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Tuesday, 15 March 1927

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I am somewhat surprised that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) should move for the suspension of the Standing Orders at any stage of this measure. I can see no urgency for the hill. On the contrary, there are strong reasons for its passage being delayed, particularly in this Senate. The right honorable gentleman has advanced, as a reason for our immediately entering upon a discussion upon this allimportant matter, the small amount of business that appears upon our noticepaper. I remind the right honorable senator that it is certainly not the fault of the Senate that there is very little business on the notice-paper. The fault lies with the Government. Sixteen months ago Ministers placed in the hands of His Excellency the Governor-General a document filled with lots of promises about certain legislation ; but very little, if any, of the programme then outlined has been put through Parliament. Now, after an adjournment from August until March, and after another place has devoted eight days to the consideration of this most important piece of legislation, the Senate is asked to suspend the standing orders so that it may be disposed of as soon as possible. I regret that I cannot countenance that sort of thing, despite the assurance of the right honorable senator that it is bis intention not to proceed further than moving the second reading of the bill. If ever there was a time for caution and even delay on the part of this branch of the national legislature, it is now when one of the most important measures we have ever been asked to consider has come before us. I trust that the Senate will not accede to the request for the suspension of the standing orders at any stage in the passage of this bill. As the motion now submitted, if agreed to, will save only one day, I think the right honorable senator might have adopted the ordinary procedure. I think also that the Senate ought to assert its rights in this manner, particularly as it is supposed to be the guardian of the rights of the States which, if this legislation is adopted, will be seriously affected. Care and deliberation rather than haste should be our rule.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Standing and sessional orders suspended and bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.


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