3rd Parliament · 4th Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. GLYNN laid upon the table the following paper : -
Conciliation and Arbitration Act- Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules 1909, No. 102.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What is the number of men whose employment is directly secured by the payment of bounty£3,648 9s. 4d., paid under the Manufactures Encouragement Act 1908 during the financial year ended 30th June, 1909, for steel, puddled bar-iron, pig iron, galvanized sheet iron (plain and corrugated) made from Australian ore ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
It is impossible to specify the precise number of men whose employment is directly secured by the payment of the bounty in question, since the encouragement afforded exercises an influence which extends beyond the particular item subject to bounty. It may be approximately estimated that over 1,000 employes in this industry are indirectly as well as directly affected, and that the above number will be largely increased. It may be added that£42,000 is provided in the Estimates for the current year under the Manufactures Encouragement Act of 1908.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– My reply to the honorable member’s question is -
The figures for the calendar years 1899 and 1900 are not immediately available. The following is the information for the financial years 1898-9 and 1899-1900 : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
– I move -
That on each - sitting day, until otherwise ordered, Government Business shall take precedence of General Business.
If honorable members will glance at the notice-paper, they will see there enough business to abundantly occupy the time of the House until the prorogation. Many of the measures may fairly be described, as extraordinary ; they would rank as exceptional and important in any session.
– Which are they ?
– The High Commissioner Bill, which is well advanced, is such a measure.So are the two Bills for the alteration of the Constitution, the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, and the business measures which follow. Then the Defence Bill will be introduced in a day or two, and we hope to receive from another place, where it will be introduced next week, the Inter-State Commission Bill.
– The Land Tax Assessment Bill, which stands last among the Government Orders of the Day, is an important measure.
– Seeing that the session has more than three months yet to run, it is rather early to propose now to abolish private members’ day.
– Last session a similar motion was moved two and a half, and in the preceding session two, months after the assembling of Parliament. This session three and a half months have elapsed. If the period is measured from the end of the session there are great divergencies. Id the 1907-8 session a similar motion was carried nine months, and in other sessions at various intervals, the periods ranging from two months to a fortnight, before the prorogation. However profitable it might be, had we the time to consider some of the propositions advanced by private members, it is clear that we cannot deal with them and the public business too. Under the circumstances, the Government ask the House to allow private business to give way in order that the public business of the country, which is more important, may be proceeded with.
– When does the honorable member propose to end the session ?
– About Christmas, I hope.
.- A stranger, hearing the Prime Minister for the first time, would consider his request most reasonable; but I assert deliberately that the honorable gentleman could not have proposed any course more likely to cause waste of time than that which he has just put before us.I do not know why the Government brought forward this motion at this time.
– To get on with work.
– There has been no attempt to get on with work this session. On the contrary, the business of the Government has been deliberately delayed. Bills have been introduced, but as soon as the House has been ready to deal with them, they have been put aside and others brought forward in their place. Every Government endeavours to belittle the importance of private members’ business, without justification. I was surprised at the Prime Minister’s reference to what was done last session. He knew that the circumstances then were exceptional. To enable the nation to fittingly welcome the American Fleet, the Government were granted, in the preceding session, Supply for the months of July, August, and September, and Parliament did not re-assemble until the middle of the last-named month, with the intention of concluding its business before Christmas. Therefore the illustration, which will go into Hansard, was absolutely misleading. I do not say that the honorable gentleman would wilfully endeavour to deceive the public. But his statement might deceive those who do not know the facts.
– Surely this emergency is just as clear?
– We have a considerable number of sitting days in front of us, because, I suppose, honorable members are willing to remain in session until the middle of December.
– What about Queensland members ?
– Queensland members will look after their own affairs. Those members will feel indebted to the honorable member for Hunter for his courtesy and kindness in reminding them of their needs ; but I am sure that the P.rime Minister had not those needs in his mind when he submitted this* motion. It is a fallacious idea that private members’ business does no good. Quite the opposite is the fact; and in all the Parliaments of the world we find that nearly every reform has been initiated as private business. The destruction of that selfish and brutal crowd who used to send coffin ships to sea for the sake of the insurance was advocated by private members, first outside Parliament, and then inside, where they found one to particularly represent their views. Later we had the withdrawal of women and children from mining. Fortunately, men were returned to Parliament who were fearless on questions of the kind, and embraced the opportunity afforded during the time devoted to private business to educate Parliament, which requires education just as much as do people outside.
– Those who try to educate Parliament sometimes require educating !
– No doubt. The honorable member for Lang has set himself up - at least he did when in Opposition - to teach, not only the Parliament of Australia, but the Parliaments of the world « how to conduct their affairs. He is a universal teacher ; but, though I admire his industry and talent, I cannot recollect a single useful thing that he has done in either private members’ or Government time. The honorable member has criticised what other people have tried to do; but I do not know of his ever initiating a new principle, outside the ordinary current politics of the day. I can recollect, in my early days, the coal mines legislation, about which the honorable member for Parramatta ought to know something. This legislation was initiated by a few determined men, who went into Parliament, and used their opportunities to educate public opinion, until the time came when their power was irresistible. But I have regard to a higher ideal. We all admit that new ideas originate in the mind of one man or woman, and the first that happens is that he or she is denounced as an impracticable person, a crank. These reformers, however, pursue their course ; and, in time, the ideas they advocate are accepted by. others, who use Parliament and other public institutions as a means to educate the public mind, the time eventually arriving when it is discovered that the reform is on right and safe lines. The coal mines legislation which in the Old Country came into operation on ist January, 18.73, was the means of reducing the destruction of human life bv 50 per cent., while each succeeding amending Act has caused further reductions. These reforms were not’ originated by Governments, but by individuals and private members of Parliament; and they afford striking examples of the value of private members’ time. It is a cheap quip to say that nothing practical comes of private members’ business. It is true that not many private Bills pass, but it is equally true that, again and again, such Bills have been taken up by the Governments when the demand for them could be no longer resisted.
– They are taken up as soon as they are discovered to be popular.
– But who makes such measures popular?
– The man who makes them popular is always crucified !
– Yes ; and it is a truism that not in one case out of a hundred does the man or woman who has done the pioneering work ever receive any credit. How was international arbitration brought about ? The body of men and women who, by their consistent advocacy of the principle, have been able to establish international arbitration have, thereby saved millions of lives and untold misery to the world ; but without the opportunity presented by private members’ business such ideas might absolutely be lost. We have also to remember that very important measure, the Workmen’s Compensation Act. I have no desire to enter into the details of the various Employers’ Liability Acts and so forth ; but these were inaugurated in the same way - the idea did not originate with employers, Ministers, or statesmen, but with the workmen themselves, who were able to have it advocated in Parliament, until not only the humanity, but the justice of the measures was admitted. The Workmen’s Compensation Act is on a different basis, because there was quite a large number of representatives of workmen in Parliament before it came to fruition. I need not enlarge on other measures, which honorable members, doubtless, have in their minds; but many good suggestions have been laid before Parliament in private members’ time. But I now come to the crux of the matter. I presume the Government expect, at best, that Parliament will sit for another eleven or twelve weeks; which means about fifty hours altogether that should be devoted to private members’ business. If the Government absorb private members’ time, I presume that, like all other Governments, they will not deprive honorable members who have business on the notice-paper of the opportunity of taking divisions on the various motions. I have never known a Government who did not give, at least, one day in order to have such questions decided.
– I should have no objection to set apart one day; but, of course, all the private business must be disposed of on that day.
– What have the Government to gain by this motion? ‘ Do they expect that honorable members who have business on the paper will be willing to accept it. It is not reasonable to expect it. I suggest to the Prime Minister that it would be much better to withdraw the motion now, and bring it forward a fortnight, or even a month, hence. I do not know whether it has been purposely brought forward early in order to impress people with the idea, which the Ministry’s press supporters are trying to foster, that they are not allowed to proceed with the business as they ought to do. If so, I say deliberately that there is not a word of truth in the suggestion. The right honorable member for Swan smiles. Notwithstanding his large experience as Treasurer, he apparently thinks you can delude the public all the time, but you cannot. You cannot put twenty measures on your notice- paper, postpone every one which the ‘House is likely to do business with, and bring on others, while leaving the principal measure of the session not yet introduced - you cannot do all that and’ still pretend that you are not allowed to’ go on with business. The principal’ measure which the Fusion Government came into office to pass has not yet been seen by the House. I allude to the Defence Bill. We hear and read about it but that is all. It exists simply in the mind of the Government. The way in which the business has been presented shows on their part either inconsistency, or something worse. If honorable members opposite think that they can make a point of this motion, they are welcome to it. It has been paraded all over the country that business is being obstructed, but let the Government bring forward one measure and put it through. The High Commissioner Bill, for instance, stands on the noticepaper to-day after this motion. After one day’s debate on that measure the closure was applied, although I did not have the opportunity to utter a word on it. Then, instead of its being pressed forward, it was put aside for something else. As soon as they find that the House is in a working humour, the Government alter the notice:paper in order to bring forward some other business. I do not object to this ‘motion, for I quite understand that the Prime ‘Minister wishes to take this extra time for his own convenience.
– It is for the convenience of the Senate, which has nearly cleared its notice-paper.
– If it is for the convenience of the Government-
– It is for the convenience of Parliament.
– Then let the High Commissioner Bill be brought on; but do not precede it by a debate on a motion of this kind.
– I do not want to.
– The Prime Minister indicates by his interjection that he expected this motion to go through without debate.
– I do not expect it, but I should like it.
– The Prime Minister shows his common sense in not expecting it. It would be unreasonable to do so. If the Senate is waiting for the High Commissioner Bill, why did the Prime Minister bring forward to-day a matter that was not urgent, thus delaying a matter which was urgent? If the Government were anxious to get that Bill through, in order that it might go to the Senate, surely they would not intervene with a non-urgent motion. Nobody but the Government themselves thought of it. No one had the least conception that it would be brought forward to-day, and, indeed, every one was disappointed when it was first mentioned. The Government are in the position of having a majority to direct the affairs of the House as they please, and they will just do as they please. If they want to get on with business, they will bring on the measures which are urgent. If they want to delay urgent business, they will do as they are doing to-day - bring on something that was never thought of before, in order to prevent urgent measures from reaching fruition.
– I rise to enter a protest against taking private members’ day. During the time that I have sat in this Parliament I have seen very few private members’ motions thoroughly discussed, because, when they come on, the members of the Government disappear from the House, their supporters also disappear, a chill pervades the House, and the work of private members is, therefore, discouraged. That applies, not only to this Ministry, but to every Ministry that has preceded it. It would be extending proper consideration to private members if they were given an opportunity of carrying some of their motions, or of having them discussed and rejected if the House is not ripe for their acceptance. Some of the matters dealt with are most important, and it would really be an assistance to the Government to have them discussed. If, however, the Government intend to put through this session the long list of Bills which they have on the notice-paper, there seems to be nothing for us to do but to accept the motion tabled by the Prime Minister. I disagree with those who think that all these Government measures are necessary. The fact that there is such a large list of amending Bills upon the notice-paper goes to show in what a slovenly way we do our work. Similar measures have appeared session after session, but there are several Bills which should be put through, and if they were dealt with expeditiously, as they should be,’ in justice to the Government, they could be disposed of in something like five weeks.
– It is because measures are pushed through so quickly, that amending measures are required.
– No ; it is Because due consideration is not given to the speeches. Honorable members frequently lose interest in their own speeches, because of the lack of interest on the part of Ministers and other members, and they often speak at length, Whereas, if proper attention were given to the subjects dealt with, they would speak tersely and to the point. I suppose that this House is the most difficult place in Australia to speak in. Men who can speak well and fluently and with composure on the platform, lose their nerve in this Chamber when they find that no one stays to listen to them. The measures which should be put through this session are - the High Commissioner Bill ; the Constitution Alteration (State Debts) Bill ; the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill ; the Lighthouses Bill; and the Bills of Exchange Bill. Several of the others on the paper are incidentally important, but they are rudimentary. I regard yesterday as a day entirely lost through the fault of the Government. The Bill before the House then did not require a great deal of discussion. It fact, it was not discussed at all. We all used yesterday as grievance day, instead of discussing the question of Supply, because there is upon the notice-paper already a Bill upon which we shall be able to discuss all financial questions. When the Government found that we were using yesterday for the discussion Qf grievances, it would have been fair for them to say that the Supply Bill must go through at once, in order that we might push on with business. If they had taken up that attitude, I do not think the Opposition could have made any effective objection. We are wasting a great deal, of time by the way we meander along here, and I think the cause of it is the want of decision of the Government. I consider that honorable members who have notices. of motion on the paper should be given an opportunity of having them discussed. I have sat here for a number of years, and have seen the disadvantages under which private members labour. They do not get a House, they are not encouraged by the Government when their motions come on, and they seldom have an opportunity for a second discussion on their proposals. All this shows that very little consideration is given to private members’ business. If the Government would make half of their measures non-party ones, the difficulty might be got over,, but they are all party measures, and the Government expect their party to be solid behind them on them all. If they say that each Bill must go through, and demand support from their followers, no matter how the order of business is changed, the least they can do is to give more consideration to private members who have business on the notice-paper. The concession of one day, just made by the Prime Minister, indicates that he desires to do what is fair, but one day is not long enough for this long list of proposals. Even two days would scarcely be long enough. I wish simply to enter my protest against the -motion, and to point oil’ that this should not be a party question at all.
This is a question in which every honorable member is interested. An honorable member may be requested by his constituents to submit a motion to the House, but, owing to the methods that are being adopted, he may not have an opportunity to have it seriously and thoroughly discussed.
– I have reason to feel ‘specially aggrieved at the proposal of the Prime Minister to devote no further time this session to the consideration of private members’ business. Early in the session, I placed on the noticepaper a notice of motion which would have come on before but for the unjustifiable action of the Government in adjourning the House for a. week or more. The Age has, again and again, expressed the opinion that that adjournment was unjustifiable. If this proposal is carried, I shall not have’ an opportunity to proceed with the motion standing in my name, and which would otherwise come on for consideration to-morrow. The Prime Minister ought to take that fact into account. Last year, a motion similar to this was not submitted until 25th November, and the honorable member for Parramatta, who was then Leader of the Opposition, succeeded in obtaining the adjournment of the debate. On the following day,- the honorable member for Dalley was successful in securing the adjournment of the motion, so as to allow of another day for the consideration of private members’ business.
– The honorable member’s motion is not at the head of the list of private members’ business for to-morrow.
– I understand that the honorable member in whose name a motion stands on the notice-paper in priority to my own does not desire to proceed with it, recognising that he would not have an opportunity to carry it to a successful conclusion this session. In 1907, a motion for the taking of Government business only during the remainder of the session was not carried until 4th September. I voted against it, and shall always vote against such a proposition, because I consider ‘that business submitted by private members is sometimes of far greater importance than Government business. In the South Australian House of Assembly, I submitted a Bill to increase the minimum wage paid to labourers in the Government service. That measure was not then carried, but it is the law of the land to-day. On another day set apart for the consideration of private members’ business, I submitted a motion in regard to the accommodation pro- vided for shearers in South Australia. The Legislative Council blocked my efforts in that direction for the time being, but the object which I had in view in proposing it has since been embodied in legislation. No doubt, neither of those proposals would have become law if I, or one of my colleagues, had not taken the matter up during the time set apart for private members’ business. I think it unwise for the Government to interrupt the consideration of Government business by setting aside an afternoon in the middle of the week for private members’ business. It would be better to set apart every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for Government business, and to devote every Friday to the consideration of private members’ business. Friday is always an ” off “ day.
– Private members with business on the notice-paper would not be able to obtain a quorum on a Friday.
– If we devoted three days a week, without a break, to the consideration of Government business, the Ministry would surely take care that a quorum was present on Fridays, when private members’ business was set down for discussion. Even if an honorable member were unable to be present, I think that he would read the reports of the proceedings, and make up his mind how he should vote. That is what I always do. The honorable member for Robertson, a Government supporter, has declared that the proposal of the Prime Minister to devote one day to the discussion of the many important motions standing on the notice-paper in the names of private members is quite useless. Two days would, in my opinion, be insufficient. The motion standing in my name is designed to let the people of Australia know what . this Parliament is doing ; and I think it is of importance to every section of the House. I protest against such a motion as this being submitted at so early a stage in the session. It is said to be necessary because of the urgency of Government business ; but I have failed to discover any anxiety on the part of the Government to push on with their measures. There is no reason why four or five Bills should not have been passed bv this House’ before now, and transmitted to the Senate. It was ridiculous for the Government to proceed first of all with the Bills of Exchange Bill, a measure which will accomplish nothing.
– It will unify the law on the subject.
– I recognise that it would be well to pass it, but fail to understand why it should have been given precedence over such measures as the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill and the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill. It is singular that, as soon as the concluding stages of an important Bill are reached its further consideration’ is postponed by the Government. I am glad that an attempt is to be made to pass the High Commissioner Bill through its remaining stages. It should have been passed weeks ago. We have reached the middle of the session, and yet practically nothing has been done. The Government would do well to give honorable members an opportunity to proceed with notices of motion standing in their names, and to tell the House plainly what measures they hope to pass this session. I am sure that the Minister of Defence does not believe that one half of the Government measures on the notice-paper will be dealt with this year, and, in the circumstances, I think it would be better for the Ministry to reduce the list by one-half, and to ask the House to deal with Bills in their order.
