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Tuesday, 28 August 1906

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - In every way I could. I have always arranged the business with the view to meeting, as far as practicable, the wishes of honorable members of the Opposition, and I am sure that not a single honorable member can say that he has been inconvenienced by any act of mine. I did not think it necessary to enter into any special arrangement upon the occasion referred to. because I naturally expected that the business would be allowed to proceed in the ordinary way. As proof that there was an understanding in this respect, I desire to point to the fact that the honorable member for Lang, who now significantly objects to the restoration of the "Bounties Bill to the business-paper, arranged with the honorable member for Yarra that there should be no count-out.

Mr Tudor - No; he did not say there should not be a count-out.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - I understand that the honorable member for Yarra desired to go to lunch and that he saw the honorable member for Lang, who stated that rather than permit a division to be taken before lunch he would keep the debate going.

Mr Tudor -i asked the honorable member for Lang whether he thought there would be a division before1 o'clock, and he said " No."

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - And I understood1 he also said that the business should be kept going until1 o'clock. The honorable member for Lang told nae that he had agreed that the debate should be kept going until1 o'clock, which I understood to mean that there would be no count-out, but that business would be permitted to proceed in the ordinary way. If the honorable member for Lang states that what I now say is incorrect, all I can add is that I misunderstood him. What I have stated tends to prove that there was an understanding on Loth sides of the House that the business was to be allowed to proceed in the ordinary wav. It is well known that at noon on Fridays honorable members who have to leave Melbourne are busy making arrangements for their departure, and no advantage has, so far, been taken of that fact. I admit that it is the duty of the Government to keep a quorum, but I would point out that the circumstances connected with the previous count out were entirely different from those which surrounded the proceedings on last Friday. Upon the previous occasionno arrangement was entered into, nor was any undertaking given.

Mr Kelly - That count-out also occurred on a Friday.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - If an arrangement had been made between the representatives of both sides upon the previous occasion no attempt would have been made to count out the House. I know that the previous) count out took place on a Friday, and I am further aware that the statements made with regard to the dinner that took place on that occasion are true. It is also quite possible that the bells may not have been heard by some honorable members who were within sufficiently easy reach of the Chamber to attend and help to make a quorum. The circumstances, however, were entirely different from those on Friday last, when a number of honorable members went away in the full belief, that no tricks would be played. They felt satisfied that the honorable understanding would be observed, and that there was no danger of their being deprived of an opportunity to vote, or of any business lapsing.

Mr Fisher - I rise to a point of order I think that it is a serious reflection upon the House that twenty minutes should be occupied in explaining differences between two honorable members that might very easily, be dealt with outside, or in the press; I desire to know whether extended explanations, such as those to which we have listened are in order, unless a motion is moved which will enable other honorable members to take part in, the discussion.

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