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Thursday, 21 March 1957

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - With the consent of the House I shall explain to honorable members the view that the Government is taking of the business that is before the House. It has been the practice, when a motion of censure has been moved, that no other business is transacted by the House until that motion has been disposed of. On this occasion we have an amendment to the motion for the adoption of an Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General's Speech, which is couched in terms that make it clear that the Opposition is, in effect, proposing a censure on the Government. On thelast occasion on which that occurred, I think during the Prime Ministership of Mr. Lyons in the 1930's, the view was taken that what had been put to the House was, in effect, a motion of censure, and that normal official business should not be transacted until the question had been dealt with. I do not think that this necessarily should stand as an inflexible rule, because one can envisage a position arising in the future in which the Government of the day might not choose to regard such a move as one of censure, or as being of sufficient consequence to warrant interruption of the normal administration of the country. On this occasion, however, the Government has taken the view that I have outlined, and I wish to advise the House, therefore, that until the amendment has been dealt with by a decision of the House no questions maybe asked or other governmental business proceed within this House.

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