.- This proposal is put forward by the Government with .the object of making the people outside believe that they are frantically determined to go on with the business of the country, and that they are orepared to do everything that men may do to achieve their end. A great deal of time is, no doubt, wasted on the days set apart for private members’ business; but more time is wasted on days when such business is not taken. No one has been more guilty of wasting time than the Treasurer has been. Time is wasted, quite unnecessarily, because there is no sensible, business-like control of the House, or anything approaching it. There certainly was, on one occasion, a violent outburst, indicative entirely of the character of the Government, for it is the custom of weak persons to burst into ungovernable frenzy without provocation. Generally speaking, the business of the Government gets along the best way it can. I can only repeat what my colleagues have said, and what I have said myself on many occasions. I have never seen a business-paper like that now before us, and no member of any Parliament of a civilized country has seen its equal. When the Fisher Government met the Parliament early this year, they set out in the Governor- General’s speech the list of measures that were to be presented to the Legislature. Although their number was smaller than that of the measures now on the businesspaper the gravamen of the charge brought by the honorable member for Ballarat against the Fisher Ministry was that it had put forward more business than there was time to deal with.” What he said then was that all embroidery and trimming should be put aside, and the real business of the country dealt with. That was nearly four months ago. Two days afterwards he came into office, since when no attempt has been made to do anything. The businesspaper is full of measures about which the Government have no resolute purpose. Measures relating to defence, finance, and industry were announced in the belated policy statement of- the Prime Minister. Of industrial measures we have yet heard nothing. They are to be buried under the proposal to institute an Inter-State Commission. The Finance Bill has not yet been introduced. About the Defence Bill we hear a different statement every day. Stevenson was a great stylist. His manuscript,it is said, was so disfigured by corrections that it drove the compositors who handled it almost to the point of insanity. I venture to suggest that the Defence Bill presents an appearance not dissimilar, owing to the servile compliance of Ministers with the varying dictates of the press. Ministers are like the American politician who said, “ Them’s my sentiments. If you don’t like them, they can be changed.” Their proposals are changed every day, or every other day. Four months ago the Prime Minister said that there was not then time to pass into law fourteen measures proposed by the Fisher Government, and yet now he proposes to deal with twenty-one ! The Fisher Government was composed of Ministers who knew their minds, and it was prepared to stand or fall by three ot its measures.
– The present Government has only twenty measures on the businesspaper.
– There will be another to-morrow. I do not know what it will be, but every day there comes a new one. It seems not to occur to the Government that there are more than ten hours in a day. Its supporters appear too anaemic to keep going after n p.m. They are either physically, morally, or mentally senile, and’ if they could not get to bed at n o’clock, would be in danger of perishing. When the time for the last tram is approaching, Ministers feel anxiously in their pockets, the drain on their exchequer being already painfully heavy now that ten men have to be paid instead of eight. It is no doubt owing to these reasons that on only three occasions this session has the House sat beyond midnight. But why should we sit at night at all? The alternative is to work in the day-time. Some honorable members think it proper to devote only their spare hours to the business of the country. They give the morning hours to their professional calls, and devote only the end of the day to Parliamentary work. But the country has a right to demand from every man his full energy. If he cannot attend first to the business of the country, he should give way to some one who can. Even the members of the Government ought ‘to be awake at 10 a.m., and what energy they possess should be at their command at half -past 10. We should conduct the business of the country^ as merchants and professional men conduct their business. If we did so, those who use their Parliamentary position for social advancement, or to advertise their business, would have to choose between their private interests and the public demand. The plain duty before the Government is to alter the hour of meeting. In the first Parliament of which I was a member, the Labour party proposed that Parliament should meet in the day-time. The proposal met with a reception not merely unsympathetic, but contemptuously hostile. Our presence was regarded as intolerable, and every suggestion we made was received with ridicule and contempt. Yet no man outside of Parliament would now hesitate to declare in favour of morning sittings. There is something to be said for the objection to sitting after midnight. There is nothing to be said for the objection to give the daylight hours to the work of the country. According to the Prime Minister, this session is a unique one, when measures of importance relating to finance, defence, and other great questions demand consideration. I asked him when the House would prorogue, and in what seemed an attempt at humour, he replied, “About Christmas, I hope.” He knows that the prorogation must take place earlier than that. His majority is such that he cannot afford to play with it. Into the minds of those who compose it will, as the weeks roll by, enter the dread suspicion that must have blighted the happiness of Adam and Eve, that there is a serpent in their garden. Their demand to be relieved from Parliamentary work wall be irresistible. Therefore I propose that we should commence every morning at half -past 10. In that way we should gain more than the four hours a week which are now devoted to private members’ business. Some of the measures on the notice-paper in the names of private members are merely of academic interest, but others - such as the motion of the honorable member for Hume regarding Tariff anomalies - raise issues which are somewhat awkward for the Ministry. Then there is the motion of the honorable member for Riverina affirming the desirability of having Ministers elected by the Parliament. I do not believe in that, but I should like to hear arguments for it. We are all where we are by virtue of an election of some sort. I venture to say that, if there were an election of Ministers by this House to-morrow, while the same men might not have office, all would be selected from the Government side. Nothing on earth could prevent such a result while there are parties in the country ; instead of one man being selected leader and choosing his men, all the Ministers must necessarily be “on the ticket,” because, otherwise, there would be selected gentlemen mutually antagonistic, thus rendering it impossible to carry on business. Another motion on the paper is one in my own name, in favour of compulsory training; and I say at once that, if the Defence Bill is at once introduced, I shall be content to discuss the question on that measure. It is a fact, however, that six years ago, when I placed a similar motion on the paper, I was like one crying in the wilderness; so far as I know, there were only two gentlemen who favoured me with some sort of modified support. I mention this fact to show that motions introduced by private members do sometimes have an educative effect and influence legislation. I admit freely that, just as is the case with Government business, there are private measures that are apparently ineffective in every way ; but when I compare the private members’ businesspaper with the Government businesspaper, I say that, if we are to abolish either, let us abolish the Government business, and do something of service to the country. In the list of private members’ motions there are quite a number of first interest to the country; and I should be glad to lend myself to the discussion of them. I know that the Government will be able to carry this motion, or they would not have introduced it. I feel sure, however, that we shall not meet in the day time, because the Government are a kind of bird to whom the night time is the more familiar. We can hear the beating of their wings, bat-like, for they love dark corners and recesses, and, moving in the day. time with difficulty, are never at their best until after dinner. However, we have this Ministry, and it is an inscrutable mystery, not how they got where they are - we know that - but why they are permitted to stay there. After all, if the Government are determined to sacrifice private members’ business, there is not one honorable member opposite who dares back his protest against the motion by his vote ; all will follow as religiously and obediently as if they were chained to the sleighs of Peary or Cook coming back from the Pole. I mention Cook and Peary because I think they deserve places in the Fusion Government, having regard to their fertility of imagination and their magnificent independence of facts.
.- If the honorable member for West Sydney, who guarantees that the Government will be able to carry this motion, looks at the businesspaper, he will find that out of the twentythree motions, fourteen are in the names of Government supporters, and only nine in the names of members of the Opposition. With the exception of the honorable member himself, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh, we hear none of those who have given notice of motion protesting against the present proposal -of the Government. If the fourteen Government supporters are in earnest, the honorable member for West Sydney must be proved to be wrong in regard to the fate of the motion ; because those honorable members have simply to record their votes in order to provide a majority against the Government. If honorable members who have business on the notice-paper do not object to the motion, how can they expect honorable members, who, like myself, have no business on the paper, to oppose the intention of the Government? If, for instance, the honorable member for Maribyrnong cares to sacrifice his policy of regeneration, why should I worry or rush to his rescue ? The Leader of the Opposition is right when he says that, not only other Parliaments, but also the Commonwealth Parliament, have much to thank private members’ business for. Ministers are not always “ bat-like,” but keep their eyes open in the day-time as well as at night; and, if any private proposal becomes popular, it is not long before it is taken up as a Government measure. Ministries, I am sure, are only too anxious to feel the pulse of public opinion through the channel of private business. I quite agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay that useful work is done in private members’ time; but he must think we are children if he is serious in his suggestion that private members’ business should be taken on a Friday,. Ministers would not concern themselves about keeping a quorum on that day ; and, as a matter of fact. Thursday was fixed for private business in order to avoid the danger of the House being counted out on a Friday. It has been said that private members’ business is placed on the notice-paper merely for advertising purposes. On this subject I can speak freely, because, during my whole political career, I have not been answerable for any motion of the kind ; and I say that, even if this private business is placed on the paper for advertising purposes, private members are no worse than is any Government in that regard. Ministers table proposals as they consider public opinion to be ripe for their acceptance, and private members do the same in the interests of the electors of a State, a party, or the people as a whole; the advertising is only a matter of degree. I have no desire that Parliament should be kept in session at all times of the year, and would prefer to be at liberty in reasonable time.
– Otherwise, “ the other bloke will be on the job!”
– Quite so. I have no desire to be here on the eve of battle ; and the honorable member for Maranoa speaks to the point, as Ministers themselves no doubt realize. There are twenty-one Government measures on the business paper, but if we pass six of these I shall, as a robust Ministerial supporter, be satisfied. The large number of measures show that the Ministry, as I say, are just as fond of advertisement as are private members; and the sacrifice of the greater proportion will show that they are willing to give discount for ready cash. We have the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill, the Defence Bill, the High Commissioner Hill, and the proposal for an Inter-State Commission, which are about the most important measures of the session; and if we pass these and the Estimates, we shall have done about the best ten weeks’ work ever accomplished in this Parliament. Possibly private members who have business on the paper are not protesting, in view of the fact that this is the last session of this Parliament, and that, even if their abstract motions were carried, it would not be possible before the middle . of December to pass them into law. Had this been the first session of the Parliament, I could have understood them, resisting this motion, but, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, there is a certain amount of work which must be done before the session terminates.
.- I protest against the action of the Government in attempting to deprive honorable members of the small privilege they have of introducing proposals which, though the Government may take a contrary view, are regarded as of great importance. There now remain about thirteen weeks before the Christmas recess or prorogation, and if any one has been guilty of wasting time, it is the Government. In the first place, although the Government came into office with the avowed object of proceeding with urgent business, including finance and defence, they at once adjourned for three weeks, and followed that up by a further adjournment for a week to enable the Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and the Minister of Defence to attend the Premiers’ Conference. This latter unjustifiable adjournment was insisted on, although the Leader of the Opposition offered to find pairs for absent Ministers, so that the business, which was said to be urgent, should not be delayed. In the thirteen weeks, making allowance for grievance days, which, I presume, are not affected, the Government, by their motion, will gain about thirty-six hours. On the other hand, they absolutely lost 147 hours by asking for three weeks’ adjournment, when they might have used the time to go on with the business of the country. The great and urgent measure which the country was told that the Fusion party was brought into being to go on with, does not appear on the notice-paper. This was to be a session devoted to defence, but we have not yet approached that question.. The Defence Bill has not even been introduced, although about a month ago the Minister successfully appealed to the House to suspend the Standing Orders in order that he might move, without notice, for leave to introduce it. He gained a few hours by that, but the measure which we were told was so urgent and necessary has not yet made its appearance, and we do not. know whether it will not be postponed for some time to come. Then there are the finance proposals of the Government. Instead of going on with them, they are postponing them day by day. The Northern Territory Acceptance Bill, which has been partly debated, has been postponed, but the map still hangs on the wall, and will probably hang there for the rest of the session without finality being reached on that question. Instead of going right on to a finish with the finance Bills, by which they propose to carry out the Premiers’ Conference agreement, the Government have postponed them again, and to-day we are to be treated to the High Commissioner Bill. Among private members’ business on the noticepaper there are a number of motions of exceedingly great importance. The majority of the motions standing in the names of private members have been tabled by members on the Ministerial side of the House. I shall not pass an opinion as to their value to the country if they were passed ; but surely the honorable member for Maribyrnong, who has posed as a Protectionist ever since I have known him, and who wants to make himself, at any rate, believe that he is still a Protectionist, desires his very important motion relating to a Tariff Anomalies Board to be carried this session. I do not know whether he tabled it in order to get the inside running of the honorable member for Hume. Although he is a member of the fused- party now, he has announced to the House in a proper and emphatic way, by tabling that motion, that there is an urgent necessity for dealing with the rectification, of anomalies, and is he prepared simply for party purposes to so far sink or delay his principles as to allow that question to stand over for the consideration of the next Parliament? Does he think so little of the benefit that would accrue to the country from the rectification of Tariff anomalies that he is prepared now to silently acquiesce in a motion which will deprive him of his opportunity of pressing the matter forward? Is it that he finds himself in such company now that he fears that he will have no chance of carrying his motion, seeing that a number of his present associates will use every opportunity to defeat it? The honorable member for Hume also has a motion on the notice-paper dealing with the same question. Every fairminded man will admit that no member is more competent to deal with it, or has a greater knowledge of the anomalies that require to be rectified, than the honorable member for Hume, and yet this motion will deprive him of all opportunity of pressing his proposal forward. Will the honorable member for Maribyrnong silently approve of a motion which he knows in his heart will, if carried, absolutely deprive himself, the honorable member for Hume, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, myself, and a number of others of all opportunity of considering the rectification of Tariff anomalies this session, and will _ allow those disastrous provisions in the present Tariff to remain in force ? Yet that is the position in which the honorable* member is placing himself and others. The honorable member for Nepean has a motion on the notice-paper regarding the decimal system, a subject which was taken in hand by a gentleman who previously occupied a seat in this House. The House during the last Parliament dealt with the subject seriously, but it did not come to finality, and it was hoped that the honorable member for Nepean would, at any rate, press it forward to a conclusion, as far as a vote of this House is concerned, this session. It would be a direction to the Government to deal with that important matter, but if the honorable member now votes for this motion, he will be prevented from achieving even that advance. What is the use of honorable members pledging their word to their constituents to use every opportunity of getting certain things done if, by voting for a motion like this, they deprive themselves of the opportunity of doing so, and to that extent become traitors to their pledges? I should have thought that the Government would be most anxious to see the House pass the motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Franklin in favour of a time limit to speeches. That would play right into the hands of the Government. They have deliberately thrown away hundreds of hours this session, and are now trying to save thirty-six hours, but by supporting that motion they could conserve even more- time. Yet it must also go by the ‘board. A motion by the honorable member for Wentworth, who, in the language of the honorable member for Dalley, is “ another robust supporter of the Government,” deals with the Federal properties in the various municipalities. I admit that that question is involved to some extent in the finances ; but that motion is on the notice-paper, and is supported by the honorable member for Wilmot. Are both those honorable members prepared to acquiesce in this destruction of their interests? Another item amongst private members’ business is a Post and Telegraph Bill, which I think important, and which no doubt the honorable member for Maribyrnong considers of very great importance, because he has brought it up to the second-reading stage. If honorable members are really sincere, why do they not stand up and claim an opportunity to achieve finality on questions of that kind ?
– I am hoping that the Government will take that Bill up and put it through. It will not take tan minutes.
– I am afraid that “hope deferred maketh the heart sick.”We have twice had the statement made in the House, previously by the honorable member for Echuca and now by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, that this was a friendly Government, the inference being that the Government intend to pick out those members who happen to support them, and give them an opportunity of getting their motions through.
– I never said anything of the .sort.
– I think the records of Hansard will prove that, when dealing with the question of the Premiers’ Conference, the honorable member for Echuca said that they were more likely to get what they wanted now that they had a friendly Government in power.
– That is perfectly true, but where is the analogy between that and the statement of the honorable member for Maribyrnong ?
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong expressed the hope that the Government would take up his Bill, and put it through. What right have the Government to take up one motion or Bill on the notice-paper in preference to another? The honorable member for Maribyrnong has the matter in his own hands. He can resist this motion if he is courageous enough, and will assert his right to carry his own measure through. He has also some other matters on the noticepaper.
– The Government have adopted the other matter.
– That is news. No doubt every honorable member on this side will be glad to hear that the other matter appearing on the notice-paper in the honorable member’s name is there as a sham placard, because the Government have already adopted it.
– Order ! The honorable member should not assert that any business placed upon the notice-paper by another honorable member is a “ sham placard.” I ask him to withdraw the words.
– In deference to the Chair I withdraw the expression, if it is unparliamentary.
Mi SPEAKER.- Order ! I ask the honorable member not to debate the matter.
– I do not intend to debate it, but, if those words are unparliamentary, surely I can use others?
– The honorable member as a very old member of this House, and of a State House, knows that withdrawals are always insisted upon without any expression of opinion. I ask the honorable member simply to withdraw the expression, and not to comment upon it.
– Of course I withdraw it. I have already done so. If the motion referred to by the honorable member for Maribyrnong has been adopted by the Government, what necessity is there for him to mislead the House by keeping, it upon the notice-paper? He has had opportunities to withdraw it, but he has not done so. That is why I used the words.
– The honorable member made an assertion and is proceeding to draw from it the inference that an honorable member is misleading the House. The honorable member for Maribyrnong made an interjection which was disorderly and should not have been uttered; but it was evidently misunderstood by the honorable member for Riverina. The honorable member for Maribyrnong did not say that all the motions standing in his name on the notice-paper had been adopted by the Government. He mentioned only one matter.
– I think, sir, that since I sit close to the honorable member I am more likely than you are to have heard what he actually did say. He clearly and distinctly said that some of the motions standing in his name had been adopted by the Government, and it was to that remark I was alluding when you interrupted me. Among the matters which have not been made Government business is the motion standing in his name with regard to the rectification of Tariff anomalies and the appointment of a Board of Trade.
– That has been taken over.
– I ask the honorable member for Maribyrnong to refrain from interjecting.
– I am satisfied that the honorable member for Batman is perfectly sincere, and I would remind him that he has on the notice-paper a motion of great importance, which I should have expected to receive the support of the honorable member for Nepean. I refer to the motion -
That in view of the valuable and extensive deposits of shale in the Commonwealth, in the opinion of this House it is desirable that a product which is so important to industry, and which will find so much employment for Australian workers, should receive the encouragement of a Government bonus on crude shale oil.
The honorable member for Batman and others accepted the invitation of the honorable member for Nepean to inspect certain deposits of shale in his electorate. I was unable to join the party, but I am heartily in favour of the honorable member for Batman’s motion, believing that it relate.’. to a matter of great importance to Australia.
– The honorable member must not debate the matter.
– I am simply pointing out that the adoption of the motion would be beneficial to Australia. I do not know how the honorable member for Batman proposes to vote on this question, ‘ but I trust that he will not quietly submit to the proposal that he and other honorable members having notices of motion on the business-paper shall be deprived of a’n opportunity to deal with them. I have already alluded to a motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Franklin.
– The honorable member has really concluded his remarks. Is this trying to get on with business?
– I am trying, but the Government themselves have deliberately wasted about 147 hours of the time of the House.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark. It is out of order to say that any honorable member has deliberately wasted the time of the House.
