliament which insists upon getting through its business in this way ? Will any one say that the Minister of Trade and Customs is able to carry out the duties of his difficult position as a Minister, while he has to remain here not only hour after hour, but day after day ? Supposing that to-morrow a case in regard to hats came before him—

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member must perceive that if I permitted such a course of argument as he is now entering upon, it would be open to him to discuss the mental condition of every honorable member, as well as to refer to every individual question which might come before them, and so take up time indefinitely. I cannot permit such a manifest evasion of the intention of the Standing Orders.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I shall submit to your ruling, sir. I appeal to Ministers to have some respect for themselves, as well as for the House, and to be merciful to the country in whose interests we have been brought together. I appeal to them to have some respect for the Legislature, which is either to bring credit or discredit upon the people of Australia, and to consent to the adjournment of the debate. For the last time, I appeal to the AttorneyGeneral to meet reason with reason, instead of attempting any further compulsion of brute force, such as, that which has been exercised for sixty hours, to the manifest detriment of the House.

Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).I think that the Government should be prepared to yield to the eloquent plea for the adjournment of the debate made by the honorable member for Parramatta. I have not been out of the chamber for more than two or three hours since this long sitting commenced, but I do not make an appeal on my own behalf. I speak in the interest of other honorable members who have felt the strain much more than I have done. I was very much struck by the remark made by you, sir, when giving a ruling in the course of the speech delivered by the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney. You stated that during the last few days you had been subjected to a great strain, andit is not difficult to realize the effect that the long sitting has had upon you. In spite of the fact that we have, at various times, been engaged in the consideration of questions involving millions of money, this is the first time that we have been called to sit upon a Saturday. I know of only one case in which a. Parliament has sat throughout Saturday night and into the following day. I happened to be a member of the New South Wales Parliament when that unfortunate event occurred. It was particularly unfortunate for those who were responsible for it, because it led to their ejection from office. I would warn honorable members that the same penalty will overtake this Ministry if they are guilty of following that shocking example. The present Minister of Trade and Customs was a member of the Government of the day, and heknows what happened. One honorable member of this House has been compelled by severe illness to return to his home, and we have been deprived of his valuable services by the brutal determination of the Government. If honorable members have no consideration for themselves they should have some pity upon the officers of the House, who are thoroughly worn out through want of sleep. Honorable members of the Labour Party have often expressed their strong opposition to sweating, and yet they have become parties to sweating of the most pronounced type, insisting, as they have done, upon the attendance of the officers of the House for such a long period. I do not know what the Government intend to do, but I shall be no party to transacting the public business upon the Sabbath. I refused to do so in New South Wales, and I decline to be associated with anything of that kind in this Chamber. I know, sir, what your views are upon this subject.

Mr SPEAKER:

– My personal views have nothing to do with the discussions in this Chamber, and I trust that honorable members will refrain from referring to my personal opinions, or to the remark I made this afternoon in the course of the address by the right honorable member for East Sydney. I did not make that observation in any tone of complaint, but simply for the purpose of excusing any indefiniteness or want of clearness that might have characterized my ruling.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I make this appeal for an adjournment nearly two hours before midnight, so that honorable members may have an opportunity to consider their position. I do not wish to wait until the clock strikes 12, because I think we should nave some statement from Ministers before that time arrives. I do not ask for any consideration for myself. We have a right to a good rest, so that we may return on Monday in a fit state to give attention to the business of the country. We earnestly believe that we are fighting for the rights of the people, and we should not be called upon to remain here throughout another night in a vitiated atmosphere.

Mr HARPER:
Mernda

– I have not previously intervened in these proceedings, but I take this opportunity to join with those who are asking the Government for an adjournment, or at least a suspension of the sitting. I have had experience in former years of proceedings of the character which have taken place in this Cham- ber during the past few days, and I know that they have always resulted unsatisfactorily, both to those who have won the day, and to those who have lost it, while their effect has been to tend to degrade parliamentary institutions in the eyes of the people, who cannot be persuaded to think that what transpires is in the interests of the country. The Prime Minister, who has gone through similar scenes, knows how some of our best men have been broken in health, to an extent beyond recovery, by these trials of physical endurance, which are so unbecoming to a well-regulated Parliament. But this being a fixed battle, neither side feels inclined to withdraw from its position, for fear of being accused of giving in. I think, however, that if reason and good sense are given an opportunity to re-establish their control in the minds of honorable members, a way will soon be found out of the present position. An adjournment will give the cooler heads among us an opportunity to consider some such compromise.

Mr Fisher:

– Will there not be Sunday for that ?

Mr HARPER:

– I do not know. It will depend on the will of the majority. If the proposed new Standing Orders which were placed before honorable members some weeks since, as the recommendation of the Standing Orders Committee, had embodied a proposal for the closure similar to that which hasbeen proposed by the Government, I should have felt bound, as an old parliamentary hand, to oppose its adoption. At the sametime, no honorable member is more convinced than I am that our Standing Orders should be strengthened, so as to give the majority more control over the conduct of our debates. It has been a continual source of regret to me that the majority has not had a larger control in this matter. I pointed out to Sir Edmund Barton, when he was head of the Government, that the parliamentary machine would not do its work properly until it was made efficient, and I pressed the same consideration on the right honorable member for East Sydney when he was in power. But I am not in favour of the closure in the form proposed by the

Government, because in its operation it will fall upon those who are desirous of keeping within proper limits, and for other reasons which I am not entitled to discuss on the motion now before the Chair. I am in this difficult position, that I must either vote for the closure proposed by the Government, which under other circumstances I would not think of doing, or vote against the Ministry, which I do not wish to do. Viewing the circumstances of the past few days with perfect dispassionateness, I see that serious mistakes have been made on both sides. To my mind, it is a grievous misfortune that the Government did not accept the offer of the Opposition to pass fifty-seven clauses of the Trade Marks Bill, but, on the other hand, it was a mistake for the Opposition to make what was practically an assault upon the Government by moving the Chairman out of the chair. I shall not discuss the rights or wrongs of the differences between the two parties ; but I earnestly urge them to endeavour to come to some settlement. I ask the Government and the Labour Party to remember that the closure, which has been proposed1 under special’ circumstances, for a particular purpose, will, if agreed to, apply under all circumstances, and to Bills of every kind. Moreover, while it mav be used by the Government and the Labour Party to-day, to their advantage, it will assuredly, later on, be used against them, because experience has shown that a weapon of this kind, if in the power of any party to use, will be taken advantage of. I cannot support the original proposition of the Government, nor can I support the proposal of the honorable member for Parramatta, which would merely put off the evil day. Therefore, I ask the Government to accept what I have said as coming from a well-wisher, and to put an end, as soon as possible, to this Comedy of Errors.

Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- So far as honorable members are aware, no such stringent standing order as that which the Ministry wish the House to adopt is in force in any Legislative Assembly in the world. It provides, not for the mere limitation, but the absolute suppression of debate, and is, therefore, one of the most serious proposals that could engage our attention. The right of free discussion in this House ought not to be curtailed without the approval of the constituencies. The near approach of Sunday is in itself a very strong reason for at once adjourning the debate.

But, apart from that theological ground. I ask the members of the Labour Party to consider whether it is consistent with their duty to the great bulk of the workers of the Commonwealth to push on with the consideration of a most important motion on a universally recognised day of rest? If the highest body in the Commonwealth were to set the example of breaking that day of rest, it might be followed in many directions, and finally the workers would be found to be the greatest sufferers. Party strife has been running rather high. The irritation engendered by the mere fact that the House has been; sitting practically since last Tuesday - for 103 hours, with a short adjournment of twelve hours - - is sufficient to awake the worst passions amongst us, and to preclude the sound and serious consideration of any question. The inattention of honorable members on the other side proves conclusively that the debate ought to be adjourned. When the House sits for many hours it is practically impossible for Ministers to discharge their executive duties in such a manner as to insure the satisfactory administration of the laws, and that, to my mind, is a sound reason for adjourning the debate. In bringing “forward their proposal to adopt the closure the Government ignored the Standing Orders Committee, which, as the result of four years’ experience, had recommended the adoption of a standing order, which, while preserving freedom of speech, took away that licence, which, in one or two instances, has had to be accorded, because no provision to the contrary existed in our code. This motion ought to be considered in Committee, not in the House, and the debate should be adjourned with a view to the Government bringing forward their proposal in a form more satisfactory to the bulk of honorable members, and in a maimer which would allow the greatest freedom of discussion. The fact that the proposed standing order was drawn up hastily, after great irritation had been induced by an all-night ‘sitting, and that it does not command the support of members of the Standing Orders Committee, is also a strong reason why the debate should be adjourned.

