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Thursday, 21 July 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I do not care to interfere with the desire of the Government to go on with the business of the country. The Minister, for Repatriation proposes the suspension of the Standing Orders to avoid the necessity of an adjournment between the first-reading and second-reading stages of the measure. I have come to the conclusion that our Standing Orders have been wisely framed to enable honorable senators to discuss measures freely at their different stages. I take it that what is behind the present motion is that the Government desires this Supply Bill to go through by 4 o'clock to-morrow afternoonin order to meet the convenience of honorable members in another place. It is asking rather too much of the Senate that we should put this measure through by to-morrow afternoon when it is received here only at 6.30 o'clock, and we shall not begin to discuss it until 8 p.m. Honorable senators should seriously discuss the Supply Bill or should not bother to discuss it at all. I remind the Leader of the Senate that in another place one day in each month is set aside for the discussion of grievances. That is a very wise provision, but in this Chamber we have no' opportunity to discuss grievance's except when a Supply Bill is under consideration. '

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I remind the honorable senator that no effort has ever been made here to curtail discussion on the first reading of a Supply Bill.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That may be so, but under the motion submitted by the Minister, when the first-reading stage is completed we may go on to the second reading and right through with the Bill. Of course, if one or two members of the Senate wish to make things a little unpleasant for the Government, they might do so, whether the Standing Orders are suspended or not.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - When the Senate adjourned; I was objecting to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E.'D. Millen) suggesting, that the Senate should dispose of the Supply Bill by 4 o'clock to-morrow. I quite recognise that if honorable senators have little of consequence to bring forward there is no reason why the request should not be complied with, but I do not see why a Bill should be discussed in another place and after it is received here we should be asked to limit discussion so that it can be returned within a specified time. I can remember the time when I did not believe in the bicameral system.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Or in the Senate.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No. I always looked upon the second Chamber as obstructive or useless; but. of late I have been endeavouring to disabuse my mind on that point. I believe, however, there is a good deal in the contention if a Supply Bill involving the expenditure of £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 has to be passed with very little discussion. The measure has been brought before the Senate at S p.m., and we are asked to conclude our discussion by 4 o'clock to-morrow. It may be necessary to have an all-night sitting, but I think that undesirable, because the convenience of another place should not be considered to our detriment.

This afternoon we have been- discussing an important Bill-

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