– I withdraw the word “ deliberately,” and say that the Government have wasted the time of the House.
– The honorable member must not make such a statement.
– Then what are the rights of honorable members ? When I was referring to a motion on which I am anxious that a vote should be taken so that in the future there may be no waste of time, the Treasurer suggested, by way of interjection, that in calling attention to it, I was wasting the time of the House. Does the right honorable gentleman imagine that honorable members were returned to this Parliament to act like mutes? Does he not know that we are expected to clearly, concisely, and incisively state the views of our constituents? One of the great desires of the people in my electorate, as well as in other parts of Australia, is that the present party system should go by the board, and that there should be a complete change in our parliamentary procedure. Having regard to the way in which private members’ business is arranged, it is a farce for an honorable member te endeavour to push on with any motion standing in his name. Four hours per week are set apart for the consideration of private members’ business - two hours being devoted to notices of motion and two hours to Orders of the Day - and now we are to be deprived of even that scanty opportunity to put forward proposals that are really of great importance. The Government have given no reason for their action. My experience convinces me that an alteration of our present procedure is absolutely necessary, and the adoption of a motion of which I have given notice affirming the principle of elective Ministries would bring about a most desirable reform. With a view pf getting a clear day - which means only two hours - for the consideration of that motion I caused it to be set down for a certain date, when I thought such an opportunity would offer. By the action of the Government, however, in securing the adjournment of the House to enable Ministers to attend the Premiers’ Conference I lost that opportunity, and later on, when the motion was called on, I had exactly half-a-minute in which to state it.
– The honorable member can advocate the principle when he is on the hustings.
– I have already done so, and my constituents are disgusted and dissatisfied with the manner in which the business of the Parliament is at present carried on. They see in power a Government who will not do what they desire, and who seek to deprive members of the Opposition, and others, of the opportunity to carry out their wishes. In the circumstances it is only natural that they should be dissatisfied. It is the duty of Ministers to assist any honorable member who desires to bring forward a question of importance to the country. The honorable member for Wentworth’ has submitted a motion dealing with what he describes as a serious wrong done by the Commonwealth to municipalities, yet he is prepared apparently to approve of the action of the Government in making this proposition. The honorable member for Lang has also on the notice-paper a motion of great importance to a section of the people of New South Wales. I refer to that providing that suitable premiums be offered for the best three designs for laying out and building the Federal Capital. Again and again the honorable member has urged that the question should be dealt with, and I should like to know whether it is intended to make it Government business.
– The honorable member ought to call for designs for a stone wall.
– The honorable member will reach a stone wall in due course. Instead of being the hunter, he will be the hunted. Then, again, the honorable member for Wentworth has evidenced a very laudable desire that steps should be taken to promote the breeding of horses of the class required for military purposes. He has submitted a motion to that effect, but apparently it is also to go by the board. And so with the notice of motion given by the honorable member for Corio, that a Royal Commission be appointed to inquire into the condition and organization of the naval and military forces. What is to become of that proposition? Some of these matters are of infinitely greater importance than are certain Government measures. It would be immaterial to the people if some of the measures submitted by the Government were not dealt with for the next ten years, but there is not one motion standing in the name of a private member which is not of immediate importance
– The trouble is that we are rarely able to go to a division on a private member’s motion.
– I agree with the honorable member. Instead of having certain hours set apart for certain business submitted by private members, we should draw up an agenda paper and proceed with its consideration until we have finally disposed of every question appearing on it. Under the present arrangement, private members have at no time much opportunity to put their views before the country, but this motion absolutely prevents us from doing so. The honorable member for Maribyrnong stated that the Government have adopted some of the motions standing in his name. Ministers did not contradict that statement. I’ wish to know if it was correct. As I have received no reply, I assume that it is, and warn the Government that, if an attempt is made to show favoritism to Ministerialists, by granting them opportunities which are denied to those who sit on this side of the chamber, it will have as lively a time as I can give it. It was known that the honorable member for Hume could not attend to-day, and that he has gone. to a great amount of trouble to procure information regarding the rectification of anomalies in the Tariff. Yet this motion is to be forced to a division in his absence. Surely the request of the honorable ‘member for Wide Bay for a postponement is reasonable. A Call of the House might fairly have been arranged for, so that it might be known whether honorable members opposite are so bound to the Government as to be compelled, against their own wishes, and those of their constituents, to agree to this new form of closure. The pages of May, Bourinot. and other constitutional works, show that some of the greatest reforms obtained -in Great Britain were initiated in the House of Commons by private members. The Government has offered£10,000 to any one who will design an aeroplane. Surely it should encourage members of Parliament to bring forward proposals for the advancement of the country. I seriously protest against the suggestion of the honorable member for Hunter, which was practically supported by the Treasurer, that this is a “ stone-walling “ debate. I have no desire to “ stone- wall I know what the result would be. But I have felt called upon to enter this protest against the proposal to deprive honorable members, three months before the close of the session, of -their rights and privileges in connexion with private business.
– -I wish to explain that what I said about the business which I have “on the notice-paper was that the measure dealing with the health and morals of the community is of such great public importance that I hope that the Govern- ment will take it up. I feel that if it does, it will be passed in a few minutes. As to the Tariff motion, every one knows that the Government has practically embodied mv proposals in its policy.
.- The honorable member for Riverina told us that he is not “ stone- walling, “ but his speech was of such inordinate length that I feel compelled to considerably shorten mine. A man of his ability could have said in five minutes all that he had to say. I have heard of his “ stone-walling” in the Parliament of New South Wales, and I warn him that he may have the gag applied if he “stone-walls” here.
– Is the honorable member in order in threatening us with the gag?
– An honorable member may not offer any threat to his fellow members. I did not understand the honorable member for Hunter to threaten any one.
– I should be sorry to threaten the honorable member for Maranoa. The honorable member for West Sydney twitted the Ministerial supporters with not having sufficient independence to vote against the motion. Personally, I do not entirely approve of it, because I am very jealous of the privileges of this House, of which the right of private members to make propositions is an important one ; but. nevertheless. I feel compelled to support the motion, for reasons which I shall give. Honorable members, as a rule, have made good use of the right to submit motions, and introduce measures, but those now on the notice-paper do not amount to verymuch, most of them being merely the expression of opinions. There are, of course, one or two which should be under the control of the Government, instead of in the hands of private members, particularly that relating to penny postage. My reason for voting for the motion is that there has been such a wilful and woeful waste of time, as the result of the action of the Opposition, that the Government needs the rest of the session to deal with the vital measures which must be passed before the prorogation. One of these measures is the Defence Bill.
– Which the Minister is not yet ready to proceed with.
– He will be ready with it as soon as honorable members opposite are ready to discuss it. It is because I feel that the discussion of the Government business should occupy all the remaining time of the session that I shall vote to take from private members the hours hitherto allotted to their business. Because of the way in which the Opposition has, day after day, wasted time, and deliberately obstructed business–
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it. In voting for the motion, I am choosing the lesser of two evils. Those outside are beginning to hold the opinion that the less legislation we pass the better, so that, perhaps, the obstructive tactics of the Opposition, without their knowing it, are of benefit to the country.
.- It is refreshing to hear some honorable members on the Ministerial side passing some criticism on the action of the Government. Strange to say, however, such criticism always comes from the same three or four, two of whom were surprised to find themselves on the Ministerial list yesterday, and one of whom it is expected we shall shortly see the last of in this Parliament.
– This is not kind !
– As the honorable member for Hunter knows, no honorable member on the Government side could hold the seat to which I refer. T am opposed to the Government taking away from private members the privilege they now possess. I know it is said sometimes that some of these motions are submitted with the expectation, if not the hope, that finality will never be reached. To that I do not subscribe ; and I should like to see an opportunity presented for an expression of opinion on, at least, some of the motions. The honorable member for Riverina has pointed out how the Government, in the adjournment of nearly a fortnight which they took, wasted more time than would have supplied days for private members’ business right up to the middle of December. In that adjournment, there were at least four and a half sitting days, and, as private business is given only half a day each week, the adjournment represented really nine days for private members’ business. One honorable member has expressed the hope that the Government will take up a Bill he has introduced, but if the Government accede to that request, I hope they will take a similar course in regard to other proposals by private members. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has submitted a motion on which I should like an opportunity to vote.
– Would the Government take up the proposal of one private member?
– I think it is quite possible, if the Government agreed with the proposal, and could find time to have it . considered, though I cannot say that I re- l(gard it as likely, in view of the fact that the Government will have to drop a great many of their own measures. The motion of the honorable member for Riverina in favour of elective Ministries has, I think, appeared on nearly every business paper since the institution of the Commonwealth Parliament. It was first in the name of Mr. G. B. Edwards, the representative of South Sydney, and afterwards in the name of the honorable member for Perth, falling subsequently into the hands of the honorable member for Riverina. I believe, with the honorable member for West Sydney, that, if this motion were carried into effect, we should see the parties in the House, whether they numbered two, three or four, combining in order to obtain a majority, and then voting solidly on a fixed ticket. I do not intend to discuss the question, but merely to express my opinion that that result would follow, as it has followed in other matters from time to time. In regard to the motion of the honorable member for Hume, I know that the Government have stated that it is their intention to deal with Tariff anomalies by means of a Board of Trade,, and that it is likely, as one of the leading newspapers has put it, we shall have an opportunity of considering this in addition to other measures. My own desire is that Tariff anomalies should be dealt with in this House, which is the proper place for honorable . members to express their opinions, instead of sheltering themselves behind an outside tribunal. It is objected by some that the Public Service Commissioner has too much power, but, while I believe that that official can better deal with the service than could this House,’ 1 retain the opinion that Parliament is the only body to properly settle the Tariff. If a Board of Trade were appointed, and made recommendations increasing or decreasing duties, and these recommendations were proposed by the Government, honorable members would feel themselves bound to vote in their favour, whereas they might take another course if it were a private member’s proposal. I am opposed on principle to the motion now before us, because I think that honorable members ought not to be deprived of their privileges so early in the session. The Prime Minister stated that last year a similar motion was carried about two months and a half after Parliament met, but the honorable gentleman had subsequently to admit that it was also just about a fortnight before Parliament prorogued. Last session was abnormal, seeing that we adjourned for a considerable time, in order to welcome the American Fleet; and, if we count the present session as commencing from the 26th May, surely we ought to be permitted to reckon last session in the same way. The Government cannot expect to carry one-third of their measures on the business-paper, and, indeed, some of them are mere placards.
– The Opposition are preventing anything being done.
– Why, last Friday the Government asked the House to adjourn as early as 3.30 o’clock - an earlier hour than ever before, except, perhaps, on the occasion of some public function. I have no objection to the House adjourning at 1 1 o’clock at night ; but I draw attention to the fact that the present Opposition do not clamour for early adjournments. On the contrary, the other night the Opposition desired the Government to proceed with further business; but the request was not granted.
– It was a quarter to 4 o’clock when we adjourned on Friday.
– But it is oftener after 4 o’clock than before that we adjourn on that day. I suppose the Government saw their majority melting away, and a quorum endangered, and did not desire the particular proposal before us to be counted out. Amongst the private members’ business is a motion by the honorable member for Werriwa, dealing with monopolies; and to that I desire to address myself. In my opinion, the Government, in the interests of their own supporters, have not been wise in submitting this proposal, because they are compelling men to practically vote for the closure on private business, when, if freedom were granted, fur- . ther opportunity for discussion would certainly be favoured.
-35J– I am glad that the honorable member for Yarra entered his protest in the temperate manner which usually signalizes his efforts in the House. The honorable member for Riverina drew a most lurid picture of the disgust and despair in his electorate because of the disorganized and chaotic manner in which the business of this House is conducted. I was deeply sorry to hear this, because, if his constituents hold that opinion, I have no doubt they will declare the honorable member to bc a fit and proper person to be .returned to this. Chamber at the next election. I have two motions on the business-paper, both of which I regard as of extreme seriousness and urgency; but I, like every member of the Opposition, if he really spoke his opinion, know that any private members’ motion can only be proposed in an educative way, the object of moving it being to make honorable members conversant with a new principle. We all know that a motion of the kind, when passed, does not, of course, become law; and that, in the long list of private business, only that in the name of the honorable member for Maribyrnong is in the form of a Bill. I understand that the Government, in regard to the first of my motions - that relating to the payment of municipal rates by the Commonwealth - are collecting information; and I think I can claim that the proposal has given, honorable members cause for. thought, and has earned for the subject-matter the support of the majority.
– This is a joke !
– And a Scotchman has discovered it.
– I am delighted to think that the honorable member for Wide Bay has become even unduly susceptible to humour, but I intend my statement as one cf hard fact. I believe that a majority of members think it fair that municipalities should, as an act of grace, be paid for the services which they render to the Commonwealth, and which, at the present time, are, under a legal pretext, unrecognised. I shall not ask the Government, before the figures are to hand, whether they will proceed with this matter as a Ministerial measure; but I am sure that their sense of justice and equity, in the light of the information afforded, will cause them to take that action which is constitutionally impossible for me as a private member. I have another notice of motion on the paper with regard to the provision of horses for the Military Forces. I believe that that matter is now engaging the most serious attention of the Defence Department. If I have succeeded in making them earnestly consider this most urgent need my time will not have been wasted in drawing attention to this matter.
– I move -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ the House meet at 10.30 o’clock a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday in each week until otherwise ordered.” -
That amendment, if carried, will give the Government five hours additional time per week for Government business, while still allowing private members the four hours per week which they now have for the consideration of their business. In that way, the Government would gain one hour per week. I have often said that seventy-five business men’ sitting round a table would be able to get through the whole of the business, both Ministerial and private, on the notice-paper before Christmas ; but, unfortunately, we have to listen to a number of long set speeches which take up a great deal of time. If, as the honorable member for Wentworth said, these motions are educational and instructive, private members should have an opportunity of moving, them and speaking on them and then the House could vote on them. That would be educational for honorable members, for the Government, and for the public at large. Every honorable member who thinks it worth while to put a notice of motion on the paper, should have an opportunity of dealing with it in some way or other, and of ascertaining the opinion of the House upon it. The Government have brought forward so many measures, some of them important and necessary, that we should make an endeavour to deal with them. The first amendment I thought of submitting was that the House should meet on Mondays. I have never been able to understand, since I have been a member, why we should always study the convenience of those who wish to go to their homes in other States on Fridays, and return on Tuesdays. lt would be a kindness to many of them if they were not allowed te return home at the week-ends. It would be far better for their health and comfort to remain in Melbourne than to make these hurried trips home. Members from Tasmania, Queensland, and Western Australia have to stop in Melbourne continuously during the session, and it would be well, when it is necessary to push business through, especially towards the end of a session, if members from other States were prepared to stay he>-e at some weekends, at any rate, for the good of Australia. In this way/ the business could be done, and private members would not be deprived of the opportunity of dealing with their different motions.
– 1 have great pleasure in seconding the amendment. It will, if carried, give the Government the extra time they require, and also conserve to private members the day set aside by the Sessional Orders for the consideration of their business. The only opportunities which a private member ‘ has to discuss, in a regular way, matters of urgent concern connected with ‘.he Departments are private members’ day and grievance day. I think there is altogether too much of a little caucus called the Ministry, for the time being dominating the whole of the proceedings of the House. Private members, particularly those who do not happen to be in favour with the Government, should have the opportunity, as a right, and not as an act of grace, to bring before the House for its consideration matters which they consider to be urgent and important. A number of members who put motions on the notice-paper seem to be quite ready to wipe them off again as soon as the Government crack the whip. The honorable member for Wentworth has two important motions on the notice-paper. One of them is as follows : -
That this House is of opinion that the Commonwealth should have a horse-breeding establishment to insure the provision of a sufficient number of suitable horses to horse the Australian Military Forces, by buying suitable stallions and allowing owners of mares the use of the stallions on payment of a fee sufficient to cover expenses.
The honorable member, no doubt, tabled that motion in a moment of indiscretion, forgetting that he was returned as an antiSocialist. In it he advocates a straightout Socialistic measure, and is doubtless, only too anxious to obtain an opportunity to remove it from the notice-paper. At any rate, it should be preserved in Hansard. The -Government have made no effort to get their business through. They have introduced measure after measure, moved the second readings, and then asked that the debate be adjourned, so that members who prepare themselves to go on with the business find that it is not proceeded with. Not a quarter of the measures on the notice-paper will- reach the statute-book. The Government have no intention of making them law, but have brought them forward as mere placards, so that at the general election they may say to the country, “ That is our policy; that is what we tried to get through, but that terrible Opposition would not allow us.” The Government have their majority, and can take whatever steps they think necessary to place their measures on the statute-book, and yet they do not seem prepared to do it. There has been a great deal of talk about the gag ; but on the only occasion on which the Government did cause the closure to be applied, they adjourned the House instead of pressing the” business through. Apparently the object was merely to enable their supporters’ to go home to bed, as the Government know that those gentlemen will not stop to transact the business of the country after a certain hour. Any Government who is in earnest about getting their measures through always ask their supporters to stay to reasonable hours, but a number of the supporters of the present Government are anxious to go home at half -past 10 or n, and will not put themselves to any inconvenience to get the -business done. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bass will give us an opportunity of transacting business on Wednesday and Thursday mornings. I have no doubt that that will not suit the Government’s book, because a number of their supporters desire to be in the Law Courts earning huge fees in the practice of their private profession, instead of being in the House to do the business of the country. I have no doubt that the Government will not accept the amendment for an extension of the hours of sitting.
– I should have thought that they would jump at it.
– I should think so too, if they are in earnest. It will put their earnestness to the test, and give the country an opportunity of knowing whether they are really desirous of transacting business or not. I cannot see why the House should refrain from meeting on certain mornings of the week, simply to convenience the private arrangements of a number of men who give to the country’s business the dregs of their time, while members who come from other States have to neglect their own affairs entirely. The honorable member for Hume has a motion on the notice-paper regarding Tariff anomalies, in which my constituency is very much interested. I represent one of the largest manufacturing electorates in the Commonwealth, and I desire on behalf of from 126 to 150 factories in it to speak on that question. The Government, apparently, do not look upon that as a matter of any importance, and desire, not so much to obtain more time for the business of the country as to get proposals which are obnoxious to them out of the way. The Minister of Defence has had something to say about the waste of time in the House. He is reported in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Monday last to have given an interview on the previous day. It is a new departure, from what I have always heard of the Minister, that he should be attending to political questions on Sunday. He might first have studied the text, “ Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour,” because I find in that interview a number of statements which are not correct. He says -
For some weeks past the Opposition have successfully carried out their declared policy of preventing us from going on with the business of the country.
