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Wednesday, 24 May 1939

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) .- I rise to record my agreement with those honorable members who have voiced their objection to the filching of private members' day. More especially do I register my protest against this proposal when there stands on the notice-paper a motion of such importance as that appearing in the name of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White).

Mr Gander - Will the honorable member vote against the Government?

Mr ANTHONY - Yes. I believe that the Government ought to recognize that if the business of Parliament is of such a character that it requires the sittings to be extended beyond the 9th, the 19th, or even the 29th June, we should be prepared to sit on and do the job for which we were appointed, until we are satisfied that full consideration has been given to all the matters brought before us. I am prepared - and I have no doubt that a majority of honorable members are of the same mind - to sit on for as long as is necessary to complete the business of the Parliament, rather than that a day that is recognized as private members' day should be filched from us. We could easily sit for an additional day at the end of these sittings.

Mr Menzies - We have had a fairly good private members' day to-day.

Mr ANTHONY - We have had a very good day - a day in the interests of the Australian people, who value some of the principles of democracy. It has not been a day for the ventilation of spleen or spite on the part of individual members, but time has been profitably devoted to the discussion of a vital principle. There is also a principle involved in the motion in the name of the honorable member for Balaclava set down for discussion to-morrow. If that motion were not on the business-paper, I should not be so emphatic in my views; but the fact that it is there, and that this proposal todefer it is now placed before us, is an indication that the Government wishes to stifle discussion on the anomalies that exist in matters connected with the repatriation of Australian soldiers. In my opinion, the Government is making a mistake in giving the impression that it seeks to sidetrack the discussion of that subject. I do not think that, many members of this House, or, indeed, that the Government itself is convinced, that there is need to ask private members to forgo the day set apart for their business. If the business to he transacted be so important as the Government thinks that it is, and as we all believe it to be, the sittings might well be extended far beyond the date that has been indicated as the last day of these sittings, namely, the 9th June. I urge the Government not to interfere with private members' business to-morrow.

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