Mr. CAMERON (Tasmania).- It is not fair play on the part of honorable members on the other side to refuse breathing time to the Opposition when it is fighting for what it believes to be the good of the electors of the Commonwealth. Not long ago a press writer called attention to the repeated absences of certain honorable members, including myself. Thereupon I determined to make up for my absences. For the last four days, therefore, I have been in attendance, but to my pain and surprise, owing to the action of the Government in refusing to adjourn the House from day to day, those sixty hours here count as only one attendance. I do not think that an adjournment of the debate would efface the irritation which has been engendered by this long sitting; but no harm could result if for a short time party hostilities were suspended. For centuries the Sabbath has been observed as. a day of rest by our countrymen, and on that ground alone I ask the Prime Minister to accede to our request.

Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - I believe that it is quite possible for the matter in issue to be adjusted without humiliation to any party in the House. ‘ But apparently honorable members of the other side have taken up a dogged position, from which they will not retreat. Here we are within a measurable distance of losing the last trains, and finding ourselves in this Chamber on the Sabbath morning. It would he an outrage on our common-sense to bring about such a state of things. If there were an earnest desire on the part of the leaders of the three parties to come together and discuss this matter it might lead to a solution of the difficulty. In my opinion the proposal for adopting the closure ought to be withdrawn and referred to the Standing Orders Committee for its consideration. Since last Wednesday I have been in constant attendance here, without a chance of going to my home, and other honorable members have been in a similar position. That is a greater sacrifice than we should be asked to make. I appeal to the leaders of the three parties, in the interest of not only members of the House, but the electors, to come together with an earnest desire to find a reasonable solution of the difficulty. Otherwise nothing will have been done during the week, except to accentuate throughout the length and breadth of the land our protest against an attempt on the part of the Government to bludgeon through the House a part of a Bill which we think is opposed to the public interests. T believe that the public generally agree with the Opposition that the minority in this House should not be voted down by the majority without having been ‘ afforded a reasonable opportunity to express their views. If only in order to enable the leaders of the three parties to discover a reasonable solution of the difficulty the Opposition are amply justified in asking for an adjournment. I appeal to the Prime Minister to reconsider his position, and in the interests’ of honorable members on all sides, I would suggest that the motion for adjourning the debate should be withdrawn by the Opposition, with a view to the honorable gentleman submitting a motion himself f..

Mr. WILSON (Corangamite).- The honorable member for Kooyong has used almost the words I intend to employ in appealing for an adjournment of the debate. I was going to suggest that the honorable member for Cowper should withdraw his motion, so as to leave it open to the Minister to submit some proposal which would enable us to adjourn. I now find myself in a different position from that which I occupied when the previous motion for the adjournment of the debate was under consideration. I was opposed to that motion ; but I feel that, in keeping with the custom which I have always tried to follow in regard to observing some degree of rest on the Sabbath Day, we may now appeal to the Government to allow us to leave, not at midnight, but about half-past eleven o’clock, so that honorable members may be able to catch the suburban trains.

Mr Maloney:

– Let us take a vote on the motion for adjournment, and settle the question.

Mr WILSON:

– It is not a matter on which a vote need be taken. A little reasonable consideration on both sides would, I have no doubt, result in a satisfactory adjustment. I appeal to the Government not to create a. precedent by sitting on the Sabbath. We have created many precedents in this Parliament; but it would not be to the credit of this or any other Ministry to proceed with the business of the country on that day. These prolonged sittings seriously affect the health of honorable members on both sides of the House. I have already been called upon professionally to attend an honorable’ member whois suffering from severe nervous prostration ; and an adjournment over to-morrow would’ enable that honorable member to recover, and permit al! of us to get a much-needed rest, and render us fresh for the fray when next we meet. In order to get a littlefresh air, I to-day travelled’ 120 miles into the country, and drove sixteen miles. While- away I addressed a public meeting, and I found that the feeling of my audience was adverse to the action of the Government on the present occasion. In my speech, I suggested that a dissolution would solve the difficulty, and the idea was cheered to the echo. An adjournment would give the Prime Minister, and the other members of the Government, an opportunity to consider whether it would not be well to recommend his Excellency to dissolve Parliament, and so allow,, the people to express an opinion. I hope the good sense of honorable members will lead to the laying aside of all bitterness of feeling, and that the House will adjourn to-night at a reasonable hour.

Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I should like to say that I entirely approve of the course which has been taken by the Opposition in connexion with this matter. I very strongly support the motion which has been made for the adjournment of the debate. It must be remembered that the House, after sitting, I think, until about one o’clock on Wednesday, adjourned by mutual consent, and that a few hours later, when a fresh sitting was commenced, the proposed new standing order was suddenly sprung on honorable members -with- out previous notice.

Mr Deakin:

– Notice was given.

Mr REID:

– No interval of time, such as is usual in connexion with new business of an important character, was given to honorable members, so that opportunity might be given for consideration before they were called upon really to decide.

Mr Deakin:

– Twenty-four hours’ notice was given.

Mr REID:

– I venture to say that entirely new business, marking an entirely new departure in the history of the Chamber, ought to be the subject of longer notice than twenty-four hours. Much of the heat and trouble displayed in the course of these proceedings arises, I believe, from a feeling that a new and drastic regulation was sprung suddenly on honorable members. The next matter which, I think, complicated the difficulty was the demand made by the honorable and learned member in charge of the business on Wednesday evening, when certain matters were being discussed for the first time. The Opposition were willing to adjourn the debate at it o’clock, and so was the Attorney - General ; but the latter, as a condition, demanded a pledge that the business, then in hand should be concluded on the follow ing day. It was, I submit, unreasonable to expect the House in two sittings to deal with vital and drastic changes. I wish, without at this time introducing any heat, to draw attention to these two circumstances as, I think, justification for what I admit to be the strong course taken by the Opposition. But we are arriving now very near to the time when we should take the matter very seriously into consideration.

Mr Deakin:

– Hear, hear !

Mr REID:

– We have arrived at a determination, which we are able to carry out, and which will prevent the settling of the important proposals under debate, in the few moments remaining before 12 o’clock. Any attempt to settle them in that short time would be simply idle. We shall not permit - we will not allow - these matters to be rushed through at this time of night, after a sitting so prolonged. We take the responsibility for the action we intend to take in insuring that the debate is continued until a certain time; but there is one responsibility we will not assume - we will not carry our opposition to any course the Government may desire or intend to take beyond the hour of 12 o’clock.

Mr Deakin:

– We do not intend to go on after 12 o’clock.

Mr REID:

– I am very glad to hear that.

Mr.Fisher. - The Opposition are very pious people !

Mr REID:

-I am dealing with the question apart from any consideration of piety; I am dealing with it simply as a matter of ordinary propriety, with a feeling that honorable members would shrink from any such proceeding as continuing our debates after midnight on Saturday.

Mr Mauger:

– That was never intended for a moment.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Then why was an announcement to that effect not made to the House?

Mr REID:

– If there was no intention of the kind, I must express my surprise that the leader of the House, at an earlier moment than this, did not state the course he intended to take. We are now within a few minutes of midnight; and until this moment we are without any intimation on the question from the head of the Government. We are left in the position that if the Opposition withdraw the motion for the adjournment of the debate, we leave ourselves absolutely defenceless in the stand we are taking. If the Prime Minister states to the House that he is prepared to adjourn the debate, we shall, when midnight arrives, assist the honorable gentleman in that direction. The motion for the adjournment of the debate now before us is not a hostile motion.

Mr Mauger:

– It has been so up till now.