I say most emphatically that the Opposition have not declared any such policy. The Minister of Defence knows that that is not correct, and he should not make statements which will not bear the test of truth in order to influence the public mind. In the same interview he makes a statement which shows that the Government have not wanted to go on with business, but have been very glad to find some mark-time policy to enable them to consider their measures. He says -
We have been patient for some time now, and we have also been busy formulating some large matters of policy.
The Government have been stuffing the . business-paper with a great many measures in order to get an opportunity of “ formulating some large matters of policy.” They ought, therefore, to be the last to make against the Opposition those false charges of wasting time. The right honorable member for East Sydney in his manifesto at the last election, issued on 24th October, 1906, referred to the amount of time which the present Minister of Defence, who was then in Opposition, used to take up, in these words -
That which Mr. Deakin calls obstruction most people will recognise as strenuous, untiring efforts to protect the public weffare.
Honorable members opposite must know that when we sat on the Ministerial side of the House and gave the then Government a considerable majority, we did not apply the gag to the Opposition, although we could have done so at any time we wished. Our party were always prepared to sit as late as the Government asked us to, in order to get the business of the country through.
The present Government could follow the same practice now if it suited them. This motion is merely an attempt on the part of the Government to lead the electors to believe that they are anxious to push on with business, when, in reality, they are not. When we proceed to a division on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass, we shall find the Government voting against a proposal to give them adequate time for the consideration of their business, and supporting a proposition which will simply mean the removal from the notice-paper of motions that might hereafter create difficulties for them. If anything like an earnest attempt were being made by the Government to push on with public business, private members might reasonably be asked . to forego some of their rights and privileges ; but, since no sincere desire in that direction has been evidenced by them, I fail to see why they should expect us to do so. If more time be needed for the consideration of Government business it can be secured by the adoption of the amendment without any interference with the right of private members to submit and discuss matters of importance affecting their constituencies. I trust that honorable members will not lend themselves to this political move on the part of the Government to monopolize the time now devoted to private members’ business, and to prevent honorable members to submit questions without having them censored by the Ministry. If the amendment is adopted, and it is found later on that more time is required for Government business, I shall be prepared to forego the rights that I enjoy as a private member in this respect, in order that we may be able, at the . next general election, to tell the people that we have dealt with questions of great public importance, and have done something that we may fairly claim to be ‘in their interests.
.- The amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass seems to indicate a oneness of desire on the part of honorable members generally to give the Government the time necessary to enable them to deal with their programme for this session. It suggests that the only difference between Ministerial supporters and the Opposition is as to the best means by which that object may be accomplished. I wish I could feel that the desire of the Opposition is as genuine in this regard as the amendment would lead us to believe; but I cannot help recalling what took place while the present Government were formulating their policy. Members of the Opposition, and particularly members of the late Government, then appeared on many public platforms, and it was publicly stated that the determination of the Opposition was that the present Administration should not be allowed to dot an “i” or cross a “t” during the session.
– Who said that?
– The exAttorneyGeneral.
– The statement was made by a member of a State Parliament.
– The exAttorneyGeneral was reported in the press to have made that statement. Whether he did or did not make it, the Opposition have certainly been living up to it. When we find honorable members occupying nine hours and more in expressing their views in this House, and opposing a Bill submitted by this Government in the very form in which it was proposed by them, we cannot help feeling how shallow is their profession that they desire to push on with the business of the country.
– Who voted for the adjournment of the House for five days?
– A wiser action was never taken. That adjournment enabled the Government to arrive, calmly and deliberately, at the settlement of a question of vast importance to the States and Commonwealth. That settlement could not have been arrived at had the House been sitting. As to the merit of the amendment, we all know that Ministers must have some time in which to administer their several Departments. If we compel them to attend the House every day in the week, the government of the country will be vested entirely in the permanent heads of Departments. I apprehend that every Government must have some sense of responsibility, and of the need of giving attention to departmental matters. If the amendment were carried, Ministers would have to attend this House from Monday until Friday, and would have no time to devote to departmental questions. If, in such circumstances, maladministration arose, or serious departmental mistakes were made, the country would blame, not Ministers, but those who compelled them to be in attendance at the House when they ought to have been giving attention to their Departments.
– Ministers need not go to Sydney as often as they do.
– The honorable member seems to think that the Government of the Commonwealth must necessarily be concentrated in Melbourne. Ministers have to visit the other State capitals.
– How often do they go to Adelaide ?
– I am not here to be catechised by the honorable member. We are expected to exercise common sense and reason in dealing with the matters submitted to us, and if we impose upon Ministers the obligation of exercising a watchful care over their Departments, then, of necessity, we must give them sufficient time to attend to that work.
.- After listening to the remarks made by the burly member for Echuca, I am satisfied that the Opposition feel “squelched.” I rise in fear and trembling to make a few observations. The honorable member said that the Ministry would not have been able to make such a good bargain fox the States and the Commonwealth had the House been sitting whilst the Premiers’ Conference was being held. As a matter of fact, the deliberations of the Conference extended into only two hours of the time which, under ordinary circumstances, would have been occupied by the business of the House. If the honorable member thinks that, ‘by sitting during those two hours, this House could have rendered it impossible for the Conference to arrive at an agreement such as has been made, he has more faith in the powers of honorable members than I have. We should jealously guard our privileges, which a.re very few ; but, if honorable members, simply because they are supporting the Government, are determined to whittle them away, as they are now asked to do, I can only say to them, “ Good luck to you when you are in Opposition.” They will suffer then; and I do not think it will be long before some of the Ministerial supporters will be howling in the Opposition wilderness. There are on the notice-paper several motions of much importance. I am particularly interested in that standing in the name of the honorable member for Corio, which provides for the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the condition and organization of the Naval and Military Forces of the Commonwealth. I understand that the honorable member has in his possession a mass of information, the publication of which is likely to have a startling effect on the administration of the Department of Defence. That is one reason why the Government are proposing to do away with private members’ day for the rest of the session. They wish to “ squelch “ the honorable member’s motion. Then we have a motion standing in the name of the honorable member for Batman.
– He tamely submits to the Government proposal.
– He has to. People talk about the “caucus-driven” Labour party; but we have heard the honorable member for Hunter declaring in this House to-day that, although he disapproves of this motion, he intends, because of party discipline, to vote for it. That was an extraordinary statement. No one has told me that I must vote on this question in a certain way, and I intend to offer- the Government a little sound advice. According to the newspapers, honorable members opposite are like the happy family in Dooley’s Magazine. It is a case of “ You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” The candidature of every one of the Fusionists has been indorsed, with the exception of that of an honorable member of another place. It is not known how he intends to jump, and an attempt is being made, by cracking the whip in the morning dailies, to bring him to heel. The advice I offer the Government is to pass the Estimates as soon as possible, and go to the country. They could be passed by both Houses before the 1st October, and the Government should adopt my suggestion, so that the country may decide, without delay, whether or not the present state of affairs in this Parliament shall be continued. Some of the Ministers desire to do this, but the others sit back in the breeching, and will not go up into the collar. Send us to our masters. Let the men and women of the Commonwealth say who is right and who is wrong. If the metropolitan newspapers are to be believed, the members of the Opposition will be hanged, drawn and quartered, and only half-a-dozen of them will be sent into the new Parliament. In that Parliament the Government will therefore be able to do what they like.
– The honorable member is not desirous of going before the electors.
– I should be ready to go next week, or next month. We are told by the press that the Ministerial organization is complete, everything being in full work ing order. Ministers have only to pull the string, and the Opposition will go down like skittles. As a matter of fact, they know that it is not so, and that at the election their misdeeds will surely meet with retribution. However, I shall not pursue this painful matter further. The honorable member for Batman has a humanitarian motion on the business-paper. He asks the House to affirm the proposition that an industry which would find much employment for Australian workers, the extraction of oil from the valuable and extensive deposits of shale in the Commonwealth, should receive encouragement by the granting of a bonus on crude shale oil.
– Hear, hear.
– What is the honorable member for Corio going to do in this matter ? I believe that no man is more sincere than the honorable member for Batman in wishing to do the workers a good turn. Would he then permit them to be strangled ?
– How will the honorable member vote for the motion before the House ?
– I shall not ask him. Believing, him to be sincere in regard to the motion which he has placed on the noticepaper, I am sure that he will vote against the Government proposal, unless he has received the assurance that an opportunity will be given for the discussion of his motion. However, time will show whether he is sincere. Then the honorable member for Maribyrnong has advanced to the secondreading stage a Post and Telegraph Bill, which is really a measure introduced in the interests of public morality. Some time ago, when a Minister, or about to become one, he delivered a very instructive lecture at a “ Pleasant Sunday Afternoon “ in Wesley Church, Lonsdale-street, on “ race suicide,” and promised that at the first opportunity he would get the Government to introduce, or, if a private member, would himself introduce, a Bill ‘to remedy the existing state of things so far as that was humanly possible. Is he going to fail in that promise? The clauses of the measure seem to cover the necessary ground, and is it to be , dropped now that it is at- the second-reading stage? As to the value of private members’ action, I would point out that when I first entered Parliament I resolved that a factory in Australia should be established f >r the manufacture of arms and ammunition. I kept pegging away at the matter, until finally the Government took it up, and the Commonwealth will now soon be in a position to supply its own requirements of this nature. As I stated on a previous occasion, the Government robbed me of my thunder, but I did not object to that, so leng as the country was to be benefited. If the Government did nothing else than pass the Bill of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, it would do -something of great benefit to the Australian people. The honorable member for Maribyrnong “has also proposed the creation of a permanent Board to secure information in relation to the working of the Tariff. Is he prepared to let the motion dealing with that matter go by the board? We know very well that the session will not end before December. Nothing short of an earthquake would put the present Government out of office before the elections. Our only hope is to send the House before its masters, and had Ministers any conceit of themselves they would do that.
– And let honorable members opposite have their own way ?
– As I am always with the minority, I am accustomed to not getting my own way. Then the honorable member for Lang has a motion asserting that competitive designs should be invited from the leading architects and experts of the world for the building of the Federal Capital and suburbs. When the honorable member for Parramatta was leading the Opposition, he was never weary of accusing the Government of the day of preventing New South Wales from enjoying its right to have the Capital located in that State. But what has been done since he has been in office?
– Ministers have merely wasted time.
– At any rate, they have wasted their opportunities. I have lived in the bush for twenty-five years, and therefore am not very much in favour of what the Age aptly ‘describes as a “ bush capital.” I should be quite prepared to allow Parliament to remain in Melbourne for another twenty-five years. But the Minister of Defence, who was always complaining that nothing was being done in this matter, is now as mild as a sucking dove. He is for leaving everything to the Premier of New South Wales. Even the honorable member for Lang, who was most persistent in accusing past Governments of denying New South Wales what was her right, is now quite willing to sacrifice himself and his motion on the altar of party. We recently had a harrowing picture drawn by the honorable member of the conditions under which British settlers are living in the New Hebrides and other Pacific Islands. We were told that they are practically starving, and are in danger of being wiped out of existence owing to the actions of the French settlers and the French Government ; and that there must be some fiscal assistance afforded them by the Commonwealth. But it appears that the French may take possession of all the islands, so long as the Government take Thursday afternoons from private members. The honorable member for Bass put the case very pointedly when he suggested that, if the Government mean business, we ought to meet at 10.30 in the mornings on two extra days a week. Then, I am quite in sympathy with the motion of the honorable member for Wentworth in connexion with a State horse-breeding establishment, because I know the benefit of our being able to horse our own transports and guns. There are similar institutions in India; and, while I do not know whether’ the honorable member for Wentworth would call it Socialism, I have every sympathy with the movement he is suggesting. But even such a laudable object as this, the honorable member for Wentworth is willing to throw over for the sake of party government. As soon as the whip is cracked, all honorable members opposite will be found running to heel like a lot of hounds behind the huntsman. I am satisfied that this proposal is the beginning of the end, and that, as has been said, there is to be war to the knife. Only to-day I saw in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Monday last a cartoon repre- senting the Minister of Defence putting an extinguisher on the Opposition, and exclaiming, “ You have been shrieking long enough, and now we shall put on the closure.” While the Government have that weapon, why need they have any fear about getting on with the business? I voted for the standing order under which the closure may be applied, because, when it was passed, there was wilful obstruction, such as is not evident in the present Parliament. If the Government are “ game,” the sooner they apply the closure the better, because then we shall know where we are. Let the Government pass the Estimates; and I guarantee that, by the 1st October we could “ shut up shop,” and, holding the elections before Christmas, allow the people to decide between us so that we could begin business in the new Parliament in January.
– Respecting the proposal of the Prime Minister, Mr. Speaker-
– Another Ministerial supporter ! What is the matter with the numbers ?
– Will the Opposition take the vote now?
Mr. Hume Cook. Very well ; we shall !
– I have no desire under the circumstances
– I desire to raise a point of order. The Standing Orders provide that if any one addresses himself to the question and resumes his seat, he must be considered to have spoken. I do not think, however, that the honorable member for Batman did address himself to the question, and it would be well if he were allowed to proceed.
– The honorable member for Batman rose and was called in the ordinary way. I heard the honorable member say, “ Mr. Speaker,” and then, for some reason or other, he sat down again. I then called on the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– I think there is a misunderstanding.
– I have not taken any action in the matter, beyond simply following the ordinary course.
– I ask whether the honorable member for Batman has exhausted his right to speak.
– I have not heard any question as to that. The honorable member for Batman himself is Lite honorable member to say whether he desires to speak.
– I ask whether the honorable member has exhausted his right to speak - not whether he has exhausted his desire to speak.
– The honorable member for Boothby is now -asking a question about a matter which is really not before the ‘Chair. I have told honorable members exactly what I did; and they will see that the matter does not rest with me, but with the honorable member concerned.
– I merely desire to say that when I was charged by the Opposition with stone- wal ling, I thought I would have an opportunity to see who was really doing the stone-walling. Under a promise that I would have an opportunity of debating the motion I have on the notice-paper, I intend to vote for the proposition. If 1 were not going to get an opportunity to debate the motion, I should certainly vote against the proposition.
– Does the ^honorable member say that he has a promise from the Government ?
– I say that, in view of the fact that I will have an opportunity of debating the motion now on the notice-paper in my name - I say this by way of personal explanation - I intend to vote for the motion.
– - I have neither the intention nor the desire to stone-wall the motion; but I can see that, if the Government’s wishes-are carried out, there will be no opportunity of ventilating a grievance which I believe every representative in both Houses feels is one that ought to be considered. In my opinion, the amendment of the honorable member for Bass could easily be accepted by the Government. I do not blame Ministers for their desire to have an extension of time, having regard to the numerous and momentous measures which remain for consideration ; but, at the same time, I fail to see why the Government cannot in some way meet the wishes of honorable members who have motions on the notice-paper. If the Government supporters are in earnest in their desire to get on with work, they ought to support a proposal to meet at least on one day a week at half-past ten in the morning, and thus obviate the necessity of depriving private members of their present privilege. It may be said that Ministers have their departmental work to do; but officers of the Departments can carry out the usual arrangements and attend at the House day by day. I am surprised that the Government do not see their way to accept the amendment, or some such modification as I have indicated. Personally, I have a motion on the paper dealing with a section of the community, who, perhaps not designedly, have been somewhat hardly used by this House. An Act of Parliament was passed, which led the men employed in the harvester trade to think that they could pursue a certain course; and it is in that connexion that I am making an appeal to the Government. It is annoying to think that the Government will take no notice of the wishes of honorable members, except such as suit their own intentions. I am not particularly pug- .nacious, and I have not attacked the
Government in any unseemly way, or detained the House by long speeches on more than two occasions since I came here ; but if the Government intend to prevent members of the Opposition from getting what they consider their rights, I suppose I shall have to pursue the course that others pursue. I do not intend that as a threat, but it is the only way I can see out of the present situation. It is only fair that some Ministers should speak to this amendment, which is an eminently reasonable one. Members are in Melbourne on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and it is not as if they were asked to come back in time to meet on Tuesday mornings. There is no need for all the Ministers to be present. As a matter of fact, very few of them attend the House now. They could come in at the beginning of the morning sittings, and could. gradually go away, as they do now, in order to carry on their departmental work. Ministerial supporters also have notices of motion on the paper, and, I take it, are desirous of ventilating them, although I know that they are expected to defer to the wish of the Government.
– They say they have a promise from the Government that their business will be dealt with.
– I did not take it that way. 1 thought that what the honorable member for Batman meant was that he would have some other opportunity of expressing his views. There are other ways iri which I could bring my case up, if I thought fit, but I do not want to adopt them unless I am forced to do so. I shall endeavour to get Ministers to consider this question.
– They stated distinctly in the Senate to-day that they would not.
– Ministers in this House ought to listen to arguments why they should consider the question, though I have to admit that those who took charge of it in another place put it as forcibly as possible, and the motion was carried. I believe that if we got an honest vote in this House, with members expressing their real opinions, it would be carried here also. The Government are not asked to do more than has been done in the past. It need not become a general practice, and each case can be dealt with on its merits. If the Government use this motion to block the question, I suppose I can find other ways of bringing it before the House, but that was not the way in which I desired to act. I felt that the whole House might extend sympathy to the men who had suffered, and that the Government might see their way to do something for them. However, since they appear to have refused to do anything but depend entirely on their numbers, which is a brutal course, . we on this side will have to assert our rights in another way, which may perhaps be just as brutal for the poor unfortunates who have to listen. Seeing that the Government are depriving us of certain rights and liberties as representatives of the people, we shall have to protect ourselves. I feel that I have been injured by their action to-day, and I shall endeavour to show them that I can fight just as strongly as they can when the need arises.
