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Tuesday, 8 March 1932

Mr BLAKELEY (Darling) .- The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Gullett) has made an extraordinary statement on behalf of the Prime Minister. ' It indicated that members of this House have been misled during the past two weeks. They certainly understood from statements previously made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade and Customs that the House would be given an opportunity to debate the action of the Government with regard to the tobacco duties. Honorable members are now informed that they are merely to have an opportunity to make a few speeches upon the subject, after which further action will be adjourned until such time as the Government is ready to proceed.- In answer to a question that was asked last week, the Prime Minister stated more or less defiantly that honorable members would have an opportunity to discuss the duties on tobacco more quickly than they expected.

Mr Lyons - I did not say that. I said that it was proposed to give the House an early opportunity to debate the duties on tobacco.

Mr BLAKELEY - If the honorable gentleman will indulge in retrospection he will recall that, in reply to a question, he stated, in an aggressive manner, that this matter would be discussed earlier than honorable members expected, and it was assumed by that discussion some finality would be reached. It comes now as a surprise to honorable members to learn that all the promises that have been made by the Government with regard to this matter are merely so much shadow sparring, and that determination of the issue is to be deferred to some future and obscure date.

Mr Gullett - What was the action of the Scullin Government when it was asked to permit the discussion of the tariff?

Mr BLAKELEY - It is perhaps because of my knowledge of .the delay that occurred that I am anxious to know the intention of this Government in the matter. The Government has the right to say that the tariff shall be discussed on some future occasion, or that it does not propose to allow a discussion on the tariff until it is about to go to the country, when it will introduce a validating bill.

Mr Gabb - The Scullin Government adopted a high handed attitude with regard to the tariff.

Mr BLAKELEY - It received a mandate from the people, and it brought down a validating bill.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! There is a tendency on the part of honorable members to enlarge the scope of the debate. The question for discussion is simple enough ; it is whether the Standing Orders shall or shall not be suspended for a certain purpose.

Mr BLAKELEY - The motion provides for the suspension of the Standing Orders, to allow the debate to be continued for more than two hours; but what do two or six or any other number of hours matter if no finality is reached ? Apparently the Government does not intend to allow the House to come to a decision.

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