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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr BRENNAN (Batman) - I support the motion moved by. the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has stated that it is unprecedented for the Opposition to seek to make a statement upon a statement by the Prime Minister announcing the allocation of the various offices under a new administration. I point out, however, that the statement of the Prime Minister went far beyond the mere announcing of the names and the offices. His statement disclosed a radical and unprecedented departure from the principle of Cabinet responsibility and represen- t at ive government as hitherto carried on in Australia, and in the various parts of Australia. That, surely, was a matter upon which, leave having been graciously given to the Prime Minister, leave might well have been given to the Acting Leader of the Opposition also. But the matter extended even beyond those ample limits, because we witnessed in the House something which, I think, isabsolutely unprecedented in our experience of parliamentary government: that was, that the names of the Ministers having been mentioned from the table by the Prime Minis ter, one Minister immediately rose in his place and repudiated the appointment which the Prime Minister had just announced, and repudiated it for reasons, and on grounds, to which I have already referred, namely, that it was a radical departure from the principles of repre sentative government as Ave understand them.

Mr Pollard -It is the inauguration of a Fascist dictatorship.

Mr BRENNAN - I shall take a more convenient opportunity to refer to that aspect of the matter. My desire now is to keep this debate within those narrow limits which the Standing Orders prescribe for its consideration. Surely, when a ministry is announced, and when one Minister repudiates his appointment, and makes--

Mr Lyons - He resigned after he was appointed.

Mr BRENNAN - And makes very grave charges in a constitutional and political sense against the Prime Minis ter who has announced his appointment to a certain office, if ever there was an occasion upon which the Acting Leader of the Opposition might be granted the right to make a statement, this was such an occasion.

Mr SPEAKER - I have already ruled that that matter cannot be discussed. Leave was refused.

Mr BRENNAN - Very well. Therefore, I hope that honorable members opposite will see the fairness and propriety of our Acting Leader at least being allowed to make a statement on behalf of the Opposition regarding how all this presents itself to us, who represent one half of the people of Australia. We have had an announcement of radical changes in the method of parliamentary government, a profession of rebellion on the part of a Minister, and four statements made by leave without a word of protest from the Opposition; we have had this family brawl continued in our presence and in yours, Mr. Speaker, yet we, who represent so many of the people of Australia, are not allowed one spokesman to speak for those we represent. I can only express the hope that ministerial supporters will see the unfairness of such an arbitrary stand by the Prime Minister.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member is again transgressing. He may not use expressions of that kind simply because leave wa3 refused. I heard a number of voices say, "No".

Mr BRENNAN - It is difficult in a debute like this to keep within the narrow limits which yon, in your judgment, prescribe.

Mr SPEAKER - They are as prescribed by the Standing Orders.

Mr BRENNAN - I content myself with making my appeal to the House as a whole, because, after all, it is the Parliament as a whole which must protect its rights. This is not merely a matter of fair play to 'the Opposition, but is a matter of preserving the rights of Parliament as a whole and not denying those rights to the Opposition. I hope the motion will be carried.

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