– I wish to put, shortly, the reason why I cannot support the amendment of the honorable member for Bass. I am one of those who find the time that we have in which to prepare for the serious business of this chamber all too short as it is. The Bills brought down require a most minute examination, which has usually been regarded as the chief responsibility of members of the Opposition. Of course, they may think that they can forego their duties in that regard. That is not for me to say, but we ought not to overload honorable members’ minds and capabilities by giving them a longer time in this chamber, and less time outside it to prepare for the work here. My honorable friends opposite, who have been going through some amazing changes lately, appear to have completely overlooked the sacrifice of the eight hours’ principle which the amendment will involve. My honorable friends, who nowadays can vote for pensions to Chinese-
– Let us get on with the business.
– The honorable member regards a defence of the eight-hours’ principle as a waste of time ! The honorable member for Coolgardie, a gentleman almost as important as the honorable member for Adelaide, protested on a similar occasion in this House against the violation of the eight hours’ principle. Honorable members will find his protest recorded in Hansard of 23rd November, 1907, page 6511. Whatever else the Government may do, the mo”tion is reasonable in view of the somewhat obstructive tactics which have been observed towards Government business.
– Order ! The honorable member has already spoken on the main question.
– As regards the amendment, the Government ought to be very careful not to put too great a load upon the time and capacity of honorable members. The shorter time within reason the House sits, the better will be the work the House does. As one who believes in everything pertaining to the essential principle of eight hours, I hope the Government will resist the amendment.
.- I should not have spoken but for the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth, who claims that even under present conditions honorable members have not sufficient time to consider the serious business of the House. I have yet to learn that the honorable member could be serious about anything, or that he took a serious view of any public question. It is admitted’ that we get from him a number of cheap and insulting speeches.
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, in conformity with your wish. Perhaps I was wrong to take any notice of the honorable member. It is not right for the Government to propose this motion, when they have made no serious attempt all through the session to push forward any of the Bills that they have placed upon the notice-paper. There are twenty Orders of the Day standing in the name of the Government, and the majority of them have reached the secondreading stage. We have had the speech of the Minister upon each of them, but in hardly any case have the Bills themselves been distributed.
– Every one of the measures that have been read a second time’ has been circulated. ‘
– Only recently. At the. time the second-reading speeches were delivered, not one of them was distributed.
– Every one was distributed before the second reading. Point out one that was not.
– Five second-reading speeches were delivered in one evening, but in not one of those cases was the Bill distributed.
– The Bills were distributed when they were read a first time.
– They were not. Not one “of those measures, except perhaps the High Commissioner Bill-
– That was circulated, and so was the Bureau of Agriculture Bill.
– I admit that the High Commissioner Bill was an exception. Surely the Minister does not pretend that the Government mean to put through such a measure as the Bureau of Agriculture Bill? Does he mean to say that the Government are serious about it? Every one knows that the States will not let them go on with it. The Northern Territory Acceptance Bill is hung up, and the Federal Capital Site question is the subject of a series of conferences which will take some time. It is not necessary for the Government to ask the House to pass this motion in order to push that matter forward. If the Government bring the business forward in a connected way, so that honorable members can understand what they mean to do from day to day, they will get on faster than they have been able to do up to the present. There has been scarcely a day for the last month on which honorable members have been able to know what business was to be brought on.
– There is every item on the notice- pa per.
– Those are not to be passed this session. The honorable member knows that the Government do not propose to finish a tenth part of them this year. They found fault with the length of the programme of some twelve measure seriously presented to the House by the late Government, on the ground that it was simply a shop-window show for the electors ; but does anybody in his right senses think that the present Government seriously desire to -get their twenty measures through during the remaining three months of this session ? With the exception of one or two which are intended to create billets for a few friends of the Ministry, none of the measures in the list of Government business will be passed this session. Since three months have still to run before the end of the session is reached, it is unfair to propose to deprive .honorable members of an opportunity to deal with private members’ business. Some of the proposals put forward by private members have become Orders of the Day and are of vital importance. They deal with matters of policy. We find on the notice-paper, for instance, a motion on which honorable members will have to vote for or against the rectification of Tariff anomalies.
– There was an opportunity to go to a vote upon it recently, but the Opposition were so earnest about the matter that they did not avail themselves of the chance.
– I disagree with the statement of the honorable member, who would like to have every question disposed of without discussion. Although in their declaration of policy the Government referred to the question of the removal of Tariff anomalies, a proposal to deal with it does not appear in the list of Government business. It has been “ side-stepped “ from time to time by the Government. They intend to “ side-step “ it again, and certain honorable members opposite who were returned to this House as Protectionists are content to allow the session to close without a vote on the motion in question.
– To what motion does the honorable member refer ?
– Two motions in regard to the removal of Tariff anomalies stand on the notice-paper in the name of private members. I am referring now more particularly to that submitted by a straight-out Protectionist, the honorable member for Hume, and upon which an amendment expressing confidence in the intention of the Government to deal with the matter has been moved by the honorable member for Fawkner.
– With the object of “side-tracking” the motion.
– Quite so. Are honorable members opposite, who claim to be’ Protectionists, prepared to vote for a motion which will render it impossible for a vote to be taken this session either on the motion submitted by the honorable member’ for’ Hume, or on that proposed by the honorable member for Maribyrnong? It is useless for honorable members to endeavour to delude the electors by declaring that they favour the removal of Tariff anomalies when, at the same time, they support a motion which will prevent a vote being taken on that question. If the Government wish to push on with business they must adopt proper, legitimate methods. They have not done so up to the present time, and the blame for any want of progress in dealing with Government measures must rest at the door of the Government themselves. It is certainly unnecessary to deprive private members of the opportunity to deal with motions standing in their names in order that Government business may be expedited. I shall therefore vote against the motion.
.- I confess that I like the amendment. I have said on several occasions that the business of the House seems to be arranged to suit the convenience of the representatives of two States. Every Friday afternoon, honorable members from New South Wales and South Australia leave by rail for their homes, leaving representatives of other States to cool their heels in Melbourne from Friday until Tuesday afternoon. Much work remains to be done during the present session. I have no desire to reflect on any one, but it must be admitted that so far there has been an immense volume of talk with but very little result. In the circumstances, it would be well for the Government to invite the House to meet six days a week in order that we may dispose of the business of the session not later than November. That would give honorable members an opportunity to prepare for the coming elections.
– Would the honorable member make that suggestion if he were able to reach his home by rail every week end?
– I do not blame the representatives of New South Wales and South Australia for returning to their homes when they can do so, but I do blame the House for its weakness in allowing so much time to be wasted at each week end. The arrangements for the consideration of private members’ business have become farcical. One day a week private members’ business is taken from 2.30 until 6.30 p m., and each motion is usually talked out. My contention is that a division should be taken on every motion before the time at which, under the Standing Orders, its further consideration would otherwise have to be adjourned. I regard it not merely as a privilege, but as a right of honorable members to have a certain time set apart for the consideration of private members’ business. . No one would make bold to say that the whole of the brains of a Parliament were confined to the occupants of the front. Treasury bench. There may be important questions which the Government of the dav are not prepared to take up, but under the present system it would be worse than useless for a private member to attempt to deal with them. The procedure on the dav set apart for the consideration of private members’ business is very much like that of a badly conducted debating society. An honorable member moves a motion, and instead of a division being taken upon it, it is simply talked out. The Prime Minister is justified in attempting to push on with public business, and I hope that the Govern, ment will accept the amendment, since it goes even further than they propose. 1 would also suggest that when the second reading of a Bill is moved the Government should fix the time at which a division shall be taken upon the question, and that when we are in Committee on a Bill, the Government should also intimate how many clauses they intend to have passed every day. That would be much better than the indiscriminate application of the closure, which is calculated to give rise to a good deal of bitterness and heartburning.
– We need a thorough change in our present procedure.
– We do, and the first and most important reform is the placing of a reasonable time-limit on speeches.
.- I agree with the honorable member for Franklin that the way in which private members’ business is dealt with is almost farcical. As the honorable member has said,, no cue would assert that all the wisdom of the House is to be found in the Government of the day, and private members should therefore have an opportunity to bring forward measures. Having regard to the way in which private members’ business is dealt with, however, many honorable members probably think it would be useless to give time, attention and thought to the preparation of measures, because they know that there is no reasonable opportunity of passing them into law. If the Government were in earnest in their desire to push on with business they would undoubtedly accept the amendment. So far as we can gather from the newspapers, however, the Ministerial party, which was formed for the express purpose of condemning the caucus system, has adopted it in a much more emphatic form than the Labour party have ever done. We understand from the press that at their last caucus the Ministerial party discussed the order of business, and no doubt at that meeting a resolution was carried that this motion should be supported by the party.
– That is not so.
– Shortly after that caucus at all events, the Prime Minister gave notice of this motion. It may be excellent from an electioneering point of view, for the Government to continue to say that public business is being obstructed by the Opposition: but if the public watch the way in which the Government deal with business they will quickly see that they are not in earnest in making that charge. The Prime Minister, who could not find time, in five days, to give notice of motion for leave to introduce a Bill relating to the Premiers’ Conference agreement, complained the other day because leave to submit such a motion, without notice, was denied him. The honorable member for Riverina, who objected, was accused of blocking business.
– I have never known leave to be refused before in similar circumstances.
– Here we have another wail from the Government Whip, who generally does the wailing for Ministers who are not prepared to speak for themselves.
– But I never look sick and disgusted or feel broken-hearted.
– Perhaps the honorable member has not such a conscience as would cause him to feel disgusted with anything. As a personal friend I hope that he will not have cause to feel “ sick and disgusted “ after the next election. Those laugh best who laugh last. The complaint was made that the honorable member for Riverina was blocking business. The same complaint was repeated on Tuesday, when notice had to be given, it being said that the measure was intensely important, and must be dealt with without delay. The motion asking for leave to introduce it was moved on Wednesday, and debated for a couple of days, but now what has become of it? We have not heard of it since.
– It was necessary to introduce a Supply Bill, to provide for the payment of the public servants.
– Yes ; but was it necessary toputitasidefor this motionto-day,and then to give the High Commissioner Bill precedence? We are told that the High Commissioner Bill has been brought forward to give the Senate work. Why did not the Government concentrate its efforts upon passing one of the score of measures on the notice-paper ?
– Because Ministers do not wish to have their measures passed.
– That is so. The Parliamentary Witnesses Bill was restored to the notice-paper on the 20th July, and nothing has since been done regarding it. The Post and Telegraph (Recording Machines) Bill was read a first time on the 13th August, and the Patents Bill was received from the Senate on the 3rd September, and the Lighthouses Bill on the ist September, and the Marine Insurance Bill, which could have been passed in a few hours, was restored to the paper on the 20th July, but nothing has been done with them since. The Bills of Exchange Bill was restored on the 20th July, and the motion to read it a second time moved on the 3rd August. The discussion on that motion occupied ninety-six minutes, and the second reading was carried on the 4th August, when another forty-five minutes was devoted to it. Since then, nothing has been heard of it. Leave was given to introduce the Electoral Bill, one of the policy measures of the. Government, on the 20th July ; but it has not yet been introduced. The Government could give notice of its intention to ask for leave to introduce that Bill, which it had no intention of immediately introducing, and yet could not find time to give notice of its intention to ask for leave to introduce the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill, which we are told is so urgent. Leave to introduce the Defence Bill was granted on the 4th August; but that measure has not yet been introduced. Leave to introduce the Telegraph Emergency Bill was given on the 20th July. The second reading was moved on the ‘ 3rd August, in a speech occupying fourteen minutes, since when nothing has been heard of the measure. Leave was given to introduce the Bureau of Agriculture Bill, and the first reading was carried on the 20th July. The second reading was moved on the 30th, and one hour and twelve minutes devoted to its discussion. That Bill has not been dealt with since. Leave to introduce the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was given on the 30th July. The first reading was carried on that date, and the second reading was moved on the 3rd August, when fourteen minutes were devoted to its discussion. The measure has not since been heard of. Leave to introduce the High Commissioner Bill was given on the 20th July ; but the first reading Avas not moved until the 6th August. The second reading was moved on the nth August, when the measure was discussed for fifty minutes. It was discussed for five hours more on the 7th September, and at n p.m. the motion was forced to a division by the application of the closure, in order that Ministerial supporters might catch their trains, progress being reported immediately afterwards. We have not heard of that Bill since.
– It was after midnight when the closure was moved.
– If the honorable member consults Hansard, he will find that it wasmoved about n p.m.
– And if the honorable member for Gippsland consults Hansard, he will find that we have since spent a day discussing the measure in Committee, with the result that only four clauses have been passed.
– Yes, I made a mistake there, although I have the facts on my notes. About half-an-hour after the second reading had been forced to a division by the application of the closure at n p.m., the same tactics were applied in connexion with the motion that ‘ ‘ the House will tomorrow resolve itself into Committee,” and again, a third time, about half-past 12, onthe motion for the adjournment, when there was not the excuse that honorable members wished to catch their trains, since the trains had then stopped running. The Bill which has received most attention is the Northern Territory Acceptance Bill. If the Government were in earnest regarding what nearly every honorable member has declared to be a great proposal, the settlement of the Northern Territory, that measure would have been proceeded with continuously, and would now either have been passed or have been rejected.
– And the South Australian Parliament would have had a chance to deal with the matter.
– Yes. My suspicion is that the measure has been put on one side because the Government majority will not accept it. It was read a first time on 20th July. The second reading was moved on> 30th July, when the measure was discussed, and the debate was resumed on the 4th, and on the nth August - when it was interrupted by the motion for the adjournment during the sittings of the Premiers’ Conference - and, finally, on the 1 2th August, when it was first called on because the Treasurer was not ready to deliver his Budget, then interrupted . by the delivery of the Budget, and, after that, called on again to fill in the night. Thenthere is the Norfolk Island Bill, which is still at the second-reading stage. Leave was given for its introduction, and its first reading was carried on. the 20th July. Thesecond reading was moved on the 3rd” August, when thirty-five minutes were devoted to the measure, but we have heard” nothing of it since. That accounts for all the Government measures, except one or two more or less formal ones which have been passed. ‘Can it be said that a Government with such a record is desirous of getting on with business? Yet it is asked that private members shall give up the three afternoons a month which are now allotted to them in order that public business may be expedited ! The honorable member for Maranoa spoke of the proposal as a “sign of the end.” Generally this motion is not moved until towards the end of a session, and the Prime Minister, although he took the trouble to tell us how far from the beginning of the session it had been moved in other sessions, gave us very little information regarding how far from the end it was usual to move it. I do not think that we are near the end of the session. The honorable member for Maranoa challenged the Treasurer to dissolve the House, and go to the country, so that the electors might declare their verdict regarding the political position. The right honorable member’s reply was, “What; and give you a chance!” which shows that the Government is not ready for a dissolution. I am sure it will not allow a dissolution a day earlier than is necessary. Ministers need all the time they can get for pitting their case before the public. Were they really in earnest, they would act upon the suggestion of the honorable member for Bass. I sympathize with the representatives from other States who are kept hanging about Melbourne with so much spare time on their hands. It has been a puzzle to me, both before and since I entered this House, why this Parliament has not been sitting every day in the week, and at night, too, in order to complete its work quickly, and allow its members to return to their own districts. We have been told that Ministers must spend the mornings in their offices. But when the last Deakin Government had business to do in connexion with the Tariff, it did not hesitate to ask the House to meet five days a week, and to sit from 10 or 11 in the morning until 4 or 5 next morning.
– For how long a period ?
– For three weeks in December, and a fortnight in the following March. The Government and its supporters then meant business, and were ready to see it through.
– Could not business be done more quickly if there were less talk?
– If all business were discussed at a caucus, with “ strictly private” written on the door, and voted on in the Ho.use without debate, there might be more expedition, but I am not in favour of that way of doing business. The debates of this Parliament have not been undulylong, compared with those of previous Parliaments. Two remarks made this evening impressed me very much. The honorable member for Maribyrnong, when twitted with supporting this motion, notwithstanding that he has two important proposals on the notice-paper, said, “ I hope that the Government will take up one of my measures. Ministers have already practically taken up the other.”
– They have taken it up.
– The honorable member spoke as an old politician. The honorable member for Batman, speaking as a young politician, and not so skilled in the use of words-
– ls the honorable member in order in making such dreadful comparisons ?
– I did not think that an old member of the House, and an ex-Minister, would try to make a farce, of the proceedings by such a point of order. He laughs when he hears others take things seriously. Probably that was why he was once described by some of those with whom he is now sitting and working as a. “ stupendous joke.” The honorable member for Batman said that he would support this motion because he had received a promise from the Government that he would have an opportunity to deal with that which he has on the notice-paper. If promises are to be made to certain honorable members
– The honorable member for Batman referred to the promise of the Prime Minister, at the invitation of the Leader of the Opposition to give a day, later on in the session, for the consideration of private members’ business. .
– I heard the Prime Minister say that he would give a day ‘for the discussion of private members’ business. I do not think I should be asked to believe that the honorable member for Batman referred to the one day for the whole of the motions, as representing the promise he had received that he would have an opportunity to submit his proposal. However, these matters are interesting to note, criticise, and place on record, because they certainly show a new way of doing business compared with that which has prevailed during the two years and a half I have been here.
– It is a question of support in return for concessions.
– Exactly. The honorable member for Maranoa, when he rose this afternoon, was immediately met by the Treasurer with a charge of “stone- walling,” but there was no such charge made when a Ministerialist, in the person of the honorable member for Wentworth, rose and spoke twice.
– In the two speeches that honorable member did not take half as long as the honorable member for Gippsland has already taken.
– Probably so, but one nat.urally expects that a member, who is caucus bound, will not have much to say on the subject. If the Ministry are in earnest in their desire to get on with business, their proper course is, not to interfere with private business, but to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Bass, which would entail the minimum of inconvenience to all honorable members. I shall cordially vote for the amendment.
. -The Government might very well accept the amendment of the honorable member for Bass ; and if they do so, I shall at once resume my seat.
– We should, very much like to have a division before dinner.
