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Friday, 30 July 1920

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) .-. Any procedure which will afford this House extended opportunities for giving attention to Government business shall have my support. In my brief- experience here I have noted that the closure, whenever it has been applied, has been perfectly justified; and similar methods will receive my support on all like occasions. The matters to which the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) has drawn attention are of such importance that they become the responsibilities not merely of

One side of 'the House, but of all- honorable members. The Prime Minister referred to the three grave subjects of finance, defence, and the Tariff. During the past four weeks or more, what work has the House done ? What legislation has it passed? If honorable members can only get to the problems ahead of them the interests of the country will be served.

Honorable members have made considerable reference to the Federal Capital. Just now we are asking the people to subscribe to the second peace loan, and the Government are offering a rate of interest which will penalize hundreds of small men who desire to secure private loans, because the rates of interest will correspondingly increase. Then, we are faced at this period with an unprecedentedly heavy financial strain. In view of these facts, I ask the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook), and honorable members generally, if there is any wisdom in expending money upon a temporary Capital.

Mr Riley - On a point of order, I submit that the honorable member is not dealing with the question before the Chair, but is entering upon a financial discussion. *

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon J M Chanter - I have permitted honorable members to allude to various items of business. I have asked, at the same time, that they will not discuss the merits or demerits of any particular measure or phase of legislation, but will advance their reasons why this motion should or should not be. agreed to.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - I quite understand the objection to the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. Riley) to my touching upon Canberra.

Mr Riley - All I am interested in is that if you do so - 1 shall be permitted to do the same.

Mr ROBERT COOK (INDI, VICTORIA) - I feel that I am quite justified in referring to this matter, in consequence of the extremely difficult financial position in which this coun- try finds itself to-day. We are committed in respect of many millions of money, and it is for the Federal Parliament to concentrate its forces with a view to bringing about the utmost efficiency and economy. All endeavours having those objects in view shall receive my consistent support.

Regarding expenditure on defence, there are certain matters which are bound to be taken in hand. The Prime Minister has stated that Australia must have some settled policy. When- we study the cost of the war, and look upon our position in the world generally, we are bound to ask whether it shall be taken for granted that Australia is to remain under the sole protection of the Mother Land for ever. ITo ; we must foot the bill. We must take care of ourselves; and it will cost millions. We must find the money to provide adequate defence, or run the risk of handing our land and our people over to those whom the honorable member for Barrier (Mr. Considine) would like to see in control.

I agree with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) that, no matter what Government is in power, it should have support for such a proposition as that now before the Chair. I would stand by a Labour Administration in such a proposal just as readily as I propose to do in the case of the present Government, or as I would do if a Government selected from the Country party were in power - as it will be later on. I shall assist the Government in pushing on with its business in preference to that of private members. We have witnessed wrangling day after day, with no business done. As for the suggestion that this House should sit an extra day a week, and regarding the criticism that the business claims of honorable members in the distant States should be considered, I would remind the House that salaries were recently increased in -order to offset that precise difficulty. We now, more than ever, owe the whole of our services to the country; and, no matter what may be the nature or urgency of our outside affairs, the public duty of honorable members should be regarded as paramount. We cannot do our duty honestly if we are prepared to give only half of our time and the fag-end of our brains to the business of the country. Seeing that there is such an enormous volume of business ahead,. I trust that honorable members, without exception, will assist the Government to the full extent of their abilities. 1 hope there will be noblocking of the important business of the Government which has in it no taint of party polities.

Mr.NICHOLLS (Macquarie) [12.11]. - Do I understand that the amendment of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) has been ruled out of order?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - That is so.

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