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Wednesday, 19 May 1920

Mr SPEAKER - This procedure is unusual and irregular. I think that it has never happened before that a private member has risen at the beginning of a sitting and asked leave of the House to make a statement. Permission to make statements is usually granted by courtesy to Ministers when they desire to make important announcements concerning |some special matter of public policy or concern, but it is an innovation for a private member to request leave to make statements. However, such leave having been granted to one private member, I cannot do less than ask the House whether it will give the same privilege to another private member who asks for it. Still, I must point out that this procedure leaves it open to every private member to ask for leave, and, thus, the way would be open to set the rules of debate at naught. Of course, should any one member object, his single objection would be fatal. I ask the House if it is their pleasure that the honorable member for Hume have leave to make a statement? (Leave granted).

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Before the honorable member for Cowper rose, I was considering what course to take to bring this matter before the House. I have here facts and figures relating to it which I have been considering for some time, and when in Sydney, at the end of last week, I saw there the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, and he put before me facts that I considered so serious that I intended to move the adjournment to-morrow to allow them to be discussed. I had to leave the matter over until to-morrow, because, to-day, I was engaged on the Public Works Committee. I am very pleased that the honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) has called attention to the position, and am grateful to honorable members for having given me the opportunity to add to his remarks. I shall not abuse the privilege by speaking at any length. I wish to emphasize the fact that the position in New South Wales is desperate, but the State Minister for Agriculture tells me that if they could obtain the services of three Commonwealth steamers to carry fodder to New South Wales, the State would be saved. They have already purchased fodder, but it is lying in Western Australia and South Australia.

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