– If the Government are determined not to accept the amendment, I shall have to show why, in my opinion, it is commendable, as, being far superior to the proposal of the Government. It would enable business to be transacted in the day-time instead of late at night, when honorable members are tired of it, and, at the same time, interfere in no way with the time now allotted to private members’ business. I admit that the Government have upon the paper a number of important measures, which deserve the earnest consideration of the House - measures far-reaching in their bearing on grave political issues, connected particularly with the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States. It is highly desirable that all these matters should be discussed in detail before honorable members are asked to vote; and, to that end, the maximum of time should be at our disposal. The amendment would give the Government much more time than will be possible under the motion.
Sitting suspended from 6.30. to T-45 p-m.
– I was pointing out that the proposal of the honorable member for Bass would give the Government more time than they can hope for under their own proposal ; and, of course, if that arrangement were not found sufficient, honorable members might reasonably be asked to forego the time now devoted to private business. The honorable member for Gippsland, in a very able and caustic address, dealt with the position, of Government business, and showed that, while Bills have been piled up, none have been carried to an advanced stage. It would appear, as the honorable member pointed out, that the desire is not to push these measures to a conclusion, but rather that, having been circulated and discussed up to a certain point, they should be left. Such a course, however, would not reflect any credit on either the Government or the House, though it might prove useful as an election placard. The combination from which the Government was formed had for its avowed object the expediting of the business of the country ; and it was justified on the plea that the Government then in power was not strong enough to carry measures which were urgently needed ; but the conduct of the business since has not fulfilled the promises that were then held out. The business that has been submitted is of a very important nature, and we are certainly entitled to a reasonable time to discuss it ; and to that end I urge the acceptance of the amendment. It has been objected by the Government that the time now devoted to private members’ business is largely wasted - that nothing substantial results from it - but I submit that its value is not to be measured by the immediate results. As the Leader of the Opposition very pertinently pointed out, the object of these motions is to enable various subjects to be introduced for discussion. The’ House, as well as the electors, has to be educated on a number of questions so brought forward ; and these motions afford an opportunity for pioneering work and the maturing of measures for legislation. We are shortly to be asked by the Government to deal with the question of defence, and no fewer than four of the private members’ motions relate to this subject. These motions may not be vital to the Government proposals, but they have an important bearing upon them, and their discussion would tend to the proper understanding of the problem to !be solved. There are two proposals connected with the Post and Telegraph Department, one in the form of a Bill introduced by the ex- Postmaster- General. Then there are motions relating to the advertising of objectionable matter in the public press, penny postage - without which Federation cannot be said to have been consummated - and Tariff anomalies. The motion in regard to the last-mentioned is in the name of the honorable member for Hume, and to this has been submitted an amendment by the honorable member for Fawkner as a kind of vote of confidence in the Fusion Government. The honorable member for Lang has brought forward a motion dealing with preference to Papua and the New Hebrides; and this certainly is of great importance to the Commonwealth. Then we have a proposal by the honorable member for Maribyrnong in favour of a permanent Tariff Board, a motion by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports with regard to harvester Excise, a proposal by the honorable member for Batman in connexion with bounties to the shale oil industry, a motion by the honorable member for Barrier to make the Old-age Pensions Act general in its application, and a very important proposal -by the honorable member for Melbourne to make provision for the children of necessitous parents. No fewer than five motions deal with parliamentary matters, while there are about seven general motions dealing with monopolies, decimal coinagef the Federal Capital site, co-operative settlements, the registration of professional men, friendly societies, and the establishment of public trusts. It is only necessary to name them to indicate their importance, and private members’ day is the only opportunity of having them discussed and placed before the public, and the opinion of the House taken upon them. The Government are doing a grave injustice, not merely to the honorable members who are primarily concerned, but to the House generally and to the country. By meeting earlier on two days in the week they could secure more time than they propose to gain by the motion, and later on, if it were found that still more time was wanted for Government business, they might reasonably ask private members to forego their rights. Honorable members are never unreasonable in their treatment of such a request towards the end of a session.
– Put a time-limit on every subject.
– That proposal is also the subject of a motion tabled by a private member, and might well be debated and decided by the House, with a view to definite action being afterwards taken.
– I appeal to the House to come to a vote on this question. Honorable members will agree that the subject has been discussed- at sufficient length to enable us to make up our minds about it. The ‘Government do not see their way to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Bass, at any rate at present. What may happen later on in the closing weeks of the session is a matter for further consideration. We may then have to ask the House to impose upon itself some further sacrifice for the purpose of closing up the business.’ In the meantime I point out to the honorable member that the Departments have to be kept going. Unless Ministers get a little time in the mornings to attend to them, I do not know how they are to keep the administration effective. It would be impossible for them to do it, and at the same time to give that unremitting attention to their parliamentary duties here which would be required if the amendment were carried. I hope the honorable member will not press it.
– Will the Minister give the House an opportunity to take a vote on the motions standing in the names of private memhers? I have a motion on the noticepaper, and I shall be quite content, in order to expedite business, if a vote can be taken on it.
– I quite forgot to mention that matter. If the House will permit me-
– Is this a personal explanation ?
– Yes. I . would point out ‘that the Prime Minister . gave a definite undertaking to the Leader of the Opposition across the table this afternoon that he would provide a day later on.
– A day is not enough to deal with all these motions.
– I am afraid that they cannot all be dealt with, nor could they be in any circumstances.
– It has been said that honorable members on the Ministerial side have a promise that their motions shall be dealt with, while honorable members on this side have no such promise.
– So far as I am aware, the only promise made was that of the Prime Minister, that a day should be provided in which to dispose of private members’ motions. That is done nearly every session.
.- I wish to make a suggestion to the Minister of Defence, who is evidently now in charge of the House. I had in any case intended to move an amendment which I think will meet the case completely. I am sure that the Minister will acknowledge that some of these motions are very important - several, I think, much more important than some of the business of which the Government have given notice. I intend to move, after the amendment of the honorable member for Bass has been disposed of, an amendment which will make the motion take effect only on and after 7th October. That will give us two extra sitting days on . which to debate these questions, which should be ample if honorable members make’ their remarks brief and to the point. In that time we may get through the whole or most of the private members’ business on the noticepaper, and a recurrence of this afternoon’s debate will be prevented. The discussion to-day has taken some time, but has not been inordinately long. When honorable members who are now on the Ministerial side were on this side, they took just as strong objection to private members’ business being cancelled as honorable members on this side have done this afternoon. No more time has been occupied to-day than on former occasions. If the Minister accepts my suggestion, it will be found to achieve all that the Government desire, and to meet with the approval of honorable members on this side of the House.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question (Mr.
Storrer’s amendment) - put.
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That after the word “ day “ the words “ en and after 7th October “ be inserted.
– It is not competent for the honorable member to move to insert those ‘words, since the House has already decided that certain words should stand. I suggest to him that he test the feeling of the House by moving that the motion be amended by adding the words “ on and after 7th October.’’
– I had intended to do so, sir, but thought that the motion, if amended in that way, would be ungrammatical. I beg leave, however, to amend my amendment in the way you have suggested.
Amendment amended accordingly.
.- I am rather surprised that a Government who profess to be desirous of obtaining additional time-
– Is it quite fair to initiate another debate on this question?
– I think I am within my rights in expressing my views regarding the merits of the Government oroposal. If the amendment with which we have just dealt had been adopted, additional sitting time would have been provided for the consideration of Government business, and private members would not have been de- prived of the opportunity to obtain from the House an expression of opinion upon the motions standing in their names on the notice-paper. The honorable member for Herbert now proposes that the motion shall not come into operation until he has had an opportunity to obtain the decision of the House upon what he believes to be an important question. If the Government do not desire additional sitting hours, then the honorable member has a very strong case. Every section of the House -should have an opportunity to obtain its opinion upon a question of importance appearing on the notice-paper. If we look at the list of business-
– Is the honorable member going to read that list once more? It has been read already four times.
– I suppose I may take it that the honorable member is anxious to have an opportunity to vote in favour of the Constitution Alteration (Finance) Bill? He expressed such strong approval on a public platform of the agreement made at the Premiers’ Conference that I am sure he is anxious to vote upon it. The Government seem to be prepared to blot out all the motions appearing on the notice-paper in the names of private members. We have been told by members of the Ministry, as well as by many of their supporters, that the rectification of Tariff anomalies is of the utmost importance. Such a statement has been made by them both in this House and out of it. . We now find the<* honorable member for Maribyrnong, who has on the notice-paper a motion in regard to that question-
– Is this the beginning of another long debate?
– If the honorable member thinks that my speech will necessitate a reply from him-
– That is the trouble.
– No doubt honorable members opposite, feeling that they have been fooling the electors in regard to these proposals on the business-paper, are becoming anxious now that it is proposed to do away with private members’ business for the rest of the session. When it is pointed out that they . have been fooling the electors
– I ask, Mr. Speaker, that the word “fooling” be withdrawn. I do not fool the electors.
– I did not understand the honorable member to apply the expres sion to any one in particular, but as the remark is certainly offensive I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. Doubtless the electors now know honorable members opposite too well to be fooled by them. Although there may have been an attempt to fool them I have no doubt that it has failed miserably. The Government are now deliberately proposing to deprive the House of an opportunity to vote upon a motion with regard to the removal of Tariff anomalies. This motion in regard to private members’ business was submitted six weeks earlier than a similar motion was proposed last session. I do not say that it may not be necessary later in the session to pass such a motion, in order that we may deal with the proposals of this irresponsible Government; but the necessity has not yet arisen. The Government believe that the electors will justify their attempt to gag the Opposition to this extent. The motions standing in the names of private members in regard to elective ministries, unification’, penny postage, the rectification of Tariff anomalies, and certain other questions, are matters in regard to which most honorable members have made up their minds, and the Government might fairly be asked to afford an opportunity during the session for a vote to be, taken upon them without debate. Will the Minister of Defence give us an assurance on that point ?
– I have already told honorable members that we are prepared to set aside a full day for the consideration of private members’ business.
– Will the Minister give the Opposition an undertaking that the motions standing on the business-paper, “in the names of private members, shall be voted upon, one after the other, without debate, some day this session ?
– How can a Minister give such an undertaking ?
– Evidently the honorable member for Flinders is prepared to apologize for the Ministry ; but he will pardon me if I try to obtain from the Minister of Defence a promise that what I ask will be done. The Government can rely on the loyalty of the Opposition to any arrangement of the kind that may be made.
– Would it be desirable to vote on all- these motions without discussion ?
– No doubt the honorable member would think it undesirable to vote on some of them even after the fullest discussion. It is because some honorable members opposite do not wish to be called upon to vote on certain motions that this proposition has been made.
– Has not an honorable member a right to speak on such questions ?
– The honorable member apparently will not give them an” opportunity to do so.
– I wish to express my own views.
– Then why does not the honorable member vote against this motion ?
– Because so much time has already been wasted by the Opposition.
– The honorable member said he would vote for the motion because of party discipline.
– We know that the Government, by various methods are drawing the net tighter and tighter around their supporters, and are compelling them to ‘vote against their own judgment and their own wishes for certain Ministerial proposals.
– The honorable member must withdraw that remark. I hope that in debating the question he will refrain as far as possible from referring to honorable members and their affairs.
– Mr. Speaker-
– Order ! The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is about “to withdraw the remark.
– I do not know that I am. I have said that the Government are drawing the net tighter and tighter about their supporters.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw not that remark, but the statement that the Government are compelling honorable members to vote against their convictions.
– I did not use the word “convictions.”
– I ask the Hansard reporter to read his note of the statement made by the honorable member.
– I respectfully submit that it is inadvisable to ask the Hansard reporter to read his notes until the motion has been ‘moved, “ That the words be taken down.”
– It is becoming the practice to challenge my statements, and I feel that I must protect myself. I asked that the words be read, because I did not take them down, and wished to refreshmy memory. I do not desire to take advantage of any honorable member, or to convict the honorable member for Kalgoorlie of having used certain words. I merely wish to make sure, before further action is taken regarding him, that he used them.
– I shall be ready to assist you, sir, in every way, to keep order, but it would not be wise to depart’ from the rules which prevail in the Parliaments with which I am acquainted. Words should not be read by the Hansard reporter until the motion has been moved, “ That they be taken down.” I am sure that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie does not desire to run counter to your wishes, and if there is a doubt as to what words were used, he will probably get over the trouble by withdrawing what he said.
– On further consideration, I think it will be best to accept the assurance of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that he did not use the words attributed to him.
– I should be very sorry to refuse to withdraw at your request, Mr. Speaker, any statement which you considered disorderly, but, to the best of my recollection, my remark was that the Government were drawing the net tighter and tighter round their supporters, and compelling them to vote against their judgment.
– Why make statements which are untrue?
– I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to those words.
– I ask the honorable member for Echuca to withdraw them.
– I withdraw them.
– Honorable members might be courteous enough to allow the difference between Mr. Speaker and myself to be settled without interjecting. I do not think that my words went beyond what an honorable member is at liberty to say, and, therefore, I told you that I was not sure that I, had said anything which I could be compelled to withdraw.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance that he did not use the words attributed to him. I ask the House to give me that assistance without which I cannot successfully perform my duties, so that, while protecting honorable members from unworthy imputations against their honour, I may be prevented from charging others with saying what they have not said. I regard the personal honour of every member as in my keeping, and earnestly ask the House to maintain the dignity of Parliament, by refraining from language which may be regarded as in the least degree offensive by those of whom it is spoken.
– I ask that the words used by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie be taken down by the Clerk. I understood him to say that I could not vote against this motion, because it is a Government motion.
– The honorable member lost his opportunity to move, “ That the words be taken down.”
– I have taken advantage of the first opening.
– Standing order 281 provides that -
When any member objects to words used in debate, and desires them to be taken down, the Speaker shall direct them to be taken down by the Clerk accordingly.
The following standing order requires such objection to be taken at the time that the words are used. If it is not, it cannotafterwards be entertained. Perhaps my own action is responsible for the honorable member’s delay in asking that the words be taken down, and therefore I do not wish to prevent him from proceeding under the standing order. But, in view of the explanation which has been made, I ask him whether he considers it necessary to move further in the matter?
– I am happy to accept your suggestion, and make no motion.
– I should have no objection to the taking down of the words. It is interesting to note how touchy Ministerial supporters have become.
– A man is generally touchy where his honour is concerned.
– The honorable member will have to go somewhere beyond the voices of members of this House to have it believed that even the last, shred of his political honour remains to him. The Ministerialists have broken every pledge upon which they were returned, so that their political honour cannot trouble them much. The honorable member for Hunter takes exception to my statement that he cannot vote against the motion because the Government have made it a vital one; but he knows that it is as much as the chances of his return are worth to dream of voting against the Government.
– According to the honorable member, my prospects are not worth much.
– Not only do the members of the Opposition not expect the honorable member to be returned, but the members of his party hold the same opinion. I have asked the Minister of Defence, who is leading the House to-night, whether he is prepared to allow the private motions on the paper to be voted on one after the other, before the close of the session.
– The proposition is unreasonable. Would honorable members agree to it ?
– The members of the Opposition who have business on the noticepaper wish to obtain an expression of opinion regarding it. The motion before the House will prevent that. The Government have declared that the provision of defence is of the utmost importance to Australia ; and recently, in addressing a meeting of ladies, the Minister of Defence dwelt upon its importance. Now the honorable member for West Sydney wishes the House to affirm that we should provide for adult training.
– Cannot that proposal be discussed in connexion with the Defence Bill?
– Has the honorable member any objection to voting on the specific proposal of the honorable member for West Sydney ? Is he afraid to express an opinion regarding it? It is a month since the Government obtained leave to introduce a Defence Bill; and it was suggested at the time that we might have to wait for the return of the Honorary Minister before it could be submitted. I understand he will not leave London until the 25th of this month.
– He is to leave, according to the newspapers, on the 1st October.
– Then he cannot be back until the middle of November ; and we may not have an opportunity to discuss the Defence Bill before then.
– Is he being purposely kept in England?
– I do not know ; but I think that the Government is purposely keeping the_ Defence Bill in the background. Ministers do not wish the people to know what are their defence proposals. The request of the honorable member for Herbert is a most reasonable one. Personally, I have always objected to motions for taking from private members the only afternoon in the week set apart for the consideration of their business. Until the urgency of the motion is demonstrated, and it is shown that the Government is particularly desirous to proceed to business, I shall oppose any proposal of this kind. I intend to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert, and, that amendment failing, I shall vote against the original ‘motion.
.- I desire to propose a prior amendment, and to ask the honorable member for Herbert to temporarily withdraw his proposal to enable me to do so.
– As the honorable member has already spoken, it is not competent for him to move an amendment.
– But I suppose that I may speak to an amendment that is moved ?
– But the honorable member is moving an amendment.
– I am moving to amend an amendment.
– Will the honorable member read his proposal?
– I desire to move the addition of the following words - except as to Order of the Day No. 1, 23rd September, “ Tariff anomalies,” and as to Order of the Day No. 4, 23rd September, “ Tariff - Permanent Board re.”
-Will the honorable member proceed?
– My desire is to except these two Orders of the Day from the operation of the motion^ leaving it open for the motions to be discussed in the ordinary course on the 23rd September. I desire to give an opportunity to deal with these matters, being content to allow my own motion in regard to elective Ministries to share the fate of the remainder. On the question of rectifying anomalies in the Tariff, there should be no difference of opinion amongst Protectionists ; and I am with the honorable member for Maribyrnong in his proposal for the appointment of a permanent Board. The honorable member for Hume has given us ample evidence of the urgent necessity for dealing at once with the anomalies in the Tariff.
– The honorable member’s proposal would except these two Orders of the Day from discussion.
– I should be glad if the honorable member can show how that is, because my amendment will, I think, enable them to be discussed on the 23rd. However, if there is any difficulty or difference of opinion, I am prepared to give way and allow the test vote to be taken on the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert, and to then, if I am permitted, submit the amendment I have indicated. The matter is of importance, not only to members of this House, but the thousands of manufacturers and to many thousands of workers ; and the motions are in the hands of honorable members well able to deal with them. I should like an expression from von, Mr. Speaker, as to whether I can withdraw my amendment now, and submit it after that of the honorable member for Herbert has been decided.