Mr REID:

– What I wish to say is that, when large propositions are before the House, the fact that an honorable member moves the adjournment of the debate is not regarded as hostile, because the adjournment must always be moved by the honorable member who intends to continue the debate at the next sitting. The mere process of moving the adjournment of the debate is not a hostile motion. I quite admit that such a motion may acquire a hostile character ; but; so far as the Opposition are concerned, that position has not been taken up. We are ready to co-operate with the Government in adjourning the House until the next clay of sitting, and, as a preliminary, in adjourning the debate in the ordinary and regular way before midnight. In view of the interjection a few moments ago by the head of the Government, my remaining observations shall be few. I am very much relieved to find that the Government do not intend to go to extremes,, which I think all parties would regret. All I wish to say is that there is one period of twenty-four hours in the week when, I hope, the hostilities of Parliament will cease under all circumstances. There are occasions, such as the clanger of a hostile invasion, when the desperate step of sitting on Sunday might be taken ; but I do not suppose that a measure providing for a Trade Union Label would be considered an example of such pressing, urgency as to justify a violation of the honored traditions of the British Parliament. The Government must remember that they have absolute power to keep the House as long as they like, and it is not as if they were losing the opportunity to do that which they think to be right. The mere adjournment of the debate to the next sitting day is an ordinary incident, and it would remove much difficulty ; but if it is thought necessary on both sides to continue the present attitude, there will be full scope for it in spite of any adjournment. I am glad to hear that we are not going to invade a day which should not be interfered with. There is a suggestion that the sitting of the House should be sus pended, but I regard that as very objectionable. If there is a suspension of the sitting of the House, it means that the sitting day will comprise the Sunday. That idea may not commend itself to some honorable members, but I say that if the sitting be suspended, it will practically include the Sunday.

Mr Watson:

– Nonsense !

Mr REID:

– Further, any idea of stretching a sitting over Sunday by means of a suspension of twenty-four hours is unknown in the history of British parliamentary institutions. In the whole history of the British Parliament - in all its desperate fights - in connexion with much larger questions than that of a union label - there never has been such a straining of a fiction in order to secure a suspension of a sitting for twenty-four hours. However, these are matters that are for the authority of the Chair. If the Speaker chooses to establish a new precedent, that is not a matter for me - it is a matter entirely for the authority of the Chair. What I wish to say is that the Opposition are quite prepared to facilitate the adjournment of this debate until the next sitting day. If the proceedings are carried over 12 o’clock to-night, we intend to leave the Government in possession of the House, with full liberty ‘to do what they please and on their own responsibility. We intend to draw a severe line in our political fights, and to stop short at that line. The Opposition will fight with all the strength we have; but, when we come to that particular line, we shall withdraw from the contest ; and, if the Government wish to go beyond, they must do so entirely on their own responsibility. I have risen at this hour, so as to give the Government reasonable oppor-_ tunity to make some suggestion in order to avoid what, I believe, we all desire to avoid.

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– The right honorable member who has just concluded has told us that the party which he represents, and he himself, are here to fight. We, sir, are here to maintain what we believe to be essential privileges of the majority of this House.I reciprocate that expression of the right honorable member, which indicates a desire on his part that the contest shall be conducted with all possible good humour between honorable members. But, with respect to sacred traditions and beliefs which we all honour, I decline to allow him to make them a means of gaining a party advantage for himself, any more than I would seek to make them a means of gaining a party advantage for those on this side of the House. I am astounded at the right honorable member’s address to the Chamber; seeing that he has thought fit to ignore the message which I sent to him, twenty minutes or half-an-hour ago, by the honorable member for Mernda, to inform him that the Speaker, after full consideration of the authorities had decided on. the course he would probably take if the proceedings of the House had not closed by 1.2 o’clock to-night.

Mr Reid:

– I had 110 assurance of any kind in regard to the Speaker having decided on any course at all.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The honorable member for Mernda left me with that information, and returned to me with the information that he had imparted it to the right honorable member for East Svdney ; and I believe the honorable member for Mernda. I make no imputation on any other honorable member.

Mr Reid:

– The honorable “member for Mernda did not introduce the Speaker’s name into the communication. He brought the message from the Prime Minister.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The message was from me and not from the Speaker ; but the message from me was simply that, if nothing interrupted the debate before 12 o’clock, the Speaker, having considered the question and also the precedents - one of which existed in the State of Victoria - for suspending a sitting under special conditions, was prepared, in accordance with his powers and the obligation due to the day we are approaching, to leave the chair at midnight and resume at midnight to-morrow. I sent that information to the right honorable member for East Sydney as soon as I had obtained it, because I thought he, and those he represents, were entitled to know. I sent that information,, accompanied with a message, to which I have not even now received an answer. That message was to the effect that, in view of the strain imposed by this long sitting on you, Mr. Speaker, upon honorable members, and the officers, I was perfectly: willing, if the right honorable gentleman consented, to ask you to suspend the sitting, if you thought it well to do so, until half-past ten o’clock on Monday morning. Such an interval would, I thought, give you, and all of us, that full measure of rest to which we are entitled, and enable us to renew our business refreshed, at the hour I have mentioned. That was the clear and unmistakable message which _I sent. I received the answer that it had been received, and would be considered. I regret to find that the honorable member for Mernda, after delivering the message, left the House, because. I expected he would have been here now to hear this statement. Under all the circumstances, I fail to understand why the right honorable member for East Sydney, in addressing; the House, was not candid enough to say that he had received the message, and whether or not he was willing to accept my suggestion. If the right honorable member was not willing, I did not propose to ask the House to depart in any way from the procedure which the Speaker considered to be within his rights, nor to ask him to go beyond the time named, except at the request and with’ the approval of the whole House. That teemed to me a fair proposal to make to those honorable members opposite, who ask for an adjournment of the debate. Of course, the suggestion that the Ministry should accept a hostile motion for the adjournment of the debate on a question of this vital importance - a question on which the fate of this Government is at stake- will not be considered for a moment. I think it scarcely necessary ‘to say that the Government cannot consent to the adjournment of the debate ; because the purpose of the Government is that ‘the present sitting shall be continued when Sunday is passed - that the business shall be resumed at the point where it leaves off, and shall be pressed to its legitimate conclusion. I am puzzled to hear the Opposition declare that when, in maintenance of what we believe to be the right of this House to control its own business, the Government are prepared to sit silently by, day by day and night by night, until they cease their obstruction, we are chargeable with using force, while the minority, who are occupying the whole time with, irrelevant discussion, are not using force. Their action represents pleading and persuasion, and 6urs force ! There can be no doubt that any such .term applied to the conduct of one side must apply equally to the other. I ami making no reflection on honorable members opposite, except to repel a slander upon this side, when it is said that we are endeavouring to “bludgeon” this proposal through. As a fact, it is we on this side who are being bludgeoned all the while. But of that I make no complaint. That is the ordinary inversion of partisanship.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We are perfectly happy !

Mr DEAKIN:

– I should be happier if I saw the House rising to an appreciation of the circumstances, not only of the present moment, but of the future. We must acknowledge that the progress made during this session has been made, despite a perpetual and unjustifiable drag - in the face of a perpetually drawn-out dwelling upon minor and irrelevant considerations. We now find that, instead of having concluded

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I rise to a point of order. Is the Prime Minister in order in reflecting upon the conduct of business of this House in the past?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I think the Prime Minister is perfectly in order in stating his opinion as to whether the business done is satisfactory.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– But the Prime Minister is going beyond that.

Mr DEAKIN:

– If the debates had been levelled only at those considerations whichcould be justified by taking the widest view of all possible objections, I undertake to say that before now we should have cleared the whole of the business off the noticepaper. That is my opinion, and I believe others hold it strongly. There are now but a few weeks before Christmas, and it depends on the House - on members on both sides - whether the remaining business can by then be disposed of. But the work shall “be done, whether we rise at Christmas or whether we do not.

Mr Reid:

– The Government have to pay the price.

