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Wednesday, 28 July 1920


Mr HUGHES (Bendigo) (Prime Minister and Attorney-General) . - The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has based his argument on the first ^paragraph of the standing order dealing with the closure, and he has urged particularly that the word " proposed " in relation to any question means proposed from the Chair. He has quoted other Standing Orders in support of his contention, and has said very properly that we must discuss this question without reference to the side of the House upon which we sit. I agree with that entirely. I have sat on other sides of the House, and I am trying to deal with this question on its merits. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has referred us to the Standing Orders themselves. I brush aside the question of whether Mr. Speaker's ruling is in accordance with the ruling of yourself, sir - I put that on one side, and for the very reason that the honorable member for West Sydney advanced, namely, that all men are liable to error. You, sir, on the face of things, are no more likely to be free from a liability to error than any other man; and, therefore, we come back to the question itself. We have to ask ourselves, as every Court does in construing an Act: What is the object of these Standing Orders - what did the Legislature intend in adopting them ? Clearly, the object of this and the following Standing Orders is to prevent honorable members speaking -at undue length, and to give the House control over its own business. It is provided that when any motion is moved any member may get up, although another honorable member is speaking, and move " That the question be now put," " That the honorable member be no further heard," and so on. There are two possible meanings to the word " proposed," and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan) has said that it means a proposal from the Chair only. Very well, let us see whether that meaning is compatible with the object of the Standing Orders, which, as I say, is to give the House control over individual members and prevent them arresting the progress of business. If the honorable member's contention were correct, it would follow that an honorable member might speak for an hour and five minutes, and not until he had finished, and his seconder, with a like right, had spoken for another hour and five minutes, and the motion had been put from the Chair, would it be possible for any honorable member to move "That the question be now put." Further, when the question was put from the Chair, any honorable member might immediately move an amendment, on which he might speak for a like time, and when that amendment had been defeated, another member might move a similar one; and so the proceedings might go on ad infinitum. It is quite clear that the whole object of these Standing Orders is to prevent waste of the time of the House. In- the present case it is said that there was no motion before the Chair, but the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Mahony)7 it will be remembered, moved that the Orders of the Day should- be postponed until after the consideration of notice of motion No. 1, in the name of Mr. Groom. On this, the then Acting Treasurer (Sir Joseph' Cook) said that he understood that the business of the day had been called on, and, therefore, the honorable member's motion was too late. But you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, then said that the particular Order of the Day appearing first on the paper had not been called on, and, therefore, the motion of the honorable member for Dalley was in order. Will the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Ryan), in the face of these clear facts, say there was no motion before the Chair ? It will be seen that the order that appeared first on the business-paper had not been called on, and that, therefore, the motion of the honorable member for Dalley was in order; and that honorable member proceeded to discuss it at length. It was not until it was very obvious that the intention of the honorable member was to waste time that I got up and moved " That the question be now put."


Mr Mahony - I object to the remark that my object was clearly to waste time. It was nothing of the sort, and I ask that the reflection on myself be withdrawn.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - Will the right honorable the Minister withdraw the remark ?


Mr Hughes - What have I said ?







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