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Wednesday, 23 November 1938

Mr DRAKEFORD (Maribyrnong) .- The protest of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in regard to the Government's proposal merely anticipates the protest that would have been made in any case from this side of the House against the procedure followed on this occasion and on many others during the debate on the budget. The reasons advanced by the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) for interrupting the budget debate at this stage do not carry any weight. We have had so many interruptions that it would appear that the Government regards the budget as a bone to be thrown to a hungry dog to gnaw at until something else is ready to be put before it. When the criticism of any measure from this side of the House, and from its own supporters, becomes too strong to be comfortable, the Government withdraws it, and substitutes something else. Had the debate on the budget been allowed to go on without interruption, it seems clear that criticism from both sides of the House would have been so strong that the Government would have been compelled to change its policy. At the present time, honorable members are being treated with contempt, and. this sort of thing lowers the whole tone of Parliament. The people are beginning to sneer at us, because it is evident that there is a party behind the Government which can compel it to do anything it likes.

All on this side of the House sympathizes with the wheat-growers, just as they sympathize with the unemployed. I sympathize with the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) in his anxiety to have this bill proceeded with without delay. Were it not for that, I should protest more strongly against this interruption. I trust that, as the result of this protest, the Government will treat Parliament more courteously in future.

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