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Friday, 27 August 1920

Mr HUGHES (Bendigo) (Prime Minister and Attorney General) . - I move -

That the House at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next at 3 p.m.

The need for an extra sitting day is obvious. Parliament has been in session since the 26th February, but of measures that may be regarded as of first importance we have passed only the War Gratuity Bill, the Repatriation Bill, and the Anglo-Persian Oil Bill. In this House the Industrial Peace Bill has been dealt with, and we are now in the throes of parturition with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. That is practically all the legislation that has been done, and even our most friendly critic could not say that it is excessive for the time we havebeen at work. Honorable members, since they first had the pleasure of looking on each other's intelligent and radiant countenances, have had given to them an inducement to work harder, and I hope that I do not ask too much in requesting them to come here at 3 o,'clock on Tuesday next, when means will be found for occupying the rest of the day.

Mr Tudor - Does the motion mean that we are to sit on Tuesdays for the remainder of the session?

Mr HUGHES - Certainly. I do not like to do these things in too brutal a way, but I must add that to meet on Tuesday will not in itself be sufficient. It is a hateful thing to do ; yet next week I must move that the House meet on Thursday mornings at 11 o'clock a.m.

That is the end of my horrid programme for the time being. But let me put these considerations to the House. If honorable members wish to come here during January and February, of course the way is quite open; but a constitutional Convention is to be elected next year, and its election will be preceded by a campaign in which honorable members who take an interest in the alteration of the Constitution must bear a part. Some honorable members may wish to be candidates for election to the Convention, and they cannot be in their places here and in the country at the same time. Therefore, quite apart from the urgency of the legislation on the Government programme, there are good reasons why we should endeavour to conclude our business before Christmas. Let me, to the best of my ability, say without consulting the notice-paper what that business is. We have first of all to deal with a batch of industrial Bills, the second of which is now before the House. It is receiving the most minute and careful attention^ and in process of time will emerge and take its place amongst others on the statute-book. To follow there is the Public Service Arbitration Bill, which completes the batch of industrial measures. Another batch deals with the Public Service! gum Public Service - the Public Service Amendment Bill, and a Public Service Business Management Bill. There must be a separate Public Service Superannuation Bill, unless we can incorporate its provisions in the main amending Public Service Bill. The Navigation Bill contains, I think, about 140 clauses, and that is not a measure to be "rushed." The other day I gave notice' of a New Guinea Bill, and also a small Bill to amend the Nauru Island Act, necessary in consequence of our having included. Ocean Island. There axe Bills relating to passports and naturalization, and the question of defence.

Mr TUDOR (YARRA, VICTORIA) - What about Bill Watt - not what Bill?

Mr HUGHES - I do not know; we shall see what we shall see, and in the meantime I cnn only say "Watt, oh!'' I have got to rather an appalling stage in my catalogue of crimes, but I have still to say that my right honorable friend, the Treasurer, proposes to deliver his nearly incubated Budget, which will involve certain consequential legislation. Then there is . a Bill relating to Commonwealth bank notes, the Estimates, and the Tariff. An opportunity has been promised to discuss the Estimates, and an opportunity must be afforded. Honorable members may look at such a list of measures lightheartedly, and even smile; but if they smile after they have been considering them for eight or nine weeks, they are more optimistic and cheerful than I am when at my best. When I saw the House the last time it had been at work on the Tariff for eight months, there was little smiling about it, and on that occasion I heard the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney), at 3 o'clock in the morning, deliver an oration on dungarees that would have created commotion in a cemetery. However, I have endeavoured to apportion out the time at our disposal and I see that, allowing a fair margin for each measure, we cannot get throught under twenty-eight weeks. There are now sixteen weeks between us and Christmas, and, therefore, it is necessary, if we hope to complete the business, to practically double our sitting time. I confess that that sort of thing has no charm for me, but it lias to be done, and I am asking only a fair thing, to which I think honorable members will agree. Although some of these measures may not appeal to some honorable members, yet every honorable member has some measure in which he is interested, and desires to see passed. As to the Tariff, the present state of uncertainty ought not to be allowed to continue; we ought not to permit a Tariff to be ad ministered, as for years past, without any consideration at all being devoted to it by this House. We are confronted with a mass of work that calls for our earnest and immediate attention, and I beg to submit the motion.

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