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Wednesday, 21 July 1915

Senator STEWART (Queensland) . - I expected the Minister to give reasons for the urgency in this matter. Our Standing Orders seem to be, to a large extent, useless. I always thought they were safeguards to prevent the Government from bringing forward and pushing through measures without due discussion, against the wishes of the Opposition. Seeing that the Opposition in this case have abandoned that duty, I -have felt called on to take it on myself. I have always objected to the suspension of the Standing Orders. Although I am speaking from the Opposition side of the chamber, it must not be thought that I have joined the Opposition, because an Opposition that feeds out of the hand of the Government, as this one does, is not worth joining. I see no reason why the measure should not be fully discussed by the Senate. If the Senate does not want to discuss it, it can be put through posthaste. The effect of suspending the Standing Orders is to abolish all the rules formulated, as the result of long experience, for the conduct of public business in Parliament. These rules should never be done away with except in times of the greatest urgency, and I see no particular urgency here. It is not proposed to close up Parliament at an early date so far as I can discover, and, even if it is, that is no reason why the ordinary rules governing the conduct of business should be suspended. In the ordinary course, the Bill can be passed into law in a comparatively short time, and every opportunity and encouragement should be given to honorable senators to discuss it to the fullest.

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