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Wednesday, 24 May 1939

Mr ROSEVEAR (Dalley) . - I oppose the motion. Honorable members of every party should think very seriously before surrendering their individual righ ts in this House. All of us here represent approximately the same number of constituents, - and those constituents hold varying political opinions. It so happens, however, that the party which, for the time being, is a minority party in this House, forms the Government. If we abolish private members' day, we disfranchise, to a large extent, the people in every electorate not represented by a Government supporter. The present Government does not even represent a majority of members, and if this motion be agreed to, the result will be that, those who differ . from this minority Government will be deprived of any opportunity to express their opinions. The important matter mentioned by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) cannot be brought forward for discussion unless a minority party agrees that an amending bill shall be introduced: If a discussion on the subject were allowed to-morrow, it is possible that the honorable member for Balaclava, or other honorable members who took part in the debate, might be able to suggest means for the removal of anomalies in the Repatriation Act. If we vote for the gag merely to convenience the Government, we shall effectively prevent any honorable member who is not of the Government party from expressing his opinions on matters that should concern the Government. It would be reprehensible for a government which does not represent a majority of honorable members of the House to deny to private members the privilege of addressing themselves, to-morrow, to various matters on the notice-paper. The motion of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) concerning the reconstitution of the Public Accounts Committee is important. It has been referred to on a number of occasions at question time, but no proper opportunity to debate it has been afforded us. Even though the honorable member may be willing to forgo his right to discuss the subject, the rights of other honorable members should be considered. The debate earlier this afternoon has clearly shown the need for attention to the administrative procedure of the Government in regard to works. I have little doubt that a discussion of the motion of the honorable member for Lilley would show similar need in regard to finance.

The Prime Minister has said that he desires this period of the session to end on the 9th June. Has that date anything magical about it? Could not the 16th June be fixed instead? Although the business-paper is lengthy, every honorable member knows that the Government has not the slightest intention to ask us to deal with one- third of the items on it. The Prime Minister has told us that only seven measures are to be considered. He has, it is true, referred to some mysterious matters which may later arise. Personally I am not prepared to sacrifice the rights of private members unless the right honorable gentleman tells us precisely what these other mysterious items are. . We should not give way to considerations of expediency in this matter.

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