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Wednesday, 16 March 1932


Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) .- I do not intend to support the motion. This Parliament has rights, and it is one of the duties of the Opposition to preserve those rights when they are threatened by the Government. It is necessary, sometimes, for a government to move the suspension of the Standing Orders to expedite business-


Mr Thompson - The right honorable member did it often enough.


Mr SCULLIN - I never did anything to equal this. I challenge the honorable member to quote a precedent for the Government's action to-day. We have here a proposed motion which is probably the most important, and certainly the most drastic, which has ever come before this Parliament, and it is thrown before honorable members for them to pass without their even having had time to read it.


Mr Gabb - The matter is urgent.


Mr SCULLIN - Why did not the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) give notice yesterday of his intention to move the motion? Why did it not appear on the business-sheet to-day? Why was not the motion distributed so that honorable members might have an opportunity to read it?


Mr White - The Leader of the Opposition will be able to get the. adjournment, and to study the text of the motion before the matter is proceeded with further.


Mr SCULLIN - The Prime Minister has intimated that the motion is to be put through immediately. If he will state now that I can have the adjournment, I shall withdraw my objection.


Mr Lyons - It would be impossible to deal this week with the Government business already outlined if that were done.


Mr SCULLIN - It is evident that the motion is to be rushed through immediately. I ask honorable members whether any of them have yet had time to read it. An honorable member supporting the Government interjected that there was no need to read it. He surely, is a wonderful representative of the people !


Mr Perkins - Who made that interjection? I did not hear it.


Mr SCULLIN - It came from the Government side of the House. The interjection shows how seriously he takes his responsibilities, and how blindly he is prepared to follow the lead of the Government. I again ask honorable members how many of them have read the motion ?

MINISTERIAL Members. - All of us.


Mr SCULLIN - -Perhaps they read it at 2 o'clock this morning, during the caucus meeting, but honorable members on this side of the House have had no such opportunity. Honorable members opposite may make light of this matter if they choose, but this is not the proper way to treat a national parliament, or any parliament, for that matter. Honorable members who intend to support the motion without even having read it are adopting a most irresponsible attitude, whether they sit behind the Government, with the Country party, or elsewhere. Oh this document, which is now placed before us for the first time, there is, first of all, a copy of the certificate by the Auditor-General, setting out the amount of money owing.


Mr Gabb - The Leader of the Opposition will surely not challenge the certificate, and that is the main part of it.


Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - I thought that the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) was an independent.


Mr Gabb - So I am.


Mr SCULLIN - The honorable member for Angas has proved by his interjection that he does not understand the motion.


Mr Gabb - I have read it since I have been sitting here.


Mr SCULLIN - The honorable member may have read it, but it is evident that he does not understand it. He said that the Auditor-General's certificate was the most important part of the document.


Mr Gabb - No; I said that it was the largest part.


Mr SCULLIN - The honorable member chooses now to shift his ground. Obviously, the most important part of the motion is comprised of the list or classes of revenue which it is proposed to attach. I should like honorable members to inform me how much revenue is involved in the list before us. Do they know anything about the matter? Have they looked up the figures to see just how much revenue it is proposed to attach? Does any one know anything of this matter except, perhaps, the Government?


Mr E J HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - A footnote says that revenue may be attached to the extent of the amount set forth.


Mr SCULLIN -Can the honorable member tell me the amount involved in the long list of revenues set forth in the motion? If that is not evident, howcan the House intelligently decide whether the whole of the list of items should be agreed to or not ? There is an amount of less than £1,000,000 to be collected, but what amount of revenue is it proposed to attach?


Mr E J HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What does it matter?


Mr SCULLIN - It ought to matter to the honorable member if he is a taxpayer in the State of New South Wales.


Mr Lane - Why apologize for the Lang Government?


Mr SCULLIN - The honorable member has been throwing across the chamber statements which have no foundation in fact. He is merely insulting, and is rarely anything else. If the honorable member understood my attitude on this matter he would know that I have no sympathy with Mr. Lang, and no support for his methods or his actions, but I have a strong sense of responsibility to this Parliament, and to the people - a sense of responsibility, which, apparently, the honorable member does not share. I do not propose to agree to the suspension of Standing Orders, so that the House may pass a motion of which notice should have been given yesterday, but which hasonly just been placed before honorable members. The amount to be collected is, as I have said, under £1,000,000, but so far as I can judge by studying this motion, the Commonwealth Government asks permission to attach revenue amounting to between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000, or two-thirds of the revenue of the State.


Mr McBride - It will collect only the amount due, which is something over £900,000.


Mr SCULLIN - Then why attach twothirds of the revenue of the State? . Honorable members have a right to go into these matters fully, instead of which they will have to rely on the explanation of the Prime Minister, which may leave the positionjust as clear as it was when he began. I protest against the proposed action of the Government, and intend to oppose it.







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