– As a matter of fact, I have not yet ascertained the exact purport of the honorable member’s amendment, and, therefore, as it has not been put from the Chair, it is not necessary for him to withdraw it. If the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert is put and negatived or carried, it will not be competent for the honorable member for Riverina then to move his amendment, because it -will be an amendment to an original motion on which he has already spoken. The Standing Orders prevent an honorable member who has spoken on the main question from subsequently moving an amendment.
– Will Mr. Speaker indicate the standing order on the authority of which he rules that an honorable member who has spoken cannot subsequently move an amendment ?
– If there be any misunderstanding, it is probably my fault; I was quoting from the standing order in regard to amendments. It is the practice that, when an honorable member has spoken on the main question, he is debarred from subsequently moving an amendment. On page 323 of May it is stated : - . a member who has already spoken to a question, or has moved or seconded an amendment thereto, or a motion for the adjournment of the debate, may not rise again to move an amendment…..
The honorable member for Riverina desired to know what his position would be, and I hope that he now understands it.
.- As to the proposal of the honorable member for Riverina, I have no objection-
– The honorable member cannot again speak to the amendment.
– Then I desire to speak as to a point of order. My amendment now is, as it were, the maximum limit of any amendment before the Chair. Supposing that my amendment be negatived, I submit that it will be competent for the honorable member for Riverina to move his amendment which is a modification, and shortens the period by a week. Therefore, I think my amendment ought to precede his.
– I do not know whether the honorable member desires a ruling, but it is impossible for me, without knowing what the amendment of the honorable member for Riverina is, to express an opinion on the point the honorable member has now raised.
.- If the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert be carried there will remain three Thursdays, the 16th, the 23rd, and the 30th, available for private members, and I think the proposal is a reasonable one, which should commend itself to the Government. No one anticipated, until the Prime Minister gave notice yesterday, that private members’ business would be taken away.
– Last Friday the Prime Minister intimated that he would submit the motion this week.
– Although I am very constant in my attendance I did not hear that statement made; but, even so, last Friday means only two sitting days’ warning. It is very often 3 o’clock in the afternoon before we reach private members’ business; and. therefore, the proposal of the honorable member for Herbert means that only about ten and a half hours can be devoted to that purpose during the next fortnight. The private business on the three dates mentioned includes a large number of important questions; and, if the Government accept the amendment, it will show that they have not come to a cast-iron determination to curtail the privileges of private members. I do not know whether the Minister of Defence intends to adhere strictly to the original, motion; but 1 think that the Government might very well give up the ten and a half hours during three Thursday sittings to the important business which private1 members have brought forward.
– Honorable members will see how impossible it is to differentiate between the motions on the notice-paper. Every honorable member naturally thinks his motion is as important as any other. The amendment! would provide opportunities for only one or two of the motions on the notice-paper to be debated.
– Why not have a division night, so that we could divide on every one of them without debate?
– The Prime Minister has already promised to give a whole day later on. for the purpose, but nothing seems to satisfy honorable members, for they keep on multiplying amendments. I again appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to terminate this debate.
– The honorable member should not forget the time when he was supplicating. It was not long ago.
– The honorable member will find no record of our . having taken a whole day to talk about a motion of this kind. I ask honorable members to go to a vote on the motion, so that we may proceed to do the business of the country. The more business we can get through in a reasonable time, the better chance there will be later on for satisfying honorable members in regard to their motions. If we can get through Government business reasonably early, why not do so?
– The Government ought to get through their twenty Bills early !
– The honorable member’s leader has already told us that we could take three or four of them in a night.
– Why do not the Government do it?
– This is what happens when we propose to take one or two of them. I regret that I cannot see my way. at present to make the concession which the Leader of the Opposition has now asked for.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Bamford’ s amendment) - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
.-I desire to obtain a vote on a question that is more important even than the defence of this country - the salvation of child life. I wish to stop the terrible murder of innocent children that is going on. I suggested by interjection when the Minister of Defence was speaking that if the Government would fix a night as a division night we could dispose of any question we chose without debate. .. If that arrangement were made I should willingly forego the words that I am going to say now, but from my experience of many Governments I know it is the veriest humbug and nonsense for the Government to say that they will give one day for the consideration of private members’ business. It is frequently impossible for honorable members to make a speech on motions which they put on the noticepaper, to say nothing of obtaining a division on them. I move -
That the following words be added to the motion : - “ Excepting the Notice of Motion No. 2 standing in the name of the honorable member for Melbourne for Thursday, 21st October, relating to a Child Pension Fund.”
My motion is as follows : -
I doubt if a single Bill introduced by the Government is as important as that. The Prime Minister’s words rang throughout Australia when he enunciated what another great leader had said, “ that the Australian babe was the best immigrant for Australia.” In the name of these murdered innocents, I have ventured to move this addition to the motion. I take it that every honorable member is desirous of stopping the terrible deathrate that now obtains. I am taking advantage of a form of the House to move in this direction, and I shall take the vote on the amendment as a division on my motion. I have a perfect right to do that. If I am beaten I shall denounce from every platform throughout the length and breadth of Australia those whose votes prevent this question from being brought before the House. If a majority in this Chamber were to say that child life shall not be sacrificed
– Order ! The honorable’ member must not debate the question.
– If the Prime Minister’s motion is carried I shall not have an opportunity of using that argument later on. I thought I would be permitted to advance the most serious state of affairs in the city of Melbourne as a reason why my amendment should be carried. I do not know of a minister of religion who would not approve of that motion. It has met with the support of newspapers in every part of Australia-
– I suggest to the honorable member that he can attain his object by simply moving -
That the following words be added to the motion : - “ but this resolution shall not apply to Notice of Motion No. 2 of 21st October next.”
– I am prepared to adopt your suggestion.
– If your suggestion is followed, Mr. Speaker, and the amendment is carried, will it mean that the motion in question will hare precedence over Government business? No day is mentioned in the amendment, and consequently, if carried, the notice of motion would, I take it, come on for consideration at once.
– I wish to have an opportunity to submit the motion on the day for which it is set down for consideration.
– In my opinion, under the amendment, if carried, the notice of motion in question would not come on for discussion until the day for which it has been set down.
– No later than yesterday, the Herald published a two column article, one head line reading, “ Finance and Murder.” Unless funds are available to provide for a child’s necessities, its death must occur. I know a father of fifteen children-
– The honorable member is now proceeding to debate the notice of motion.
– My complaint is that if the motion as it stands foe carried, I shall not have an opportunity to test the opinion of the House on the motion appearing in my name on the business-paper. I shall take every opportunity of putting before the people the names of those who vote against my amendment, and I am sure that no honorable member would dare to tell his constituents that he had voted against such a motion as that of which I have given notice.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following words be added to the motion : - “ but this resolution shall not apply to Orders of the Day Nos. 1 and 4 of the 23rd inst.”
No argument should be necessary to induce the Government to accept this amendment. The Minister of Defence objected to allow two days for private members’ business, because he said that that arrangement would give an advantage to those who had motions set down for those days. I propose to come to his assistance, since he desires to be so extremely fair, by choosing two motions, set down by members of opposite parties, so that there may be no suspicion. of partiality, and embracing matters dealt with in the programme of the Fusion Government. The discussion of these motions will give an opportunity for an expression of opinion as to how Tariff anomalies should be dealt with. This discussion should not take long, and should assist the Government in subsequently framing its measures. In my opinion, much of the debate which we have had to-day could have been saved; had Ministers shown more tact. Many of us feel that the motion has been moved too early in the session ; and, no doubt, some arrangement could have been come to with the Opposition regarding private members’ business. Ministers, however, seem to prefer to rely on their majority. There are those who doubt that majorities are always right. At any rate, a day has been wasted over this matter. Unless the Minister of Defence has lost all sense of reasonableness, he will accept the amendment. In the view of the country and of the House, the motions to which it refers are of considerable importance.
.- When I first entered Parliament, the tactics of the Opposition of the day - their persistent ‘ stone-walling ‘ ‘ of Government measures and other vagaries - disgusted me absolutely with such procedure. I rise, not to prevent the transaction of business, but to express the opinion that a mistake is being made in trying to take from honorable members the’ opportunity to consider private business. There are, I admit, on the notice-paper, in the names of private members, some motions which might well give way to Government business; but those covered by the amendment are of much greater importance than some of the Government proposals. The national destiny of Australia is concerned with the rectification of Tariff anomalies, and as Ministers have vaunted their patriotism, they should be the first to give an opportunity for the consideration of the matter.
– I submit that, as the House, in negativing the amendment of the honorable member for Herbert, decided that it will not exempt any business set down on the notice-paper for the dates between, now and the 7th October, this amendment is not in order.
– The Prime Minister has moved that in future all Government business shall take precedence of private members’ business. The amendment of the honorable member for Herbert sought to limit the motion, by making it apply only after the 7th October. That was negatived, and the amendment now before the Chair, which I rule to be in order, merely seeks to impose a lesser limitation, by specifying a date earlier than the 7th October, to which the motion shall not apply.
– The amendment is a very astute one, so astute that a child might see through it. Every one appreciates the beautiful and artistic methods whereby the evening has been wasted. Honorable members opposite have ridiculed the motion of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, which they propose to exempt from the operation of the motion of the Prime Minister. What is the reason which prompts them now to profess to be desirous to discuss it?
– It would be best to give them a late sitting.
– We shall have to do some business before we adjourn ; and therefore the House might well dispose of this matter as early as possible.
.- This is not the first time that the Minister of Defence has lectured the Opposition, and probably it will not be the last. He has imputed to the honorable member for Darling an improper motive.
– I merely mentioned facts.
– The honorable gentleman says that his insinuations are facts; I should like to have proof of that.
– Let us debate the matter.
– I am not here to waste time. I make the prediction that the very first men who would accuse the Opposition of not doing their duty if they had not sought a test vote on this question woufd be those sitting on the Government benches. As soon as they got on the platform they, would ask, “ What sort of an Opposition was this to so neglect their duty?” Is it not a curious state of affairs to find a so-called Protectionist Government afraid to take a vote on the motions referred to? The Prime Minister indicated that opportunity would be given to take a division on the various motions, but later, since the Prime Minister has gone to another State to perform a public duty, we have the Minister of Defence hinting that there may not be another chance. The honorable member for Darling is performing a public duty in compelling members to take sides. The Minister of Defence has made the statement that the Opposition are not in favour of rectifying Tariff anomalies.
– I made no such statement !
– The Minister of Defence also said that the Opposition used to ridicule this motion of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. We have declared that, provided the consumer, the manufacturer, and the workman are protected, the Labour party are solid for Protection. This is not the first, second, or third time that that declaration has been made, for we have announced the fact to the country at large. The honorable member for Parramatta is very clever at using words which leave a false impression ; but so far as I am concerned, there can be a vote taken as early as the honorable gentleman pleases.
– Why not to-night?
– I think to-night is the proper time. Let us divide, and let every honorable member be in his own camp. I did not know that the honorable member for
Darling was going to submit the proposal in its present form, but I compliment him on doing so. not because I think he will be able to carry it, hut because he is protecting the Opposition against the charge that we failed to perform a public duty by compelling honorable members to take sides.
.- The Minister of Defence seems almost unable to make any reference to the Opposition without misrepresenting their action. For instance, just “now he said that honorable members of the Opposition had scarified and ridiculed this proposal of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and the statement is absolutely untrue.
– Order !
– In deference to parliamentary decorum, I shall say that the statement is wholly inaccurate.
– Do I understand the honorable member to withdraw the words “ absolutely untrue.”
– Yes, and I substitute “ wholly inaccurate.” Almost every honorable member, if not every one, is prepared to vote for that proposition.
– I said the other night that we were ready to vote.
– Notwithstanding that fact, the Minister of Defence, who is supposed to be leading the House at the present moment, defames the political character of honorable members of the Opposition. The misrepresentation was wholly unnecessary ; it had nothing to do with the argument, and was merely an attempt on the part of the honorable gentleman to justify his dodging a vote on the question.
– Not at all ; that is impossible.
– The Minister of Defence seems very sorry that the action of the honorable member for Darling compels honorable members to take one side or the other; but if ever a special motion was justified it is on an occasion like this. No one quite knows the secret compact that was made by the members of the Fusion party, or where we are on the fiscal question; and surely it is only right that honorable members should be called upon to declare their position before the House and the country. My only objection is to the honorable member for Darling including the two motions in his proposal, because, while they both refer to Tariff anomalies, there is a difference in the methods suggested-
– My object is to give fair play to . both sides.
Mr.BATCHELOR. - Yes, I see that the honorable member is quite right. The motions will ultimately be put separately ; and in the division to-night all honorable members who desire to support either the motion for the honorable member for Hume or the honorable member for Maribyrnong must vote in the affirmative. If anything is to be done in the rectification of anomalies, it must be to-night by the adoption of the proposal of the honorable member for Darling.
– Surely there are some Protectionists left on the Government side? This matter concerns the whole of the manufacturing interests of Australia ; and I should think that Protectionist members of the Ministry must have some weight against the Minister of Defence. I would not dream of blaming that honorable gentleman for his attitude, -because, in this House, he has always been quite candid as to his position on the question. But surely the Postmaster- General, the Treasurer, the Prime Minister, the Minister of External Affairs, and the Government Whip have some Protectionist feelings left, and will see that, before the dissolution, an opportunity is given to honorable members to express their opinion ? Otherwise, they may as well fly the Free Trade flag at once. But some explanation must be forthcoming to their constituents, especially in the case of Victorian members. No matter what may be done by the proposed Board or Commission, their action will have to be reviewed by this House. 1 was’ sent here as a Protectionist to support, in fiscal matters, the honorable members whom I have just mentioned ; and if they are backing down the country ought to know the fact. I hope that we shall have a true test vote so that we may see who are Protectionists and who are not - who are, and who are not, willing to extend Protection to industries which nt present reap no advantages from the Tariff. Protection is supposed to extend to the workers as well as to the employers; and it is in this connexion that we find the greatest anomaly. I suppose, however, that if I had the powers of the greatest orator, I could not stir up honorable members opposite to speak, much less to vote.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I have been accused already of making an untrue statement when I said that certain honorable members of the Opposition ridiculed the honorable member for Maribyrnong when he brought on his motion.
– The Minister did not say “certain honorable members,” but spoke of the Opposition.
– I should like to quote now from a speech made by an honorable member opposite, who is an exMinister, and who has just declared that he is going to support that motion. Here is what he said -
It is almost amusing to witness this new-born zeal displayed by the honorable member for Maribyrnong regarding the Tariff at the present time, and it is remarkable to find him and the honorable member for. Parkes so much in agreement….. This motion is a mere piece of advertising on the part of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, because….. There is so little in the motion that it is needless to occupy the time of the House any longer upon it, and there are on the notice-paper two other motions of considerable importance.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh; and it is only a sample of other remarks of similar purport.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Portshas striven to initiate another long debate by pleading that all who vote against the Government on the amendment of the honorable member for Darling are to . be termed Protectionists, while all who vote for the Government are to be termed Free Traders. That is very ingenious, but it is not business.
– It will test members’ principles.
– I think it will seriously test members’ patience. We have listened to a series of long debates on a question which is usually decided on the voices at this stage of the session, and we have already had somehalf-dozen divisions, the results of which honorable members opposite knew beforehand. It is now proposed to initiate another long discussion, the end of which honorable members opposite know full well.
– This is the honorable member’s third speech on the one subject.
– And I think that in all I have occupied less time than the honorable member has with his interjections. If honorable members search their memories they will find that the universal procedure in the House is for the minority not to wrangle and dispute, or keep on forcing divisions, unless there is an opportunity of winning.
– That is good from the honorable member !
– Honorable members know that if they take divisions-
– The honorable member makes me blush !
– I confess that, if I can make the honorable . member blush, I have not risen in vain. That new experience will no doubt be very pleasant to the honorable member in the closing days of his political career ! While it may be necessary at times to take divisions, so that honorable members may record their opinions, they are taken almost immediately, but what is proposed now is not an immediate division. Honorable members opposite purpose wrangling over this amendment until they think it will be too late for the Government to proceed with other business. That appears to be their only purpose. No doubt the honorable member for West Sydney, the onetime strong Free Trader, will tell us, as the honorable member for Boothby did, that whoso votes with the Government on this amendment is a Free Trader, while he, a devoted Protectionist now, will find it in his power to vote against them !
– Let us get on with business.
– It is about time we did proceed with business. If we have to do useful business to-night, the earlier we do it the better. We understand from the Government that they propose to submit other measures which will have to be temperately and earnestly examined, but can we subject them- to a temperate and earnest examination in the small or late hours of the morning? Let honorable members opposite stop this pretence and fooling, and cease to propose these constant amendments which they know are futile, and are not intended to be taken seriously. Let us get at once to serious business, which they have clamoured for day after day, arid will not take, now that they have it. It is about time they got over a little of the rancour that they have suffered from since they left the Ministerial benches. I hope that if a division is not taken almost immediately, the House will exercise its authority and insist on doing its own business, even if honorable members opposite feel that they have been sent here for nothing more serious than to obstruct.
– The Minister of Defence charges me with having ridiculed the motion of the honorable member for Maribyrnong. In the hope that I would have no recollection of what I did say, he thought the House might be induced to believe that statement. It is only another instance of the way in which the Minister of Defence is continually misrepresenting honorable members on this side of the House. I propose to read the exact words that I used on that occasion.
– I understand the honorable member proposes to do so by way of personal explanation?
– I have not yet spoken on the question before the Chair.
– The honorable member, I understand, proposes to read what he said during a previous debate. I point out that it is not competent for honorable members to debate at this stage the question that was under review on that occasion.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, as I have been grossly misrepresented. These are the exact words that I used at that time, as reported on page 2678 of Hansard: -
So far as anomalies are concerned, I am not anare that any member of the late Fisher Government, at the present moment, knows of any particular anomalies that require rectifying. We know of several small matters, but if the honorable member for Maribyrnong thinks anomalies ought to be dealt with now, and brings forward any that ought to be dealt with, he will have my support, and, I am sure, the support of every Protectionist in the House ; but I doubt if he will get that of the Ministerial side of the House.
Nothing could be plainer than that, so far from ridiculing the motion of the honorable member for Maribyrnong, I was anxious that it should be dealt with at once.
