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Friday, 30 July 1920

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) . - The present sitting days were fixed in 1913, when I was Prime Minister. Previously the House met four days in each week, but it was a very inconvenient arrangement. It was impossible for honorable members living in other States to attend to their businesses at the week-end.

Mr PROWSE - What is the position of those who are compelled to live in Melbourne the whole year round?

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - Then they oan- ' not have any businesses in their States to- which they can personally attend. Honorable ' members whose homes are in other States found it very inconvenient to have to leave for Melbourne every Monday, in order to attend a sitting of the House oh Tuesday. Those were the circumstances in which the change was made from four sitting days to three sitting days in each week. The question of an extra sitting day is not connected with the other matter of permitting Government business to take precedence over private members' business. Even when we were sitting four days a week, it was the rule, when the session had been going for a while, and when the notice-paper began to become congested with important business, to wi|pe out private members' day.

Mr PROWSE - As pressure of business is the excuse for the motion, would not it be met by sitting an extra day in each week?

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - That is a matter which should be raised as an entirely separate question. If honorable members are anxious to sit on Tuesdays, the- Government must try to accommodate itself to that condition of affairs.

Mr Considine - Yes; bow your neck to the storm.

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - I would regard it. as acting in a democratic way. But the honorable member does not believe in Democracy. He believes in the big stick, and in Lenin's " dictation of the proletariat." Long ago he left all his democratic opinions behind him,- and, therefore, cannot understand me when I suggest that the Government should pay some regard to the opinion of a democratic assembly. I suggest that honorable members should accept the motion to-day, as nothing important will happen, even if it is agreed to. Private members' business is not' of first-rate importance. At any rate, it is not .so important as Government business is. The question of sitting on an extra day may very well be considered, and, in the face of a congested business-paper, I think the Government will soon be compelled to ask members to sit on an extra day per week, as well as give the additional time for which we are now asking.

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