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Friday, 30 April 1920

Mr HIGGS (.Capricornia) .- The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Mcwilliams) has up to the present made a most excellent showing as Leader of the Country party ; but I hardly think he realizes that if his amendment is carried the work of repatriation will be held up for a considerable time, because no Government can afford to permit its Bill to be made ridiculous, as it would appear to be if the word which the honorable member wishes to have inserted in the clause is. placed there. If the Committee insists on its original amendment, the clause will read -

Subject to this Act, the members of the Commission first appointed under this Act shall hold office for the term of three years, and shall be eligible for re-appointment.

But the honorable member wishes the clause to provide that the Commissioners are to be appointed for three months only.

Mr Mcwilliams - Yes; on the understanding that no Commission will be appointed.

Mr HIGGS - I think the Chairman, if he desired to be very strict, might, under the Standing Orders, declare that the amendment comes under the category of frivolous amendments, because, unless the honorable member for Franklin seriously intends to wreck the Bill, he has moved a frivolous amendment.

Mr McWilliams - It would not wreck the Bill if the Commission were not appointed.

Mr HIGGS - The Minister declares that if the honorable member's amendment is carried it will wreck the Bill. No self -respecting Ministry could ' allow such .an amendment to be carried. I am not particular whether the period of the appointment of the Commissioners is three years or five years. The point is not material enough to hold up the Bill. If the Minister says that he is willing to agree with the attitude of another place I am prepared to support him iri fixing the period at five years.

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