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Friday, 30 July 1920

Mr McWILLIAMS (Franklin) . - The time has arrived when we ought to seriously consider our position. The measures we have to deal with this session are, perhaps, the most important that have come before the House since I have had the honour of a seat here. A Bill was introduced last night, and if the desire is to murder it in its cradle, the most effective way is to rush it through without its being thoroughly considered by those interested. Then there is the question of finance, which demands our closest attention. I have always been one to stand for the rights of this Chamber, but the. time has come when we ought to put our " neck to the collar," and proceed with the business of the country. I shall support the motion on the distinct understanding that those honorable members who have not the opportunity now to discuss proposals which they desire to bring before the House shall be given an opportunity lateron. I am quite certain that the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony), after the briefest reflection, will see that a much more effective way of dealing with the question of the Capital is that suggested by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Marr). Knowing what is going on outside, and realizing the feeling on all sides of the House regarding the Federal Capital, I say deliberately that it is time that question was settled one way or the other. Personally, I am opposed to the proposal to remove to Canberra, and would favour the Seat of Government being in Sydney for the next ten years. At present we are spending money in the Federal area in a wasteful manner with no good results. What is the attitude of Parliament in regard to the establishment of the Capital in the immediate future? As I say, I favour the Federal Parliament sitting in Sydney for the next ten years.

Mr Watkins - Where would it go afterwards ?

Mr McWILLIAMS - I would leave that to the judgment of the House. I have always advocated Parliament sitting four days in the week. It is not fair to honorable members who come from Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania that we should meet here on only three days, because they practically have to live in Melbourne from the day Parliament opens until it is prorogued. When the House rises at 4.30 on Friday the honorable members to whom I refer have to remain in Melbourne until 3 o'clock on Wednesday; and, now that Parliament, in its wisdom, has increased the salaries of honorable members, it is only fair that we should put in one more day's work. At the present time there are practically only two days a week for Governmentbusiness, and I am therefore prepared to give up private members' day, but I do urge that we should meet on Tuesday, the result of which would be to give us as many actual Government days in the week as we now get in a fortnight. The Prime Minister has certainly not over-estimated the important work that awaits us; and it is high time we proceeded with the measures that must be discussed before Parliament rises. I ask the Government to consider very seriously the suggestion to sit four days a week, though not next week, seeing that honorable members must have made their arrangements.

Mr Mahony - Is that & threat to the Government ?

Mr MCWILLIAMS - I never threaten the Government, but. I ask them, in view of the great, importance of the measures to come before us, to call Parliament together on an extra day. This would give ample time for measures to be discussed as they ought to be discussed, instead of, as in the past, leaving many to the end of the session only to be rushed through one after the other, thus necessitating amending legislation when Parliament meets again. Let us give the Government the extra day in the week, and hold them fully and completely responsible for both the matter of the business and the manner in which it is conducted.

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