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Tuesday, 16 August 1921

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) . - I protest against the manner in which the business of the Senate is being conducted. Last week's all-night sitting was a display of absolute cruelty on the part of Ministers. At 11 p.m. on Thursday, after a hard and earnest day, in which honorable senators had endeavoured to do their best in the public interest, a request was made for an adjournment. The moment was opportune. Consideration was about to be taken of probably the most important division in the Tariff schedule - that, at any rate, upon which the greatest amount of duty is collected, and in regard to the incidence of which the people have to pay, indirectly, the most heavily by way of increased cost of clothing. However, the division was "bullocked" through when honorable senators were so tired and exhausted indeed that they scarcely knew, towards the close of the sitting, how, they were voting. For the greater part of the time there were few honorable senators present in the chamber. At times, a quorum could not have been counted, despite the fact that there are thirty-six members of this Chamber, each of whom is paid £1,000. a year to perform- the job which he has undertaken to carry out. Altogether, the spectacle was very disappointing to one - such as myself - who has not had much experience of parliamentary life. Ministers appear to wish honorable senators to attend, to give up all their own business interests, and to swallow holus bolus whatever may be placed before them. It is only in every eight or ten years that there is a revision of the Tariff, and its duties so vitally affect the whole business of the Commonwealth that each item requires to be not only debated, but carefully studied beforehand in the light of the facts available to us. There are hundreds of matters dealt with in the schedule of which I know nothing; but I have tried to do my duty by finding out all it has been possible to find out, about the proposals of the Government and theirprobable effect. We must remember that this has been declared to be a very scientific Tariff, and it may be regarded as worthy of the name, seeing that it imposes a duty on straw.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon T Givens - The honorable senator may not now discuss the Tariff.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - I was merely going to add that it had given the Minister in charge of it an opportunity for displaying his knowledge of live-stock. My experience of parliamentary life, so fnr, has very much disappointed me.

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