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Thursday, 20 November 1941

Senator COLLINGS (QueenslandMinister for the Interior) . - I rise at this stage solely for the purpose of making an appeal to honorable senators opposite to have some regard, if possible, for the fitness of things. I ask them to give the Government a chance to do first, things first. When Senator Gibson so conspicuously crossed the chamber to get Senator A. J. McLachlan a glass of water, during his impassioned appeal on behalf of the fishing industry, I thought that the action was not merely kindly, but also was exceedingly fitting. I suggest to honorable senators opposite that in these parlous times when the situation is as bad as we know it to be at present, at least wo should have some regard for propriety. Honorable senators should not waste their eloquence, or the time of the committee, or spoil the Government's opportunity to get on with the task that has been entrusted to it, for the moment at any rate, on an amendment of this description. What are the facts? Not one honorable senator, on this side of the chamber at least, does not realize the great importance of the fishing industry; not. one senator on this side of thechamberhas not given attention to the problem of increasing facilities for the establishment of that industry; and not one honorable senator does not know that there is a. war on. The people of this country are looking to us to get on with the job. If honorable senators have nothing important to contribute to this debate, and arc prepared to co-operate with the Government and allow it, toget on. with its task, there should be no impassioned appeals such as we have listened to on two occasions this afternoon from an honorable senator who is no more sincere in his estimation of the value of the fishing industry to this country than is the Government. Even Russia has been dragged into the discussion. What support does the honorable senator think that he would get if he were to make an appeal in Russia on behalf of the fishing industry such as that which he has just made here? The honorable senator also mentioned Norway - a country which is already under the domination ofthe monster to whose destruction we are devoting all of our energies. What reception would the honorable senator receive in that country if he were to make there an impassioned appeal on behalf of the fishing industry? Senator Amour said something this afternoon which should have been sufficient not only to silence most honorable senators opposite, but also to stem the flow of Senator A. J. McLachlan's oratory. The item which is the subject of this discussion has been carrying a sales tax of 5 per cent. up to the present without protest from honorable senators opposite. They wait for this Government, which has been in office for only a few weeks, and is confronted with the tremendous task of passing its budget. We do not suggest that this budget is the last word in financial wisdom, but we do claim that it is indecorous to waste valuable time in this way. What will the people think when they learn that this chamber wasted at least an hour talking about fish? Honorable senators opposite who have participated in this discussion, particularly Senator A. J. McLachlan, have said in effect: "Get this industry going; never mind what happens to the Avar effort". Although the Minister in charge of the bill made it quite plain that the Government could not and would not accept the amendment which has been moved, honorable senators opposite continued to treat this matter as if it were one of paramount importance. Is the work of Ministers who have so recently assumed office to be hampered, and our war effort to be obstructed by the discussion of a piffling matter such as this? I repeatthat the Government will take first things first. It will render unto Caesar those things which areCaesar's. It will carry out. its various tasks in what it considers to be their correct order of importance. At the moment, our aim is to get this budget through because money is required to carry on the war effort. In the interim we do not propose to tinker with the fishing industry.

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