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Thursday, 24 November 1927

Mr BRUCE - When this slight interruption took place I was pointing out that the budget debate this year had already occupied a little less than 50 hours. The longest period previously occupied in a similar debate during the last ten years was 31 hours 45 minutes. Honorable members will, therefore, see that this year a very much longer time has been devoted to the consideration of the Government's financial proposals than on any previous occasion for ten years.

Mr McGrath - I move -

That the Prime Minister be no longer heard.

The CHAIRMAN - That motion has just been decided in the negative.

Mr BRUCE - I put it to honorable gentlemen opposite that, comparing the time allowed this year for the consideration of the Estimates with that allowed by the Labour Government in 1910-11, and again in 1911-12, I am acting fairly.

Mr Brennan - I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Ballarat has moved that the Prime Minister be no longer heard, a motion with which I cordially agree. I understand that you, sir, have ruled that a similar motion has already been decided. That may be so, but since then the Prime Minister has spoken again. It was in respect of the continuation of his speech that the further motion was submitted.

Mr Jackson - This is a gross abuse of the privileges of Parliament.

Mr.Brennan. - I ask you, sir, to call upon the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Jackson) to withdraw that remark.

Mr Jackson - I was merely acting as a relay station for the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. G. Francis).

Mr Brennan - Do I understand that the honorable gentleman has withdrawn his remark?

The CHAIRMAN - I understand that he has.

Mr Brennan - I was addressing myself, when I was interrupted by the honororable member to-

Mr R GREEN (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I rise to a point of order.

The CHAIRMAN - Only one point of order can be before the committee at a time.

Mr Brennan - I trust that I shall beheard in reasonable silence, because I believe that interruptions are disorderly, and unless they are provoked, they are unjustifiable. The honorable member for Ballarat moved that the Prime Minister be no longer heard. With that I agreed. A t that stage the Prime Minister was continuing his speech, and the continuation was not, so far as I Heard, any better than the first chapter. We desire that the motion should be put. I have not the slightest desire to labour this point, and if I were allowed one minute without interruption I would be able to conclude.

The CHAIRMAN - Order !

Mr Brennan - The honorable member for Ballarat moved his motion for a very practical reason. The speech he was endeavouring to stop was a plethora of useless words from the Prime Minister, and we desired that it should be discontinued so that we might discuss the departmental Estimates in the limited space of time at our disposal.

The CHAIRMAN - Order !

Mr Brennan - The motion had a very real and practical purpose. The mere fact that the Prime Minister's voice is music in his own ears, and that he occupies nine-tenths of the time of the House in talking, is no reason why the question should be left to him. It is quite enough that the Prime Minister is beautiful to look upon, and there is no reason why we should have to listen to him talk.

Honorable members interrupting,

The CHAIRMAN - Order! Order! I name the honorable member for Batman.

Mr BRUCE - I trust that the honorable member for Batman will not persist in his attitude after you have named him. I ask him to observe the ruling of the Chair, so that the naming may be withdrawn.

Mr Brennan - Surely the Chairman has not named me again.

Mr Charlton - In justice to the honorable member for Batman, I wish to say that I am quite sure he did not hear you, sir.

The CHAIRMAN - It was for that purpose that I stood.

Mr Charlton - He was looking across the chamber at the time, and on account of the noise going on he could not hear you.

Mr Brennan -I was not aware that I had been named, and I assure you it is no pleasure to me to be named. There is no more orderly member than myself in this committee.

The CHAIRMAN - Will the honorable member resume his seat? I rose before to point out to the honorable member for Batman that he was speaking away from the point of order to which he rose, and I was about to request him to address himself more closely to the point of order.

Mr Brennan - I think I have said all I wanted to say on that subject.

The CHAIRMAN - In connexion with the motion that the Prime Minister be no longer heard, the provision for such a motion was inserted as a safety valve for any honorable member who deemed that another member was speaking offensively, tediously or in a manner calculated to offend honorable members. The honorable member for Ballarat moved that the Prime Minister be no longer heard. The question was put and negatived, proving that the majority of the members of the committee were desirous that the Prime Minister should continue his speech. The Chair was paying particular attention to what the Prime Minister was saying when the honorable member for Ballarat on the second occasion moved that he be no longer heard, and was of the opinion that nothing objectionable had been said. The Prime Minister was speaking in the same terms as those in which he had spoken previously, and the Chair therefore ruled that the question had been already decided by the committee, and could not be further considered. The Chair accepts the apology of the honorable member for Batman, and withdraws the naming.

Mr BRUCE - I do not propose to delay thecommittee in regard to this matter, and I merely conclude -

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The right honorable gentleman's time has expired.

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