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Thursday, 7 December 1905
Page: 6505

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) - The concluding words of this clause form the crux of it. I contend that they give the Minister power to absolutely prohibit all contract immigration. The Minister has, merely to express an opinion unfavorable to any contract to prevent a contract immigrant "from entering the Commonwealth. Under the circumstances, it is fair that the consideration of this clause should be postponed until there is a larger attendance of honorable members, and until a more reasonable hour. After sitting here for such a prolonged period, the faculties of honorable members are not as alert as they would otherwise be. Consequently, I move -

That the consideration of this clause be postponed until to-morrow.

The CHAIRMAN - I am afraid that it is, not competent for the honorable member to do that, because the Committee may not be sitting to-morrow.

Mr JOHNSON - Then I move-

That the consideration of the clause be postponed until after the consideration of the remaining clauses of the Bill.

Several honorable members have gone to their homes in the confident belief that the House would adjourn after the second reading of the Bill had been carried.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Where did they get that belief?

Mr JOHNSON - That was the impression which they derived from conversation with Ministerial supporters.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - Without authority.

Mr JOHNSON - I do not say that any specific promise to that effect was made. But the fact remains that as the result of conversation with honorable members who are in close touch with the Government, they were induced to believe that the House would adjourn immediately the second reading of the measure had been agreed to. Then I understand that a difficulty is being experienced in securing a pair for a member of the Opposition to whom a pair is always granted. I am perfectly certain that even at great physical discomfort that honorable member would have remained had he known that a pair would not be forthcoming.

Mr Wilks - That difficulty has now been overcome.

Mr JOHNSON - At any rate, that was the situation which obtained until a few minutes ago. A few days ago, when the Prime Minister spoke of the necessity for holding longer sittings, he led us to believe, inferentially, that if the House met at 10.30 a.m., we might expect to adjourn at a reasonable hour in the evening. He even mentioned11 p.m. or 11.30 p.m. A statement of that kind may reasonably be regarded as a promise that we would not be expected to sit here all night. Another reason why the clause should be postponed is that the officers in attendance in this House are being sweated day after day in a fashion which is altogether unjustifiable.

The CHAIRMAN - Such reasons as the honorable member is now giving cannot be advanced in support of the postponement of the clause, because if the clause is postponed there will be nothing to prevent the Committee going on with the Bill.

Mr JOHNSON - If the clause is postponed, until after the consideration of other clauses, honorable members who have gone away under a misapprehension as to the business to be done to-night may be. present when it is again discussed. It is a degradation of Parliament for the Government to attempt to bludgeon this measure through Committee in the way proposed.

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