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Wednesday, 23 November 1938

Mr CURTIN (Fremantle) .-I move -

That the word " forthwith " be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " at the conclusion of the consideration of the Estimates of Expenditure ".

I do so in order to enter an emphatic protest against the interruption of the budget debate, which it is now proposed to do in order to consider a message which will lead to a bill which ought not to be considered until we have concluded discussion on the financial position of the Commonwealth and have laid down the basis of the provisions which this Parliamentshould make for ordinary departmental services in respect of the current year. I know that legislation which will arise out of the consideration of this message in committee will involve not only the provision of assistance to the States, but also the adoption of a further taxing message; but, before we contemplate consideration of taxes in this piecemeal fashion we should first dispose of the budget in principle. I have said this before, but I have a suspicion that the reason why the right honorable gentleman has caused the interruption of the budget debate at this hour this afternoon is not merely to facilitate the examination of this message by honorable members, but in order that a copy of his secondreading speech may be reproduced in the afternoon press. He could have waited until the conclusion of the budget debate, and if that were decided to-day, as could conceivably be the case, he could then have moved whatever resolutions were necessary in order to bring down this measure. The Opposition is not opposed to assistance being given to the wheat industry. We believe such a step to be imperative, but we object to the humbugging and muddling which marks the consideration by this Parliament of government business. Thebudget debate has been repeatedly interrupted, yet, I suggest, the most important matters which can engage the consideration of Parliament in any session are the budget, the principles arising out of it and legislation which must emerge from it. As I believe that in principle the general financial policy of the Government should be approved by the Parliament before consequential legislation is dealt with, I move my amendment.

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