Mr DEAKIN:

– When we took office four months and a half ago, it was with a programme of practical business laid before the House, with the assurance thatnothing would be wanting, on the part of the Government to its completion in a reasonable way and in a reasonable time. To that undertaking we still hold, mid by it we are still bound. The fact that we have not nearly finished our programme is no reason why we should aban-don the task we undertook. The work is ready - the measures are practically prepared, and there is still time to transact our business before Christmas if the House addresses itself to the task without undue diversion of its powers or waste of its strength. That business can be completed without any trespass on the liberty or fair opportunities, of any single member of the House - with every opportunity for free speech and the fullest deliberation. With that fact in view, it becomes more than ever imperative upon us, charged, as we are, all of us, with the solemn responsibility that attaches to the positions we hold, and to the pledges we have given–

Mr Reid:

– Pledges? ,

Mr DEAKIN:

– To our constituents.

Mr Reid:

– - -The Prime Minister has not been before his constituents.

Mr DEAKIN:

– No other pledge has been given ; and but for the betrayal of those following him. by the right honorable gentleman, and those who now follow him, the present Government would not be in office to-day. We took up the task which the right honorable gentleman and his Government wantonly threw down - the right honorable gentleman chose to drop the reins’ while in charge.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Will the Prime Minister kindly confine himself to the question, which is the adjournment of debate? I have allowed a good deal of latitude during the past hour to the honorable member for Mernda, the right honorable member for East Sydney, and one or two others; but, at the same time, I cannot throw to the winds all rules, and I ask the Prime Minister not to go so far from the question as to refer to the circumstances connected with the coming into office of the present Government.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I admit my error, sir, which was, as usual, the result of interjections. I do not wish to detain the House. I am only too willing that honorable members should leave it as soon as possible, in order that thev may have the Sunday rest which we all need. Nothing I have said is intended as in any way a threat, and there is nothing, I hope, which will be considered personally offensive. But we are reaching a stage at which it is necessary that both the House and the country should understand whit the Government intend.

Mr Wilson:

– Why not send us to the country to see what the electors intend ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– The Government intend to do their work - the work they set out to do at the commencement of the session, and, if they live so long, to submit measures of a still more vital and farreaching character to be dealt with next session. They must then take the judgment of the country, and will be ready and willing to do so; or they will take the judgment of this House now, or at any time,, on this question, and abide by it. Either business goes on and our work is done, or honorable members must find another Government.

Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I rise to make a personal explanation in connexion with the statement of the Prime Minister as to a communication between the honorable member for Mernda and myself. In the absence of the honorable member, I wish to say that he was careful to remind me that it was he who went to the Prime Minister, and not the Prime Minister who, in the first instance, employed him. He went to the Prime Minister on his own responsibility. I certainly did not ask him to go, and he went without any mission from me. I wish, in the first place, to say that the statement of the Prime Minister was inaccurate in that respect, because the honorable member for Mernda was careful to assure me that it was he who approached the Prime Minister, and not that the honorable and learned gentleman had made use of him as an intermediary. Otherwise, I think that probably some other channel of communication would have been chosen.

Mr Isaacs:

– Let the right honorable gentleman come to the substantial point.

Mr Deakin:

– I might be permitted to say that the honorable member for Mernda was sitting here and said to me, “ Can I do anything for you?” and I replied,, “Yes, you can take this message to the right honorable gentleman.”

Mr REID:

– I am coming to the substantial point, but I must clear away one ambiguity to begin with. The statement now made by the Prime Minister confirms what I say, and makes it clear that the honorable member for Mernda had not been previously approached. The honorable member never made any statement to me as to what the Speaker was going to do. I was not aware that the Speaker had confided in the Prime Minister as to the course he proposed to adopt. The Speaker did not confide that course in me as the other leader in this House.

Mr Deakin:

– The Speaker answered a question I put to him..

Mr REID:

– I wish merely to say that I was not made aware of the course of action, which you, Mr. Speaker, had decided on. I was in ignorance of it, and the honorable member for Mernda did not say a word to me about the Speaker or what he was going to do. If, sir, I had known the course you proposed to take. I should probably have taken the liberty of addressing you upon that subject, but, as I say, I was in absolute ignorance as to anything you were going to do. It was put to me as a proposal from the Prime Minister that we should suspend the sitting until midnight on Sunday. The honorable member forMernda also said that he thought he might say that the Prime Minister would probably be willing that the House should adjourn until about 10 o’clock on Monday morning,, but I understood the honorable member to submit that as a hypothetical possibility, and not as a distinct message to me. I told the honorable member for Mernda that I would make a statement in which I would invite the Prime Minister to state to the House what he proposed to do. That was my answer. I did not employ the honorable member for Mernda as an intermediary. Hecarefully let me know that he had approached the Prime Minister, and that the honorable and learned gentleman had not employed him. The matter was conveyed to me as an offer from the Prime Minister an offer which I declined to accept. So far as the action of Mr. Speaker is concerned, that isa matter for himself; but if Mr. Speaker thinks fit to come here at midnight on Sunday, I do not think he will find the Opposition ready to receivehim.

Mr SPEAKER:

– It is extremely undesirable and unfortunate that, in connexion with any matter, and especially if it be of ahighly controversial character, any reference whatever should be made to. the occupant of this chair.

Mr Reid:

– Hear, hear; Mr. Speaker has been dragged into the debate.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! I feel that what has transpired during the last half-‘ hour has placed me in a very delicate position, and partly hampers me in the course which I had contemplated. It is due to myself that I should say that the Prime Minister approached me, as nearly as possible about an hour ago, and asked me what course I thought I might take. I informed the honorable and learned gentleman of the course which was in my mind, and I also informed him that the taking of that course would depend upon developments between that time and12 o’clock. I felt, as I feel now, that I ought not to finally determine the course I should take at 12 o’clock until that hour is reached.

Mr Reid:

– So that the Speaker had not decided.

Mr SPEAKER:

-I ought to be influenced in what I do at that hour by whatever may transpire up to that time. I have only one more remark to make, and that is that I informed the Prime Minister of what was in my mind because he, asked me to do so. 1 knew that the right honorable member for East Sydney intended to speak, and to make a request to the Prime Minister in relation to the matter. I deemed that the speech. he might make, or the answer he might receive, would possibly have some effect upon the course I proposed to take. It was my intention, as soon as the right honorable gentleman had made his speech and received an answer, to make a communication to him similar to that which I had already made to the Prime Minister, and which I was prepared to make to any leader in the House, or-indeed, to any other honorable member who might seek to know mv mind on the subject.

Mr. FULLER (Illawarra).- After ‘ his heated reply to the leader of the Opposition, I thought the Prime Minister would prove that he was prepared to act up to his magnificent professions concerning the Sabbath, by consenting at once to the adjournment of the debate, in order that the officers of the House and others should not be compelled to work on that clay, and that we might be able to get to our homes before it begins.

Mr Ronald:

– Why not, let us get there?

Mr FULLER:

– I am prepared to resume my seat at once, if the Prime Minister will say that he is willing to agree to the adjournment of the debate; otherwise, I sha.ll be compelled to speak until 12 o’clock.

Mr Deakin:

– Let honorable members opposite withdraw the motion for the adjournment of the debate,, and I will move that the sitting be suspended until halfpast 10 o’clock on Monday.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– We will withdraw nothing. We despise the honorable and learned gentleman’s offer.

Mr Deakin:

– Very well.

Mr FULLER:

– In the circumstances, I regret very much that we shall be unable to get to our homes and to our rest until well into the Sabbath, so much dwelt upon by the Prime Minister. After his reply to the leader of the Opposition, one would have thought that the honorable and learned gentleman would have tried to avoid any encroachment upon the day of rest by offering at once to agree to the adjournment of the debate until Monday morning.

Mr Deakin:

– I have offered it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Offered it; after an offensive speech like that !

Mr FULLER:

– The debate should be adjourned, in order that we may have an opportunity to view the whole question in the light thrown upon it by the speech delivered by the leader of the Opposition this afternoon. I hold the Attorney-General responsible for the action which has compelled our protest in the interests of liberty of speech. , Similar proceedings took place in the New South Wales Parliament on one occasion, owing to the action of the Government of which the Minister of Trade and Customs was a prominent member, and the honorable gentleman can hardly feel comfortable now when he recollects the consequences that followed on that occasion. However, the price must be paid for the support, given to the Government by the Labour Party. As the Prime Minister has said. “ The task of the day must be done.” Were it not for that fact, we know well that the Vice-President of the Executive Council and the Treasurer would be found strongly opposed to the action taken by the Government in this matter.

