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Friday, 11 December 1914

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - I merely rise to supply the information which has been asked for bv Senator Gould. I may say that a Supply Bill providing for five months' Supply has been passed by another place, and will reach this Chamber to-day. It is based on the new and not on the old Estimates.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - We have Supply to the end of this month, have we not?

Senator PEARCE - No. We have Supply only to the end of November.

Senator Millen - The Supply Bill will carry us to the end of April.

Senator PEARCE - Yes. Unless something unforeseen occurs, it is intended that Parliament shall be called together early in April - probably about the 7th April. It is proposed to have an understanding that should the necessity for doing so arise - a contingency which might easily occur seeing that the Empire is now at war - the President and Mr. Speaker shall be empowered to summon Parliament. Otherwise we shall not meet until the 7th April. Concerning the remarks of Senator Gould, nobody can dispute that in regard to the Tariff we are in the main carrying out the policy which was put before the country by the Labour party at the last election. Thus there can be no hardship involved in the collection of the increased! duties during the period covered by the adjournment of Parliament. Consequently I do not think the honorable senator's objection is well-founded. When Parliament re-assembles the Tariff will be one of the first matters dealt with. In regard to the Estimates, it will be admitted that we are warranted in claiming that the Supply Bill should be based on the new and not on the old Estimates. The old Estimates are now well out of date, and the new Estimates have been before Parliament, although they have not yet been adopted. If the Supply Bill were based upon the old Estimates it is obvious that the new Estimates would apply only to three months of the current financial year.

Senator Turley - The Supply Bill will be the last measure dealt with prior to the adjournment.

Senator PEARCE - It is immaterial to me so long as the Supply Bill is agreed to by this Chamber in time to permit of the necessary fortnightly payments being made. Whether the Senate will be required to sit on to-day until that Bill be passed, or to come back tomorrow or on Monday for the purpose of passing it, I do not know. Perhaps it would be more convenient for us to pass both it and the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill to-day. Before we adjourn we have also to pass the War Pensions Bill and the Commonwealth Bank Bill. These measures can be dealt with either on Monday or Tuesday of next week. I understand that the other branch of the Legislature proposes to sit on Monday, in which case it may complete its labours and be waiting upon us. During the luncheon hour I hope to arrive a* an understanding with Ministers in another place regarding what is proposed to be done.

The PRESIDENT - Before putting the question I desire to point out that it is absolutely essential that such a motion should be passed in order that the position of honorable senators may be properly safeguarded. The Constitution is very emphatic on the matter. Section 20 provides -

The place of a senator shall become vacant if for two consecutive months of any session of the Parliament he, without the permission of the Senate, fails to attend the Senate.

Honorable senators must recollect that the present session will continue irrespective of whether we adjourn for two or three days, or two or three months. It will continue until Parliament is prorogued by the Governor-General. That being so, it is absolutely necessary that this motion should be carried.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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