House of Representatives
10 December 1936

14th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 2889


British Constitutionalcrisis: Question ofthe King’s Marriage.

Mr.LYONS (Wilmot- Prime Minister) [2.30]. - It is not the intention to-day to reply to questions without notice or to proceed with any other business, I move -

That the House do now adjourn.

In doing so, I wish to say, in connexion with the matter mentioned in this chamber yesterday, that I have no further information to supply to honorable members, but that I expect to make a definite statement to the House when it meets to-morrow.


.- This is the second day on which the House has assembled and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has immediately moved “ That the House do now adjourn.” The right honorable gentleman has made no informative statement, other than that the Parliament was recalled in order to deal with a certain matter. Apparently that certain matter has not yet arisen. . Obviously, however, steps have been taken somewhere, and may be taken by this Government, which may lead to a decision that will be definite and irrevocable. Surely this Parliament, since it was called together, has had time to deliberate upon whether or not that decision is one with which it agrees or to which it is opposed !

I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that the. Parliament of Australia cannot be blind to the statements that have appeared in the newspapers; nor can its ears be deaf to the rumours that are even now in circulation. We are as good as told, unofficially, that there is to be effected, either to-day or to-morrow, a certain event of which this Parliament will then be called upon to take cognizance, but without any competence to advise as to whether the course chosen is desirable or undesirable.

Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !


– Furthermore, the opinions which other dominions have apparently expressed upon this matter are recorded in the newspapers, whereas there appears to be no information concerning whatever opinion the Commonwealth of Australia may have in regard to it. Yesterday, I asked the Prime Minister to make available to the House and to the country the whole extent of the communications or intimations that have passed between himself, as the Prime Minister of Australia, and the Government of the United Kingdom. There has been no response to that request. We do not know what advice this Government has tendered to the Prime Minister of England, or to His Majesty the King - who, I would point out, as far as this Parliament is concerned, is the King of Australia.

Opposition Members. -Hear, hear !


– I therefore suggest, that, by reason of the course which the Prime Minister is taking, this Parliament is being silenced in regard to a matter of major importance to the Throne, to the succession to the Throne, and to Australia’s membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. It is idle for us to say that this Parliament is to be silent while discussions and negotiations are proceeding, and presumably advice is being tendered to His Majesty in this connexion, and tendered in circumstances which make it impossible for His Majesty to intimate to this Parliament his personal wishes in the matter. I have to record that the Opposition is very much dissatisfied with the whole situation-.

Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !

Mr.CURTIN. - The members of the Opposition feel that there is a great distinction between reticence on a grave and delicate matter, and the discharge of that major responsibility which rests upon this Government and this Parliament, and that the Prime Minister owed it to the Parliament to-day, to perhaps a much greater extent than he did yesterday, to make known what advice he has tendered to His Majesty, and what His Majesty has had to say in response to that advice. Furthermore, the right honorable gentleman owed it to this Parliament to make known the origin of the present difficulty - whether it was the result of representations made to His Majesty, or the outcome of representations or suggestions which His Majesty made to the Government of the United Kingdom and, so far as we are concerned, to the Government of Australia. I object to the Parliament of this selfgoverning dominion - this Commonwealth of Australia - which, in every major matter that pertains to this Commonwealth, has the right directly to advise His Majesty, being reduced to the status of having merely to legalize whatever action may be taken in another parliament, and without reference to this Parliament.

Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !


– We are not here to subordinate our relations to His Majesty the King to the relations that exist between the Government of the United Kingdom and the King. We are here, in the first place, to discharge the entire nature of the relations of this Commonwealth of Australia to the Throne. Had the Prime Minister not moved for the adjournment of the House, I should have asked leave to move the following motion: -

That the following resolution be transmitted through His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to His Majesty the King: - “ We, the members of the House of Representatives in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, desire to assure Your Majesty of our loyalty and allegiance, and to express our earnest hope that Your Majesty will not relinquish the Throne.”

Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !


– That is the view of the Opposition. We sincerely hope that His Majesty will not relinquish the Throne.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!


– We desire this Parliament to direct the Government to tender that advice to His Majesty. It expresses the wish of the Australian Labour movement. As the circumstances in which I find myself preclude me from asking for leave to move that motion, I now move, as an amendment to the motion of the Prime Minister -

That all the words after the word “ That. “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ the following resolution be transmitted through His Excellency the Governor-General to His Majesty the King: -

We, the members of the House of Representatives in the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia desire to assure Your Majesty of our loyalty and allegiance and to express our earnesthope that Your Majesty will not relinquish the Throne.’.”

That is a specific statement of the wishes of the Opposition in connexion with the present grave and delicate situation. ‘We say that no other advice which the Government of this Commonwealth has tendered to His Majesty should be acceptable to this Parliament.

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. 6. J. Bell).There can be no amendment to the motion -“ That the House do now adjourn.”

West Sydney

Mr. Speaker-

Motion (by Mr. Thompson) proposed -

That the question be now put.

Mr Beasley:

– Honorable membersopposite are a lot of cowards if they do this, and some of them are hypocrites.


– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) must withdraw the word “hypocrites.”

Mr Beasley:

– I withdraw it.

Mr Brennan:

– Are honorable members opposite opposed to this motion of loyalty to the King?


– It ill becomes the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) to take a political advantage of this situation.

Question put - That the question be now put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G.J. Bell.)

AYES: 39

NOES: 22

Majority 17



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Original question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)

AYES: 39

NOES: 22

Majority ..17



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

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The following answer to a question was circulated: -

Sir Geoffrey Whiskard: Presence at Cabinet Meetings.

Is the press statement correct that Sir Geoffrey Whiskard sat with the Cabinet during any of its recent discussions on a certain matter ?

If so, will the Prime Minister explain what right Sir Geoffrey had to participate in any discussions of an Australian Cabinet?

Was the Government instructed by the British Government to admit Sir Geoffrey to its discussions?

Is it a fact that the proposed legislation was submitted to Sir Geoffrey Whiskard?

  1. No.

House adjourned at 2.52 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 December 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.