Mr Deakin:

– Time !

Mr FULLER:

– Is the Prime Minister now prepared to consent to the adjournment of the debate ?

Mr Deakin:

– I offered the adjournment until half-past 10 o’clock on, Monday, and honorable members opposite refused the offer.

Mr FULLER:

– Strong reasons for the adjournment of the ‘debate can be found in the number of other questions of importance that find a place on the businesspaper. By some extraordinary process which has not yet been explained-

Mr Deakin:

– Time, time !

Mr FULLER:

– The Trade Marks Bill was brought from the bottom of the businesspaper to the top, and given precedence over measures of far greater importance. For instance, there is also the Electoral Bill to be dealt with.

Honorable Members. - Time ! Time !

Mr FULLER:

– That is a matter for Mr. Speaker. As soon as he announces that it is 12 o’clock I shall stop.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order ! The House will perhaps permit me to say that I have gathered from the speeches of honorable members, and otherwise, that there is a general wish that the sitting shall not be continued during Sunday. I have looked up the precedents, and I find that there are many for the Speaker suspending the sitting for such time as may be necessary for securing the purpose in view. In this House the time for which sittings have been suspended, has usually been one hour for refreshments. There are other cases in which sittings have been suspended for longer periods - up to three and a-half hours in one case, and in Victoria, on one occasion, a sitting was suspended for eleven hours and three-quarters. I recognise that if I suspend the sitting of this House for twenty-four hours, I go beyond any period for which I can find a precedent. Yet in suspending the sitting for that time I should not go beyond the period which is necessary to accomplish the purpose we have in view. I find, however, that there is a general desire that the House should not be called back to transact business at midnight to-morrow, and that the convenience of honorable members should be studied to a further extent. Therefore, I now suspend this sitting of the House until half -past 10 o’clock on Monday morning.

Sitting suspended at midnight, Saturday, until 10.30 a.m. on Monday, the 20th inst.

Mr WATSON:

– I wish to know, Mr. Speaker, whether in the event of the sitting continuing, as seems possible, for a considerable time, you could make arrangements for the temporary relief of the Hansard staff?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I think that it was the honorable member himself who mentioned to me on Friday or Saturday last that it was very desirable that some relief should Be given to the Hansard staff, and that that relief might be secured by enlisting the services of some of the officers of the Reporting Staff of the State Parliament. I will take care to ascertain whethersuch an arrangement can be made or whether relief can by any other means be afforded.

Mr Johnson:

– On a point of order, sir, since the sitting of the House has been suspended from midnight on Saturday, I should like to know whether our proceedings this morning should not be opened in the usual way, with prayer?

Mr SPEAKER:

– We are merely continuing the sitting which began on Thursday last.

Mr FULLER:

– The sitting of the House has been suspended for a period which is unprecedently long, and questions may arise as to the legality of the course adopted; but many of the grounds upon which we pleaded on Saturday for the adjournment of the debate having been removed, I do not intend to address any further arguments to the House in support of this motion. We have secured rest, and the traces of irritation on the part of many honorable members which were so obvious on Saturday have now entirely disappeared.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I wish, Mr. Speaker, to make a personal explanation. Since the suspension of the sitting on Saturday night, there has appeared in both the morning newspapers circulated in Melbourne a statement by the Prime Minister concerning the use of the “ gag ‘ ‘ some years ago by the right honorable member for East Sydney when leader of a State Government in New South Wales. That statement omits some of the facts.

Mr Deakin:

– I omitted no facts of which, I was aware.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It would be inferred from the interview in question, that the leader of the Opposition had passed through the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales proposals similar tothose now before us. As a matter of fact, however, he did not initiate those proposals ; they were passed in spite of his, resistance.

Mr Watkins:

– He did not vote against them.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member knows why he did not do so. A picnic was givento the righthonorable member for East Sydney, then leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament

Mr Fisher:

– Have we not heard enough of New South Wales.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Why does not the honorable member address that observation to the Prime Minister? The leader of the Opposition did not vote against the proposals in question for the simple reason that he was not present when the Question was put. He was at a picnic tendered to him by his supporters.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member is entitled, of course, to make a personal explanation in regard to his own position, but is; not entitled to make a personal explanation on behalf of any one else. I cannot see that in referring to a certain picnic and some action on the part of the right honorable member for East Sydney, the honorable member is confining himself, as he must do, to an explanation of his own position.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– A picnic was tendered to the right honorable member for East Sydney by some of his own party, among whom were the honorable member for Macquarie, the honorable member for Dal ley, the honorable member for North Sydney, myself, and others, and the Standing Orders to which the Prime Minister has referred were passed while the whole of the Opposition were absent.

Mr Watson:

– The right honorable member for East Sydney had previously in a speech approved of the principle.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I cannot allow the name of another honorable member to be imported into this question. The honorable member for Parramatta is explaining his own attitude, and cannot reply to interjections dealing with the attitude of any one else.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I believe that I was the only member of the Opposition present when the Standing Orders mentioned were put through, and honorable members will find that I raised my voice in protest against them.

Mr Thomas:

– The honorable member was not them a. follower of the right honorable member for East Sydney.

Mr SPEAKER:

– That has nothing to do with the question.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It seems to me that I cannot utter two sentences without being interrupted. I repeat that I was the only one to raise a protest against the passing of the proposals, in the absence of the entire Opposition.

Mr Thomas:

– Was the honorable member a member of the Labour Party at that time?

Mr SPEAKER:

– It is almost impossible for the honorable member to proceed and to obey the directions of the Chair when those directions are again and again disregarded by honorable members opposite. I must ask honorable members to assist me in carrying out the Standing Orders.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– In view of these facts, it will be seen that the party of which the right honorable member for East Sydney was leader, did not introduce the

Standing Orders to which reference has been made. They’ simply applied them, after they had been forced upon the House in spite of their protest. I invite honorable members to see here the possibilities inhering in the motion now before the House–

Mr SPEAKER:

– That question cannot now be discussed.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– When Mr. Copeland. Mr. Rose, Mr. Frank Clark, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and the honorable member for Riverina were “ gagged “ or suppressed in the way to which allusion has been made, they received a dose of the physic which they themselves had prepared.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order, that is no part of the question before the chair.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I have nothing further to add.

Mr DEAKIN:
Minister of External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist

– My statement having been directly or inferentially questioned, I may be permitted, by way of personal explanation, to say that in the press interview I confined myself to two statements. The first was that the leader of the Opposition, as a member of the State Parliament of New South Wales, had approved of the principle of the proposals now before this House. For proof of this, I relied upon one of his own speeches, in which’ he said that, subject to certain conditions, he had no objection to the principle. My second statement was that he had no objection to the practice of using this closure when he was in office, and showed that whatever may have been his view of the parr ticular form of the standing order now in question, he applied it in the manner mentioned. On looking up the records, I found among those who voted for the suppression of speech, as the honorable member for Parramatta has termed it. the names of those members of the Opposition whom I mentioned .

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– By way of personal explanation, Mr, Speaker. I may say that I was not a member of the Parliament of New South Wales when the “ gagging resolutions “ were adopted.

Mr Chanter:

– As one of the parties concerned, Mr. Speaker. I wish to know whether I shall have the same opportunity that has been accorded other honorable members to relate to the House the true facts, of the incident?

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member is surely aware that equal rights are enjoyed by all honorable members,, and that he is just as much entitled to make a personal explanation as is the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition, or any one else.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I was about to say that I was not in the Parliament of New South Wales when the “gagging” resolutions were adopted there. During the course of this debate, I have already intimated that if similar resolutions are adopted here they will be used by every party–

Mr SPEAKER:

– I would point out that the question as to whether the proposed standing order, if carried, will be used by every party or against any particular party has nothing whatever to do with a personal explanation. It is rather an argument upon the main question.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I was about to say that at the time to which I refer, I was a member of a party which had appealed to the country upon particular proposals in regard to the Tariff. The proposals of that party had received the strong indorsement of the electors, and I and other honorable members supported - as I would support in this House - the application of the closure under those circumstances. I have already said that if it were absolutely necessary to insure effect being given to the will of the majority, I would even go to the length of supporting the proposal of the Government. But in my opinion the adoption of that course has not been proved to be necessary.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– - By way of personal explanation I desire to say that certain statements have been made by the Prime Minister and others in regard to the Standing Orders operative in the New South Wales Parliament, to which I feel called upon to reply. As was stated by the honorable member for Parramatta, those Standing Orders were brought forward whilst the members of the Opposition were absent from the Chamber. It had been arranged that they should attend an outing at the National Park, and whilst they were absent the Government of the day, of which the present Minister of Trade and Customs was a member—

Mr Ewing:

– Oh, dear.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– The divisionlist will confirm the accuracy of my statement.

