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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) - I warmly support the motion moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde). It is inconceivable that, in a British parliament, one occupying, for the time being, so high and honorable a position as the Leader of the Opposition, should be deprived of the opportunity to make a statement in the existing circumstances in this Parliament. I cannot conceive that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons would, in similar circumstances, be refused leave to make a statement.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! I have repeatedly reminded honorable members that the decision of the House in refusing leave to an honorable member to make a statement cannot be debated. Honorable members must remember my ruling.

Mr MAKIN - I am dealing now not with the rules of procedure, but with the attitude which, I suggest, would be adopted by members of the House of Commons in similar circumstances.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member is criticizing the House for refusing to grant leave.

Mr MAKIN - I wish to indicate what I am. certain would be the procedure that would be followed in the House of Commons, the Mother of Parliaments, in similar circumstances. The members of that Parliament would have been prepared to have recognized it.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member is not in order. He must debate the motion before the House, and give his reasons why it should be agreed to.

Mr MAKIN - The motion should be supported because it is designed to give this Parliament, and the democracy it represents, an opportunity to hear the views of the honorable members as a whole. Until such time as the Acting Leader of the Opposition has been given the opportunity to make a statement it cannot be said that the right of this Parliament to determine and express its views upon a matter of tremendous importance has been observed. I wonder whether the Government has adopted its present attitude in order to protect the Prime Minister in a very discomforting situation.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member is again transgressing. Any decision the House has taken cannot be discussed ou this motion.

Mr MAKIN - I urge honorable members to realize that the Leader of the Opposition holds a very high arid distinguished office in the service of this Parliament. He is the Leader of His Majesty's Opposition, and he speaks for a very substantial number of the constituents of this great Commonwealth. He, or his deputy, has a .right, therefore, to be heard on so important a matter as that which is now before this Parliament. The democracy of Australia will condemn any action taken by this Government to deprive the Opposition of the opportunity to make its voice heard on this matter. However, if it cannot express its views here it certainly will make its voice heard elsewhere, and in doing so will give far more effective expression to its view than it could possibly achieve under the procedure of this Parliament. I hope we shall at least retain our name as a democratic Parliament, and not reveal this assembly as a Fascist council, a suggestion that is made far top readily in the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister, and those honorable members who object to giving leave to the Acting Leader of the Opposition to make a statement.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat.

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