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Wednesday, 27 July 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - During all the years I have been a member of the Senate, there has always been a division of thought as to whether we ought to meet early in the mornings or sit late at night. It is possible that the Government may be able to oblige advocates of both courses before the Tariff is completed ; but that will depend entirely on the progress we make. I do not believe we can do more work in fewer hours. The hours we sit must depend on the work to be done. As Senator Thomas says, the people naturally desire to have the Tariff finalized. The Government do not suggest that reasonable discussion should be curtailed; but there is an obligation on honorable senators to get the Bill through as rapidly as circumstances permit; and I appeal to them to eliminate unreasonable discussion. That is what takes up the time. If we make reasonable progress on each day we sit, there will be no need to meet early in the morning or sit late at night.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - How many items a day, on the average, would you suggest as reasonable progress?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - One or two items, such as those which cover the leading key industries, are justified in taking more time than twenty or thirty others. The Government will watch closely, and if we find that reasonable progress is made in the present hours of sitting, no effort will be made to disturb them. But if honorable senators require longer time to consider the items, we must appeal to them to sacrifice their convenience, in order to sit the hour's necessary to make reasonable progress.

Senator Duncan - Is that a threat or a promise ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I thought it was an appeal. So far as the Government are concerned, we will go on with the present hours of sitting, see what progress is made, and stick to them if it is satisfactory. If it is not sufficient, we may have to appeal to the Senate to help us by sitting longer hours, in order to get on with the work.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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