Mr Watson:

– Has the honorable member the division-lists relating to the “gagging” of Mr.. Chanter and Mr. Ewing?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I will explain that matter at the proper time. It will be seen from the division-list that on the 7th June, 1894, Sir George Dibbs, who was then Premier of New South Wales, and who had associated with him the present Minister of Trade and Customs–

Mr SPEAKER:

– Will the honorable member say what his remarks have to do with a personal explanation ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I wished to point out that the closure resolutions were adopted practically without debate.

Mr Page:

– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member in order in recapitulating the circumstances connected with a vote in the New South Wales Parliament twelve or fourteen years ago? What has that to do with the present debate ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– It has nothing whatever to do with it. But as remarks have been made concerning a certain incident which occurred some years ago, which the honorable member conceives reflect upon himself, he is entitled to make a personal explanation in regardto that incident. He is not entitled to go any further.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– On the 7th June, 1894, in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, Sir George Dibbs proposed the adoption of certainstanding orders, including the “ gag.” Those standing orders were carried by thirty-four votes to twenty-one. If honorable members will look at the division list, they will find that my name does not appear in it. I had previously intimated that I was opposed to the closure proposals, and it was well known that the majority of the Opposition were opposed to them. The Government of the day took a mean advantage of our absence from the Chamber to force those proposals through.

Sir William Lyne:

– Had not notice been given that they were to be dealt with ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– No. That was the point to which we took exception. Had we known that they were to be dealt with, we should have been present. But, seeing that there was a chance to get them through in the absence of members of the Opposition, the Government of the day, of which the present Minister for Trade and Customs was a member-

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member is going far beyond the limits of a personal explanation. Statements concerning the attitude of the Government of that dayhave no personal application whatever.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– At least it discloses the reason why I was not present to oppose the Standing Orders in question.

Mr CHANTER:
Riverina

– I should not have taken any part in this discussion but for the action of some honorable members in denying certain facts. I propose to explain those facts. In the first place I may, perhaps, be permitted to read from the New South Wales Hansard of 1887, certain statements made by the right honorable member for East Sydney in supporting the closure resolutions at that time.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order. I am afraid that the honorable member will not be in order in making a personal explanation by reading a speech which was delivered by the honorable member for East Sydney. The honorable member is perfectly entitled to make a personal explanation, but he is not entitled to do anything more than that.

Mr CHANTER:

– May I be permitted to say, in reply to statements which, have been made ; this morning, that the Tariff resolutions to which reference has been made took several months to deal with, and during the course of the debate upon them, it was found necessary to apply the closure to myself and several: other gentlemen who are members of this House. The actual facts are that the Tariff resolutions in Committee of Ways and Means were introduced by the then Premier, the right honorable member for East Sydney, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon of a. certain day. Upon that occasion, the sitting of the House - with an interval of one hour for dinner, and an hour and a half for breakfast - occupied only about eighteen hours.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order. Unless the honorable member can allege that he is responsible, either for the length or shortness of the sitting, be will not be in order in proceeding upon those lines.

Mr CHANTER:

– I was certainly not responsible for the length of the sitting. I was one of those honorable members who were “gagged,” and those who were. re sponsible for “gagging” me, included five members of this House, namely, the honorable member for North Sydney, the honorable member for Macquarie-

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order. Upon a personal explanation^ the honorable member is not at liberty to attack other honorable members. I must ask him to refrain from opening up a subject which will absolutely demand a further explanation by .honorable members.

Mr CHANTER:

– As it is due to the country that this matter should be explained, I shall reserve my remarks upon it for the future occasion.

Motion (by Mr. Lee), by leave, withdrawn.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

– I had no intention of speaking upon this amendment, but it appears that there is such a general desire on the part of Ministerial supporters that 1 should address myself to it, judging from their repeated and persistent calls for me, that I should be lacking in ordinary courtesy if I failed to do so. I intend to support the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, the object of which is to considerably enlarge the field of discussion. It aims at allowing all business in this Parliament to be conducted without the application of any system of closure, obviously for the purpose of permitting this question to be referred to the electors. I claim that if any proposal in regard to the closure be good in itself, its application should be extended not only to this, ‘but to any future Parliament. As far as I have been able to discover, no system of closure has worked satisfactorily in any Parliament. Its application has always been a source of irritation. In considering the amendment honorable members should recollect the nature of the business which will engage the attention of this Parliament. ‘Necessarily that business will include not only the measures at present upon the notice-paper, but any other matters which may arise during the life of this Parliament. In mv opinion, the action of the Government in persistently pressing forward a proposal to apply the closure is more calculated to lead to their downfall than it is to practical legislation. I very much fear that the contumacious obstinacy of the Attorney-General in connexion with this matter will prove the initial step towards bringing about the disruption of the Ministry. I should welcome an appeal to the people, because it seems to me that only by going to the country can we arrive at a solution of our present difficulties. The proposals before us are of a highly controversial character, and we should ascertain the opinion of the constituencies with regard to them. If we do not appeal to the electors forthwith, it is certainly desirable that opportunities, should be presented for the fullest possible discussion of the various proposals to which we shall have to devote attention during the life of thos Parliament. Honorable members who believe that the closure should’ be applied should at least take their constituents into their confidence, and ascertain their views with regard to a proposal which would have the effect of limiting the opportunities for the expression of their opinions. If the proposed new standing order were adopted, subject to the amendment now proposed, it -would be possible, after consulting the electors, to repeal, in the course of the next Parliament, any legislation of which the people might in the meantime express their disapproval. It seems to me reasonable that the application of the closure, which has been proposed under such exceptional circumstances, should be postponed for the present. It should certainly not be applied to the business under discussion at the time that it was interposed. It must be remembered that we are here to voice the opinions and views of our constituents, as well as to vote. This is a deliberative assembly, and it is our dutv to fully consider and debate all the proposals presented to us, whether by private members or by the Government. We are entitled to glance briefly at the programme outlined by the Prime Minister in his statement to Parliament shortly after resuming office. He said -

This Ministry adheres to the practical policy sanctioned by the country at the last general election, and already submitted to this House, and exists for the purpose of giving effect to it.

He went on to say that the Government represented the same policy, and the same party as in 1904, which, remained almost as completely applicable as it did sixteen months before.’ He said further -

Taking the subjects mentioned in the order in which they appear in His Excellency’s speech of March, 1904, honorable members will find - the taking over of the debts of the States.

