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Tuesday, 29 November 1938

Mr DRAKEFORD (Maribyrnong) . - I enter an emphatic protest against the introduction of the guillotine at this stage. The statement that ample time has been allowed to discuss the various matters is not justified. The action of the Government in stifling discussion will tend to bring the parliamentary institution into contempt. This motion has been moved because the Government knows that the Opposition is justified in its criticism of the Administration. Although the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has moved that certain time be allotted to the discussion of various parts of the Estimates, honorable members hare no schedule before them and are not aware of the times proposed to be allotted. I gather that only two hours will be devoted to a discussion of the Commonwealth railways. There are many other items of importance on which honorable members on both sides will be prevented from speaking. They will have to wait until the early hours of the morning to bring forward such matters on the motion for the adjournment of the House. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Archie Cameron), who has been more assiduous in attending to his duties as a Minister in the chamber than have most other Ministers, said that ample opportunity has already been given to discuss the proposed expenditure on defence. I remind him that honorable members on both sides will probably desire a good deal more information of a detailed nature than has yet been vouchsafed to them. They are entitled to the fullest information. Because of private differences among themselves, Ministers have neglected their duty to the House by absenting themselves from the chamber. They have treated the Parliament with contempt! Some of the time occupied iri debate has been due to the fact that members who are particularly interested in certain subjects have felt impelled to repeat in the presence of the Minister most concerned, statements already made. I resent any attempt on the part of the Government to deprive me of my rights as a representative of the people. The imposition of time limits for the discussion of the Government's financial proposals tends to make a laughing stock of Parliament. I regret anything which tends to lower Parliament in the esteem of the people, for I believe in democratic government. The Treasurer has informed the House of theamount of time occupied by Government supporters and Opposition members in discussing his budget proposals. Naturally a greater proportion of the time was taken up by members of the Opposition, because Government- supporters were told to remain silent. The Treasurer also complained that motions for the adjournment of the House had interfered with the progress of Government business.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I have already ruled that that subject may not be discussed.

Mr DRAKEFORD - I remind the Treasurer that, with the consent of the Opposition, four or five additional hours were made available for the discussion of Government business as the result of a motion moved by myself for the adjournment of the House. Apparently there is to be no recognition of that concession on the part of the Opposition. Last week, for the first time since I have been a member of this Parliament, I have moved the adjournment of the House to discuss a matter of urgent public importance.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member's time has expired.

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