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Thursday, 12 August 1920

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The honorable member is raising a point of order on a petition whose contents are not known to the House. I suggest, therefore, that he should reserve his remarks, and that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) should submit his proposal in two questions: First, " That the petition be read," so that the House may be seised of its contents; and then, " That the petition be received."

Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - The rule is that, upon the presentation of a petition, its' purport must be stated, and the motion moved that the petition be received. Later, the motion can be moved that the petition be read.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - I understood the honorable member forFawkner to say that the petition was in conformity with the Standing Orders, and concluded with a prayer -; but he did not state its purport. My desire is that honorable members should know what it contains. A suggested, therefore, that he should move first that the petition be read, in order that honorable members might know what it contains ; but if the House desires, I will put the question, "That the petition be received."

Mr Bamford -My point is that it cannot be received.

Mr Riley - We might refer the petition to a Select Committee to ascertain what it is about, and report to the House.

Mr West - Can a petition be received which is signed by persons who are not electors of Australia, and by persons who are under the age of eighteen years? -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The Chair has no cognisance of those facts.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Would it be possible to ascertain the names of the persons under the age of seven years attached to the petition?

Mr Hughes - What do you propose to do to them?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - If the petition were read, the House would know what it is all about. The standing order dealing with the matter is as follows: -

90.   Tie only questions entertained by the House on the presentation of apetition shall be - 1. "That the petition be received;" 2. "That the petition be read;" 3. (in the case of a petition against a return by the Returning officer) "That the petition be referred at once to the Committee of Elections and Qualifications; " or, 4. (in the case of a petition respecting any subject then under consideration of a Select Committee) "That the petition be referred to the Select Committee on - . "

That is the course I am pursuing.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Petition received.

Motion (by Mr. Maxwell) agreed to -

That the petition be read.

Petition read as follows : -

To the Honorable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.

The Humble Petition of the undersigned, being electors of the House of Representatives in the State of Victoria, Commonwealth of Australia,showeth as follows: -

1.   That the Parliamentary Allowances Act increasing the Parliamentary allowances of members of both Houses by £400 per year was recently passed.

2.   That the passing of this Act without the electors having first been consulted has subverted public trust in responsible government.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that an Act may be passed repealing the above Act until the electors have had an opportunity of expressing an opinion at a general election.

And your petitioners will ever pray, &c.

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