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Thursday, 10 December 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - Yesterday, I announced the attitude of the Opposition towards the grave and delicate situation which exists in the Empire, and concluded my remarks in the following words : -

We have no wish or desire in any way to embarrass the Government, nor shall we willingly do so. On the other hand, we shall not silently submit to the Government's embarrassing either the people of the Commonwealth or the members of His Majesty's Opposition in this Senate, by any action not sanctioned by the Parliament after the Parliament has been placed in possession of all the facts of the case.

The Opposition objects to the proposed adjournment to-day; especially does it object to the proposal that the Senate shall adjourn until an unusual hour tomorrow. It sees no reason whatever why the Senate should depart from its usual procedure of meeting at 11 a.m. on Fridays.

Senator Sir George Pearce - I omitted to say that the purpose of the motion is that both Houses of the Parliament shall meet at the same hour so that statements in identical language may be made in both chambers at the same time.

Senator COLLINGS - Another reason may be the Government's desire to prevent the Opposition in the Senate from doing something which it could do better if it had knowledge of what had taken place in the other chamber.

Members of the Opposition strongly resent, after having been recalled to Canberra, being asked to remain here until the Government, is prepared to tell the Parliament what n government somewhere else in the world has done, and then to ask it to say " ditto ". I hope that I am speaking not for the Opposition alone, but also for other honorable senators who have some regard for the dignity due to the elected representatives of the people, when I say that I object to being treated in this way. While we are waiting about, with no definite purpose in view, all kinds of things are happening. I wish now to emphasize what I said yesterday in regard to the objection of the Opposition to any attempt being made on the other side of the world to force His Majesty off the throne. The Opposition is of the opinion that no further- adjournment of this Parliament should take place until it has been placed in possession of all the facts relating to the position which has arisen.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P, J. lynch). - The honorable senator is not entitled to refer to what has not taken place elsewhere; he must confine himself to the motion before the Senate.

Senator COLLINGS - I shall confine my remarks to the position as it exists here in Australia, because, in the view of the Opposition, that is the thing that really matters to this Parliament. It is our duty to decide the attitude of the Senate to the position which has arisen. Australia is no longer a colony, subject to control by Great Britain, but a nation with full rights, including the right of direct access to the King; for it must be remembered that His Majesty is King of Australia as well as King of Great Britain. I repeat that no further adjournment of the Parliament should be contemplated until it has been placed in possession of all the facts. All kinds of rumours are afloat, and all kinds of manoeuvres are taking place. Negotiations are proceeding. The Parliaments of the British dominions, as well as the Parliament of the United Kingdom, should be placed in possession of all the facts before any decision is made.

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