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Wednesday, 14 July 1915

The PRESIDENT - I must ask the honorable senator whether he is discussing the Bill ?

Senator MILLEN - I am endeavouring to show that we ought not to proceed with this Bill at the present moment, because we are front to front with a great national crisis. I regret if anything I have said should be held , to be outside the scope of the measure.

The PRESIDENT - If it were not for the fact that honorable senators, by arrangement on the last day of sitting, allowed the second readings of the Bills to pass on the understanding that they would be afforded a full opportunity of debating them on the third reading, I would not permit so much latitude now. In the circumstances, I do not propose to restrain the honorable senator; but I think that, while urging the war as a reason why the Bills should not be proceeded with, a general discussion of the present political situation will be neither proper nor relevant.

Senator MILLEN - I would point out that the proposal before the Senate is' that we should agree to the third reading of this Bill " now." I am endeavouring to show that now is not the right time to- pass it, and I am a little pained to hear that you .should regard my reference to big national matters - matters of Empire importance - as coming within the description of the term "political." I was attempting to point out that the records of this Parliament show that the Government themselves recognise that we cannot proceed with our usual business. We have already passed a measure which conferred upon the Government greater powers than we would ever dream of conferring upon them in this democratic community if we were able to carry on our normal business. The Government have been accorded financial liberty to spend what they choose. Why ? Because we are not able to carry on business as usual. That circumstance was a recognition of the fact that there was absolutely nothing usual about the business with which we were called upon to deal. " Business as usual, " when we know that the Government have never for a single instant contemplated the prorogation of Parliament ! We have practically been asked to sleep here, with our armour on. There has been no prorogation of Parliament, but merely an adjournment, in order that we might be able to re-assemble here if circumstances should render the adoption of that course necessary.

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