That subject involves such a variety of issues, and must give rise to such diversity of opinion, that the widest and freest discussion should be permitted- Could any one argue that the discussion of a matter involving such vast financial considerations should . be restricted by the application of the closure? Surely, a national wrong would be inflicted if discussion were stifled upon a proposal affecting the constitutional rights of the States. I am sure that honorable members would not advocate the application of the closure to the discussion of a measure of that character. The Prime Minister has pointed out that the consideration of the subject entered upon its initial stage at the Hobart Conference, and that, therefore, it might Well be submitted to Parliament as early as will be convenient. He next referred to the possibility of establishing a Commonwealth system of old-age pensions. The subject was then, and is still, under investigation by a Royal Commission. It must be obvious that it would be unwise to rush such a measure through Parliament without the fullest discussion, involving, as it may, not only extra taxation, but also, by resort to direct taxation, a departure from the hitherto accepted principles of raising revenue for Federal purposes. The members of the Opposition could not reasonably be expected to meekly submit to the application of the closure to the discussion of a measure involving such large issues. Another plank in the Government programme is the encouragement of rural occupations, preferential trade, the granting of bounties for new products, and the establishment of speedier, cheaper, and better transportation for meat, butter, and fruit. Here, again, large issues are raised requiring serious and exhaustive debate. None of these matters, with the exception of preferential trade perhaps, has been before the country, but even in regard to preferential trade, we have evidence of a divergence of opinion such as will make very considerable debate inevitable. In connexion with the transportation of produce, regard must be had to the probable introduction of a Navigation Bill, affecting the conditions of trade, not only on our coasts, but also between Australia and foreign parts, and to the proposal that the Commonwealth Government shall itself undertake the business of a sea carrier, by owning and maintaining steamers for the conveyance of merchandise, mails, and passengers, not only from State to State, but between Australia and the other countries of the world with which we do business. I am sure that, if any attempt were made to stifle discussion on any of these measures, a wave of indignation would pass over the whole Commonwealth, and there would be a universal demand for the dissolution of this House. I hope that in any case, the electors would very soon have an opportunity to give their opinions on these matters. But, although the question of preferential trade has been before the people, honorable members representing such diverse views have been returned, that the whole subject must be exhaustively discussed. In regard to the payment of bounties, there is an equally wide divergence of opinion on the question of principle, and there are sure to be great differences of view when we come to deal with particular proposals. Honorable members have surely the right to debate these matters to the fullest extent, because it is only by presenting both sides of a question for consideration that any hope can be entertained for its wise and permanent determination. Certain honorable members may have become accustomed to regard principles from one point of view, and if they listened to arguments from the other side they might lie lifted out of that groove of thought. The proposal to ask Parliament to grant bounties for new products is sure to provoke a large amount of opposition, and therefore is not likely to be allowed to pass without proper debate. Another plank in the Ministerial programme is stated in the following passage: -

To attract population, and to make provision for the appointment of a High Commissioner are kindred ends to be achieved, together with and in relation to the matters just mentioned with which they are closely allied.

I think honorable members must see that the appointment of a High Commissioner and the attraction of population are closely allied subjects, and that the closure could not be applied to one question without being applied to the other. The appointment of a High Commissioner will provoke a large amount of discussion. Suppose that one honorable member was so popular that several honorable members might desire that he should receive the appointment, and that in the opinion of other honorable members he did not possess the necessary qualifications to fill the post with credit to himself and with advantage to Australia. Ought the closure to lie applied in order to prevent the latter from expressing -their disapprobation of the proposed appointment? I do not think it should be applied to a case of that kind. The Prime Minister announced that -

A Bill relating to navigation and shipping in the light of the report expected from the Royal Commission now sitting is in contemplation.

Having referred incidentally to that measure a few moments ago, L shall pass on to a measure which I think honorable members will admit is most controversial, and which we were told is to be dealt with by this Parliament. I refer to the Bill for the establishment of the iron and steel industry. It would certainly be wrong to attempt to force through the House, without proper debate, a measure so extremely contentious in character as that one admittedly is. There are grave and urgent reasons to be advanced for and against the proposal, and therefore to prevent the expression of them in the House would be to deny the right of the people through their representatives to have an adequate voice in the disbursement of taxation. This, is not a legitimate occasion, I submit, for applying the closure. The1 Prime Minister went on to say -

Two ocean mail contracts, provisionally accepted, will be submitted, while the whole question of subsidies for sea carriage will be brought under review as part of the general forward policy alluded to.

Do the Attorney-General, or the supporters of the closure, think that it should be applied to a measure involving the whole question of subsidies for sea carriage? That is one to which I submit it should not apply. The Prime Minister continued -

We hope to receive reports from the Tariff Commission, probably during the present ses. sion, and to take them into immediate consideration.

That, it will be seen at once, will raise the whole fiscal issue. Surely Ministers and their supporters will admit that a measure affecting the Tariff should not be dealt with without having been freely and properly discussed ! In my, opinion, it is a measure which calls for the fullest exercise of the right of free speech, if only because it involves increased taxation. Certainly the Tariff should not be interfered with by the application of the closure. Passing over a number of items which, although of less importance than those to which I have referred, are all more or less contentious in character, the Prime Minister con- eluded his policy speech with this statement -

This list of subjects may be divided into two parts. The first is made up of minor Bills aiming at useful but independent additions to the ordinary machinery of Government. The other consists of major Bills embodying a progressive policy of development of the resources of the Commonwealth, intended to be carried out by systematic effort here and in the mother country, and, if necessary, in the sister dominions of the Empire.

There is the programme which is proposed to be submitted to this Parliament, and which involves issues affecting our relations not only with the States, as States, but with other countries. It must necessarily provoke a great amount of discussion. It ought to receive the most critical examination. But that could not be given if the closure were applied. I trust that my arguments will appeal to the members of the Government and their supporters. Apart, however, from the Ministerial programme, very important motions have been tabled by private members, which involve fundamental changes in our system of coinage, administration, and government. These questions ought to receive the fullest possible criticism, and therefore ought not to be settled with the aid of the closure. Take, again, the estimates of expenditure for the following financial year. They might be framed in such a way as to involve an immense increase of public expenditure which would not meet With the approval of the Opposition.

Mr Frazer:

– I rise to a point of order. For about an hour and a half the honorable member has been speaking, but he has not used one argument which has not been repeatedly submitted to the House upon this amendment. If ever an honorable member has been guilty of tedious repetition, certainly the honorable member for Lang has been this morning, and I submit, sir, that under standing order 276 the only course that is left open to you is to order him to discontinue his speech.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I noticed that a considerable part of the argument of the honorable member for Lang was in reference to the possibility- of the application of the closure to the proposal for the appointment of a High Commissioner. I have not heard any other honorable member refer to that matter.

Mr Frazer:

– It has been referred to several times.

Mr Deakin:

– Not when Mr. Speaker was in the chair. ‘

Mr SPEAKER:

– It has not been referred to while I have been in the chair. If I had heard the argument before. I should have called attention to the fact. An honorable member must avoid repenting, not only what he has himself said, but also arguments used again and again by any other honorable member.

Mr JOHNSON:

– In the first place. I am not aware that I have repeated myself ; at any rate, I have certainly tried not to do so. I have simply referred to the items in the Ministerial programme which I regard as the most important, and as proposals to which the new standing order should not apply. I certainly was not aware that the question of the appointment of the High Commissioner had already been referred to. In any case, I only referred to the matter in the most casual and incidental manner.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member, I say again, has not repeated1 himself, but he must remember not to repeat arguments used “by other honorable members. I will read an extract from May, commencing on page 300-

A member who resorts to persistent irrelevance may, under standing order No. 24 -

That standing order is somewhat of the same nature as “our own standing order, referred to by. the honorable member for Kalgoorlie - be directed by the Speaker or the Chairman to discontinue his speech, after the attention of the House has been called to the conduct of the member ; and akin to irrelevancy is the frequent repetition of the same arguments, whether of the arguments of the member speaking, or the arguments of other members ; an offence which may be met by the power given to the Chairman under standing order No. 24.

So that an honorable member must not only avoid repeating himself, but avoid repeating arguments which have been used by other honorable members in the same debate.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I bow to your ruling, but say that, while the reference in May applies to the repetition of arguments which have been used by other honorable members, it does not prohibit, as far as I can see, references to arguments used by other honorable members - a totally different thing. I submit that I have not been repeating arguments used by other honorable members.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member need not discuss the ruling.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I am not doing so, but only explaining my own position. I do not at all question the ruling at the present time. I believe the ruling is already the subject of a motion of dissent, which may be discussed at another time on its merits. I submit that the points which I have referred to are particularly relevant to the amendment which has been brought forward for the consideration of honorable members. Even if those points have been referred to before, I submit that possibly the mental condition of honorable members, as the result of the prolonged strain, did not render them very receptive of the arguments used. I was about to conclude my speech with an expression of opinion that Ministers must recognise that there is a very dangerous element in the proposal to Apply any form of closure to a. discussion of questions” which are of such a highly contentious character as those I have cited.

Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister of External Affairs). - The proceedings since the standing order was submitted by the Government last week have resolved themselves, not into a discussion of that proposal in itself, but a discussion as to whether such a proposal ought to be submitted, or, if submitted, ought to be considered. The members of the Government, and, I think I may say the members on this side, are, without exception, of opinion that a condition of affairs had arisen which called not only for the submission of this motion, but for persistence in its support, and in the assertion of the right of the majority of this House. On the other hand, honorable members opposite took the ground that in their opinion, the circumstances did not justify such a proposition, and that if it were submitted, they were bound to register, in the first place, in the strongest manner within their power, their protest against its submission. It appears to me - in fact, it appeared to me some time ago, but it appears to many now - that on both sides there has been a sufficiently clear affirmation of the position at this particular stage. We, on our side, have been unconvinced, and are still as resolute as before, in the opinion that a standing order of this kind is absolutely necessary for the transaction of business. Honorable members opposite, as I understand, are equally united in their opposition to this proposal. But it does appear to me that we have made that abundantly clear.

There has been a prolonged debate, not upon the question which we desired to have discussed, but upon the question whether it should be discussed or should be dealt with now. I venture to submit to honorable members that, at all events, this question ought to be taken as settled. We have had a full exposition from honorable members opposite of their reasons for the course they have taken. On our side, we have, although in a very brief fashion indeed, given what we consider a sufficient exposition of our resolution. The question has arisen whether, that being the case, we are not now in a position to put a period to this portion of the debate. It has been proposed to me that we should agree to regard tha particular issue; /as .to whether the standing order should be debated, and debated now, as being capable of determination without further debate, that in other words, the amendments which have been proposed one on another, I think in three parts, shall be put and disposed of. That would leave us face to face with the original motion for the adoption of the standing order. If that be done, it is asked that in order to afford time for the full examination of the details of this standing order, the House should then adjourn until the usual sitting hour to-morrow, when the debate on the standing order itself may begin in earnest. When I say debated “ in earnest,” I mean not only without the imposition of any amendments simply for the purpose of postponing or suspending its decision, but practically dealt with without any desire to delay the proceedings - only with a desire to examine the proposal with the care which it deserves, and to discuss it only so far as may be necessary to allow honorable members to decide on any reasonable amendments which may be submitted from any quarter. After consideration, it appears to my colleagues and myself that this suggestion does offer a means by which we can come to close quarters on a proposition that has hitherto been dealt with only with a view to its not being discussed - that meeting at the ordinary hour, and rising at the usual hour of adjournment, we may be able to dispose of this standing order in such fashion as the House may desire. Of course, we, on our side, are convinced that the closer the scrutiny given to the proposed standing order the more its principle will be affirmed. Honorable members opposite no doubt hold, on the other hand, that the closer the scrutiny the more they will be justified in asking for its amendment in any particular. What is agreed is that any amendment so proposed shall be fairly dealt with, and shall not be a means of delaying or avoiding the issue - that we shall come to close grips with the question, and shall deal with the proposed standing order as -a piece of ordinary business in the ordinary way. There is no understanding of any kind as to any particular amendment to be submitted or not to be submitted. There is no attempt to restrict the freedom of the House in either regard ; the only arrangement arrived at is by mutual understanding, and to the effect that this standing order with any amendments shall be disposed of in the shortest possible time consistent with its proper deliberation, and that, under no circumstances shall the debate be permitted to proceed beyond Thursday’s sitting. The understanding is that before that time, or at that time, we shall dispose of the standing order in its final form. That is the proposition that has been submitted, and it appears to me one which we might fairly well accept.

Mr Crouch:

– What guarantee is there that the agreement will be carried out?

Mr Frazer:

– We shall want a guarantee in writing from the leader of the Opposition !

Mr DEAKIN:

– I can only say. that I have not the least doubt as to the agreement being carried out in every particular. I have great hope that the agreement will be carried out some time before the close of Thursday’s sitting. There is the great advantage that this being, not a piece of legislation in the ordinary sense, but a piece of what we may term the domestic legislation pf the House, it relates to a subject on which honorable members are particularly entitled to express themselves with individual freedom. I hope it will te regarded, not as a party measure, but from the point of view to which I had regard when I submitted the motion ; that is to say, as a necessary and inevitable condition of the transaction of the business of Parliament in these modern times. If that be the case, I have little fear but that before Thursday night we shall arrive at a standing order, which, I hope, will receive the support of the whole of the House ; but, if not so fortunate, will receive the support of the great body of honorable members.

Mr Ewing:

– Thursday night?

Mr DEAKIN:

– The agreement is only that, if. necessary, the debate shall be prolonged until Thursday night. There is no agreement that the decision is to be postponed until then, but that it shall be taken if possible to-morrow night, or, if not then, on Wednesday night - but that it must be decided by Thursday. That is the undertaking, and it appears to be a very fair one, affording the utmost liberty to honorable members. The arrangement will exclude no expression of opinion by any honorable member, but will leave the House perfectly free, although there is a general agreement that by a particular time, having regard to the question, we shall have been able to exhaust every one of the points we are called upon to consider. I think I have made it clear that the proposal submitted is that the amendments now before us shall bc negatived to-day, and that the House shall then adjourn until the ordinary hour of meeting to-morrow, when, after questions; and the usual preliminary business, we shall proceed with trie consideration of the standing order until it is disposed of, either before Thursday, or on Thursday, in any event.

Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - I hope I may be permitted to make a few remarks in reply to the statement of the Prime Minister.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable member may proceed.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The Prime Minister has stated to the House the substance of some proposals, and of a practical agreement which has been made with a view to putting a period to these proceedings. That course on either side has, I believe, been dictated purely by a reference to public interest. I believe it to be an arrangement which leaves both sides- and I say this frankly and fully - with prestige unimpaired, and, was’ going to add, their positions unturned, though I do not wish to use the word in an opprobrious sense. What I mean is, that we stand where we did, with the Government resolute to have some standing order of the kind carried, and we, on our side, equally resolute to have no responsibility whatever concerning the proposal as a whole.

Mr Johnson:

– The Prime Minister is more reasonable than is the AttorneyGeneral.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– As I have already indicated, the view which should be taken of these matters is that which concerns the great public outside, and, consequently, the transaction of public business inside. However much we may struggle and fight, we must always keep that objective in view. It must be quite clear to honorable members that the Opposition could have kept this discussion going for some time longer.

Mr Thomas:

– Let us go on.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I can assure the honorable member that I have not the slightest wish that the debate should go on.

Mr Thomas:

– Oh, let us go on 1

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order !

Mr Thomas:

– Let us go on for another week.

Mr SPEAKER:

– Order!

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I hope the honorable member for Barrier will allow me to proceed. I have made suggestions purely, as I say, in the public interest, and without reference to our personal convenience in any way whatever; and I take that to be the attitude on the other side. I have no doubt that the Government, like the Opposition, could, if they liked”, very much prolong the present sitting. But the proposal now made by the Prime Minister, in which I cordially and thoroughly agree, is that we should revert to the ordinary procedure relating to the conduct of the business of this House, and proceed to the discussion of the proposal which appears to be so objectionable to honorable members on this side. We concede nothing regarding our attitude to the proposed standing order. We shall give it our opposition unreservedly. We take no responsibility whatever for it. We simply agree, in the public interest, to put a period to the debate, that the consideration of the matter shall terminate before a certain time. In the interests of both sides, it is now suggested that there should be a period in which we may prepare for the debate which will take place tomorrow in the ordinary and regular way. I think that the proposal which has been described by the Prime Minister may well be agreed to by all parties at once.

Amendment of the amendment negatived.

Amendment, as amended, negatived.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Deakin) adjourned.

page 5434

LIFE ASSURANCE COMPANIES BILL

Mr. SPEAKER announced the receipt of a message from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives in this Bill.

page 5434

COMMERCE BILL

Bill returned from Senate with amend ments.

page 5434

ASSENT TO BILLS

Assent to the following Bills reported : -

Papua (British New Guinea) Bill.

Secret Commissions Bill.

page 5434

PAPERS

Mr. DEAKIN laid upon the table the following papers : -

Regulations under the Post and Telegraph Act relating to fire brigade telephone lines, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 59 ; Compensation for the loss of registered articles, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 60; Transmission of packets within the Commonwealth, and newspapers, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 62; Town and suburban letters, Statutory Rules 1905, No. 63.

House adjourned at 12.4 p.m. (Monday).

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 November 1905, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051116_reps_2_29/>.