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Thursday, 1 September 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . -I move-

That this Bill be now read a second time.

The reason for interrupting the discussion of the schedule of the Customs Tariff Bill is that it is essential that thisBill should be passed at once. The operation of the existing Act is about to lapse, and unless this Bill is passed there will be an interval during which no bounty will be payable. The purpose of this Bill is to enable the bounty sanctioned by the Shale Oil Bounty Act to be paid for another twelve months. So that this is really only a carry-on measure. By sections 2 and 3 of the existing Act an appropriation of revenue amounting to £270,000 was made, to continue for a period of four years from the 1st September, 1917, for the payment of bounty in respect of the production in Australia of crude shale oil from mined kerosene shale. Of this sum only £84,685 l1s. has been paid, and as the period of four years is now up it is necessary to secure Parliamentary sanction for the continuance of the bounty for a further period of twelve months, during which the Government propose to review the whole question. There is £186,000 of the amount appropriated still unexpended. It is anticipated that claims amounting to about £400,000 will shortly be received in connexion with production since the 17th June. If Parliament agrees to extend the operation of the bounty under this Bill for another twelve months it is the intention of the Government to have the whole situation in connexion with this bounty and the allied questions affecting the shale oil industry thoroughlyreviewed. I therefore ask the Senate to agree to pass this Bill through all its stages to-night, in order that we may be able to pay the bounty, and, as I have said, Parliament will later be given an opportunity to review the whole question.

Senator Gardiner - I rise to a point of order. I am very sorry that it may seriously interfere with the passing of the measure under consideration, but, to my mind, correct procedure is of the greatest importance. If you, sir, rule that my point of order cannot be sus tained, I shall be perfectly satisfied to allow the Bill to pass quickly. My point of order, briefly stated, is this : "We have by deliberate resolution suspended so much of the Standing Orders as would prevent the passing of the Customs Tariff Bill through all its stages without delay. There is now interposed another Bill, and this, to my mind, is directly in opposition to the resolution of the Senate. The consideration of this Bill will delay the passage of the Tariff Bill. The Senate has suspended the Standing Orders for a certain purpose. They are suspended for that purpose, and until that purpose is effected I claim that the Government have no right to intervene with other business.

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