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Thursday, 24 November 1927


The CHAIRMAN (Mr Bayley (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND)

The question before the Chair is that the first item of the Estimates under Division I., be agreed to, and, the closure having been applied, that question cannot be further debated.


Mr McGrath - On a point of order, I submit that the closure applied only to the amendment.


The CHAIRMAN - The original question before the Chair was " That the first item of the Estimates, Division I. - The President, £1,300 - be agreed to," upon which the Leader of the Opposition moved, by way of amendment, that the amount be. reduced by £1. Consequently there was before the Chair a motion and an amendment. When the Prime Minister's motion, " That the question be now put," was carried, it applied to both questions then before the Chair.


Mr McGrath - I desire to move that the item be reduced by 10s., as a protest against the action of the Government in closing Parliament for practically eighteen months, and, upon its reassembling, gagging honorable members.


The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member is distinctly out of order. I have already told him that no further discussion may take place on the first item. After it has been disposed of, the honorable member may discuss any subsequent item.


Mr Scullin - Do I understand the ruling to be that the closure resolution debars any further amendment or discussion of the main question? I submit that before the honorable member for Ballarat can be debarred from moving a further amendment, thegag must be applied to the original motion.


The CHAIRMAN - Standing Order A b dealing with the closure reads -

When the motion " That the question be now put " has been carried, and the question consequent thereon has been decided, any further motion may be at once made, which may be requisite to bring to a decision any question already proposed from the Chair; and also, if a clause be then under consideration, a motion may be made " That the question That certain words of the clause defined in the motion stand part of the clause,' or ' That the clause stand part of or be added to the bill be now put.' " Such motions shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate.

When the Prime Minister moved " That the question be now put," his motion covered all the questions then before the Chair.


Mr Charlton - I dissent from your ruling, sir. Discussion was confined to the amendment before the committee, and the Prime Minister's closure motion related to the amendment only. Any honorable members who have not previously spoken on the budget may now address themselves to the motion, " That the first item be agreed to." If that were not so, those honorable members would be deprived of their right to speak. Your ruling, if enforced, would set up a precedent that would considerably impair the rights and privileges of honorable, members. Any honorable member who so desired could have spoken to the amendment only without forfeiting his right to speak subsequently on the main question.


The CHAIRMAN - A member speaking after an amendment has been moved is regarded as speaking to both the original' question and the amendment. The Prime Minister's motion " That the question be now put " referred to the main question before the committee, and in order that it might be put, the amendment had first to be disposed of. The amendment having been negatived, the committee must now dispose of the main question in accordance with the closure resolution.


Mr McGrath - You, Mr. Chairman, must be clairvoyant, for you seem to know what was in the Prime Minister's mind. I do not think you have treated us fairly. Some consideration should be shown to members who have waited long hours for an opportunity to speak on the budget. The Prime Minister has been guilty of many unfair practices, but I think that on this occasion you, Mr. Chairman, have not rightly interpreted his action. I question whether your ruling is in accordance with the Standing Orders.


The CHAIRMAN - I cannot permit the honorable member to discuss that matter. I am waiting for him to state his point of order.


Mr McGrath - I shall do so. The Prime Minister moved " That the question be now put. The question was the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. That question was put by the application of the guillotine. We then reverted to the original question namely, that the first item be agreed to. I claim that the Prime Minister did not move the motion that you, sir, say he moved. Have you, Mr. Chairman, ever known a previous instance of an amendment and the main question being put together ?


The CHAIRMAN - Order! It might make matters clearer if I quoted a few precedents that have been established in this House. On the 22nd July, 1920, Mr. Hughes, who was then Prime Minister, moved " That the question he now put." The question was put, andthe

House divided. The question was resolved in the affirmative. The question " That the words proposed to be added be so added" was then put, and again the House divided. Immediately afterwards, and without discussion, the main question was put.

Mr.Makin. - It is possible that on the occasion to which you, sir, have just referred, no honorable member rose to speak. The motion of the Prime Minister to-night referred only to the question then before the chair, namely, the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. That being so, the motion " That the question be now put " could have related only to that amendment. If the Prime Minister desires now to take a course in accordance with the Standing Orders, he may do so; but I submit, Mr. Chairman, that it is not competent for the Chair to take the course that it has taken. I hope that you will reconsider your ruling, because I fear that it will establish a bad precedent.


Mr Bruce - Most honorable gentlemen


Mr Blakeley - We object to the Chairman doing the dirty work which the Prime Minister is afraid to do.


Mr Bruce - Had the Chairman heard that remark, I feel sure he would have called upon the honorable member to withdraw it. On various occasions we have had experience of the operation of the Standing Order providing for the moving of the motion " That the question be now put." It must be within the recollection of honorable members that on every occasion when that motion has been moved and there has been an amendment before the Chair, the amendment, and then the main question have been put to the Committee. We have already dealt with the amendment. The Standing Orders provide that when the motion " That the question be now put " is moved, such motion shall be put forthwith and decided without amendment or debate. Although there is another course open to me-


Mr Scullin - Why does not the right honorable gentleman take it?


Mr Bruce - Had the Chairman ruled otherwise, I could immediately have moved again " That the question he now put," hut to do that would be to make our own Standing Orders futile. Whatever honorable members may desire, I appeal to them not to render futile their own Standing Orders.

Mr.Brennan. - The right honorable gentleman meets us with a club in one hand and a glove on the other. We cannot allow that.


The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Batman is out of order.

Honorable members interjecting -


Mr Blakeley - I suggest that the time is opportune for Mr. Speaker to be sent for.


The CHAIRMAN - The committee has had ample opportunity to discuss my ruling and the points of order that have been taken thereon. I again give my ruling -


Mr Brennan - I rise to a point of order.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member for Batman is out of order in remaining on his feet while the Chairman is standing. I repeat my ruling that the motion, " That the question be now put " covers both the amendment and the original motion. The question now before the Chair is - " That the first item be agreed to." Those of that opinion will say " Aye " -


Mr Scullin - I move -

That the Chairman's ruling be dissented from.


The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) has notified his intention of moving that my ruling be dissented from. I point out that I must first put the question to the committee, and thereafter any honorable member who so desires will be in order in moving that my ruling be dissented from. The question is- - " That the first item be agreed to.







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