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Wednesday, 7 July 1920

Mr RYAN (West Sydney) .- I asked the question as to how long it would take to get the Royal assent to this measure, not because I was unaware of the time usually occupied in the case, of measures that are reserved, but rather in order to obtain an assurance from the Minister that he would endeavour to expedite the matter. There, is no doubt that a great deal of dissatisfaction arose from the fact that the Navigation Act was not earlier proclaimed, although when the necessity arose for making an amendment, assent to the amending measure was obtained by cable. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Burchell) ,has practically admitted that the seamen themselves forced action upon the Government. No wonder there are men who complain that parliamentary action is no good when they found that, as a result of their own direct action on that occasion, the Government were forced to take certain steps. It is unfortunate that the Government were not sufficiently alive to the situation to take action before they were forced to do so by the men. I quite agree with the remarks that fell from the honorable member for Maribrynong (Mr. Fenton) with regard to the reservation of Bills. I contend that the Royal assent should be given upon the advice 6f Australian Ministers only. That is part of the programme of the Labour party, and I think the time is opportune to have that view placed before 'the Imperial authorities. An opportunity to do so was furnished in connexion with the mission of the exTreasurer (Mr. Watt). I should like to know whether any portion of the exTreasurer's mission- was connected with navigation matters. Certain correspondence between the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and the ex-Treasurer after he left Australia has been placed before the House, but I hope the Minister in charge of the Bill (Mr. Greene) will give the Committee some indication of the scope of the ex-Treasurer's mission. Perhaps he will be good enough to explain also whether the purposes of the exTreasurer's mission were set out in writing, so that we may know what the mission was and what communications from the other side of the world led to the honorable member for Balaclava being sent to London. I do not think that the cables which have been made public by the Prime Minister can be properly interpreted until we know the scope of the exTreasurer's mission and authority, and' the circumstances in which the mission was decided upon.

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