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Friday, 9 July 1920

Mr SPEAKER - Order !

Mr Tudor - I will get it in again at Ballarat this evening.

Mr Hughes - If the honorable member for Yarra persists in repeating that statement his conduct is calculated to lead to a miscarriage of justice. It is quite untrue, and I give the press report an unqualified denial. The honorable member's statement has no foundation, and he alleges that that is the reason why he did not inform me of his intention to move a motion of censure.

Mr Tudor - No, I do not.

Mr SPEAKER -I must direct the attention of the right honorable the Prime Minister to the fact that he is not discussing the point of order.

Mr Hughes - Very well, Mr. Speaker. I have already shown that under the Standing Orders the motion of the Leader of the Opposition was treated in a proper manner. So far as discourtesy is concerned, the honorable member has been most discourteous to me, although I have always been most courteous to him. There was no reason whatever why he should not have informed me of the step he intended taking. The Leader of the Opposition has spoken as if this motion was of some interest to the country. He must remember, however, that his party is now down to twenty-four or twentyfive.

Mr Blakeley - Twenty-six after tomorrow.

Mr Hughes - The position of the Leader of the Opposition and his followers is well known in this House.

Mr Considine - The position of the Government is well known.

Mr Hughes - Bah ! If the motion were intended to be in the public interest we could understand it. Let me remind honorable members of something.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I cannot allow the right honorable the Prime Minister to proceed in this manner, as a point of order is before the Chair, and that is the only question at present open to discussion.

Mr Hughes - I am discussing the point of order.

Mr SPEAKER - I am afraid the Prime Minister is departing from the question before the Chair, and discussing quite a different, although very important, subject.

Mr Mathews - On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I desire to ask whether the Prime Minister is in order in using the expression "Pah."

Mr Hughes - I said " Bah," not " Pah." The members of the Country party and I are deeply interested in the' wool question, and as I am meeting a deputation' this afternoon in reference to matters relating to wool and sheep, it is surely a proper expression to use. The Leader of the Opposition knows very well why he is endeavouring to move his motion. I know what occurred upstairs last night.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The right honorable the Prime Minister must discuss the point of order. It is one that can easily be decidedwithout assistance

Mr Charlton - On a point of order, will you permit me, Mr. Speaker, to present another aspect that arises? I am not going to speak on the question of the ruling you may give on the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Tudor). You, sir, placed this motion at the top of the notice-paper, and the Government are now proceeding with Orders of the Day. Consequently we have to deal with the Navigation Bill in Committee, and all questions placed by honorable members on the notice-paper will have to remain unanswered.

Mr Hughes - Mr. Speaker, on a point of order--

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! There is already a point of order before the Chair, and I cannot allow the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) to be interrupted at this juncture.

Mr Charlton - I desire to point out that, it having now been decided to call on the first Order of the Day, honorable members are debarred from receiving answers to the questions they have submitted. If notices of motion must have preference, and the Government treat this motion in this way, there will be no possibility of receiving answers to the questions, because it can be kept there so long as this Parliament lasts.

Several honorable members rising,

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I do not require any assistance from honorable members in connexion with this matter, and I am prepared to give my ruling. The point has been 'decided long ago, and we have a well-established precedent for the course now being adopted. I can fully appreciate the position mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton), but, unfortunately, that is a difficulty which is not of my making, and one which has resulted owing to the operation of our Standing Orders. The rule, as honorable members know, is that at the expiration of two hours from the time of the meeting of the House, all motions not then disposed of must be interrupted and Orders of the Day called on. That has been our practice whenever motions of this character have been before the House. Questions upon notice have, at times, been taken before Orders of the Day, with the concurrence of the House. But it is not strictly in accordance with the Standing Orders. The practice of calling on Orders of the' Day on the expiration of the two-hour limitation for motions is departed from on occasions when the Government decide they will not transact any business until a noconfidence motion i3 disposed of. In this case, the Government have intimated their intention of going on with public business in the ordinary way; so, although the notice of motion in question is the first on the business-paper, and is placed before Government business, it must be dealt with before the expiration of two hours after the meeting of the House, at which time Orders of the Day must be called on or be interrupted. This question was debated on the 7th November, 1913, when the present Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) took an active part in a discussion relating to a no-confidence motion moved by Mr. Fisher. On that occasion, a Friday, the motion was reached and discussed, and after the expiration of two hours it was interrupted under standing order 119, and was set down on the following Tuesday's noticepaper, a copy of which I have before me, as a first Order of the Day as private members' business, Government Orders of the Day and Notices of Motion intervening. In this instance, the two hours allowed for motions had expired before this particular motion had a chance to be called on, and I had no option, under the circumstances, but to carry out the Standing Orders and allow the Orders of the Day to be proceeded with as the next business. The trouble this morning was that the motion was not reached owing to the honorable member for Illawarra (Mr. Lamond) moving the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of urgent public business.

