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Wednesday, 16 March 1932

Mr White - I think the question should now be put, but as I have been requested to withdraw my motion, I wish to do so.

Mr SPEAKER - The motion having gone to a division, can be withdrawn only by leave of the House.

Motion - by leave - withdrawn.

Mr FORDE - When I was interrupted by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White), I was protesting against the action of the Prime Minister in rushing upon us such an important motion without giving us any notice of his intention to do so . The honorable gentleman, and the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) have claimed that all honorable members knew what was coming forward. That is not in accordance with fact. All that we on this side knew - and we learned it from a paragraph that appeared in the press - was that accidentally certain provisions had crept into a measure that was introduced a week ago. Yet that measure, I presume, was carefully considered by the Cabinet before it was brought forward. This motion to deal immediately with which the Prime Minister wishes to suspend the Standing Orders, has been thrown before honorable members without any warning. Nothing of such outstanding importance has been brought before this Parliament for months. Its effect, if carried, will be to attach two-thirds of the total revenues of the State of New South Wales. I have no sympathy with the tactics that have been adoptedby the Government of that State; but, in this matter, we are dealing, not with individuals, but with principles. I refer honorable members opposite to Senator Sir Hal Colebatch, an ex-Premier of the State of Western Australia, and Senator E. B. Johnston, whose attitude on this question is identicalwith that of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party. They are not allying themselves with the policy of a certain Government, but are dealing with principles.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The Chair does not intend to allow a general debate to develop. I ask honorable members to confine themselves strictly to the terms of the motion.

Mr FORDE - I submit that I am entitled to show the drastic nature and the outstanding importance of the proposal that the Prime Minister has rushed on us. It embodies a great principle. We are not prepared to allow ourselves to be treated with the scant courtesy that has been displayed. Nothing could more vitally affect either the Commonwealth or the States than this drastic resolution. The Prime Minister, doubtless, has an assurance of sufficient support to carry it. He probably believes that, having spoken from the same platform at Wollongong as the right honorable member for Cowper, he has that gentleman "in the bag." He has not us "in the bag," nor has he "in the bag" such extremely able men in the United Australia party and the Country party as Senators Colebatch and E. B. Johnston, who are bitterly opposed on principle to interference with the sovereign rights of a State. The form of that interference is such that it will bring upon the head of the Commonwealth Government itself trouble that it does not anticipate.

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