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Friday, 30 July 1920

Mr BRENNAN (BATMAN, VICTORIA) - Did not the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) succeed in carrying a motion in favour of the initiative and referendum?

Mr CHARLTON - Yes; but what good has come of it? "What becomes of any motion carried on private members' day? It is a waste of time for the House to deal with private members' business when there is no means of giving effect to any resolution adopted unless the Government, who alone can take action to give the necessary effect to it, see fit to do so.

Mr Mahony - Honorable members can force the Government to take the necessary action.

Mr CHARLTON - I have never seen it done.

Mr Prowse - What about sitting on an extra day?

Mr CHARLTON - Apparently the honorable member, who is so anxious to get on with the business of the country, wants the extra sitting day for the discussion of private members' business, the futility of which I have just been endeavouring to point out. Has anything been achieved by the Thursday sittings, at which private members' business is dis. cussed? The answer is "No."

Mr Gabb - Because the Government always talk out private members' busi- ness

Mr CHARLTON - If the honorable member were on the Government bench he would do the same thing. The Go*vernment are placed in power by a majority, and will give effect to anything, which meets with their approval. I remember the occasion when honorable. members' made representations to the Government, led by the right honorable gentleman (Sir Joseph Cook), pointing out how very inconvenient it was for honorable members who visited their electorates at the week-end to be obliged to return to Melbourne to attend sittings on Tuesdays. We left it to the Government to increase the sitting days, ifat any time during the course of the session they found it necessary to do so on account of the congestion of business. The same practice should apply to-day. If it is found that we cannot get through all our business before Christmas, the Government, I presume, will ask us to sit on an extra day. My experience is that very little is done in Parliament during the first couple of months of a session. Members do not get down properly to work until towards the end of the session. As' I regard private members' day as a waste of time, I support the proposal to wipe it out. The further question of the extra sitting day can be left to the Government for future decision.

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