Mr Mathews - It was a put-up job.

Mr SPEAKER - I can only speak of the facts. Several honorable members rose in their places to substantiate the urgency of the motion, which, therefore, had to be allowed to proceed, and the allotted two hours were absorbed before the motion of the honorable member for Yarra was reached. The fact that this is a no-confidence motion does not alter the principle at all. I quote from a ruling in Hansard on the 7th November, 1913, where the following appears: -

The fact that this is a no-confidence motion does not alter the principle at all. If it had been intended to specially exempt noconfidencemotions from the operation' of the closure provisions, it would have been so stated in those provisions.

Mr Tudor - That does not apply. On that occasion a no-confidence motion was discussed at least two hours, but the. Government now will not even allow that.

Mr SPEAKER - The difference on this occasion is that the two hours allotted had already expired before the motion was reached. A motion for the adjournment of the House to discuss a question of urgent public business had to be interrupted, and at the expiration of two hours it became necessary to call on the Orders of the Day, because the House had not ordered otherwise before the expiration of that time.

Mr Blakeley - On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I desire to draw your attention to the fact that you have ruled, with reference to motions, that after two hours have elapsed the Government are quite in order in going on with their business. I contend that deals only with motions, and does not relate in any way to other business on the notice-paper. Standing order No. 92 reads -

After notices have been given, questions may be put to Ministers of the Crown relating to public affairs, and to other members relating to any Bill, motion, or other public matter connected with the business on the notice-paper, of which such members may have charge.

Standing order No. 95, relating to questions on notice, reads -

Notice of. question' shall be given by a member delivering the same at the table fairly written, signed by himself, and showing the day proposed for asking such question.

Standing order No. 68 also provides -

The House shall proceed each day with its ordinary business in the following routine: - (1) Presentation of petitions; (2) giving notices; ( 3 ) questions on notice ; (4) motions and Orders of the Day, or viceversa, as set down on the notice-paper.

Whilst I have been a member of this House, I have never known such an extraordinary procedure as this to be adopted in connexion with the business set out on the notice-paper. Whenever the time expires for the discussion of motions, whatever their nature may be, questions upon notice have always been called on. No reason has been given to-day for the nonanswering of the questions on thebusinesspaper. No Minister asked that they should be postponed, and I contend that until they have been disposed of, either by being replied to in the usual courteous way, or by being postponed at the request of, or on the motion of, a Minister, other business cannot be taken.

Mr SPEAKER - None of the points mentioned 'by the honorable member really apply to the present position. Standing order 119 explicitly directs that, on the expiration of two hours from the time of the meeting of the House, Orders of the Day must betaken in rotation, "unless the House order otherwise." That procedure has been followed.

Mr Ryan - I move, in conformity with standing order 119 -

That the consideration of Orders of the Day be postponed until after the consideration of notice of motion No. 1.

Mr SPEAKER - I cannot accept the motion at this stage, because it has been decided on many occasions that when it is desired to alter the order of business provided for by the standing order just mentioned, action must be taken within two hours of the meeting of the House. The point was raised and thoroughly discussed on the occasion to which I have referred.

Mr Mahony - I move -

That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair.

Mr Riley - I support the motion. It seems to me that the House-

Mr SPEAKER - The motion cannot be debated. The Orders of the Day have already been called on, and I should have already left the chair had it not been for the raising of the point of order, which it was desirable to settle before I did so. It having now been settled, I leave the chair in conformity with the Order of the Day for the further consideration of the Navigation Bill in Committee.

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