.- I desire to make a personal explanation.
– I point out to the Minister that it is not usual to allow personal explanation after personal explanation, because such a practice would soon develop into a debate. If the Minister feels that something he said has been misrepresented, and desires to explain it, he will be in order, but I urge that the matter should stop there, and that we should not have a succession of personal explanations.
– I shall take but a minute to do what is necessary. The speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh on the occasion referred to concluded in this way -
There is so little in the motion that it is needless to occupy the time of the House any longer upon it, .and there are on the notice- paper two other motions of considerable importance. As the honorable member for Maribyrnong has had his say, and has not asked us to do anything practical, can he tell me any anomalies that require to be rectified?. If I cannot get a reply from him, I must take it for granted that this motion is a display for electioneering purposes….. I am afraid that even the honorable member’s speech on this motion will not help him to get back, and I shall occupy no further time in . discussing what is little more than an empty placard.
It will be seen, therefore, that I have not misrepresented the honorable member for
– I think I have a right, as a personal explanation, not only to repeat that my speech on that occasion showed that we were anxious and willing to support the honorable member for Maribyrnong in rectifying’ Tariff anomalies, but also to add that what the Minister of Defence has just read is an absolute fact. The proof of it is that neither the honorable member for Maribyrnong nor the Minister is ready to go on with that motion. I asked the honorable member for Maribyrnong whether he knew of any anomalies, and he told me that he had given a list of them to the Prime Minister. I replied that he had given them to the wrong quarter, and that he ought to try this side of the House, because we would help him to get them rectified.
.- The almost frantic efforts that are being made by the gentlemen on the Government benches to postpone an expression of opinion on the motions of the honorable member for Hume and the honorable member for Maribyrnong would tell any one who was not in the last stages of political senility _ that there was something in the wind. It is perfectly clear, in spite of what the honorable member for Wentworth said, that there is a very rough time ahead of those who vote in a certain way on this motion. The honorable member referred to my own fiscal opinions. They are now exactly as they have always been, but when I see that those gentlemen who call themselves Free Traders have allied themselves with every force that makes for reaction and Conservatism in this country, and have abandoned the slightest pretence of doing anything for Free Trade, I naturally take it upon myself to follow the party that I have always followed. Wherever it goes, I shall follow it. My fiscal opinions have always been subordinate to my Labour opinions. They are very much subordinate now. I am not afraid to cast a vote to-night on the motion of the honorable member for Hume. I quite agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh that the motion of the honorable member for Maribyrnong is an electioneering placard. It is that, and nothing else.
– Order ! The honorable member must not discuss that question.
– I am only repeating the words that the Minister of Defence was permitted to use.
– The honorable member is proceeding now to debate a matter which cannot be debated at this stage. The other statements to which he refers were made under cover of a personal explanation, and were not part of this debate.
– I submit that an honorable member cannot be permitted on any pretext to use in ‘this Chamber words which are not fit and proper subjects for comment by other honorable members. They must be either inside or outside the scope of debate. However, I shall not question your ruling. There never were in the history of this Parliament men who deliberately obstructed to the extent that the honorable member for Wentworth and the honorable member for Parramatta did for eight years. They reduced obstruction to a fine art, but in those days it was not called obstruction. It was called the performance of a high public duty. No doubt, Mr. Speaker, although, you do not see him present, you have heard of the right honorable member for East Sydney. On an occasion on which he was bitterly opposed to those gentlemen with whom his colleagues are now very closely associated, he dealt with the charge of obstruction which was freely levelled against them. This is what he is reported to have said -
The able and indeed splendid work done by my deputy, Mr. Joseph Cook (loud cheers’) during my absence (loud cheers) often on political business as well as professional work, has Been ‘obvious to the whole community. That which Mr. Deakin calls obstruction most people will recognise .as strenuous, untiring efforts to protect the public welfare.
That is what the action of the Opposition was called then. Now, if an honorable member ventures to - oppose the High Commissioner Bill, he. is gagged. If he desires to protest against the suspension of the right of a private member to deal with important business, he is told that .he is obstructing public business, and the honorable member for Wentworth rises and hopes, and expects, and prays, that we shall get on with it, yet for years that honorable member lived only for the purpose of obstructing everything, public or private, that came along. He signalized his entrance into public life this session by moving the gag. That is the way he has achieved whatever notoriety he has, apart from his erratic proceedings outside. He moved the gag on a Government that then had said and done nothing either in the way of obstructing public business or anything else. Now- he asks us to go on with public business. We do go on with it, but we venture to say that a notice-paper of this sort, including .twenty-one items, of which only one can by any shadow of pretence be called a Government measure, is not public business, but a wretched, hollow sham and pretence. For the honorable member to talk about public business is a farce. It is, however, becoming a tragedy, and nothing but the sight of a number of gentlemen on that side, who are obviously unfitted for anything in the way of tragedy, prevents us and the country from so regarding it. The honorable member never had any intention of going on with public business, as witness his attitude in regard to this motion. There is nothing to prevent us from going to a division on it.
– Let us take a division.
– This is not a post-mortem. The honorable member cannot order me about like that. There is nothing to prevent us going to a division on this question at once except the positive and undisguised reluctance of the Minister of Defence to go to a division on anything. Take his attitude with regard to the Defence Bill. That Bill has been “ almost ready “ for months. It is as near ready now as ever it was. Before it can be presented it awaits only the “ finishing touches,” or, in other words, a complete adjustment of the Bill with the opinions of the majority. Whatever the opinions of the majority, the .Bill will fit them. Month ‘by month we see in that Bill the provision as to the age of those required to undergo service creeping up. Clause by clause the Bill, as originally drafted, is disappearing.- The Minister of Defence is a monument of consistency. His slavish devotion to public business will bring him to an untimely grave. He proposes now that we shall vote against the ridiculously modest amendment of the honorable member for Darling that two motions moved by private members shall be excepted from this proposition. I say that it is ridiculously modest, because there are motions of almost equal importance that we ought to consider. I shall give the
Minister an opportunity to show whether he is in earnest in his desire to push on with public business by moving, if this amendment be rejected, that Government business, on and after Tuesday next, shall, on every day except Tuesday, be taken at 10.30 a.m. I hope that the honorable member for Darling will not be persuaded to withdraw his amendment, and that his temporary occupation of a seat on the Government side of the House has not sapped his resolution or dammed the torrent of his determination. The people who elected the honorable member for Maribyrnong, the honorable member for Bourke, and the honorable member for Corio, on the Protectionist ticket, will wish to know why they were so eager to avoid a division on this amendment. Is it because they are no longer Protectionists? It is because of the terms of this unholy compact - a compact which in a former case brought about results almost as unfortunate. The right honorable member for East Sydney, in the speech from which I have already, quoted, said that on 24th June, 1904, at the end of the recess, Mr. Deakin, whilst in alliance with him, publicly asked the Labour party to join him. He pointed to that as an act of betrayal, and said that it took the heart and soul out of their alliance.
– I fail to see any connexion between the matter to which the honorable member is now referring and the question before the Chair. Does he intend to connect it?
– No doubt I am wandering back a good distance, but these matters are unhappily apropos of the present moment. We seem to have entered a sort of political cycle in which events repeat themselves. This might be last year or the year before. The circumstances which exist at present existed then, and nothing, Mr. Speaker, but your most proper reminder enables us to realize where we are. I hope that when the division is taken there will be found a majority willing to show that their opinions, despite the Fusion, remain unaltered, and that the rectification of Tariff anomalies is sufficiently important to at least merit an expression of opinion.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority. … … 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. Spence’s amendment) - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the following words be added to the motion : - “ On the day to be set apart by the Government for private members’ business, Orders of the Day Nos. 1 and1 4of 23rd September on the notice-paper, shall take precedence.”
The mission of Democracy is to crush Ministerial despotism with the heel of progress. We have reached a stage of tyranny. Three times the mandate of the people of this great Commonwealth has been the introduction of a Protective policy, yet, at a time when great industries are being strangled, there is a conspiracy among the Free Traders of this House to destroy that policy.
– The honorable member may not discuss the fiscal question.
– I know that had I the voice of Demosthenes I could not change the determination of this adhesive combination to commit a wrong against the Australian Constitution. But I warn honorable members opposite that there is a day after to-morrow, a day when they will meet their doom for- their betrayal of the policy of Protection. My enmity ends with the grave. I never hit the dead. Next March we shall bury them without flowers.
Motion (by Sir John Forrest) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Mr. King O’Malley’s amendment) - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Mr. Speaker-
– I rise to a point of order. I beg to move -
– Order ! Will honorable members take their seats? I point out ‘that the question has to be proposed before there is anything before the House and, before it can be possible for an honorable member to raise a point of order. The question is, “ That the motion be agreed to.”
– I rise to a point of order. I beg to move -
That the question be now put.
– That is not a point of order.
– I am bound to take the motion of the right honorable member for Swan.
– But, Mr. Speaker, you called on me. It is a trick.
– I rise to a point of order,
– There is a previous point of order. I think that the honorable member for Boothby ought to withdraw the word he has just used.
– What must I withdraw ?
– The honorable member used an expression ; and I think he knows what he said.
– I referred entirely to the Treasurer.
– I thought the honorable member addressed the remark to the Chair ; but, in any case, I think he ought to withdraw it.
Several honorable members interjecting.
– I appeal to honorable members to support the Chair, when the Speaker is carrying out what he deems to be his duty. Iask the honorable member for Boothby to withdraw the expression he used.
– In withdrawing the expression at your request, sir, may I say, with all due deference, that this limits one’s possible statements tremendously. I made no reference to the right honorable member, except to say that this particular action of his was a trick; and I do not think there was any offence in that. However, Mr. Speaker, if you prefer it, I shall withdraw, and I do withdraw, the expression.
– I rise to a point of order.
– The question now befor the Chair is, “ That the question be now put.”
– I desire to raise a point of order. When the right honorable member for Swan rose, he said, “ I rise to a point of order.” All our Standing Orders, rules and practice, provide that an honorable member so rising has precedence, and you, Mr. Speaker, very properly turned from the honorable member for Boothby to the right honorable member for Swan ; but the latter, as soon as he secured your attention, submitted a motion which is not a point of order. I am quite prepared to take the decision of the majority, according to the rules ; but I do not think that a Minister ought to make the error of rising to a point of order before submitting a motion. You, sir, might very well direct the House on this important question, and show that if an honorable member rises to a point of order, when there is no point of order, he has no right to correct his error to the disadvantage of another speaker.
– The matter is very clearly set forth in the Standing Orders, under which the right honorable member for Swan is submitting his motion. The standing order says -
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 addressing the Chair or not, “ That the question be now put,” and the motion shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.
The position was that the honorable member for Boothby had the Chair, and I gave him ‘he call. The Treasurer then rose and said, “ I rise to a point of order.” The right honorable member then moved the motion ; and I hold that he is quite in order in doing so.
– He got the call under false pretences !
– The question is, “ That the question be now put.”
Question - That the question be now put - -put. The House divided.
Majority … … 7
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That on each sitting day, until otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of general business.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Glynn), read a first time.
Bill returned from the Senate without request.
– The Leader of the Opposition said just now that he was willing to go on with business to-night.
– I said I would agree to take the second reading of the Seamen’s Compensation Bill to-night.
– Will the honorable member agree to suspend the Standing Orders so as to finish off the business that we intended to proceed with to-night, and then we shall be very glad to take that Bill to-morrow ?
– Do I understand that the honorable member intends to move a motion ?
– I was trying to make an arrangement with the Leader of the Opposition in the usual way. I proposed, if he agreed to it, to move the suspension of the Standing Orders.
– I rise to order. I ask what business is before the House.
– Very well: I beg to move-
That the House do now adjourn.
.- It may be very clever and very statesmanlike for the Minister of Defence to put in my mouth words ‘that I never uttered. What his intention may be, whether for the better government of the Commonwealth or the better procedure of the House, I do not know, but it is, to begin with, an imperti- nence. That is the only word that can express the Minister’s conduct.
– The honorable member’s attitude is all a pretence.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– When you, sir, put the question that the Seamen’s Compensation Bill be read a first time, I suggested that we should take the second reading of it tonight, whereupon the Minister of Defence rose to ask that we should suspend the Standing Orders in order to deal with the High Commissioner Bill. Does he know that I -have never uttered a word on that Bill, and that its second reading was passed by means of the gag after one night’s debate ? There is no need for any one to lose his temper on a matter of this kind. There is no need for any member of the Opposition to be anxious regarding his fate as a member of this Parliament. When an honorable member occupying the Treasury bench deliberately raises a new issue without even the shadow of a pretence of knowing what has been said, or, if he did know, concealing that knowledge, it is a sure sign that the Government are prepared to do anything to misrepresent the views of the Opposition to the people. When I received my appointment as the Leader of the Opposition, I assured the House that I should lend Mr. Speaker every assistance in carrying on the business submitted to us, in the way in which it ought to be conducted, and, notwithstanding the action of those leading the House, I shall be ever ready to assist the Government to carry on business under reasonable conditions. I shall not be agreeable, however, to the suspension of the Standing Orders without reason.
.- I hope that whoever wishes to judge the proceedings of this House will judge members of the Opposition, not by what they are pleased to say, but by their actions. For the last three-quarters of an hour they have been calling for division after division, knowing thoroughly well that they were beaten, and what the result of each division would be. We have seen the Leader of the Opposition, who always wishes us to believe that he wears a halo in this House, rising shortly before 11 p.m., when, as honorable members know, new business cannot be proceeded with, to a point of order in order that another minute or two might be wasted and the country deprived of its business.
– Why do not the Government go on with business?
– Because honorable members opposite, by calling for division after division, and making a succession of dreary, inane, and I might almost say, innocuous speeches, for they were neither capable of doing harm nar good, have carried us past the hour at which new business may be introduced. They now ask us why we are not prepared to proceed with new business. Only a few minutes ago, the Acting-Leader of the House, the Minister of Defence, asked for leave to proceed with the High Commissioner Bill, which honorable members opposite say is an urgent measure. Did the Opposition then show themselves ready to proceed with the country’s business? Of course they did not. They refused leave ! Words fail me to express my contempt of the actions of honorable members who pretend that they are anxious to proceed with business and avail themselves of every farm to prevent business being transacted. The Leader of the Opposition, when he descends to these smaller political deceptions, might do well to abstain from abusing the Acting-Leader of the House. I deeply regret that the honorable member this evening used words which reflected no credit on himself or the office he has the honour to occupy. I sincerely hope that personal questions will be absent from our intercourse in this Chamber. Otherwise such intercourse will be very difficult. If honorable members opposite are determined not to proceed with the country’s business, I hope that they will, at all events, treat with ordinary courtesy and decency, those who are endeavouring to discharge their duties.
.- I desire to make a personal explanation in reference to a statement made by the honorable member for Echuca. Speaking to the amendment which I moved, providing that the hours of sitting should be extended, the honorable member for Echuca said he did not think that the proposition was genuine. I am not responsible for, the actions of others, but I defy’ any one to prove that I am insincere in any action that I take. No one can accuse me of desiring to waste the time of the House. I thought that the Government would accept my amendment in the spirit in which it was offered. Had they done so, we should have been proceeding with ordinary business before 5 o’clock this evening, and the waste of time which, in my opinion, has occurred, would not have taken place. I hope that honorable members will accept my observations in the spirit in which they are offered. I care not what party is in power, for I have only the welfare of Australia at heart.
.- The Ministry having failed in the purpose they have in view are now descending to certain petty methods by which they hope to succeed. One by one members of the Ministerial party are leaving the Chamber. Ministers are asking those behind them to disappear, and one by one they leave the Chamber, in the hope that there will be a count out. They are unable to proceed with business this evening, for the one and only reason that they have not a majority to enable them to do so, and that is why they are taking this action. We cannot prevent them. They are welcome to. adopt such methods - methods which other Ministries would deplore, and scarcely seek to employ. We were favored a few minutes ago by what may reasonably be termed a screech. The honorable member for Wentworth assumed so much indignation that he temporarily lost his voice. To such heights did he fly - to such an extent did he endeavour to impress us by his intensity of feeling - that he overtaxed his voice for the moment. He was endeavouring to inflict an injury upon the Opposition. In the opinion of many honorable members the whole of this” afternoon was absolutely wasted by the Ministry. They early submitted a motion the discussion of which they hoped would occupy some considerable time, and which they knew would be warmly resented. But as the opposition offered to that motion was not such as they had anticipated, the Minister of Defence deliberately attempted to provoke debate in every possible way. To such extremes was he driven that he actually made four or five speeches upon the one subject, repeatedly speaking to each amendment submitted. When those speeches were not sufficient he indulged in’ two or three personal explanations, and when these failed to provoke discussion from members of the Opposition he rose to points of order, which would have been discreditable to the merest neophyte in politics. Indeed he absolutely failed in the role which he filled with amazing credit when he was in Opposition. Indeed, so well did he discharge his functions when Deputy Leader of the Opposition that his leader was forced to make excuses which may have deceived the general public, but certainly did not deceive those who were in the political arena. This afternoon the Minister of Defence was ably assisted by the honorable member for Wentworth, who spoke no less than three times upon the one subject. Notwithstanding the systematic attempts which were made by the Minister and the honorable member to occupy time and to provoke discussion, the honorable member for Wentworth has had the effrontery to again charge the Opposition with the guilt which he knows lies at his own door. I deprecate conduct of that sort. I refrained from speaking upon any of the proposals put forward this afternoon. I pleaded earnestly with Ministerial supporters to assist us to proceed with business, and urged that they should refrain from palpable obstruction in order to prevent the consideration of measures of importance. Under these circumstances I am justified in protestingagainst the latest attempt which has been made to saddle the Opposition with blame for what has occurred. I hope that my protest will be of some avail in the case of the honorable member for Wentworth if it be not effective in the case ‘of the Minister of Defence.
Question - That the House do now adjourn - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It is desirable that particular attention should be called to the present state of affairs. It is a pitiful spectacle when honorable members opposite talk so loudly about the necessity for getting on with business and do not remain here to support their Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 September 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1909/19090915_reps_3_51/>.